Hesperian Health Guides

Using other kinds of milk

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HealthWiki > A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities > Chapter 12: Caring for your baby > Using other kinds of milk


Breastfeeding a baby is best. But if it is not possible for you to breastfeed, formula (artificial milk) may be a safe alternative to breast milk.

If you cannot afford formula, perhaps a relative or friend who does not have HIV/AIDS can breastfeed your child, or you can give the baby animal milks.

To feed a baby with animal milk

For cow, goat, or camel milk:

mix 100 ml fresh milk with
50 ml clean water and 10 g
(2 tsp) sugar.

For sheep or buffalo milk:

mix 50 ml fresh milk with
50 ml clean water and 5 g
(1 tsp) sugar.


Bring the mixture to a boil and then remove it from the heat. Let it cool and then feed immediately.

Animal milks do not have all the vitamins a growing baby needs—so the baby should be given a wide variety of mashed fruits, vegetables, and other foods starting at about 6 months of age.

Feeding a baby with a cup or bottle

If you cannot breastfeed, you can use a cup or bottle to feed a baby breast milk, animal milk, or a baby formula. If you cannot hold the cup, ask someone to help you while you support the baby.

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Feeding a baby with a cup

  1. Use a small, very clean cup. If boiling is not possible, wash the cup with soap and clean water.
  2. The baby should be upright or almost upright on your lap.
  3. Hold the cup of milk to the baby’s mouth. Tip the cup so the milk just reaches the baby’s lips. Rest the cup lightly on the baby’s lower lip. Let the edges touch the baby’s upper lip.
  4. Do not pour milk into the baby’s mouth. Let the baby take milk into its mouth from the cup.


When you give formula or animal milk, everything must be kept very clean. The cup, spoon, bottle, rubber nipples, and any containers used for milk or formula should be washed thoroughly and boiled for 20 minutes before each use. Prepared formula, tinned milk that has been opened, and animal milk should never be left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. They will spoil and could make the baby very sick. Formula can sit in a cold refrigerator for up to 12 hours.

Helping the baby burp (wind)

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If you have only one arm or limited strength in one arm, hold the baby on your knees with the baby facing away from you and your good arm across its chest. Then rock forward and backward until the baby burps and relaxes.

During feeding, some babies swallow air, which can make them uncomfortable. You can help a baby bring up this air if you can hold it on your shoulder or chest and rub its back, or rub its back while it sits or lies on your lap.