Tips for Finding the Best Formula for Babies & Infants (Advice from Experts)
The infant formula aisle can be overwhelming as you try and decide the best formula for your baby!
The most reassuring fact is ALL formula is standardized to meet the FDA guidelines for 38 nutrients thanks to the Infant Formula Act.
So, brand name or store brand ALL meet the nutritional needs of a healthy growing baby! Whew. Takes a lot of pressure off, right? But how to find the best formula?
Navigating the benefits of each and which is best for your baby can be difficult. That’s why we got advice from experienced Doula, Vanessa Flood, from Birthing Beyond. She is experienced in infant health and a great resource for new parents.
Also explore must-have Baby Products that will make your life easier or healthier!
Your Guide to Choosing the Best Baby Formula
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) currently recommends that iron-fortified formula be used for all infants who are not breastfed, or who are only partially breastfed, from birth to one year of age. So an iron-fortified formula is your starting point.
The majority of babies will use a cow’s milk-based formula that has been processed to be an easier digest than regular cows milk. (Regular cow’s milk should only be given after 1 year of age). If you are on WIC check to see which formulas are available so you can stay consistent.
Formula tries to close the gap to the nutritional makeup of breast milk. Check the ingredient list to see which comes closest.
Different Types & %’s of Protein
Let’s start with protein. Breastmilk has 5% protein (60% whey/40% casein) and Formula has 8-9% protein (20% whey/80% casein).
Whey is an easier digest that promotes faster stomach emptying (like breastmilk). Casein is a longer digest and more likely to trigger allergies. If whey is listed 1st it is more plentiful; if cows milk protein is listed first look and see if whey is added in to bring up the ratio.
Next up is Carbohydrates/Sugar. Breastmilk is 42% carbs (all lactose). Formula is 42% carbs—lactose, sucrose, corn syrup, corn syrup solids and/or maltodextrin. Very few babies are lactose intolerant. So the more lactose the closer to breastmilk composition.
Then comes fats. Breastmilk is 54% fatty acids and formula is 48-49% fat made from a blend of oils (soybean, coconut, high oleic sunflower/ safflower, palm olein). Oil choice is your preference (if you have one)
And finally we have add on ingredients that are present in breastmilk: DHA/ARA/Lutein to promote brain and eye development, Prebiotics human milk oligosaccharides-HMO’s (Galactooligosaccharides (GOS)/Fructooligosaccharides (FOS)/2’Fucosyllactose (2-FL)), Probiotics
(Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus) and nucleotides. There may be some benefit to the add ons, no harm but future studies are needed. There are also non-genetically modified formulas (non-GMOs) and Organic formulas. There are no proven benefits; choose if important to your family.
If your little one has diagnosed allergies, or a strong family history of allergies consult with your baby’s care provider about using a hypoallergenic formula. Partially hydrolyzed means the proteins are broken down smaller for an easier digest (closer to breastmilk); extensively hydrolyzed is more processed down and free amino acid-based is completely broken down. These should be tried under physician recommendation.
And what about Soy Protein Formula?
The AAP recommends its use for infants with galactosemia (tested for at birth) and vegetarian parents seeking a vegetarian formula option. It is not recommended for cows milk allergy, premature infants, as a colic reducer or to reduce allergic atopic reactions. There is also some concern over high estrogen compounds.
Switching to a soy protein should be done under provider recommendation.
Should I Supplement?
Then we have the supplementation for breastfed babies and toddler formulas. Neither of these are needed.
If breastfeeding and you need additional supplementation you can pump and supplement with your own milk or use a regular infant formula. And once your little one turns a year old you can transition to all solid food and cow’s milk (or other substitute recommended by the pediatrician).
If you are unsure about it your baby is tolerating the chosen formula visit with baby’s provider before switching. It will generally take about a week for clearance of the last formula. Most babies do well with formula. Some may need to try a couple different kinds before finding the perfect fit. And remember baby will still need to a Vitamin D supplement as formula does not provide enough.
How to Save Money
To help with costs, once you have found a formula that works well for baby, sign up for any newsletter/coupons from the company. Watch for sales and stock up (checking expiration dates), see if any rebate programs have rebates from the store you are purchasing from.
If using a brand name, you can also see if a store brand has a comparable formula.
Powdered formula (you mix with tap water) is cheaper than liquid concentrate you mix with water and ready to feed is the most expensive option. Select the best match for your baby, your comfort and your budget!
The Best Formulas for Babies:
While there are tons of different formulas and brands available, these are some great options to consider:
Enfamil Baby Formula
Considered the #1 trusted baby formula for brain-building and immune support, Enfamil offers products for children up to 3 years old, as well as allergy, tummy troubles and prenatal vitamins.
This nutrient-dense baby formula is great for your little ones. It is owned by mothers, so you can be sure they’re providing products they would give to their own children.
The benefits: Goats milk is naturally easier to digest than traditional cows milk.
- Easy for your baby to digest
- Mild, good taste
- No GMO ingredients
- Rich in nutrients
We hope this information has helped you understand formula better. This allows you to make the right choice for your baby and know your little one is healthy and happy.
From our family to yours, iFamilyKC