A Closer Look At Infant Formula
When your baby is young, their needs seem pretty simple: eat, be changed, and sleep. But like most things in parenting, all is easier said than done. Even when they're on an all-liquid diet the choices are abundant. Here are a few things to know when shopping for formula for your infant.
Finding the Right Formula: A large percentage of new parents simply use the formula sample that the hospital sends home with them, and stick with the same brand. But for many babies, more research and trial and error may be needed, especially as they get older. The first thing to look for is a formula that provides complete nutrition for infants. All formulas will have the basics covered, and many are iron and DHA/ARA fortified.
Also, consider if there are any features or ingredients that are important to you. There are non-GMO formulas, Kosher ones, and gluten-free varieties. If you plan to use formula to supplement breastfeeding, several companies make special formulations that ensure a gentle introduction to formula. As with many things, you'll need to try each variety out for a week or so to see if your baby will take to it. If your baby continues to reject it, then perhaps it's time to try a different formula.
Avoiding Gas Problems: Gas is often an uncomfortable nuisance for babies. If your baby is prone to gas, take a look at the various products—available in powder, liquid concentrate, and ready-to-drink form—that are formulated to be more easily digested. Brands like Enfamil and Similac offer formulas with gentle protein for your baby's sensitive, still-developing digestive system. Another way to alleviate gas issues are by looking at the bottles. Avent and Dr. Brown's bottles feature special valve and vent systems that minimize the amount of air that goes into your baby's stomach during feeding.
Happy Baby: But how do you know when you've found the right formula for your baby? There should be no changes in how much they're consuming or how they are behaving. (One important change: Formula diapers are very different in color and texture from breast milk diapers. Don't be alarmed.) Your baby should continue to gain weight and thrive. If your baby develops symptoms like a rash, hives, eczema, vomiting, or blood in their stool, see your doctor; there may be a cow's milk allergy or another problem that will require a switch. There are a variety of brands that make formulas for sensitive tummies and babies with certain allergies.
- Mom Tip: Even when you've identified a brand that works for your baby, you might have to re-evaluate the form you buy. Wahina24 found a big difference between Similac Alimentum's powder and ready-to-feed versions.
My son was having so many problems with food, we were going to a few different doctors and unfortunately had to keep switching his formula. (Not by choice, trust me!) I even had to stop the breast milk because he just was not tolerating the milk protein or really much of anything. Our pediatrician gave us a container of the Similac Alimentum powder form and it did make a small difference. However, my son was still crying like he was in pain after each bottle. I read a lot of reviews online and noticed a few people mentioning that their child could tolerate the liquid form over the powder form. My doc knew nothing of this, and I was so discouraged but figured I would give it a try. Not joking, the first bottle of the liquid form he ate, no crying after. I cried because I was so happy to not have my son in pain after eating for the first time. At one point I ran out of the liquid so I HAD to give him the powder and sure enough, crying and pain immediately after.
My son is now almost 6 months old and has not had one single problem and is the happiest baby on the planet all day long now. Please give it a try to see if you and your child will be pain free.
A Closer Look At Organic Formula
Many families make a concerted effort to consume only organic products, and parents can shop organic for baby formula too. Conventional and organic formulas are the same nutritionally. However, the organic label means that a product is made primarily of natural ingredients, extracted from plants or animal products, with minimal processing. That means less synthetic ingredients and exposure to potential pesticides (but, like all organic products, it costs more). To be certified organic, baby formula needs to meet the standards set by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)'s National Organic Program.
Organic Options: Earth's Best, Baby's Only, and Vermont Organics all offer organic formulas that meet both the USDA's organic standards and the FDA's nutritional guidelines. All of these are produced without pesticides, antibiotics, and growth hormones.
Soy Alternatives: If your baby is allergic or sensitive to cow milk, there are now a number of soy formulas on the market. These products can be more gentle on the stomach and help reduce fussiness and gas problems.
- Mom Tip: It pays to be precise when making formula. While it might require an extra step, it's worth it when your baby stops feeling the side effects from incorrect proportions. Some babies experience gas or constipation from their formula, and Amber R. Robbins figured out how to get her baby comfortable again on Baby's Only Dairy DHA/ARA Toddler Formula.
This formula is the only one my baby loves. I had to switch to formula to supplement. Now my baby drinks this formula for all meals. But listen folks: it will cause constipation if you don't measure it out right. It says on the can—measure one unpacked level scoop (8.5 g) for every 2 oz. of water. GET OUT YOUR SCALE....set it to grams. My unpacked level scoop was different than what my hubs did, and it was different every time I did it. I was way over feeding my baby. Even if its just one gram over for each scoop, think about that added up over a 24-hour period! That's going to constipate—and it's also too many calories! When measured out correctly, this formula is great. My baby loves it, he doesn't get constipation from it anymore, and I feel confident that my baby is getting the next best thing to breast milk.