Mother's milk is the best source of nutrients for babies. Even the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends breastfeeding the babies for at least six months. However, due to medical or practical reasons, some mothers are not able to breastfeed their children. So, the next best alternative to mother's milk is baby formula.
Baby formula resembles the nutritional value of breast milk and is the closest to it in composition. The formula contains various proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins to address a child's health and development needs. Here is a guide to help you choose the best formula for your child. Read on!
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Every baby is different, with special dietary needs and restrictions, so it is good to understand each formula's nutritional value before giving it to your child. Whether you will be supplementing with formula or planning to use it full-time, there are several things to consider. To help you choose the best formula for your baby, here's our well-researched guide.
The first year of your baby's life is an exciting time, but it can be overwhelming too. There are so many decisions to make, especially when it comes to feeding them. While baby formulas are developed, keeping in mind the nutritional values of breast milk and replicating it as closely as possible, there are still many options available.
The first thing you would want to consider before buying a formula is its base ingredient. Formula milk is usually made from cow's milk that has been treated to suit a baby's health and development needs. Some more alternatives that are equally beneficial are listed below. Check them out!
Parents should not give cow's milk to babies who are less than 12 months old because it has excessive protein load that’s harder to digest. However, baby formulas containing cow's milk protein (whey) are easier to digest than other formula types. To make a formula closest to breastmilk, manufacturers add sugar, milk, vegetable oils, and iron to it.
First infant formula is the only milk formula that your baby needs for the first six months unless suggested otherwise by a pediatrician or a general practitioner (GP). You can even continue with the same formula for up to one year, along with the solid foods introduced at around six months.
Soy milk formula is made from soya beans and recommended by pediatricians to only those who are intolerant to cow's milk. Make sure to consult your GP before using it for your child. Soy contains phytoestrogens, which is found naturally in some plants.
Since its chemical structure is similar to the female hormone estrogen, it is believed that it might affect a baby's reproductive development. Therefore, you must not rely only on soy-based infant formula for your kids. Also, the glucose present in the soy formula is more likely to harm a baby's teeth.
If your baby is allergic to cow's milk or has metabolic disorders, your GP will prescribe an appropriate milk formula with hydrolyzed proteins. The proteins in such formulas are broken down into smaller proteins, making them more comfortable for the baby to digest.
Milk powder with hypoallergic formula is suitable for a child from birth, but only under medical supervision. It is also known as a comforting formula and is readily available at pharmacies.
If your baby has diarrhea, abdominal pain, wind, and bloating after consuming baby formula, then he/she might be lactose intolerant. It means that they cannot absorb natural sugar found in milk and dairy products.
Lactose intolerance is rare in babies, but you would still want to consult a pediatrician and ask for a substitute formula. The doctor would substitute the sugar lactose with corn starch. Similac's Isomil Lactose-Free Infant Milk Substitute is a good substitute that is milk-free and soy-based.
Now that you know about the different ingredients, the next thing to consider is preparing baby formula. There are mainly three options: powder, liquid/concentrate, and ready-to-feed. As a new parent, you will be making formulas for over a year, and it is crucial to understand which preparation suits which situation.
Here, we are sharing detailed information, including the pros and cons of each preparation method. So, you can pick whichever suits your purpose
Being the least expensive, this is the most common type of baby formula found in the market. It also has the most extended shelf-life, allowing you to buy and store it in bulk. However, if you have added water to it, then it should be used within 24 hours of mixing if stored in a refrigerator.
The powdered formula is not recommended for premature newborns as the powdered food is not sterile. However, each powdered pack comes with specific mixing instructions, it would be best to mix the powder in warm water, making sure there are no lumps. Transfer the mixture into a feeding bottle and feed the baby.
Liquid concentrated is similar to evaporated milk, where you need not worry about dissolving the powder as it mixes well by simply adding the water. This baby formula is expensive compared to the powdered version because its packaging is heavier, making it difficult to carry around. If you’re someone who travels a lot with the baby, you might want to skip the liquid formula.
A liquid formula should be mixed at a one-to-one ratio with water and consumed within 48 hours of opening the container. If you plan on buying formula online, just be careful about the quantity as you might not be able to judge it correctly, and end up ordering bigger containers which cannot be used in one-go.
Ready-to-feed baby formula is premixed and requires no preparation. You need to open the bottle and feed the baby from single-serve bottles or larger volumes. Since the ready-to-feed formula comes in single-use bottles, it is the most expensive one out of the three.
This premixed formula is ideal for travelling, and late night or early morning feedings. The ready-to-feed formula also has an expiration time of 48 hours of refrigeration after the bottle is cracked open.
Now that you've sorted the ingredients and preparations, you will want to consider additional nutrients and benefits offered in baby formulas. While some formulas address specific needs, others are made to boost the normal development of a child. Some of the common additives that you will find in baby formula are Iron, Prebiotics/Probiotics, and DHA/ARA.
Iron is an important mineral that helps in muscle growth and bone building. People believe iron causes constipation, but its amount in baby formula isn't enough to cause any problem. Prebiotics and Probiotics help in digestion and give relief to babies who have stomach troubles. DHA and ARA are synthesised fatty acids that are important for healthy brain and eye development.
No matter how well-versed you are with the baby formulas and its ingredients, it is always a best practice to consult the pediatrician before starting with a new formula or switching from an existing one. The doctor will give you a better insight into what ingredients will work for your child’s development.
Every child’s need is different when it comes to their nutritional intake. Some might need more iron in their diet, while others might have a calcium deficiency. Therefore, it is important to talk to your doctor and feed your baby what’s right for them.
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Advance Stage 1
Similac Advance 1 for Normal Growth and Development
Lactogen 1 Infant Formula
Infant Milk Powder With a Soy-Based Formula
Nutrica International Pvt Ltd
A Baby Formula with Easily Digestible Ingredients
Milk Formula for Premature Babies
Enfagrow a+ Nutritional Milk Powder in Chocolate Flavour
Nutricia International Private Limited
A Lactose-Free Soy-Based Formula
NAN Pro 1
Nestle Nan Pro Formula for Easy Digestion
Nutricia International Private Limited
Aptamil Follow-Up Formula
A Follow-up Formula to Improve Visual Function
Lactodex Premium Formula with Milk-based Protein
A Milk Substitute With Soy Proteins
Similac contains all the nutritional components, including proteins, fats, vitamins, and minerals, essential in strengthening a child's immune system and bone development. It has neuro-nutrients, like omega 3, omega 6, folic acid, iron, and zinc, to promote brain development.
The formula comes in powdered form, containing a fat blend that promotes calcium absorption and supports easy digestion. You can use the formula for a newborn baby up to 6 months, as advised by the doctor. As directed, use one level scoop of powder for every 30 ml of water to provide adequate nutrients and water to the baby.
Nestle is the world's leading food, nutrition, and wellness company that provides highly nutritious food without compromising quality and taste. This soy-based powdered formula is enriched with water, minerals, milk solid, soybean oil, and corn oil, making it one of the country's finest baby formulas.
Nestle's Lactogen 1 Infant Formula contains whey protein, making it easier to digest for the babies. The milk powder can be used from day 1 of birth, in case the mother is not lactating or unable to breastfeed due to some medical problem, up to 6 months. It is recommended to prepare only one feed at a time, that too following the enclosed instructions.
The milk substitute in this formula will provide your child with the exact amount of nutrients in breast milk. It is enriched with calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, and vitamin D to make the bones stronger and deliver optimal iron. It also contains Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids to elevate brain development in your child.
Available in powder concentrate, the formula contains specially designed whey proteins that are easily digestible. Its main ingredients, including partially skimmed milk, lactose, edible vegetable oils, minerals, vitamins, emulsifiers, and whey solids, make it an ideal milk substitute for your child's growth years.
This formula is designed for babies born prematurely before 37 weeks or weighing less than 2.5 kg. Pre NAN features a dense energy formula to facilitate growth and development in premature babies. It contains milk protein such as whey protein and casein for easy digestion, nucleotides to build immunity, and essential nutrients like maltodextrin, soya lecithin, and amino acids to help with the overall growth.
Before using the formula, you must check with your doctor as it is not suitable for babies who have galactosemia or cow’s milk protein allergy. Galactosemia is an inherited disorder where your body does not process and produce energy from a galactose sugar.
This milk formula is for children who do not get enough nutrients from their daily diet. If given to your child daily, it will unleash their power to learn, making them feel energetic and have stronger immunity. The milk powder has DNA plus and other brain-building micronutrients like Iron, Zinc, Vitamin B6, B12, and Folate to develop motor, intellectual, emotional, and communication skills.
For a single serving, you need to add 3 level scoops of Enfagrow A+ to 120 ml of warm water. Stir the mixture with a spoon and feed the baby. If your baby doesn’t take other supplements, he/she will surely love this chocolate-flavoured formula.
If your child faces any digestion issue, substitute the current formula with this one (only after seeking advice from your doctor). This soy-based formula is free from lactose and sucrose, making it easy to digest.
It contains all the immunity building, growth-enhancing, and brain and bone development ingredients, including Sodium, Potassium, Chloride, Vitamin A, C, E, D Selenium, Zinc, Magnesium, and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids.
Edible vegetable oils, including high oleic sunflower oil, coconut and soy oil, and soy protein, make it a good milk substitute for kids with diarrhoea. Whether you’re unable to breastfeed or are looking for a supplement, this formula can make things go a lot smoother.
You can start using the Nestle Nan formula right from the time of the birth of your child. DHA and ARA additive will help in normal brain development, making sure your child doesn't lose any vital nutrients that he/she could have gotten from breast milk. You should give the formula to the baby as often as you would feed them in a day.
For easy digestion, the Nestle Nan Pro contains whey proteins and has added probiotics to improve gut health. The formula also has other vital nutrients like Vitamin A, C, D, Iron, and Zinc for brain development.
This formula is a blend of DHA and ARA, Nucleotides, Iron, and folic acid to support overall growth and development and infant's visual function. Since it contains whey proteins, you can use it if your baby is having digestion problems. Some of the vital age-appropriate nutrients found in Aptamil are nucleotides, zinc, selenium, vitamin A, C, E & beta-carotene.
Doctors often recommend this product if your baby is having stomach issues. But again, you must consult with your pediatrician first because every child has a different body requirement.
Quite a few people also recommend this product as one of the finest milk-based protein formulas for infants. The formula is designed for babies up to 6 months old and should be included in their healthy diet during and after feeding.
Lactodex Premium is a stage 1 formula with all the essential nutrients required for brain development and growth in a child. It contains alpha-lactalbumin, nucleotides, and additives DHA, ARA. This baby formula is a little expensive as it comes under a premium range, but its ingredients are quite useful in the child's overall development.
This baby formula is another excellent substitute if your child has dairy-allergies or is lactose-intolerant. It contains soy proteins and maltodextrins to make it resemble human breast milk. Some other essential ingredients included in the formula are edible vegetable oils (coconut oil and groundnut oil), minerals, emulsifier, vitamins, l -methionine, taurine, and antioxidants.
As discussed earlier, no matter which milk formula or supplement you choose, make sure to take your doctor's advice before feeding it to your child. Though this milk formulas have all the required nutrients, it doesn’t have additives to boost normal development.
When choosing something for your baby, you make sure you pick up only the best products. Be it concerning their food choices or clothing material. So, to help you make that safe and healthy choice, here are some links that might interest you.
When it comes to deciding what baby formula would work for your child, there is no clear answer. What you might pick for your child, their body might neglect it. So, the best advice you can get before choosing a baby formula is from your pediatrician. We might have listed all the top-recommended baby formulas above but make sure you run through the choices with your doctor before feeding anything new to your child.
Author: Srishti Sikka
No. 1: Similac | Advance Stage 1
No. 2: Nestle | Lactogen 1 Infant Formula
No. 3: Nutrica International Pvt Ltd | Dexolac Premium
No. 4: Nestle | Pre Nan
No. 5: Mead Johnson | Enfagrow A+
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