We talk about breastfeeding a lot here on Making of Mom, but what about moms who can’t or choose to feed their baby with pumped milk or formula? In this series on formula feeding, Emmy is going to talk us through a lot of things you need to know when choosing formula for your baby.
When you realise that you need to buy formula for your baby, you come face to face with the first major hurdle of formula feeding – choosing which one to buy!
The range out there is pretty big, to say the least.
“Closest to breastmilk”
“The perfect formula to calm a crying baby”
“Specially designed for super-intelligent genius children”
Ok, I made the last one up… there are only formulas for super-intelligent children 😉
But this is the thing: since it is a product that companies want you to buy, they make some pretty big claims on the packaging.
What Really Matters When It Comes to Choosing a Baby Formula
So, what do you need to look at?
Does it matter anyway?
And aren’t all formulas created equal?
Well, yes and no.
I know. Not really helpful right?!?
But there are guidelines for what must be included in infant formula.
It cannot be sold as formula for your baby if it doesn’t conform to certain standards. So be reassured that you can’t actually make a mistake here!
But, there will be types that may be better suited to you and your baby.
And the bad news is that sometimes you will have to do some testing to check out which type suits your wee one’s tummy best.
The good news is that most companies do smaller sizes while you try them to see what your baby likes. They also have to tell you what is in the product so that you can make better choices.
Let’s look at what to think about when making a decision.
The Types of Formula
Choosing a formula can be so difficult… there are so many different brands and types! So let’s start with that!
You can buy formula in:
- Powdered form – relatively cheaper than other forms of formula, this type of formula is the most common and you mix a scoop with water to make up your baby’s bottle.
- Concentrated liquid form – another type of formula to be mixed with water, this comes in a concentrated liquid form.
- Ready-to-use form – the most expensive (and convenient) option, ready-to-use formula doesn’t need to be mixed with water. It’s ready as is.
There are also different types of formula based on:
- Cow’s Milk – most formulas are based on cow’s milk and are well tolerated by most babies. However, some babies have an allergy to dairy protein, and may need a different type of formula.
- Soy Based Formula – if your baby is allergic to dairy, you will most likely try a soy based formula next. As it says on the label, soy based formula is made from soy.
- Protein Hydrolysate Formula – for babies with allergies to soy and cow’s milk, protein hydrolysate formulas contain broken down proteins that are able to be tolerated.
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What to Consider Before Choosing a Formula to Try
I prefer to start with a basic type of formula. The special “premium”, “gold” or “advanced” ones that have wonderful added extras are more likely to upset baby’s tummy.
They also cost more.
So start with the basics and try something more fancy if you need to try something else, or if a medical professional suggests it.
1) Look at the Ingredients
All infant formula contains iron, vitamins and minerals, as well as the carbohydrates they need to grow. All baby formulas cover the essentials.
A note on sweeteners
Breastmilk is sweet so it makes sense that the manufacturers are going to use sweeteners in the formula to imitate it. And these form part of the carbohydrate that baby needs to grow. But I think some are more helpful than others myself.
Some formulas have types of sweeteners in them that I personally prefer not to give my baby.
So, I prefer to avoid corn syrup, or at least have it as a smaller part of the formula.
I’m not alone.
The doctor and mom behind Baby Formula Expert, Dr Young, agrees with me. Her article on shopping for formula is one of the most helpful things I have read to date about formula.
She is a professional so she can geek out over the science but it also means she can read the labels and help us decide on the best types of formula for our precious little ones. The checklist is also really useful!
Should You Choose a Dairy-free formula?
I know quite a few people who are lactose intolerant and need to eat dairy free. And so they want to consider a lactose free option for their baby before even finding out if their child tests positive for it. Or at least know what is available if they need it! But, it’s actually relatively rare for a baby to be allergic to lactose, so it may be best to try a cow’s milk formula first before moving on to other options.
It may seem that there is only a soy-based option for these babies. But, in fact goat’s milk formula has been made for many years for lactose intolerant babies. I’d try this before trying a soy product myself.
And again, I found Dr Young recommends not choosing a soy based formula as your first option.
(I love it when I find out that my unqualified opinion is backed up by an expert who actually knows what they are talking about!)
Types of Formula to Try
Because the types of formula you can find in any shop anywhere around the country or the world can be so different, I am only going to suggest a few brands of formula here.
You do need to have a look at what you can get and decide which one seems to suit your baby and the stage they are at.
If it were me starting again, I would start with any of these:
- Similac Pro Advance non GMO Formula with Iron
- Enfamil Enspire
- The Honest Company Organic Premium Infant Formula
Should You Buy Organic Baby Formula?
This article on The Bump says quite clearly that organic formulas are not proven to be better for your baby, and can just be more money for not much benefit… So, as with every parenting decision, it’s up to you whether you decide that an organic baby formula is worth spending a little extra on.
Wrapping It Up
It is quite an adventure having a baby and the adventure can be a good one (even with the screaming and crying – and then there is the baby’s crying…!).
But find information that makes you feel like you can do it.
Find people who make you feel that you can do it.
Tell yourself that you can do it!
Because you really can.
More Reading on Formula Feeding