Written by Editorial Team
Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is entirely a personal decision – though it has been universally accepted that breast milk is the complete food for a baby till 6 months, after which it can be continued for as long as the parents want. Some mothers choose formula feeds.
Breastfeeding may not be possible for all mothers, and in such cases, infant formula is the best and most healthy alternative. Infant formulas provide babies with their much-needed nutritional requirements to grow and thrive. If you have decided to formula feed your baby, you will have many questions and doubts, which we have tried to clear below.
In This Article
The foods designed to cater to the nutritional requirements of infants below 1 year of age are called ‘infant formulas. They usually consist of concentrated liquids, powders, or easy-to-use forms which can be fed to the baby after mixing with water or other liquids.
These food preparations are life-saving for infants having difficulty in breastfeeding or if the mother is not having sufficient milk to lactate the infant. Infant formula is the only other food than breast milk that is considered nutritionally acceptable for babies under 12 months of age. They are nutritious for the baby and even contain some essential vitamins and minerals that breastfed babies get from supplements.
Infant formulas are commercially manufactured under strict sterile conditions and attempt to duplicate the mother’s milk. Complex compounds of sugars, fats, proteins, and vitamins are created under expert care.
Infant formulas can only be manufactured commercially and should not be attempted to be prepared at home. If for any reason you are not breastfeeding your baby, the only alternative is infant formula that is prepared commercially.
Depending upon nutrients, taste, cost, ability to be digested, and the calorie count, the following 7 types of infant formula feeds are available:
Traditionally, cow’s milk-based formula is given to most bottle-fed babies. This milk is altered to resemble breast milk and thus gives the formula the right proportion of essential nutrients. Most babies do well on standard milk-based formulas.
Colic and fussiness are frequent problems experienced by infants at this age, but it is not because of cow’s milk formula. There is no need to change the cow’s milk and abdominal colic seen in infants should not be attributed to it.
The standard milk-based formulas are enriched with minerals, lactose, vegetable oils, and vitamins. They are good to meet the nutritional needs of the infant.
Made from soy proteins, these formula feeds are devoid of lactose. This formulation is ideal for those parents who do not wish their child to eat infant formulations containing protein of animal origin. It is a boon for infants suffering from congenital lactose deficiency or galactosemia.
They have no proven role in improving colic or milk allergies. Sometimes it is seen that infants allergic to cow’s milk are also allergic to soy milk.
HA or hypoallergenic formulas are ideal for infants allergic to milk proteins and those babies having wheezing or rashes issues. Babies who are allergic to proteins can be fed extensively hydrolyzed formula. The hypoallergenic formulas are very expensive than the normal milk formulations.
Lactose allergy is a frequent problem for babies over 12 months. It is diagnosed by specialized tests. Lactose-free formulations are beneficial for babies with congenital lactose deficiency, galactosemia, and primary lactose deficiency. This formulation is not recommended for babies having diarrhea.
Reflux formulas are also called Ar or ‘anti-regurgitation’. The reflux formulas are ideal for babies who are not gaining weight. These formulations are thickened with rice starch.
Gold formulas are enriched with fats that are usually not found in other preparations. These fats are not mandatory for your baby as your toddler can make them in your body.
These formulations are enriched with extra calories, vitamins, and minerals and are just right for low-birth-weight and premature infants. These specialized formulations are also ideal for babies suffering from malabsorption syndromes, heart ailments, and difficulty in digesting fat and amino acids.
Probiotics and Bifidus are healthy bacteria that should be added to the baby’s formula to improve the digestive system of your baby. Probiotics promote the development and growth of healthy bacteria.
Cow’s milk is not advised till the baby celebrated his first birthday. That is because it lacks the nutrients which are there in infant formula feeds, and your baby could have iron deficiency, among other health issues. Infant formula has been largely made to resemble the composition of breast milk. Hence is the best alternative to breast milk for babies under the age of 1 year.
Read more about giving cow’s milk to the baby here.
Based on your budget, desire, and convenience, you can choose from the below infant formula preparations:
These formulas are very convenient and ready to be given as feed to the baby. They do not require any extra thing to be mixed in them such as water. Also boasts of being the most expensive one
They are economical and need to be mixed with water before giving them to the baby. Powdered infant formulas are also the most preferred choice for many households
Concentrated liquid formulas
These should be diluted with water before administering to the babies
However, the market also offers toddler formulas which are quite expensive and is said to be good for babies who are usually ‘picky-eaters’. They have not yet proved to be better off than multivitamins or whole milk.
According to pediatricians, the standard infant formula should have 20 Kcal per ounce and around 0.45 grams of protein per ounce. Infant formulations based on cow’s milk are ideal for preterm and full-term babies. Infants taking sufficient feeds and gaining weight do not require minerals and vitamins.
Your doctor might advise you to add extra fluoride if the water mixed in formulas is not fluoridated. The pediatricians believe that cow’s milk is not advised for children below 1 year of age. Infant formulas should be administered to infants below 1 year of age, while after 1 year the child should be given whole milk.
If in any situation, an infant cannot be breastfed, it is mandatory to feed him or her with iron-fortified infant formulations. Infant formulas fortified with iron are effective and safe for your baby and ensure proper growth and development. Iron deficiency anemia is common in infants feeding on cow’s milk.
The usage of iron-fortified infant formula can drastically lower the risk of anemia in infants. Iron is a very essential nutrient, and the best way to provide your baby with iron is by feeding him iron-fortified formula feeds.
It may be mentioned here that vital ingredients such as iron, copper, vitamin C, and vitamin E are not found in cow’s milk. Gastrointestinal bleeding can be seen with cow’s milk, so pediatricians recommend infants should be given iron-fortified formulas during the first year of their early life.
Here are some important points to be borne in mind while preparing the infant formula feeds:
Checking the expiry date is crucial before administering not only the infant formulas but also every food item and medicine.
Expiry date implies the date or time duration up to which the food can keep its nutritive value intact micro-biologically and is physically stable. It denotes the time before which food should be consumed to derive maximum nutritive value. So, whenever you shop for your baby’s milk, do not forget to read about the expiry date.
With a rich experience in pregnancy and parenting, our team of experts create insightful, well-curated, and easy-to-read content for our to-be-parents and parents at all stages of parenting.Read more.
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