By Lynn Shannon M Bailey
As every health professional and the World Health Organisation will tell you, the best type of baby milk is breast milk. However, for various reasons, breastfeeding is not always possible. The mother or baby may be ill after the birth, or perhaps the baby had to be in an incubator for a while and could not feed. Maybe the mother didn’t manage to breastfeed, or her work situation didn’t allow it.
Whatever the reason, there is a solution for babies who are not able to breastfeed – and that is baby formula. There is a whole variety of baby formulas on the market – from soy baby formula to organic baby formula, manufactured by various different companies. If you have decided to bottle-feed your baby, the question is which is the best infant formula for you?
The Best Brew – Milk or Soy Baby Formula?
Generally, baby formula is divided into two main types – milk-based and soy formula. Although one should not give a baby actual cow’s milk until the age of a year, the milk in formula has been broken down and modified so that the baby can digest it easily. Over the years, scientists have done whatever they can to develop a baby formula that resembles the nutrients in breast milk as far as possible. Therefore, formula for babies contains various minerals and nutrients that your baby needs. In the case of milk formula, these nutrients have been taken from cow’s milk and specifically adapted to suit your baby’s immature digestion.
If there is a history of milk allergies in your family, you may need a lactose free baby formula. The most common of these is soy formula, which is based on soya and contains many added vitamins and nutrients. As cow’s milk formula is generally considered to be preferable, if you think that using it could be a potential problem you should consult closely with your healthcare professional to make sure that you are giving your baby the most suitable formula that you can.
Once you have made your choice of formula, you should make sure that you buy the type that is most suitable for your baby’s age. Most formulas are sold according to stages. The first stage is usually for babies up to six months, the second stage is until a year, and the third stage is for babies over a year. In this way, the baby receives the right nutrients in accordance to their stage of development. Do your best to stick to the correct formula stage. If you switch too early, you may find that your baby will become constipated.
Other Factors For Feeding Baby
There are many companies on the market that sell baby formula, including Wyeth, Nestle, Similac, and more. Similac formula is one of the oldest, having been in existence since the 1920s, and other established companies have also been around some time. It is not always so easy to choose a brand of formula. Some of even the most famous companies are shrouded in controversy due to their excessive and often dishonest ways of marketing infants’ formula in developing countries. And in Israel, which is a developed country, a terrible tragedy occurred several years ago when a popular company sold formula that lacked Vitamin B1 due to an unknown production malfunction. As a result, several babies died from beriberi, while others were left permanently disabled.
Another factor to take into consideration is baby formula prices, which can be quite high, especially in the beginning when it is your baby’s sole source of food. Cheap baby formula might make things easier on your family’s budget, but the question is whether it is still good for your baby. On the other hand, if you find two formulas made by different companies with the same nutritional composition, but one is cheaper than the other, you would probably choose the one that is less expensive. At the same time, your decision cannot only be based on financial considerations.
Choosing the best formula for a baby is therefore not always such an easy decision. While you are still in hospital, you may receive a whole load of baby formula samples, which can confuse you even further. (This depends on where you live, though, as marketing newborn formula has become illegal in some countries.) You may choose to rely on your friends’ recommendations. However, the best way to handle the situation is to ask your healthcare professional for independent advice that is purely based on health issues and is untainted by any form of marketing bias.
Once you have chosen a baby formula, you need to learn how to make sure that the bottles are sterilised, watch the expiry date, and follow the instructions on the packet very precisely.
If you would like to find out more information on baby formulas visit Newborn Baby. We offer help and advise to parents on baby feeding as well as free help from our expert panel.