Choosing between breastfeeding or formula feed is always one of the biggest decisions for expectant and new parents. For those mothers who choose to formula feed your baby, this is the article for you. How to choose a baby formula? 5 important tips to consider before you buy.
We have mentioned previously about the benefits of breastfeeding for mother and baby, so we will not discuss further on breastfeeding here in this article.
Why choose baby formula?
We always believe that breastmilk provides the best nutritional needs for infants and strongly recommend breastfeeding exclusively for six months. This option, however, may not be ideal for everyone because there are factors such as lifestyle to consider on. If you are a full-time working mom or have a specific medical condition, breastfeeding may not be the best option. This is a personal choice, and writing down the pros and cons can help you decide what is best for you and your baby.
Some people would say that if you don’t breastfeed, you can’t bond with your baby. For me, “the love of a mother will always create a special bond with their baby.” And remember the feeding time, no matter how is a great time to strengthen that bond.
For moms who can’t breastfeed or decide not to, infant formula is a healthy alternative. It provides the babies with the nutrients they all need.
If you are a full-time working mother and choose to do both breastfeeding (especially at night-time) and formula milk during the day, especially when you are at work. It’s completely okay and perfectly safe to do. The taste of breast milk changes depending on what the mother eats. However, the flavor is not usually a big factor for most formula feed babies.
Soy? Whole milk? Hypoallergenic? Most big supermarkets contain a wide array of baby formulas that you can choose from. Some infant formulas are iron-fortified. Others contain the fatty acids, DHA and ARA. Some are based on soy or cow’s milk; others are made for babies with lactose intolerance, and sometimes you can even find it low in sodium. How to choose a baby formula?
How Do You Choose the Right Baby Formula?
In choosing the right baby formula, you need to consider a few essential factors such as:
1. Accessibility of the Formula
Choose the infant formula that is available near you or in the local store. Don’t choose a brand that is hard to obtain from your local store. The worst scenario is you need to go through the distance and stress just to buy it.
2. Cost of the Milk
How much budget can you allocate for your baby’s milk? The cost across popular brands ranges between USD 800 – USD 1,500 during the baby’s first year.
3. Baby’s Health Needs.
Can your baby digest lactose? Is he having some problem after feeding such as blood stools, constipation or diarrhea? Is he a preterm baby or low weight at birth? These are the questions you need to ask upon choosing the right formula for your baby. Always consult your Pediatrician or midwife for the advice.
Read here about “lactose intolerance symptoms in babies“
4. Form of baby formula
There are three forms of infant formulas to choose from:
- Powdered formula is the least expensive of the choices. It is also available in most convenient stores; however, it needs to be measured and mixed with water appropriately. Something to think about when you need to feed your baby frequently, especially when you are traveling.
- Concentrated formula is more expensive than powdered formula. Although it also needs to be mixed with water, it is less messy to prepare.
- Ready-to-feed formula is the most expensive of all types of infant formula. It is the heaviest to carry for travel but most convenient because it doesn’t need any additional water or any mixing. Ready-to-use formulas can be poured straight into the baby’s feeding bottle.
If you tend to travel a lot with your baby, you can use the powdered formula regularly when you are at home and then the ready-to-drink formula when traveling. However, make sure that you’re using the same brand/type of formula in both forms.
5. Type of Formula Facts: What’s in it for the Baby?
The three forms of formula, namely, powder, concentrate, and ready-to-feed, are based on the different ingredients:
1. Cow’s Milk-Based formula
Cow’s milk is the main ingredient for this formula, but the milk is modified to make it safe and easily digestible. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), cow’s milk-based formula makes up about 80% of all formulas sold in the market. However, keep in mind that some babies might be allergic to the protein in cow’s milk.
Read here about “symptoms for milk allergy“
2. Soy Formula
This is made from soy milk which contains protein and carbohydrates like glucose or sucrose. This kind of formula is good if you want to exclude animal products from your baby’s diet or if your baby is allergic to cow’s milk.
Also known as elemental, this formula contains protein that has been broken down into smaller parts. These formulas are expensive, and most of them don’t taste very good. They are typically used for babies who cannot digest intact protein.
4. Specialized formula
This type of formula is for babies with certain medical needs or if they are preterm babies.
How do you know if you have the right formula for your baby?
Your baby is likely to be satisfied if he:
- Acts satisfied after each feeding
- Gains weight regularly
- Has about 6 to 8 wet diapers a day
- Has about 2 to 5 or more stools a day in the first stage (not constipated or having runny or blood stools)
Can I Switch to Another Brand of Baby Formula Later On?
You may be considering changing your baby’s formula if you think your baby is not sleeping well, gassy or fussy, or for other reasons like price, availability, or easy to prepare. Whatever the reason is, there are few formula basics to keep in mind before making the switch.
The different brands of the same form of formula have the same basic ingredients. According to Ahmad S Guo M.’s article in Food Science and Technology Nutrition, “Switching between formula brands is not a problem, even though many parents wonder if doing so may cause fussiness or stool changes in their baby.”
Whatever brands you choose to mix will depend on personal preference. You only have to be aware of the basic ingredients found in the same formula.
Another tip: When switching to a new formula brand, be sure to stick with the same type of protein. If you want to switch to a formula with a different protein source, check with your doctor first or ask your pediatrician for some recommendations.