Babies need milk–that’s the undisputed fact. For the first six months of life, that’s pretty much their only source of nourishment, and when you realize how integral those first few months are in building their mental and motor skills, then you know how important choosing just the right milk is.
If you’ve chosen to bottle-feed your child, the pressure to find and stick to the right formula becomes even greater. The many kinds and brands to choose from in the market today is enough to make any new parent’s head spin. Here is a simple guide to knowing your milk formula types, and some tips on choosing the right one.
Formula Feeding Tips And Tricks
- Ask your pediatrician. Get expert insight on the right formula given your physician’s assessment of your baby. He may tell you to try a certain type first if he detects certain sensitivities in your child.
- Give your formula fair shot. Babies need time to adjust to a feeding routine, and their immature digestive tracts might struggle with keeping their milk down at first. Spitting up, gassiness, and diarrhea or constipation are all considered normal, but do make sure to take note of these and the duration of these symptoms before consulting with your doctor about possibly switching to another brand or type.
- Observe proper hygiene when handling formula. Baby formula has a limited shelf life, and requires extra safety precautions when handling. You don’t want contaminated formula! Mark expiration dates clearly on your milk containers, make sure you wash your hands before mixing, use clean drinking water, and make sure you use properly sterilized bottles, nipples, and measuring implements. Seal and store your formula containers well.
- Mix as per manufacturer’s instructions. Don’t play around with measurements. Use the mandated scoop and level, and don’t guess at the right proportions. Doing so could cause constipation or diarrhea in your baby.
- Consider your baby’s special needs. If your baby was born premature, or tested positive to certain congenital problems or disease that could lead to their failure to thrive, special milk formulas and fortifiers might be prescribed. Make sure to have an open dialogue with your specialist or pediatrician regarding this.
Formula milk usually comes in three forms:
- Ready-to-drink: Grab and go, no pre-mixing or measuring required. Cons include a heftier price tag and a greater ecological footprint, since you’ll be throwing each (plastic) container away once consumed.
- Liquid concentrate: Requires adding an equal part of water to fully prepare for consumption. It’s a little more expensive than powdered formula, but many parents find it easier to prepare.
- Powdered formula: Easier to store, with the longest shelf life, but can be least convenient to prepare with all the measuring and leveling. Easily the most popular option due to its easy availability and relatively more affordable price tag.
Ask your pediatrician about these kinds of formula:
Cow’s milk-based formula
A scan of the formula aisle will prove that most brands available today are cow’s milk-based. A lot of research has gone into realizing cow’s milk contains the best mix of protein, carbs, and fat for human baby growth and development. Also, it helps with a smoother transition to cow’s milk once baby turns a year old.
This type of formula features proteins that have been either partially or extensively broken down to aid in easier digestion and absorption. Some babies might have milk protein allergies, or are born with difficulties digesting milk (common in preemies), and are often prescribed this type of formula to make sure they are able to thrive.
Some vegan families opt to use soy formula from the get-go, but in some cases babies born with sensitivity to animal protein or rare deficiencies in breaking down animal protein may be prescribed plant-based protein in the form of soy-based milk formula.