It’s common knowledge that breast milk is the best food for babies in the first 6 months. However, some mothers choose to mix formula with breast milk and others choose not to breastfeed at all for various reasons. It’s not the end of the world. Scientific methods used by food manufacturers make sure that the formula babies are fed with contain the essential nutrients they need to develop properly.
Since there are many brands available on the market (Similac, Enfamail, Gerber, Corolle, Enfagrow, Nestle NIDO, etc.), the inevitable question arises: how can you be sure you chose the right one for your baby?
4 parameters you should take into account
The following parameters will give you good indication that you are feeding your baby with the right formula:
1) Your baby is cooperative during meal time. A baby that doesn’t like what she eats will tend to be restless and will be reluctant to eat.
2) A baby who ate well usually tends to be relaxed after the meal is finished.
3) Proper bowel movement is an important indication of the quality of the food. If your baby frequently suffers from constipation or diarrhea, it’s probably time to change her formula. You should consult your doctor to make sure she doesn’t suffer from lactose intolerance. If she does, you will have to switch to a lactose-free formula.
You should distinguish between soft stools and diarrhea. The latter has watery texture, is very frequent and usually comes with abdominal pain. As to constipation, it is less clear cut. Medically speaking, a baby should poop at least once a week (of course, there are babies that poop at a much higher rate). Less than that and it means she is suffering from constipation. You should, then, pay a visit to your pediatrician.
4) Another vital indication you should pay attention to is weight. As long as the baby gains weight according to medical charts, the formula she is fed with is probably good for her. If your baby fails to gain weight, you should change her diet, but first, consult your doctor.
The main ingredients you will find in almost every baby formula
The following is a list of ingredients contained in most formulas. You should get to know them, especially their implications for your baby’s health.
Lactose – The sugar in milk. It is made of galactose and glucose and constitutes approximately 8% of the content of milk. As mentioned above, lactose-free formula is designed to treat mainly temporary or permanent lactose intolerance.
LCPUFA – Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids that come from omega-3 and 6. Manufacturers that choose to add LCPUFA to their formula claim they have beneficial effect on babies’ cognitive development.
Nucleotides – Nucleic acids that are the building blocks of DNA. Researchers believe they have a positive effect on the development of the immune system.
Prebiotics – Oligosaccharides that survive the passage in the digestive tract and reach the colon, where they serve as a platform for the proliferation of good bacteria and thereby strengthen the body’s immune response.
Probiotics – Friendly bacteria that help the body’s digestive process. Probiotics has been proved effective only from the age of six months. Before that, the baby’s digestive system is not developed and mature enough. Therefore, formula for young infants usually do not contain friendly bacteria.
Palm Oil is meant to provide the formula with palmitic acid that is contained in breast milk. At high percentage it binds calcium and reduces its absorption. It may also cause constipation in babies, so in case your little one poops less than she needs, you might need to look for a formula without palm oil.
Comfort – easy to digest proteins that come from cow’s milk. Formulas with high percentage of these proteins are meant for babies who suffer from gas and colic
Lutein – Anti-oxidant found in breastmilk known to be essential to eye health.