Parenting & Pregnancy

How to Choose the Right Bottle-Feed Formula for Your Baby


Experts agree that formula, usually based on cow’s milk, is not, and never can be, exactly the same as breast milk. Originally intended for calves, which have big bodies and small brains, cow’s milk has had to go through many stages of processing to be made suitable for human babies, who have small bodies and big brains. Protein and salt levels have been modified, and iron has been added during the process. The two main types of formula are:

• Whey-dominant. Usually labeled as a first milk or as suitable from birth, this formula has extra whey protein added to it to make it more similar to breast milk. Whey is watery and easier for a baby to digest than casein.

• Casein-based. Slightly higher in protein than the whey formula, this mixture takes longer to digest. It is sold as a “follow-on” milk, designed to satisfy “hungrier” babies. In fact, there’s no conclusive evidence to support this. Both types of milk are suitable for babies from birth.

• Most formulas contain long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LCPs), which are known to be vital in promoting brain growth in babies. These are closest to breast milk. Check the label to be sure your formula is rich in LCPs.

The right formula

–          Your baby may go through a restless period in the early evening, and you may think he is not satisfied. Some mothers consider adding solids, but there is no need to: this behavior is common for both breast- and bottle-led babies. They settle down as they grow older.

–          A formula that does not suit your baby may cause such symptoms as vomiting, stomach cramps, or a rash or other allergic reactions. If your baby is gaining weight at about 8 ounces (224g) a week and is not showing any of these symptoms, his food is fine. If you are not happy with the formula you are using, consult with your baby’s doctor before changing.

–          Soy-based formulas are available for babies who are allergic to cow’s milk formula, but you should always check with your baby’s doctor before changing. There may be other drawbacks to using soy milk, since some babies are allergic to it.

–          Apart from breast milk, infant formula is the only food suitable for your baby until he is at least six months old. Goat’s milk and condensed milk are not suitable foods for young babies.

–          It is best to continue formula for 9 to 12 months.

–          In an emergency, if you run out of formula, try boiled sugar water until you can get to the store.

Essential equipment

You will need:

• Six to eight 8-ounce (240-ml) bottles. Some types are for use with plastic disposable liners, which collapse as the milk is sucked out, preventing your baby from swallowing too much air when he sucks. A bottle includes a nipple; a cap to protect the nipple when it is not in use; a ring which screws on to fasten the nipple to the bottle.

• Two bottle brushes.

• A sterilizing system or a dishwasher.

• A measuring cup with a lid.

• Plastic knife and spoon.


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