Care for a baby involves feeding them, one of the most fundamental aspects. New mothers can also experience undue stress over this topic. The debate over breastfeeding vs. formula feeding has a lot of research, studies, and opinions. Whatever works for you and your family is what matters most. Chances are, you’ll need baby formula eventually, even if you’re breastfeeding.
Formula selection can be challenging. Your child deserves the best nutrition, of course. Sadly, there is no universal “very best.” One mom and baby duo’s method may not work for another. Knowing more about formula will help you and your baby find the right one.
Related: Best Organic Baby Formulas
Exactly what is baby formula?
It is a special dietary food designed specifically for infants to simulate breast milk.
Breast milk can be replaced or supplemented with baby formula. There are three types of infant formulas.
- For powdered formula, boil the water first and let it cool before adding it to each scoop. There is no difference in price between this and other types of infant formula.
- As with powdered formulas, concentrated liquids must also be measured and mixed with safe water according to the instructions provided.
- A ready-to-use formula does not need to be mixed with water, which makes it the most convenient type.
Baby Formula: What Is It Made Of?
Different brands of baby formula contain different ingredients. Nevertheless, cow milk is the primary ingredient in most infant formulas purchased and consumed. For premature babies or those with specific medical conditions, specialized formulas are also available.
Which brand and variety of formula are the best?
First of all, do not be intimidated by the sheer variety of baby formula brands! You and your baby are surely going to love one of the many formulas you can choose from. How about some even better news? The nutrients your baby needs will be provided regardless of what you choose.
Although there is no difference between all formulas sold today in terms of nutrition, not all formulas are the same. In general, there are four types:
Formulas based on milk
In these formulas, cow’s milk is altered and enhanced so that it resembles breast milk more closely. These milks contain proteins that are altered to be easier to digest by babies. In order to make the milk comparable to breast milk, fats (usually vegetable oils) are also added. Iron is often included in milk-based formulas to promote growth and development.
Formulas based on soybeans
Vitamins and nutrients are added to soybean-based formulas. Usually recommended for babies with cow’s milk allergies, they are fortified with iron. Pediatricians usually only recommend soybean-based formulas in rare cases, since they differ substantially from human milk.
Formulas made from organic ingredients
They are usually made from cow’s milk that is hormone-free, antibiotic-free, pesticide-free, and pesticide-free. Sugar content is something to watch out for in some organic formulas. The sweetener can cause tooth decay and weight gain when it is sweetened with sucrose. Be sure to read the label.
Allergy-prone babies should generally use these formulas. It is called “predigested” formula because the proteins have been broken down, allowing babies to digest it more easily. If you plan to use or switch to this type of formula, you should consult your physician first.
Formulas with special properties
Some specialty formulas might be recommended by your pediatrician for babies with special needs, such as allergies or illnesses. These formulas usually don’t contain soy, lactose, or gluten. Gut health can be improved by some probiotics.
Parents’ reasons for choosing formula
As the best nutritional choice for babies, breast milk is recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). However, breastfeeding may not be the best choice for every mother.
Parents formula-feed their babies for a variety of reasons, from personal preference to health considerations. Among these factors was described by Dr. Dina Kulik, the founder of Kidcrew Medical.
The convenience of formula and the ease of feeding it can make it a favorite among new parents,” explained she. Breastfeeding can be challenging or stressful for some parents, so they supplement with formula or switch entirely to formula if they are not able to produce enough milk.
It is beneficial to formula-feed a baby. During nighttime feedings, partners can assist with the baby’s feedings as well as other family members.
Moreover, formula-fed babies do not need to feed as frequently because they digest their formula more slowly. It is also possible for anyone to feed them at any time.
How to Choose the Best Baby Formula
There is a good chance that the baby formula you are going to buy in the grocery store or pharmacy is FDA-approved and is considered safe for babies.
There isn’t one formula that works for everyone, so try a few, speak with your baby’s healthcare provider, and see what works.
There’s no need to worry about your baby’s formula. Trying different types and brands is always a good idea.
According to Dr. Kulik, cows milk-based formula is well tolerated by most babies, and an alternative is rarely necessary. The hydrolyzed formula is beneficial for babies who suffer from cow’s milk protein intolerance and experience GI disturbances, or even bloody stools, when they consume cow’s milk.
To rule out medical causes and to discuss other formula options, Dr. Kulik recommends reaching out to your healthcare provider if your baby doesn’t seem to be tolerating their formula well.
Using baby formula safely
When choosing formula feeding, it is important to keep certain safety measures in mind. In general, baby formula has a shelf life of one year. As soon as this happens, the nutritional content begins to degrade. Formula that is expired should not be purchased or used, according to experts.
Your water should be safe to drink. In general, powders and concentrated infant formula should be used with cold water that has been boiled and allowed to cool.
It is important not to overheat the formula if you decide to warm it. Warm water should be added to the bowl that contains the formula-filled bottle. Let it sit for a few minutes. Put a few drops on your wrist or the back of your hand to check the temperature.
When preparing a bottle, Dr. Kulik suggests following the manufacturer’s directions to avoid dilution or over-concentration.
Formula made from plain cow’s milk, soy milk, or any other formula that is not safe for infants should not be given to them.
It’s recommended that you wean your baby off formula at around 12 months and put him on full-fat dairy milk instead.
When your baby is ready to wean off formula, speak with your healthcare provider.