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The Best Infant Formula

Updated on August 25, 2016
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The very first day I feed my daughter the infant formula, given to me by the hospital, she threw up a minute or two after she burped. I feed her, burped her and then wham she threw up. This occurred for about four months. My first concern was she might be allergic to the formula. Could be that the formula was too strong for her delicate digestive system, maybe I should change it. Many single mothers go through this uncertainty, they wonder, even as they walk down the grocery aisles if they selected the best formula for their newborn. Today there are a variety of infant formulas. Hence, the question arises, what is the best infant formula?

Breastfeeding Not An Option

After the caesarean, the infection, the eventual fever, the IV and the antibiotic medicine, I was unable to breast feed. It was a relief, because I had no desire to breastfeed. The formula was my only preference.

Free Formula

I left the hospital with a small supply of Similac. I left blindingly accepting that the hospital’s complimentary gift was the best fit for my daughter, not realizing that unlike some clothes, infant formulas are not “one size fits all”. As a single parent because there is so much to do and do alone, safety research is overlooked. If I had the time, inclination and energy I might have looked into the FDA’s regulation on formulas and then make a conscious decision on the best formula for my daughter.

FDA Rules

There are intense regulatory guidelines that company’s must adhered to if they choose to market and ultimately sell infant formula. There are pages and pages of expectations, “must do”, and “must have” pertaining to infant formulas. This is a “nutshell” FDA guidelines for consumers, in particular single parents: the FDA demands that infant formulas be tested for bacteria, and that formulas maintain nutrient that will foster healthy growth. In today’s market, there are three types of infant formulas: powder, liquid, and ready-to-feed. Powdered formulas are added to water and are less expensive. Liquid formulas are concentration and require a measured amount of water per bottled content. Ready-to-feed formulas which I used for my daughter is the easy to use but very expensive. The quantity and quality of content per formula are the varying aspects of regulating infant formulas. This is where reading and understanding formula labels are helpful. To get a clearer understanding of infant formula ingredients click here to get definitions of terms used by manufactures. Researching ingredients will in the end, help you select the best formula for your infant.

Formulas For Sale

The market is saturated with infant formulas. Some formulas have more nutrients, calories and protein than others. Some are easily absorbed by baby and are costly, others are not. All, as the result of FDA regulations, are in categories that best accommodate the infant’s delicate digestive abilities.

  • One type of formula is branded by cow’s milk it is categorized as a “standard milk-based formula”. Most infants can easily digest this formula because manufactures formulate the milk as close to breast milk as possible. Some infants cannot absorb this formula and are described as being “fussy” or having “colic”. It could be their stomach does not respond well to the lactose, oils, minerals and or vitamins in the formula.
  • Another category of infant formula is “soy-based”. The protein in this formula is from soy. This formula is lactose free and works best for infants that are lactose intolerant. Similar to the standard milk based formula, minerals, oils, fluoride, and vitamins are added to this formula.
  • Some infants are allergic to protein found in milk, so mothers purchase formulas that are “hypoallergenic”. They are expensive formulas but will eliminate rashes and labored breathing associated with the hypersensitive reaction to protein.
  • Some infants are unable to digest the above formulas due to reflux, premature status, heart disease and other ailments that are often monitored. These infants are prescribed special formulas that will give them the necessary nourishment for healthy growth and development.

Tips For Feeding Baby The Formula

Whatever the formula of choice, FDA’s guidelines on infant formulas allow for sufficient nutrient so as to eliminate the need for supplementary vitamins. Infant formula should not be used for toddlers one year and up. If feeding baby with the standard plastic or glass bottles, cleaned bottles and nipples should be boiled at least once a week. All mixed formulas must be used within a 24 hour period. The feeding instructions on each formula must be adhered to, do not add or dilute baby’s content unless instructed by a Pediatrician. Clean the top area of the can before opening a can formula. Store pre-made formula in a sealed container. After feeding baby, dispose of left over content in baby’s bottle. After feeding, harmful bacteria can develop in the bottle and can cause infection.

Side Effects

Centers for Decease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports, there are some obscure side effects of many infant formulas. Dental fluorosis is a side effect of too much fluoride and occurs in children who, as infants, drank powdered or concentrated formulas. Since all infant formulas contain added fluoride, these formulas when mixed with fluoride treated water, can create a double dose of fluoride. Dental fluorosis is a yellow stain which appears on a toddler’s tooth enamel.

A Low Risk

Cronobacter is an organism that shows up in powdered formulas. These bacteria can cause meningitis, seizures and fetal infections in infants. The CDC asserts that this side effect is rare hence babies are at low risk.

An Infestation

Baby might get infested with Perchlorate, which in small doses appears in food, water, and infant formula. Too much perchlorate prevents the thyroid gland from absorbing iodine. A lack of iodine, which helps in the development of thyroid hormone, can slow down baby’s development. The FDA requires content of iodine in infant formula so the perchlorate effect is often minimalized.

Baby’s initial intake of infant formula is often a worry for most mothers. At first, due to her large spit up, I was concern and apprehensive that my daughter was allergic to the baby formula. I took the matter to the doctor and he explained the “esophageal sphincter” issue. Spitting up is a norm for newborns, their esophageal sphincter is still developing so liquids in the stomach will flow “back”. Consequently, choosing the best infant formula involves observing your baby’s reaction after the consumption of the formula.

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