I had my nursing training back in the Philippines, and I had a chance to deal with newborns and new moms. I know it’s not uncommon for mothers to see us as the breastfeeding monsters. There are these new moms, who are struggling with lactation and latching, wanting to formula feed. Then here’s us nurses going like, “breastfeeding is best for your baby,” then reiterating their benefits. It’s probably tiring to hear, but we are saying it again: nothing beats breast milk for babies.
But of course, we do not completely say no to formula.
For personal or medical reasons, you can choose to formula feed instead of breastfeeding your newborn baby. Most newborn infants will do okay with treated cow’s milk specially made suitable for them. You will find some infant milk with added prebiotics and probiotics, the closest formula to breastmilk. If your baby has a milk allergy, the hydrolyzed formula will be best as it is easy to digest. If your baby can’t tolerate the cow’s formula, soy milk is a conventional option. We have included some specific brand samples for your reference in the succeeding content below.
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What is Formula Feeding and When is it Required for Newborns?
Infant formula milk is tailored to support a baby’s growth with components that imitate the composition of a mother’s milk. It is given to babies instead or in complement with breast milk. Infant formula can provide all the nutrients that your baby needs as he grows. However, it may not give the same infection-protection that a mom’s milk can.
But what are the instances where moms should not breastfeed? Here’s what CDC lays down as the medical contraindications to breastfeeding:
- Your baby has galactosemia. This is a rare genetic disorder when your baby cannot metabolize galactose (a kind of sugar) in your breast milk.
- The mother has a certain infection like HIV, Ebola, or T-Cell Lymphoma.
- Narcotic-dependent mothers.
- Mothers undergoing diagnostic imaging or taking certain medications should temporarily avoid feeding even her pumped milk.
- Moms with untreated herpes simplex and brucellosis should not also give breast milk to her baby.
Common Types of Formula Milk
The first few months of your baby’s life can get confusing with all the choices you have to make. Sometimes even the most experienced parents come into this situation when deciding on something. From the diaper to newborn baby essentials, you always want to pick out the best. It is true, most especially when deciding on a formula for the newly born child.
Here are some base ingredients in milk to help you narrow down your choices:
Cow’s milk protein
It is the most common base ingredient of most infant formulas. It contains whey protein, which is easier for your baby to digest. This is considered the ‘first milk’ you should give to your baby unless your healthcare provider suggests otherwise.
Extensively hydrolyzed formula
This hypoallergenic milk is best for babies who are unable to digest protein in milk. Their protein is pre-digested to make it easier for the baby’s tummy. It is ideal if your baby has protein sensitivity.
If your baby is allergic to cow’s milk proteins, your doctor may prescribe soy-based formula milk. This milk contains altered protein. But with some claims on soy milk side effects, not many parents trust switching into soy-based infant milk.
The Best Formulas for Newborns
Choosing the best infant formula can be overwhelming with all the choices the market has to offer. So before picking one out, you need to decide in advance. For babies with certain sensitivities, you can check it with your pediatrician first.
Here are some of the best baby formulas that your pedia may recommend. We do not endorse these products. We are only breaking down their different contents to help you decide better.
Similac Pro Advance (0-12 months)
We have mentioned how formulas lack the antibody protection of breast milk. Similac provides a solution for it through its improved Pro Advance milk. It contains the prebiotic 2’FL HMO to boost your baby’s immunity.
Nonfat milk and whey protein concentrate are the base ingredients of this product.
Enfamil Nutramigen (0-12 months)
Hypoallergenic milk is the best for a newborn with a cow’s milk allergy. If your baby has this condition, he has a higher chance of contracting other product allergies in the future. Enfamil recognizes this reality and introduces the Nutramigen.
It contains Enflora LGG to help parents manage baby colic brought about by cow’s milk protein allergy. It may also help prevent future allergy susceptibility and flare-ups for up to fifty percent.
Earth’s Best Organic Soy Formula (0-12 months)
For ethical and environmental reasons, some parents may turn into organic soy milk for their newborn. It is also the conventional option for babies with galactosemia. It’s made from non-GMO soya that is completely Lacto-free.
Earth’s Best also contains complete nutrition for babies from birth up to the first year of his life.
Cow and Gate Nutriprem 2 (0-6 months)
Pre-term and low-weight babies need a special formula to catch up in growth. In the NICU, your healthcare providers may recommend exclusive breast milk. After discharge, you may opt to continue exclusively breastfeeding or introduce formula like Nutriprem 2.
It contains all the necessary ingredients higher than a standard infant formula to fill in the nutritional gaps of premature babies.
Gerber Good Start Soothe Pro (0-12 months)
Gerber contains a prebiotic 2’FL HMO to back up a baby’s immunity when you transition him to a formula. It is milk-based with comfort proteins that are easy to digest and gentle on his tummy.
Aside from providing his nutritional needs, this may also reduce fussiness, gas, and colic in your newborn.
Enfamil Reguline (0-12 months)
Constipation is a parental concern that can throw you off, most especially when it happens frequently. If your baby is suffering from this condition, partially hydrolyzed whey protein is the solution. It is the ingredient found in Enfamil Reguline.
It has an exclusive Natural Defense Prebiotic blend that can help soften babies’ stool and support their digestive health.
Similac Advance OptiGRO (0-12 months)
Formula milk can take up a chunk off your budget. If your baby is healthy and full-term, you may want to look for the most affordable one instead. So we have included one of the budget-friendly in our list.
Similac Advance contains OptiGRO and an exclusive blend of ingredients for supporting your baby’s physical and brain development.
Useful Tips when Shopping for Baby Formula
After deciding on the right brand for your baby, splurging on bulk is not always necessary. If you are economical, here are some useful tips.
Take advantage of product samples
I got this idea from a friend who’s very tight with her pocket. Hospital and doctor samples are an excellent place to start sampling brands that best suit your baby. Prior to giving birth, she was signing up for various websites that offer free product samples. From infant formula to diapers and wipes, it keeps arriving in the mail to her advantage.
Don’t stock up formulas you have not tested
With diapers and baby wipes, it’s okay to buy in bulk early on. But with newborn milk, you may want to buy it in small containers first to try out. You wouldn’t want to end up buying what you think is best only to realize your baby has an allergy. What works with other babies may not work well with your coming one.
Buy your formula in bulk
Once you find the best one for your little one, don’t forget to stock up an extra container. One of the horrors of formula feeding is opening an almost empty pack, or the store running out of stock. So make sure that an extra one is available once you start on a new milk container.
Check on the expiration date
Infant formulas in powdered form have a longer shelf life. The ready-to-drink and liquid ones also do, but under desirable storage and refrigeration conditions. When buying in large quantities, don’t forget to double-check the expiration dates just to be sure.
Buy formula for your baby’s appropriate age
Stage One milk or first milk is ideal for newborns up to six months of age. When they start eating solids, you can supplement this first milk with iron-rich food. Or you may switch to a Stage Two formula with a higher level of nutritional contents. Never give your newborn a Stage Two earlier in his life. Also, never give a whole cow’s milk to babies less than one-year-old. It has a different composition than infant formula milk, and he may have trouble digesting these milk proteins.
Infant formulas cannot rival the goodness that comes in every drop of a mother’s milk. But sometimes, it’s the only conventional option for moms. Choosing the right infant formula can do so much in bridging your child’s nutritional gap as he grows. Some milk components may even prevent colic and flare-up of allergies.
Make sure that you are preparing your baby’s milk according to the package direction. A diluted or too concentrated solution can get harsh on your baby’s tummy and harmful to his health. You should also prepare it hygienically by boiling his implements and washing your hands. You can read how to boil infant formula water here.
What formula works best for your little one? You can tell us more about it in the slot below. It would be so wonderful to hear about your baby’s formula feeding journey and transition.
Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She had experiences in handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also used to train in labor rooms and pediatric wards – helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.