Hungry Babies

There are 2 different proteins of milk: Whey based and Casein based. When breastfeeding is not possible, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) recommends that a whey based protein formula is the preferable bottlefeeding choice as it reflects the protein ratios in breastmilk1.

Newborns should be fed whenever they show signs of hunger such as increased alertness, mouthing or rooting, feeding eight to twelve times in 24 hours. Crying is the late stage in the development of hunger1.

As long as a baby remains satisfied on a whey based formula it is recommended not to move onto casein based milk within the first 12 months in addition to a complementary diet. However, there are certain circumstances where it is preferable to move onto casein based milks if the baby is at risk of being introduced to solids too early.

Research has shown that nearly 23% of Irish babies were weaned onto solid food before the age of 12 weeks2. Parents may wean babies too early if they feel their baby is hungry and a whey based formula is no longer satisfying their baby’s hunger.

When to use a casein dominant formula?

If a baby displays signs of hunger, the following is advised:

  • Measure the quantity of milk consumed over a 24 hour period over a few days- It is normal for babies to consume more on some days than others, especially during a growth spurt.
  • Increase frequency and volume of the whey-based formula where necessary (consider that the baby may be going through a growth spurt)
  • If the baby still continues to appear hungry, consider the possibility of introducing a casein-dominant formula

Introducing a casein-dominant milk may slow down gastric emptying resulting in a fuller stomach for longer and can help delay the early introduction of solids 3,4

What are the latest recommendations in relation to the introduction of complementary foods?

The Food Safey Authority of Ireland currently recommend that babies should be introduced to complementary foods around 6 months of age. Babies should not be introduced to complementary food before 4 months (17 weeks) and or after 6 months (26 week) of age with the exact timing driven by the unique needs of the individual infant1.




  1. Food Safety Authority of Ireland, recommendations for a national feeding policy.(FSAI 1999).
  2. Tarrant et al., Determinants of early introduction to solid foods in a sample of healthy term infants. Proc Nut Soc. 2007; AOC 54A.
  3. Bleakney G, Infant Feeding Guidelines. Department of public health, Medicine and Nursing. EHSSB March 2006.
  4. Dunne, T., Farrell, P. and Kelly, V. (2008). Feed your child well. Dublin: A. & A. Farmar.