Baby Formula: What to Look For, What to Avoid and When to Use It

6 min read

The primary source of nutrition for a baby is breastmilk – it’s the most natural and traditional way of ensuring that your child receives the appropriate amount of nourishment. There may be multiple reasons however when you might decide not to breastfeed r. For example, you may feel uncomfortable breastfeeding your child in public. In such a situation, you have to rely on baby formula.

Baby taking formula milk

It is very common to see mothers being discouraged in switching to formula. Some are shunned and are told that they are taking the easy way out. You must remember that as a mother you have the right to choose how you want to take care of your child. Breastfeeding comes with many challenges and it’s perfectly understandable if you want to switch to formula milk. It’s not a sin to feed your child differently than others.

With that being said, choosing the perfect formula for your baby isn’t as straightforward as one might think. When you go out to buy baby formula, you may become confused by the big and bold statements companies tend to make. Don’t be fooled by television advertisements – do your research prior to deciding on a formula.

Now, I am certainly not a connoisseur of baby food; I merely want to help you educate yourself on the basics of baby formula so that you can find the perfect one for your little bundle of joy.

What Should I Look For in Formula?

Baby formula, no matter how meticulously made, cannot be considered an exact replica of breastmilk. However, you are here because you need an alternative (and without a doubt, there are many good options to choose from), so your goal is to find the one that is as close to the real thing as possible.

Wholefood Content

Babies are actively growing, and they need the correct nutrients to support their rapid development. Therefore, carbohydrates, fats, and proteins have to be the most important ingredients in your formula. It becomes a huge problem when the nutrients required are synthetically produced in the lab. Such synthetic products often do not work well with infants and are not the safest choice. Look for formulas made from whole foods; The nutrients are completely natural when they are extracted directly from natural sources.

Organic Formulation

If you want to avoid following the conventional way, then you might want to consider getting organic formula milk. Most parents these days opt for organic options, as the ingredients used are ‘clean’.

Organic baby food is free of GMO (genetically modified organisms) derived ingredients, which usually is a matter of concern amongst parents. It also does not contain:

  • Artificial Coloring or Flavors
  • Antibiotics
  • Synthetic Preservatives

The organic composition of this formula makes it healthy and safe for the baby to consume. The formulas also don’t require a lot of switching. As babies are often sensitive to changes, parents tend to refrain from switching to different formulas every now and then, even when it is necessary. With organic formulas, this may not be the case, as the contents are mostly derived from nature.

Goat Milk

Your child cannot be fed cow milk until the age of one. If you don’t want to settle for powdered formulas then consider giving your baby goat milk. The composition of goat milk is similar to that of human breast milk. It’s a great alternative if you’re still unsure about converting to formula milk.

Some Extras You Can Add

As we discussed earlier, babies normally receive all the nutrients they need for growth, development, and immunity from breast milk. Since you are thinking about giving your baby formula milk, you can always consult your physician and ask about additional supplements you can implement to benefit your child further.

Probiotics

Probiotics are what we call ‘good bacteria’. These bacteria work actively to improve both the digestive and the immune systems of our body. It will certainly keep your child away from indigestion and will help to fight infections more effectively.

Vitamins

Vitamin deficiency at an early age leads to some serious consequences in the future. Some vitamin deficiency complications include night blindness (lack of vitamin A) and rickets or poor development and deformation of bones (due to lack of vitamin D). These vitamins can be safely administered to your child by the doctor if necessary. Usually, you will be given vitamin drops to mix with the milk or they can be administered separately.

What Ingredients Should You Avoid?

Many companies will add a long and intriguing list of words onto their containers. Here’s the thing – these only look and sound fancy. In reality or at least most of the time, they serve no real purpose or may prove to be rather detrimental to your child’s health.

Sugar Additives

Avoid formulas that contain corn syrup or fructose; basically, any extra sugars added to the formula are not good. Sweeteners can cause excessive weight gain, which isn’t at all beneficial for your baby.

Palm Oil

Palm oil will reduce the amount of calcium absorption in your child. To make matters simpler for you, here’s a little elaboration; The milk you feed your child is processed in the stomach. Milk is known to contain calcium, which contributes to strong and sturdy bones. Palm oil stops the body from utilizing the calcium effectively, which ultimately affects the bone development function of your child. To add, palm oil isn’t very environmentally friendly either, so keep an eye out for that when skimming through the formula milk’s ingredients list.

Thickeners

Milk is more appetizing when it’s thick. Sometimes, carrageenan, a seaweed extract, is added to milk to make it thick. Although it is generally considered safe, it may not be the best for your baby’s digestive system; it can cause inflammation in the stomach and intestines.

 Heavy Metals

Heavy metals don’t appear on the list of ingredients, but they are dangerous and baby formula should not contain any. You might opt for formula milk that has been individually tested for heavy metals like cadmium, lead, or arsenic. Your doctor will know more about this and advise of a brand that can be trusted.

Artificial Flavouring

Any artificial flavorings should be avoided. These often cause hypersensitivity (allergic reactions) and behavioral problems.

Nanoparticles

Recent studies have shown that many baby formula brands use nanomaterials or particles. Although the long-term consequences of these aren’t properly understood, scientists claim that they can cause damage to DNA and lead to impairment of the immune system.

Further Help Your Child’s Diet

Now that you have the nutrition part covered, how do you make sure your child gets the most of what you are giving them? You may be giving them the best formula milk there is, but you seldom see the results from it. Getting the formula right is only half of the job; How you prepare the milk plays a crucial role in producing good results.

Use Sterile, Filtered Water

Refrain from using tap water. Though it has been treated adequately so that the water can be consumed without any further processing; It’s best to play safe when it comes to your child’s health. They can’t stomach what an average adult can. Water purifiers these days are very advanced and it not only filters but sterilizes the water as well.

Don’t Microwave Plastic Bottles

Don’t microwave the baby bottles. Heat the formula over a stove until the temperature is just right. Bottles are made of plastic, and heating plastic bottles in the microwave is a bad idea.

Lastly, When do You Stop?

Just like you stop taking medicine after you complete the prescribed dose, you have to get your child off the formula milk after a certain age.

My neighbor’s daughter would cough up solid food whenever they tried to feed her. The doctors later discovered that there wasn’t anything physically wrong with her; Her parents just did not get her used to solid food and instead kept giving her formula milk thinking they could work their way around it until she was older. The results of that were very visible, unfortunately. The child was severely underweight, had developmental issues, and needed to wear eyeglasses at the age of 2.

That is why it is necessary to get your child habituated to normal food when it’s time, as you cannot rely on formula forever. Some brands these days also advertise their milk as being able to provide as many nutrients as whole foods, which in fact isn’t true at all.

Your child should be given breastmilk or formula for at least 6 months, after which you should slowly introduce solid food to them. You don’t have to switch completely; Alternate between milk and solids or give them both. Eventually, they will start eating normally and you can hopefully enjoy a nice meal together at the dinner table!

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