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Newborns – Choosing and Using Baby Formula

Breastfeeding is the preferred method of providing newborns with all the nutrients and immune system aids they require. But for many people – whether mother, infant or both – that simply isn’t an option. But not to worry. Baby formulas have developed to a high art, thanks to excellent science.

New parents sometimes read about potential difficulties associated with feeding infants cow’s milk, and so shy away from formula based on it. But all commercial formulas are safe and nutritious.

Cow’s milk isn’t a preferred food for babies under 12 months. That much is true. But that’s chiefly because it doesn’t have the same percentage and type of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and other compounds that is contained in natural human breast milk. And, indeed, a small percentage of newborns are lactose intolerant.

But baby formula based on cow’s milk isn’t just your regular dairy product in a different bottle with a higher price sticker. The formula is carefully prepared. The cow’s milk fats and proteins are altered to emulate human breast milk to a very high degree.

But, for those few who truly have difficulty digesting cow’s milk-based infant formula, there are good alternatives.

Soy-based formula is a healthy choice. They’re useful primarily for those babies who lack the enzyme to correctly break down lactose, the natural sugar in cow’s milk. Here again, it’s important to get soy formula, not soy milk. The latter is not appropriate for newborns.

A specialized formula called protein hydrolysate is another alternative for those who have some types of milk allergy. The proteins in the formula are already broken down to products that would result from natural digestion. For those rare but unfortunate few babies who are born with a family history of milk allergies, it can be a lifesaver.

Beyond the general category of ingredients, there are many types of infant formula. They differ primarily in cost and convenience.

Powdered formula is the least expensive. It’s designed to be mixed with water. It’s possible and usually safe to mix with tap water. But many parents will want to use bottled water to ensure purity, which largely eliminates the price advantage.

Concentrated liquid formula is also intended to be mixed with water. It has the advantage of being a little easier to prepare, but (like powdered formula) requires careful measurement. The right ratio of formula to water is important for optimal nutrition and ease of digestion.

Ready-to-use formula, by contrast, is already pre-mixed to the exact concentration and form for instant use. Like the others it can be fed warm or cool, whichever the baby prefers. Not surprisingly, it is also the most expensive.

Some formula labeled ‘enhanced’ contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid), which are omega-3 fatty acids found in natural human breast milk. They’re safe, but research is mixed on how much extra benefit they add.

All formulas are safe and nutritious, but all carry the same requirements. They should be prepared with clean, preferably sterile, utensils. Hands that contact anything that would make its way into the baby’s mouth should also be thoroughly cleaned before feeding.

Prepare formula to the exact concentration recommended and feed only what the baby wants. Don’t force the infant to take more than it is willing to consume after waiting a few minutes to relax caregiver and child. If it hasn’t drunk the ‘right’ amount or at the time desired, simply wait and try again later. Babies regulate according to an internal clock, not the one on the wall.

Newborns – Choosing and Using Baby Formula

Breastfeeding is the preferred method of providing newborns with all the nutrients and immune system aids they require. But for many people – whether mother, infant or both – that simply isn’t an option. But not to worry. Baby formulas have developed to a high art, thanks to excellent science.

New parents sometimes read about potential difficulties associated with feeding infants cow’s milk, and so shy away from formula based on it. But all commercial formulas are safe and nutritious.

Cow’s milk isn’t a preferred food for babies under 12 months. That much is true. But that’s chiefly because it doesn’t have the same percentage and type of proteins, fats, carbohydrates and other compounds that is contained in natural human breast milk. And, indeed, a small percentage of newborns are lactose intolerant.

But baby formula based on cow’s milk isn’t just your regular dairy product in a different bottle with a higher price sticker. The formula is carefully prepared. The cow’s milk fats and proteins are altered to emulate human breast milk to a very high degree.

But, for those few who truly have difficulty digesting cow’s milk-based infant formula, there are good alternatives.

Soy-based formula is a healthy choice. They’re useful primarily for those babies who lack the enzyme to correctly break down lactose, the natural sugar in cow’s milk. Here again, it’s important to get soy formula, not soy milk. The latter is not appropriate for newborns.

A specialized formula called protein hydrolysate is another alternative for those who have some types of milk allergy. The proteins in the formula are already broken down to products that would result from natural digestion. For those rare but unfortunate few babies who are born with a family history of milk allergies, it can be a lifesaver.

Beyond the general category of ingredients, there are many types of infant formula. They differ primarily in cost and convenience.

Powdered formula is the least expensive. It’s designed to be mixed with water. It’s possible and usually safe to mix with tap water. But many parents will want to use bottled water to ensure purity, which largely eliminates the price advantage.

Concentrated liquid formula is also intended to be mixed with water. It has the advantage of being a little easier to prepare, but (like powdered formula) requires careful measurement. The right ratio of formula to water is important for optimal nutrition and ease of digestion.

Ready-to-use formula, by contrast, is already pre-mixed to the exact concentration and form for instant use. Like the others it can be fed warm or cool, whichever the baby prefers. Not surprisingly, it is also the most expensive.

Some formula labeled ‘enhanced’ contain DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid), which are omega-3 fatty acids found in natural human breast milk. They’re safe, but research is mixed on how much extra benefit they add.

All formulas are safe and nutritious, but all carry the same requirements. They should be prepared with clean, preferably sterile, utensils. Hands that contact anything that would make its way into the baby’s mouth should also be thoroughly cleaned before feeding.

Prepare formula to the exact concentration recommended and feed only what the baby wants. Don’t force the infant to take more than it is willing to consume after waiting a few minutes to relax caregiver and child. If it hasn’t drunk the ‘right’ amount or at the time desired, simply wait and try again later. Babies regulate according to an internal clock, not the one on the wall.

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