The world of parenting is full of immense and unlimited choices. Whether this is your first baby or one of many, if you’ve reached the point that your baby needs formula, our quick guide is here to help you get started in your decision process.
Why Use Baby Formula
The first thing parents need to ask is, why do they need the baby formula? We all know that breastfeeding is the number one choice for our babies, but this might not be an option for your baby. Sometimes mothers have difficulty with breastfeeding and are unable to sustain this option.
Breastfeeding is not a simple and easy task, and the inability to breastfeed, regardless of the situation, doesn’t mean your baby needs to suffer. Lastly, your baby may need formula due to health reasons (allergies, etc.), and choosing a formula for your baby’s dietary needs is perfectly reasonable.
What to Look for in the Baby Formula
There are many things to consider when choosing the perfect formula for your baby. Please remember, the perfect formula for your baby may not be the perfect formula for another baby. So what do you look for to begin your search?
A baby is developing rapidly, which means the ingredients they consume can drastically change their entire life. Exposure to heavy metals such as lead, mercury, arsenic, and cadmium can impact cognitive and mental capabilities and kidney and anemia issues. With many of these heavy metals seeping unnoticeably into our food supply through chemicals used in farming, escaping them completely may seem impossible; however, choosing organic baby formula can help mitigate much of this concern.
It would seem that all baby formulas should have the proper nutrition to be sold in the USA or EU and become certified. On the contrary, having the basic vitamins and minerals and adding a ton of extra synthetic and harmful ingredients (which are allowed within regulations) does not equal “proper nutrition” for your baby. Avoid ingredients such as corn syrup solids, sugar, and soy.
As mentioned earlier, not every baby formula may work. Some babies have sensitive systems, as they are developing and unable to digest everything well. For example, some babies may need lactose-sensitive options that hydrolyze (break down) the lactose protein into smaller fragments and make it easier to digest. This might help decrease your baby’s issues with spit-up, acid reflux, constipation, and gas. In some cases, goat’s milk formula may be a better option due to the different lactose protein composition and easier digestion.
If you choose American formula, there is one stage for an infant (0-12 months) and one stage for a toddler (one year and up). In contrast, European formulas have two different stages during infancy and different options for toddlers as well. Stage one in EU formulas is for babies 0-6 months old. Stage two is for 6 months to 10/12 months (depending on the brand). Lastly, stage 3 or stage 4 formulas are for toddlers ranging from 10 months to/one-year plus.
There is a reason so many different brands and varieties exist for baby formula, so don’t get too frustrated if your first choice doesn’t work for your baby. Give it a week, monitor your baby’s reactions to the formula, and consult your pediatrician for better options if they are having issues.
The information we provided is for you to get started on your formula journey, but make sure to continue the research. We can’t stress it enough, knowledge is power, and when it comes to feeding your baby, you will not regret digging into the weeds looking for the best options. Remember, the nutrition you provide today builds the foundation for a lifetime of natural eating.
Editorial: Note from US CDC
No brand of infant formula is best for all babies. You should pick an infant formula that is made especially for babies. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates commercial infant formulas to ensure they meet minimum nutritional and safety requirements. Pediatricians commonly recommend iron-fortified infant formulas, and most commercial infant formulas in the United States contain iron. Commercial infant formulas come in liquid and powdered forms.
When choosing an infant formula:
- Make sure it is not expired.
- Make sure the container is sealed and in good condition. If there are any leaks, puffy ends, or rust spots, do not feed it to your infant.
- Buy FDA-approved items only.
Talk with your child’s doctor or nurse if you have questions about choosing an infant formula for your baby or if you are thinking of switching the infant formula brand or type. Read the full notice here.