This article is written to help new moms on choosing the best formula for breastfed babies. I hope you will find it insightful.
According to WHO, it is highly recommended to all the newborn babies to be breastfed exclusively at least up to 6 months time. I, myself, is still nursing my 3 years old daughter which I think it is important to nourish her with all the best nutrients from the breast milk and enhance the immune system. One day, if you intend to wean off your babies or mix feed with formula due to your personal reason, I will walk you through a thorough survey on the best formulas for breastfed babies which are closest to breast milk in terms of the nutritional value. Before I proceed, let us have an overview about breast milk.
Breast milk is no doubt the best source of food for babies due to its nutritional value and benefits to both mother and the babies. Just a quick review on the health benefit of breast milk.
Breast milk contain lactoferrin, an iron-binding glycoprotein which is one part of the immune system to fight inflammation and poses antioxidant properties. Colostrum ( first expressed human milk) contains the highest lactoferrin and followed by breast milk and cow’s milk. It Is able to fight bacteria and fungus, poses anti cancer and anti allergy properties, to protect your babies against diseases.
Also known as Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMO) or Human Milk Glycans. Breast milk has high concentration of HMO, a short-chain sugar molecule which is the third solid component in breast milk after lactose and fat. This complex carbohydrate which is only found in breast milk not in infant formula, is served as a food source for intestinal bacteria and maintain healthy intestinal microbiome to reduce the risk of viral or bacteria infection. Some study has suggested it is able to prevent diarrhea and respiratory diseases and it is also important for the brain and mental growth in long run.
Mother first expressed milk (also known as colostrum) is rich in antibodies immunoglobulin IgA which can protect the newborn from getting sick and enhance their immune system. It plays very important role in defense in gastrointestinal, as well as respiratory and genitourinary tract. Study has claimed that breastfed babies has fewer infection than non breastfed babies.
Newborn babies pick up good bacteria from the mother during the canal birth. These bacteria existed in mothers’ vaginal naturally and are transmitted to the babies during the delivery. Among all the beneficial bacteria, bifidobacterium and lactobacillus are found to be variable in women. These are natural probiotics which maintain gut health in babies which proven in treating and preventing gastrointestinal and respiratory infection as well as infant colic.
It is one of the compounds found in natural human milk. It is important for critical metabolic processes and also a building block for RNA and DNA for normal body function. Cow’s milk has much lower level and some manufacturer added nucleotide in their formula.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Arachidonic acid (ARA)
DHA and ARA are both long chain fatty acid found in breast milk. They are important for babies brain growth and development which promote better in visual function, cognitive skill and behavioral development. However, DHA and ARA in human milk depends very much on mother’s diet. Mother who consumes fish daily has higher level of DHA than mother who hardly take fish.
This is a complex compound contain lipid and protein and consists of bio active component found in breast milk, useful on brain function, intestinal development and immune system. It is normally cannot be replicated because it will be destroyed by high heat. Some manufacturers manage to do it due to technology advancement, incorporated into the infant formula nowadays.
Composition of breast milk will be changed over the time of lactation. It is to suit your babies nutritional need overtime.
“Closest to the breast milk”
For infants, there are basically four main type of infant formula in the market.
- Standard cow’s milk
- Soy milk
- Special formula such as hydrolyzed formula, lactose free formula and hypoallergenic formula
- Preterm babies formula
All formula are classified according to 3 categories – caloric density, carbohydrate source and protein composition. Normal term babies need 20 kcal per ounce of caloric density to thrive, lactose as the carbohydrate source and human milk/cow’s milk as the protein source. Breast milk has the above profile described as above. Of course, babies with special medical conditions will have a different profile. For instance, some babies who are lactose intolerance, and cow’s milk protein allergy, need special formula to thrive. That is why there are different type of infant formula in the market as they are targeting babies with different condition.
Let’s us take a close look at some of the formula claimed to be “closest to the breast milk” in the market and they are big players for milk powder. For example, if you want to get a close look at these formula, i also include a link to the Amazon.com for your reference.
- Similac for Supplementation
- Similac Pro-Advance
- Enfamil Enspire
- Gerber Good Start
- Earth Best Organic
In reality, there are no infant formulas which are close to the breast milk. Do we really need to feed our babies infant formulas which are expensive due to their marketing campaign that says “formula closest to the breast milk”? Based on my opinion, all formulas which are sold to the public are meeting FDA requirement should be nutritionally fine for our babies.
I know it is not easy to find a supplementation during your weaning process. Let me share with you an infant formula for babies 0 -12 months old, which is a traditional, generic and also best formula for breastfed babies.
Parent’s Choice Tender Infant formula
According to the product description, it contain:
- Non-GMO* (the formula is not genetically engineered)
- 100% partially broken down whey protein which is an easy- to- digest protein for baby’s stomach
- DHA and ARA support for brain and eye development
- Prebiotic (GALACTO-OLIGOSACCHARIDES (GOS)) for babies immune system
- Nucleotides (ADENOSINE-5-MONOPHOSPHATE, CYTIDINE-5-MONOPHOSPHATE, DISODIUM GUANOSINE-5-MONOPHOSPHATE, DISODIUM URIDINE-5-MONOPHOSPHATE) essential for body function.
- Lactose as the carbohydrate source
- Fortified with iron
- other various nutrients needed for babies’ growth
Why choose Parent’s Choice
- can get it easily from local store
- more budget friendly
- comparable to Gerber Good Start Gentle
- Nutrient specification is made according to FDA requirement and they have similar nutrients or ingredients designed according to breast milk.
I do prefer infant formula to be purchased from the local store. There are quite a number of complaints from the parent related to the quality of the product purchased online such as broken seal, foreign particle, missing cover, expired product, dented container etc. Milk powder is the only source of food for our babies. It is very important to make sure their food is good quality and no contamination.
I am no expert in babies formula, but what I understand is parent shall be comfortable if the infant formula they purchase can help their babies to thrive and no health issues were found, they are the right formula!
There is no such thing as the best formula, only the right formula. All the formula are equipped with basic need for every baby’s growth and development, cheap does not mean poor quality, expensive does not mean better quality. It is important to choose the right formula that suit your baby and make your baby grow happily.
Before I forget, please drop me a message below to share your experience using the generic infant formulas which is best suited for your child. I understand every child is unique and your favorite infant formula may not be acceptable by other people. However, my intention is to create a platform to let other readers know about how we all feel about the product in order to help them in decision-making.
Thank you for stopping by and happy reading!