No doubt, breast milk is the ideal source of nutrition for growing infants. It delivers the right balance of energy and nutrients to your little one at any given time as the composition changes as your infant ages. It also delivers different biochemical substances to your baby that help optimize their growth and development.
However, sometimes due to convenience or the presence of some medical conditions in the mother and/or baby, breastfeeding may be completely or partially impossible. These medical conditions thus necessitate an alternative means of feeding the baby, namely infant formula milk. These infant formulas could be used alone or alongside breast milk.
What Is Infant Formula Milk?
Infant formula, also known as formula feed or baby formula, is man-made milk made as a breast milk substitute for babies. Breast milk may be the gold standard for infant nutrition but there are also excellent infant formulae that don’t fall fat behind by much on the pecking order.
Today’s market is blooming with different brands and formulations of infant milk. Whilst there is no ‘ideal infant formula’, some infant formulas do the job of nourishing your child better than others.
Remember, before you begin feeding your baby with infant formula, make sure you discuss the pros and cons with your pediatricians. Also bring your pediatrician up to speed from time to time on your baby’s development in terms of weight, bowel habits, urine color, and urine volume, and any other information your pediatrician requests.
What Are The Types Of Infant Formula?
Based on the makeup and source of the formula, there are three main types of infant milk. They include:
1. Animal Milk Formula
A huge chunk of formula feeds are prepared from animal milk (such as sheep, goat, and cow’s milk). In terms of make-up, cow’s milk is the closest to human breast milk. It is energy-rich and can nourish the baby just fine.
The downside is that there is a significant risk of your baby having an allergic reaction to animal protein. Also the baby’s intestine most times has a hard time digesting the high protein content. There is also an increased risk of bacterial contamination of the feed.
2. Soy-based Feed
It is an alternative for babies with cow milk allergy because it doesn’t contain the protein that can trigger allergic reactions. It is a formula of choice for babies who have lactose intolerance (lactose is a sugar found in animal milk) and cannot take their mom’s breast milk. The downside is that it could be nutritionally inadequate to feed a baby.
3. Protein Hydrolysate
It is a specially-designed formula where the protein has been broken down so that don’t trigger allergies. It is a good alternative to breast milk if your baby is having allergies.
NB: Pay apt attention to the manufacturer’s directives on how to prepare and store the formula once it is opened. Also, the shelf-life of the formula is very important. Always remember the responsibility lies with you as a parent to make sure the food is prepared in very hygienic settings.
What Are the Available Forms of Infant Formula?
Currently, there are three common forms of infant formula:
Infant Milk Powder
Most baby formula comes as milk powder. The infant formula is then prepared by adding pre-measured amounts of milk powder to a pre-measured quantity of clean water according to the manufacturer’s directives. Most times, this is done by adding one scoop of milk powder to two ounces of water.
This is also known as concentrated liquid formula. It comes as a highly concentrated liquid formula. Preparing this formula is quite easy and straightforward. The appropriate amount of Formula has been pre-measured, you only need to add boiled water and shake as directed. It is more expensive than milk powder but is less likely to constipate your baby than powdered formula
No measuring or mixing is required here. You only need to open them and fill your baby’s feeding bottle with the amount you intend to feed him at the time. Ready-to-feed formulas come in different capacities. Examples include 2-ounce, 6-ounce, and 8-ounce containers. Whichever you choose, do not forget to seal and refrigerate the container properly once you have opened it.
What Are the Available Special Baby Formula?
Sometimes an infant may have some medical concerns which require them to use specially-made formulas that can nourish your baby while addressing these health concerns. Below are few examples of the specially-prepared infant formulas and the medical concerns they could remedy. Remember that should do so with a pediatrician’s advice.
1. Baby Formula for Bloating
The fact is everyone passes gas, even infants. However, when you notice that your little one farts excessively it could indicate that something might be wrong with their digestive system. It could an issue with the food the baby ate, food allergies, indigestion, inflammatory bowel disease, or hyperactivity of gut bacteria on the food.
This causes gas from the degradation of food to build up in the bowel and causes the abdomen to appear bloated. In any case, you could use Enfamil Gentlease infant formula to solve these gas issues while simultaneously nourishing your child.
2. Baby Formula for Colic
Colic is pain that waxes and wanes. It is remembered by the rules of 3’s. It is highly suspected in an infant who cries for at least three hours a day, on at least 3 days a week, for at least 3 weeks.
Most abdominal colics are caused by abnormal movement or contraction of the gut muscles. This pain, in turn, makes the baby cry incessantly. You should have your baby’s doctor check up on your child whenever you notice repeated, prolonged baby cries. Gerber Good Start is an excellent baby formula for infants with colics.
3. Baby Formula for Pre-Mature Infants
Premature babies have a lot of catching up to do in terms of development and nutrition, so they need all the help they can get. Similac Neosure is a great way to bring them up to speed with their more mature counterparts
4. Baby Formula for Babies with Food Allergies
Enafamil Neuramingen is a good formula that can help to address allergic concerns. It is hypoallergenic, which means it is less likely to cause allergic reactions in susceptible infants.
5. Baby Formula for Constipated Infants
If your baby is having a hard time producing poop or if he/she produces hard poop, you can address the concerns with Enfamil Regulate
6. Baby Formula for Reflux
Reflux, also called, spit-up or vomiting, is especially dangerous in babies. For one, ingested particles can enter the airway which is a serious complication. Also, it is a painful condition and may be a cause of colics. Enfamil A.R. is the way to go if your baby is vomiting or experiencing gastric reflux. If the formula doesn’t address the issue within a day or two take your infant to a baby-friendly clinic.
How Do I Prepare My Baby’s Formula?
A 3-kg baby consumes about 1.5–3.0 ounces or 400–600ml of formula with each feeding session. Also, babies should be fed 8–12 times a day or on-demand. If you do the math, a baby consumes around 3200 ml to 7200 ml of infant milk every day. As such, the first thing you want to do is to stock up infant formula so that shortage of baby food doesn’t catch you unprepared.
Preparing an infant formula is quite easy, but should be done carefully. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to successfully and safely prepare your baby’s formula.
- Step 1: Check the expiry date of the infant formula before using it. Also, check the container for any signs of damage.
- Step 2: Thoroughly wash and sterilize all the utensils you may use like the kettle, spoons, etc. Also, disinfect all surfaces that will be used.
- Step 3: Fill the kettle with fresh clean water (the water used must not have been boiled before). Then heat the water until boiling.
- Step 4: After boiling, allow the water to cool for about 30 mins or to about 70°C.
- Step 5: Prepare your feeding bottle by sterilizing. You can do this by boiling the bottles and it’s components like the teats, ring, and cap for about 5 minutes.
- Step 6: Adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions on making the formula. These instructions should be written somewhere on the body the infant formula container. Pour the recommended amount of warm water into the feeding bottle. Then double-check the water level, to make sure it’s correct. Pour the recommended amount of milk powder or liquid concentrate into the measured out water.
- Step 7: Fit back the ring, teat, and cover with the cap. Then shake the bottle till all the milk powder or suspension has visibly dissolved.
- Step 8: Cool the formula to body temperature. You can do this by holding the bottle over running tepid water.
- Step 9: Check out the temperature on the inner skin of your elbow and make sure it’s cool enough to give your baby.
If you don’t get it on your first try don’t become discouraged. After the first few tries, you should get the hang of it.
What Should I Watch Out for When Preparing Infant Formula?
There are a few precautions you should take to make sure that the prepared formula would nourish your baby and does so safely.
- Follow the manufacturer’s directives on infant formula preparation and storage judiciously.
- Always check the expiry date, to be sure that the infant formula is safe. This cannot be overemphasized.
- Do not add sugar or any artificial sweetener to the formula.
- Do not add cereal, extra powder, suspension, or any other additive to the formula. Adding too much powder or concentrate can lead to diarrhea.
- Do not dilute the formula beyond the manufacturer’s recommendation. This may lead to under-nutrition
- Discard any infant formula remaining after every feeding session.
- Do not prepare infant formula with water that has been boiled before. Make sure the water used is fresh and has not been stored for long.
- Maintain strict hygienic practices while preparing an infant formula.
Infant formulas are breast milk substitutes made to mirror the nutritional value of breast milk. It is an excellent alternative to breast milk and good supplementary feed as well. There is a whole lot of brands of infant formula in today’s market, which come in different formulations.
If you choose any particular formula ensure you are well-versed on the do’s and don’ts of preparing it. This information will help you to meaningfully feed your little one. There is also specially-prepared infant formula used to address health worries as well as nourish your baby. Most importantly, make sure that your choice of infant formula is well influenced by the baby’s doctor.