Breastfeeding is the most recommended method of feeding your babies. This phase should continue until they reach their weaning age, which is between 2½ to 7 years old. However, in rare occasions or special circumstances, bottle feeding your baby is inevitable. For that reason, you have to find a very nutritious substitute. A formula milk that is on par or close to a mother’s breast milk in terms of nutrient value. Having said that, here are some tips on choosing the right formula milk for your baby.
The right type
As of today, there are various types of milk products available in the market. However, when choosing the right one for your baby, you have to opt for something that is highly nutritious and digestible. To explain further, an infant’s body is still underdeveloped. For that reason, he or she can’t efficiently digest certain proteins and substances present in milk. Take second-stage cow’s milk formulation for example. Children under the age of one will not cannot fully digest casein. The same goes with babies who are lactose intolerant. They can't digest lactose. Although this rarely happens, if your child is lactose intolerant, your best course of action is to opt for soy-based formulations. To give you a better view, here is a list of the most common types of formula milk along with a brief description.
- Cow’s milk based – This specific formula is nearly on par with breast milk when it comes to nutrient contents. However, as mentioned earlier, the second-stage formula is not for babies under one year old since it has a higher casein contents. If you are going to choose this specific formula, you have to opt for the first-stage type. It has more whey. Hence it’s easier to digest for babies who are below six months old.
- Soy-based – As its name implies, this specific type or formula is made of soy beans. This is not a highly recommended product because it’s not as nutritious as its counterparts. However, as mentioned above, if your baby is lactose intolerant, this is the most common alternative you can use provided that he or she is 6 months old or older.
- Hydrolyzed protein – Another alternative for babies with allergic reaction to cow’s milk are formulas based on hydrolyzed-proteins. This can also be used if your child is lactose intolerant. Basically, this specific formula is comparable to a cow’s milk in terms of nutrients. The difference is, they use hydrolyzed proteins as ingredients. Meaning, the proteins are already broken down to make sure less hypersensitivity reaction occurs. Aside from that, these products are also lactose-free.
- Organic – Today, that organic products are very popular, it is not a big surprise that organic formal milks are widely available in the market. But, what exactly is an organic infant formula drink? Compared to its counterparts, this specific type of formula has no advantage in terms of nutrient value. The difference is, all ingredients used in creating this specific type of product are free of pesticides, growth hormones and other chemicals. One problem is, some manufacturers use sugar cane as an ingredient. According to most experts, this may cause tooth decay and obesity since sucrose is sweeter compared to other sweeteners. For that reason, it is best to check its label before purchasing organic formula milks.
- Others – In today’s market, you can also see other types such as prebiotic, probiotic and follow-up formulas. However, you have to consult your pediatrician before buying these products. Take probiotic formulas for example. This specific type should not be given to ill babies.
Most infant formula milks are slightly matched, but not equal to a mother’s breast milk in terms of nutrient value. This is mainly because there is a strict quality control when it comes to manufacturing these products. However, not all products are equal. Nowadays, you can find formulas containing omega-3 fatty acids. You should opt for this since this nutrient plays a vital role in your baby’s brain. As noted by several studies, it can enhance mental development. Iron is also an important nutrient for your baby’s growth. Hence, iron-fortified formulas are also imperative.
Price is also an important factor to consider. As you know, formula milks vary in price depending on the brand, quality, ingredient used, dosage form and size. Powdered products are the most affordable while ready-to-drink products are the most expensive type of formula. With that being said, when choosing the right formula milk for your baby, you should consider your financial capabilities. Remember, this phase of your child’s life will last a year or more. Although switching or mixing formula products will not cause severe health problems for your baby, it is still best to stick to a specific brand and type so your baby will get used to it.
With that being said, always remember to seek professional help when buying any product for your baby. They can give you the best advice when it comes to your child’s health.
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