While it is advisable to breastfeed your newborn, many mothers are not in a position to breastfeed and have to supplement it partially or fully with baby formulas that provide nutrition to your baby.
But choosing which baby formula to give your newborn can be a tricky and difficult job as there are so many available in the market from a variety of manufacturers and suppliers – both online and from retail outlets.
If you are looking for a quick and complete guide on the Best Baby Formulas for newborns, you have come to the right place.
We will brief you on the various types of Baby formulas available on the market alongwith their specifications and suggested way or using them.
This is ideal for new mothers who want to make sure that they given their newborns the best nutrition which will suit them best.
The FDA ( Food and Drug Administration ) oversees all the Baby formulas manufactured and sold in the US and ensures that it meets with the specific nutritional requirements needed for newborns and infants.
So you can be confident that any formula will be safe and will contain the vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins and minerals to properly nourish your baby and ensure that they grow properly.
This guide will help you to understand the basic concepts about babies formulas.
How to choose a baby formula for your newborn
Ideally breast feeding is the optimum source of nutrition during the first one year.
But if you are not able to breastfeed and have no option but to use formulas, you must carefully choose the right one.
You should consult your paediatrician to check which formula is best for your child, as your baby should accept it and be comfortable.
All formulas are designed to be as close to breast milk as possible, but the ingredients differ and you have to see what your child will accept.
However different formulas have varying effects on your child and your newborn can develop health problems if the correct formulas are not given.
Every baby is different so all formulas do not suit all babies.
Various types of baby formulas
There are three basic types of baby formulas which are based around their ingredients
Cow’s milk formula
This is made from Cow’s milk but the milk has been specially treated to make the milk protein more digestible and safe.
Milk sugar ( lactose) is added to make it like breast milk and the butterfat ( fat) is removed and replaced with other vegetable fats. This makes it easy for infants to digest and is the most commonly used type of formula available.
Most of the Cow’s milk-based formulas are iron-fortified to prevent anemia during infancy.
Iron is a mineral that is necessary for normal human growth and development. Some babies do not have enough iron to meet their needs.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends that iron-fortified formula be used for all infants who are not fed on breast milk, or who are only partially given breast milk, at least till they are one year of age.
Soy based Formulas
These formulas based on the protein (soy) and carbohydrate (either glucose or sucrose) a vegan type ( for people who are strict vegetarian ) and it used only if your baby is allergic to protein which is found in cow’s milk or if the baby is lactose intolerant, which is the main ingredient of Cow’s milk formulas.
However please note that lactose-free cow’s milk based formulas are available.
Many infants may have brief periods when they are unable to digest lactose, especially after bouts of diarrhea.
However, this is generally a temporary problem and you do not require the change the diet of your baby. If the problem persists for longer periods, consult your pediatrician and he may suggest a lactose-free formula. Please remember that even a lactose-free formula will provide all the nutrition needed for your baby as does one that contains lactose.
If your child has an actual milk allergy, which causes colic, bloody stools, etc. then the allergy is to the protein in the cow’s milk formula.
In such cases, Soy formula is the recommended alternative.
But unfortunately, almost 50% of babies who have milk allergy are also allergic to the protein in the Soy formula and they would require specialized formulas ( amino-based or elemental ) or breastfeeding.
These are called “pre-digested” formulas as their protein content has already been broken down to smaller proteins, which can be more easily digested by an infant.
Infants who have a high risk of developing allergies and have not been sufficiently breastfed for around 4 to 6 months can develop skin problems like eczema.
This condition can be prevented or delayed by feeding them hydrolyzed or partially hydrolyzed ( hypoallergenic ) formulas.
Please remember that Hydrolyzed formulas are costlier than regular formulas.
Check with your pediatrician whether your child really needs such formulas.
These formulas are suitable for almost the majority of babies who have food allergies which cause running nose, problems in the intestines, hives, etc.
You must also see if there is a family history of allergies.
Specialized formulas are for babies with special needs, such as high-risk allergies, premature babies and other specific conditions, etc.
You should consult your pediatrician and follow his guidance about feeding requirements since these are quite different from the regular formulas.
Different Forms of Baby formulas
Baby formulas are generally available in three forms
Powdered baby formula is a dry powder that can be mixed easily in water.
It is the Cheapest priced option for you.
Easy to store as it requires less space and has the longest shelf life.
It is convenient to travel with as well.
Just mix it with water and shake properly and use it.
However, ensure that the powder is dissolved properly as these particles can block the opening of the bottle and create blockages during feeding.
You can Premix the bottles ahead of use, but make sure that they are used within 24 hours of mixing if stored in a fridge.
You can also pre-fill the bottles with the right measurements of powder when you are away from home. But add water only when you’re ready to use them.
Liquid Concentrate form
This can also be mixed with water and used.
They are just a liquid version of the powder type formulas – you just add water and do not have to worry about dissolving the powder.
However, they are a bit more expensive as they are heavier and cost more to ship and store.
It is also difficult to carry these liquid concentrate containers while moving away from home and awkward to use.
These do not require mixing, as the name suggests and are ready to use, which makes them the most convenient for parents to use
They are available in single-use bottles and hence they are the most expensive options.
You could use limited amounts of Ready-to-feed formulas along with powder/liquid concentrate forms for late night/early morning feeds or when you are traveling.
You can read more about the various ingredients of baby formulas as recommended by FDA here