Although breastfeeding is still best for babies up to age three, it is a reality in our modern and fast-paced world that not all moms can keep up with this kind of lifestyle. For that very reason, the commercial formula industry was born, and it is a very competitive and lucrative industry at that.
The different milk brands are in an aggressive ‘contest’ to market their brands as the best they can to new and experienced mothers alike, but choosing the best brand AND best type of formula for your baby has a lot more to do with its basic composition than the brand itself.
If you’re a new mom and for some reason you can’t, or choose not to breastfeed, formula feeding is your second option, and you must not take your baby’s formula for granted because this will be the basis of his nutrition now that he won’t have the luxury of complete nutrition in perfect proportions that can only be found in breastmilk.
In considering the type of formula to substitute for breast milk, your primary consideration should be that he gets almost all the nourishment he needs to thrive and develop while in a form which he could easily digest with the least discomfort and difficulty.
The brand of your formula isn’t really the primary consideration. No matter what you choose, you can rest assured that all infant formulas in the market are manufacured to meet FDA regulations. The FDA specifies the highest and lowest allowable nutrient levels as per the AAAPC, or American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition.
The Infant Formula Act combines with these regulations to ensure that all infant formulas are complete in terms of nutrient content and safe to consume by your baby. However, it still takes a little bit more than this.
The AAPC isn’t biased toward any certain formula brand if you don’t choose to breastfeed, however, they advise that low vitamin C and formulas low in iron shouldn’t be used for babies under a year old. An example of low vitamin C and low iron milk is regular cow’s milk, which is typically recommended for older kids and adults.
Knowing that formula milk isn’t all the same, get ready to to know the three basic types of formula:
Baby formulas differ in their proportions of sugar, protein, and casein:whey ratio. Regular infant formulas contain proteins that are made with a lactose and cow’s milk base. A few examples of this are Enfamil Lipil, Nestle Good Start Protein, and Similac Advance.
Most babies that aren’t exclusively beastfed, aren’t premature, have no special health or dietary needs should have no problem taking this type of formula.
An ideal casein:whey ratio for babies under 1 year age is 40:60. Formula with this type of ratio is also known as first-stage formula.
Elemental formulas, on the other hand, is also cow’s milk based but is lactose free. The protein of elemental formulas still come from cow’s milk but these proteins are hydrolysed, meaning they are further broken down so it will go easier on the stomach of infants with protein or cow’s milk allergies. An example of this is Nan-HA.
If you have a family history of formula intolerance or food allergy, you might consider starting your baby on elemental or soy formula instead, although some experts will opt for elemental formula rather than cow’s milk because they propose that infants who are allergic to cow’s milk are also often allergic to soy formula.
Soy formulas are made with soy protein from soya beans and are fortified with other nutrients to match breastmilk as closely as possible. They are lactose free.
Soy formulas are good for children who are milk protein or lactose intolerant, but not all experts agree that soy milk formula is the best option for lactose intolerant babies. Some pediatricians will still advise you to opt for a lactose-free formula instead.
One thing to be cautious of when choosing soy formula is taking extra care of baby’s beginning teeth because the glucose syrup contained in soy formula will cause the teeth enamel to wear out over time making them prone to dental problems such as tooth decay.
So there you have it, the three basic types of infant formula. You must assess your baby’s unique needs or conditions to make the best choice, more than the brand. It is always best to consult with your pediatrician to arrive at the best choice for you and your baby.