For the first six months of life, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends human milk as the only source of nutrition. If human milk is unavailable or if it is not a viable option for any reason, it is recommended that parents use a baby formula to supplement a newborn’s nourishment.
It can be daunting for a new parent to choose a baby formula or even search through the infant formula aisle at their local store. There are numerous brands and varieties of baby formula available, making it difficult for a new parent to decide which is the best for their child. The good news is that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates infant formula production and verifies that all baby formulas are nutrient-dense enough to meet the needs of infants aged 0 to 12 months.
Are you interested in learning more? Our pediatricians in Northwest Indiana are here to explain everything you will need to know below.
What Does Baby Formula Contain?
Baby formulas have a specific carbohydrate, fat and protein ratio that closely resembles that of human milk. Baby formulas are available in powder, concentrated liquid and ready-to-feed varieties. Iron and other vitamins and minerals are also added to the baby formula to meet a baby’s nutritional needs.
Brand Name or Generic? Organic or Non-Organic?
Standard baby formulas are available in both brand name and generic versions. Generic versions are similar in composition to branded versions; however, they tend to be more affordable. Organic baby formulas also are available and they conform to the same standards as non-organic baby formulas. However, they are made using certified organic ingredients that are regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and do not contain genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Organic formulas have a “certified organic” label which does make them more expensive.
Soy or Cow Milk-Based Formulas?
Most infants can tolerate a “standard” cow milk-based formula. Most baby formulas are produced using a cow’s milk protein that is designed to be readily digested by infants. However, as any reputable pediatrician in Northwest Indiana can tell you, the protein in cow milk that is bought in the dairy aisle of your grocery store is not easily digested by babies, and it should not be given to them until they are at least one year old.
For most babies, soy formulas also are a viable option. Instead of cow milk protein, these formulas use soy protein. Soy baby formulas can be used as a substitute for lactose-intolerant babies or if the parents prefer a non-dairy option.
Other Formula Types Available for Different Dietary Needs
There are lactose-free cow’s milk formulas available. Lactose intolerance is uncommon in babies and it differs from cow milk protein allergy. If cow milk protein allergy is an issue, soy formulas may not be ideal, and your pediatrician in Northwest Indiana may recommend a specialty formula.
Many baby formulas on the market claim to be gentler on your baby’s stomach. If your infant displays signs of mild intolerance to either milk-based or soy-based formulas (think fussiness, gas, spit-up or vomiting), you may want to use a formula that supports digestive health. However, keep in mind that a baby formula that helps one infant with these symptoms may not help another.
There also are a variety of specialty baby formulas available for infants who have allergies, severe intolerances or a medical condition. In these cases, we recommend seeking pediatric care in Northwest Indiana and consulting with a licensed pediatrician to determine which formula is best for your child’s needs.
Are you looking for an affordable pediatrician in Northwest Indiana? If so, look no further than 219 Health Network. We have licensed pediatric physicians on staff who provide the highest level of care for infants and children. Our network of providers includes Rajaraman Iyer (MD) and Zuhair Alsakaji (MD). Contact us today at 833-219-0001 to schedule an appointment.