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baby formula

Updated on March 5, 2009

Baby Formula: Choosing and Using Infant Formula

When providing newborns with all the nutrients and immune system aids they need, breastfeeding is the preferred method. But for many parents and their infant this just isn't an option. Thanks to outstanding science, infant formulas have come a long way, so no need to worry.

New parent sometimes stay away from formula made from cow's milk, because of what they sometimes read about potential reactions associated with feeding it to their infant.

Milk allergies

Are due to an immunological reaction against proteins called casein or whey. When allergic babies are exposed to these proteins, which may be considered foreign intruders, they become sensitized, and with each subsequent exposure the symptoms are likely to worsen.

Milk contains many protein fractions (allergens) that cause allergic reactions. The two main components are whey and casein, and a child may be allergic to either or both. Milk should be eliminated from a child's diet only if you are sure the child is allergic to it. Parents may suspect allergy if the child exhibits respiratory problems or rash.

Milk does not do a body good nor build strong bones. It is a traditional food which has become a lazy staple of the American diet.

Milk or soy allergies in infants can develop within days to months of birth. Sometimes there is a family history of allergies or feeding problems.

Commercial formulas

On the other hand you'll fine that all commercial formulas are nourishing and safe.

What's true is Cow's milk isn't the recommended source of nutrition for babies under one year old.

And that's primarily because it doesn't have the same amount and type of fats, proteins, carbohydrates and other compounds that is naturally found in a mother's breast milk. Also you'll fine that a small proportion of newborns are lactose intolerant. Symptoms of lactose intolerance include nausea, cramps, bloating and in severe cases weight loss and severe malnutrition.

However baby formula made from cow's milk isn't just some higher price usual dairy product in another bottle. On the contrary the formula is carefully prepared. The cow's milk fats and proteins are altered. The fat and protein in the cow's milk is changed to replicate human breast milk to a level that is very comparable.

There are good alternatives, for those few infants; who truly have trouble digesting cow's milk-based infant formula.

Soy-based formulas are helpful mainly for those infants who don't have the necessary enzyme to properly break down lactose, the natural sugar in cow's milk. Soy milk is not suitable for newborns, so it's very important to get soy formula, not soy milk.

A healthy choice is Soy-based formulas. For those babies who have some types of milk allergy another alternative is a specialized formula called protein hydrolysate. The natural proteins in the formula are already broken down into useful nutritional ingredients the infant digestive system can absorb. It can be a lifesaver, for that uncommon but unfortunate small number of babies who are born with a family history of milk allergies.

There are numerous types of infant formula, beyond the many general category and ingredients. The difference is primarily in the cost and convenience.

The least expensive is the Powder formula. It's formulated to be mixed with water. There shouldn't be a problem if it's mixed with tap water. But bottle water appears to be the route many parents take to ensure purity, which basically reduce any price advantage.

Also expected to be mixed with water is concentrated liquid formula. Concentrate has the advantage of being a slightly easier to prepare, but like powdered formula requires cautious measurement. For ease of digestion the right proportion of formula to water is essential for best nutrition.

By contrast, ready-to-use formula is already pre-mixed to the precise concentration and form for immediate use. Your baby may have their own preference, like the others it can be fed cool or warm. It is also the most expensive, not surprisingly.

Omega-3 fatty acids

Some enhanced labeled formula contains omega-3 fatty acids found in natural human breast milk, which are DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid). These are safe extra added benefits, but it's still not clear how much real advantage is gained.

Oily acid studied Omega-3 is a fatty acid found in cold-water fish such as salmon, herring and tuna and in vegetable oils such as flaxseed, linseed, soybean and canola.

Omega-3 is an important nutrient for maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system. Fish Oils themselves are said to contribute to healthy heart function and joint flexibility as well as supporting brain, nerve, and visual function.

DHA occurs in higher concentrations in the brain, and is essential for the development of the neonatal brain. Women who eat more oil-rich fish can increase the amount of DHA in the breast milk, thus improving the amount available to the baby.

Arachidonic acid is a naturally occurring polyunsaturated fat, belonging to the Omega-6 family of fatty acids. It is considered an essential fatty acid (EFA), because it is an essential nutrient that your body can't produce itself.

Baby Formula

All formulas

All formulas carry the same requirements and they are safe and nutritious. All formulas should be prepared with clean, and if possible germ-free, utensils. To avoid introducing any type of germ into your child's mouth makes sure you wash your hands prior to feeding.

Follow the formula preparation instruction exactly has described on the bottle and your baby will tell you when they are full.

Don't force feed your infant after they are full, otherwise you'll fine yourself clearing it up off the floor. Also after each meal don't forget to burp your child. If your infant didn't consume the desired amount of formula, wait awhile and try again later. Remember babies have their own internal clock that regulates their feeding cycle.


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    • profile image

      InformedMom 7 years ago

      Omega-3 fatty acids

      "These are safe extra added benefits, but it's still not clear how much real advantage is gained."

      these fatty acids are not safe and there are many reports out there stating on how they cause gastrointestional pain, diarrhea and worse. Also, these additives in the formula have not been tested long term. They have only been added to the formula for the last 8-9 years. We dont know what effect these man-made oils will have on our children in 20 years!

    • lloydl profile image

      lloydl 9 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO U.S.

      Party Girl,

      Obviously breastfeeding is best for babies.

      Government recommendations suggest you only give soya formula to your baby on the advice of a pediatrician. It is not recommended for babies under six months.

    • Party Girl profile image

      Party Girl 9 years ago

      My daughter has been told by the doctors in the UK that a soya based formula is not suitable for a 7 week old baby. They want her back on a 'normal' formula but this brings the baby out in an allergic rash. What would you advise?