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Know Answers To All Your Questions On Infant Formula Feeds

6 min read

Infant Formula
Whether you choose to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is entirely a personal decision – though it has been universally accepted that breastmilk is the complete food for a baby till 6 months, after which it can be continued for as long as the parents want. However, breastfeeding may not be possible for all mothers, and in such cases, infant formula is the best and a healthy alternative. Infant formulas provide babies their much needed nutritional requirement 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.

What Is An Infant Formula?

The foods designed to cater the nutritional requirements of infants below 1 year of age are called as ‘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 as 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.

How Are Infant Formulas Manufactured?

Infant formulas are commercially manufactured under strict sterile conditions and attempt to duplicate the mother’s milk. Comples compounds of sugars, fats, proteins and vitamins are created under expert care. Infant formulas can only be manufactured commercially and should not be attemped 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.

What Are The Types Of Infant Formulas?

Depending upon nutrients, taste, cost, ability to be digested and the calorie count, the following 7 types of infant formulas are available:

  1. Standard milk-based formulas: Traditionally, cow’s milk based formula is given to most of the 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 the frequent problems experienced by infants in 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
  2. Soy-based formulas: Made from soy proteins, these formulas 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
  3. Hypoallergenic formulas (protein hydrolysate formulas):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
  4. Lactose-free formulas: 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
  5. Reflux formulas: Reflux formulas are also called as Ar or ‘anti-regurgitation’. The reflux formulas are ideal for the babies who are not gaining weight. These formulations are thickened with rice starch
  6. Gold formulas: 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
  7. Special formulations: 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, difficulty in digesting fat and amino acids. Probiotics and bifidus are the 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

Baby Formula Types

Can I Give My Baby Cow’s Milk?

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, and your baby could have iron deficiency, among other health issues. Infant formula has been largely made to resemble the composition of breast milk, and 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.

What Infant Formula Preparations Are Available?

Based on your budget, desire and convenience, you can choose from the below infant formula preparations:

  1. Ready-to-use
    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
  2. Powdered formulas
    They are economical and need to be mixed with water before giving to the baby. Powdered infant formulas are also the most preferred choice for many households
  3. Concentrated liquid formulas
    These should be diluted with water before administering to the babies

However the market also offers toddler formulas which is 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.
Formula Feed

Doctor’s Recommendations On Infant Formula

According to pediatricians the standard infant formulas should have 20 cal 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.

What Are Iron-fortified Formulas?

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 infant feeding on cow’s milk. The usage of iron fortified infant formula can drastically lower down the risk of anemia in infants. Iron is a very essential nutrient, and the best way to provide your baby with iron is feeding him iron fortified formula.
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 first year of their early life.
Baby formula preparation

Important Tips To Feed Baby Infant Formula

Here are some important points to be borne in mind while preparing the infant formula feeds:

  • Clean nipples and bottles with soap and water and then boil for 15 minutes in a covered pan. Allow to cool without removing the lid
  • You can make formula and keep for 24 hours
  • Wash your hands properly before preparing the formulation
  • Prepare the formula as advised and avoid making it too watery or too concentrated. No need to add extra sugar to formula
  • Leftover formula after a feeding should be thrown away
  • When feeding, warm the formula by placing the bottle in a container with hot water. NEVER use a microwave to heat infant formula and never boil the water to be mixed with formula
  • Always check the temperature of the formula by testing it on your fingers, without touching the nipple
  • Maintain eye contact with your baby and feed him lovingly

Significance Of Expiry Date On Baby Formula

Checking the expiry date is crucial before administering not only the infant formulas but also every food items and medicines.
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.
Happy parenting!

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