Baby Formula

If you’ve decided that you want to bottle-feed your baby, do it with confidence, and pay no attention if anyone tries to make you feel guilty about not breastfeeding. This is your baby, your body, and your decision. Enjoy it, and watch your newborn grow into a strong and healthy child. If you wanted to breast-feed, but you or your baby had problems with it, youmay be feeling some disappointment, however.

Try to turn from such thoughts. Even if bottle-feeding wasn’t your first choice, it is now the best choice for you and your baby. And thank goodness this safe, nutritious choice exists. Embrace it (and your baby) with love, and don’t look back.

As long as the formula is prepared according to the instructions, bottle-feeding is a satisfactory alternative feeding method. The formula is a milk preparation usually based on modified cow’s milk and contains valuable nutrients, similar to those found in breast milk. However, it lacks protective antibodies.

By about 4–6 months of age, your baby can digest
increasingly complex foods, and you can gradually introduce solid foods into his or her diet. However, your baby should also continue to receive breast milk or formula throughout the first year of life.Ask your baby’s doctor to recommend a formula.

The American Academy of Pediatrics’ Committee on Nutrition recommends using a formula that is based on cow’s milk and fortified with iron. In such formulas, the cow’s milk has been modified to be more digestible and somewhat more like human milk.

If a baby is fussy, gassy, or colicky, with daily crying spells that seem to have no cause, parents often suspect an allergy or intolerance to formula, but studies have shown that such intolerances are uncommon. Sometimes, however, a baby may prefer one milk-based formula to another. It may be just a matter of taste.

In recent years, as vegetarianism and soy foods have become more popular, more parents have chosen formulas based on soy protein. Most doctors, however, do not recommend using soy formula unless a baby is truly allergic to milk-based formula or cannot tolerate the milk sugar lactose (lactose intolerance is rare in infants).

Soy formulas are even less like human milk than cow’s-milk-based formulas. One major difference is that soy lacks lactose, which helps with calcium absorption.

Unfortunately, infants who are allergic to cow’s-milk-based formula often are allergic to soy formula as well. For these babies, formulas based on hydrolyzed (predigested) protein are generally used. Other special formulas are available for specific medical conditions.

If you think your baby may need a soy-based or hydrolyzed formula, you should check with your child’s doctor first. Whatever type of formula you choose, stick with commercially prepared formulas for an infant. Plain milk, soy milk, and evaporated milk are not good substitutes; nor are homemade formulas.

Occasionally, formula “recipes” may circulate on the Internet or among parents of babies with medical conditions.

These may be nutritionally inadequate or contain dangerous or untested ingredients; it is safer not to use them. And don’t change a commercial formula by diluting it (which can leave a baby malnourished), by making it more concentrated (which can tax a baby’s kidneys), or by adding anything to it (which can be dangerous). If you think your baby needs a change,discuss it with your child’s doctor.

Packaging Choices

Formulas come packaged in a variety of ways. Here we list them from the least expensive (and generally least convenient) to the costliest and easiest:

• Powdered formula, which you mix with water (sterilized if water comes from a well), in large cans or individual packets

• Concentrated liquid formula, which you dilute with water (sterilized if water comes from a well)
• Ready-to-feed liquid formula in large cans (Once opened, these must be refrigerated and used within a day or two or discarded—check the label.)
• Ready-to-feed formula in single-serving cans, which you pour into a bottle
• Ready-to-feed formula in disposable bottles

Whichever kind you generally use, you may want to keep some single-serving cans or bottles in the house. They are convenient if you and your baby need to go
somewhere on short notice or if you miscalculate and run out of your usual formula in the middle of the night.Once your baby seems happy with a certain kind of formula, you can save money by buying it in cases at discount groceries or shopping clubs. Just be sure to check the expiration dates: You don’t want it to expire before you have a chance to use it all. Wherever you buy formula, be sure you always keep enough on hand to last at least several days.

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