When Formula Is Best
There are many situations in life that prevent families from being able to choose breastfeeding as their child's primary source of nutrition. Many times, parents choose to feed their infant with commercially prepared infant formulas due to certain medical and social situations. Parents should not feel guilty about this decision. It is important for each family to make the best decision for their own unique needs. Fortunately, there are many excellent options for feeding your child.
Types of Formula
Most commercially prepared infant formulas are split into three general categories based on the type of protein that is in the formula. The categories are whole protein formula, partially digested protein formula, and free amino acid based formula.
What does this mean? Proteins are made up of many small amino acids. Protein helps your baby to grow. The type of protein can make a formula easier or harder for your baby to digest. Most infants tolerate whole proteins without problems and grow nicely on a standard cow's milk based infant formula.
There are different medical situations that would make a child need a protein that is easier to digest. In the partially digested or free amino acid formulas, the protein is partially or completely broken down for your child. These formulas tend to be easier to digest, but not every baby needs these special formulas.
This book will focus on the use of standard whole protein formulas since these are the most common. Talk with your pediatrician or dietitian about the possibility that your child may need a more specialized formula, such as a partially digested formula or a free amino acid formula.
What formula should you choose?
Going into the formula aisle can be overwhelming. There are so many types of formulas all made by different companies. How do you choose? It is important to know that all commercially prepared infant formulas must meet basic federal guidelines regarding composition. They vary slightly in how they achieve these guidelines but all formulas — except low-iron formulas — are adequate to support the growth and development of infants.
Standard Infant Formulas
The most common and widely used formula is a standard infant formula with iron. These formulas have been made with whole proteins that have not been broken down or predigested for your child. They are typically made from protein derived from cow's milk or from soy protein. Certain formulas indicate that they are made from “comfort proteins” and these are also included in this class of standard infant formulas. These formulas process their protein a little differently, but they are still whole protein sources.
Cow's milk protein infant formulas with iron are the most widely used formulas overall. The cow's milk protein in infant formulas is not the same thing as whole milk. It has been altered by adding vegetable oils and carbohydrate sources to provide balanced and age-appropriate nutrition for your infant. This protein blend is readily bioavailable to your child, meaning that your child can absorb this protein better for growth and development.
Soy Protein Formulas
Soy protein formulas with iron use the protein from a soy-protein-isolate that is fortified with different amino acids and iron. Soy formulas differ slightly from the standard cow's milk protein formula. It is rare that children need a soy-based formula. Soy formulas meet all the federal guidelines for infant formulas; however, the nutrients are not always in the most bioavailable form for your child.
There are certain medical conditions that require an infant to need a soy formula. Notably, if you suspect that your child has an allergy to cow's milk protein, the recommendation is to not change them to a soy protein formula. If your child is allergic to cow's milk protein, there is a high chance that they could be allergic to soy formula as well.
The current recommendation from the American Academy of Pediatrics is to change a child with cow's milk protein allergy to a special protein made from free amino acids. This means the formula is totally predigested for your child. These are highly specialized formulas and only available by prescription.
The demand for organic products continues to increase. This has also led to an increased demand for organic infant formulas. Many formula companies are now producing infant formulas made from organic materials. Organic formulas are available in both cow's milk protein formula and soy-based formulas.
These formulas are typically certified organic in accordance with USDA regulations. To be certified USDA Organic and display the USDA Organic seal, a product must contain at least 95 percent organic ingredients by weight.
Moreover, they are often certified organic by Quality Assurance International (QAI). The ingredients in these infant formulas are produced without using pesticides, added growth hormones, or antibiotics. These formulas meet the same standards as other formula for infant nutrition. They include all the components that a young infant needs to grow and thrive.