Breast milk is an ideal source of nutrition for infants. Even so, a mother can still choose what is best for mom and child. Instead of questioning the use of formula, we must focus on choosing the right one. A mom may supplement or want to replace breastfeeding with formula. The bottom line is whatever works best for the family. Here are some reviews that will help you find the best formula for your breastfed baby.
Supplementing breastfeeding with formula:
According to the American Association of Pediatrics (AAP) babies should be exclusively breastfed at least till they are 6-months of age. However, you can include baby formulas in your child’s diet due to:
- Reduction in breastmilk quantity.
- Latching difficulties.
- Medical Recommendation. For example, premature babies require formula to gain weight.
- Feeding multiple babies.
- Convenience and change of routine such as rejoining work.
Selecting Baby Formulas:
There is a wide variety of infant formulas we can choose from. They differ from each other with regard to their type, brand, and components.
When selecting a formula for your infant, you need to consider the following:
Types Of Baby Formula:
Consider this - what is the formula made of? Based on the base ingredient with which it is made, formulas are categorized as:
- Cow’s milk-based formula: Made with cow's milk protein, it is the least expensive and most common type of formula.
- Soy-based formula: It contains soy protein and is lactose-free.
- Low-lactose or Lactose-free formula: Children with lactose intolerance have difficulty digesting proteins, due to which they are gassy and fussy. They will benefit from a lactose-free formula as it is easy to digest, and safe on their sensitive tummies.
- Partially hydrolyzed protein formula: Although it contains large milk proteins, these are still easy to digest, as its other proteins are partially broken down.
- Extensively hydrolyzed protein formula: It contains proteins that are completely broken down into small pieces. They are lactose-free and are commonly introduced to babies who are allergic to cow’s milk protein formula.
- Amino acids: The proteins in this formula are broken down into their smallest unit, the amino acids. Similar to extensively hydrolyzed proteins, these too are lactose-free and are offered to babies with cow’s milk protein allergies.
When supplementing breastfeeds, the AAP recommends that you use iron-fortified cow’s milk type of formula, up to one year of age.
Forms Of Infant Formulas
Formulas are available in three main forms.
- Powder: Common and cost-effective, powdered formulas come with instruction for preparation. Typically one level scoop of the powder is mixed with two ounces of water. Always remember to read the label of powdered formulas, so that you can correctly prepare it. The advantages of the powdered formula are that it :
- Requires no refrigeration.
- Has a long shelf-life.
- Is easily available.
- Is easy to use.
- Concentrate: Prepare concentrate formulas by mixing it with water in a one-to-one ratio. With concentrate formulas, there are no messes that you need to clean up. On the other hand, concentrate formulas are:
- More expensive than powdered formulas.
- Has to be refrigerated and used within 48-hours.
- Not easily available in all of your favorite brands.
- Ready-to-feed: As the name suggests, these formulas are ready to be consumed, and require no mixing. It is useful because it :
- Saves you the time and effort of measuring and mixing components. The formula is available as pre-filled individual bottles.
- Is safe for consumption for babies from birth to 12 months.
- Easy feeding option during travels.
The disadvantages of the ready-to-use formula are that it is:
- Expensive and not suitable for daily use.
- Has a reduced shelf life.
- Requires refrigeration
Select the form of your formula based on your needs. For example, ‘ do you want a formula for regular feeding or for your travels?’
Components Of Formulas:
You also need to be aware of the ingredients added to a formula. These components play a vital role in your child’s health and development. It includes:
- Iron: It helps with bone development and muscle growth. Unlike the common misconception, formulas with iron do not cause constipation as there is not enough iron in the formula to do so.
- Prebiotics/Probiotics: Breastmilk contains prebiotics/probiotics to ease digestion. The same is added to formulas to soothe babies with sensitive tummies. Prebiotics/probiotics help develop good bacteria in the gut, which in turn improves the digestion of proteins.
- DHA/ARA: These are synthesized fatty acids that mimic those found in breast milk. They are important for healthy brain and eye development.
Know your needs:
When choosing a formula, ensure that it caters to your baby’s needs. For instance, you might just need a formula that boosts their overall growth. Other times, you may need a formula that can address your child’s specific needs, such as dietary restriction (lactose-intolerant), allergies (allergic to cow’s milk protein), or health requirements (iron-fortified for preventing anemia).
The safest way to identify your child's needs is to get a medical opinion. Your pediatrician may suggest the brand or type of formula that your child requires.
Baby Formula Reviews:
Keeping in mind all the above-mentioned factors, we have chosen and reviewed six baby formulas addressing the different needs of an infant.
- Similac Pro-Advance Infant Formula with Iron - "Iron Supplement"
- Earth's Best Organic Infant Formula - "Affordable Organic Formula"
- Gerber Good Start Soothe Pro Infant Formula - "Formula For Fussy Babies"
- Enfamil Reguline Infant Formula - "Formula For Constipation"
- Gerber Good Start Gentle Infant Formula - "Formula for Dairy/Lactose Intolerant"
- Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula- "Preemie Recommended Formula"
- Improves immunity and overall growth
- Soothes sensitive tummies.
- Eases the transition from breastmilk to formula.
- Presence of a mild odor
Type: Cow’s milk-based formula with iron and soy.
The Similac Pro-Advance is the formula to choose if you’re looking to improve your child’s overall development.
Made with prebiotic 2'-FL Human Milk Oligosaccharide (HMO), this formula helps to improve your child’s immune system.
It is also instrumental in developing good bacteria in the gut, facilitating digestion of proteins, and reducing your child’s risk of developing gas. As we know, gas is often the primary reason causing babies to be fussy and crying.
By giving them Similac Pro-Advance, you can reduce their discomforts and have lesser spit-ups to deal with. There is nothing more pleasing than happy well-fed babies.
Free from all artificial growth hormones, the Similac Pro Advance infant formula can supplement the overall health needs and improve the immunity of your breastfed infant.
If you like to go green with your products, the Earth’s Best Organic Infant formula is just right for you. Made with organic, chemical-free ingredients, it strives to mimic the benefits of breast milk as close as possible.
To ensure its standards, the Earth’s Best avoids using corn syrup solids to artificially sweeten the formula.
Rich in iron, it stimulates the formation of red blood cells, making it ideal for babies with anemia or at risk of being anemic. It also contains DHA and ARA, and Lutein to support brain and eye development; and prebiotics to boost the immune system.
The Earth’s Best Organic formula has captured the attention of mothers everywhere, for both its nutritional value and for being responsibly made with organic, chemical-free materials.
- Easily digestible and nutritious
- Soothing for colicky, fussy, and gassy babies
- Contains probiotics
- Ineffective for babies suffering from other digestive discomforts.
- Large scoop size resulting in messy filling.
Type: Cow’s milk-based formula with iron and soy.
Soothe your fussy colicky baby using the Gerber Good Start Soothe Pro Infant Formula. Made with small proteins and nutritious components, the formula can be easily digested and does not cause discomfort to your child.
Gerber Good Start Soothe contains the probiotic L. reuteri, which helps to develop good bacteria in the gut. This in turn eases digestion, softens stools, and soothes babies, reducing their crying time by 50%. The formula also contains HMO and DHA for the development of immunity, brains, and eyes.
Packed in an easy to use and store container, the Gerber Good Start Soothe Pro infant formula is the solution towards tackling colic pains.
The Enfamil Reguline is our main pick for providing relief to babies with constipation. Containing easy-to-digest proteins and a unique prebiotic blend, the Enfamil Reguline is reported to reduce digestive discomfort within a week’s time.
This prebiotic blend acts by enhancing the good bacteria in the digestive tracts. As it helps to soften stools, you can regularly feed your baby using the Enfamil Reguline formula.
This formula has a concoction of healthy ingredients, comprising DHA for brain development, prebiotics for digestion and immunity, and around 30 other nutrients to stimulate growth.
Just as being gassy is difficult for children, being constipated is equally difficult. The Enfamil Reguline Infant formula has the ability to ease digestion and soften stools, enabling you to simultaneously tackle your baby's constipation issues, as well as supplement their overall health needs.
The Gerber Good Start Gentle Pro is ideal for those interested in starting their babies on a low lactose formula, as it is made of whey proteins, which is the less allergic part of milk. It is useful for babies who are lactose-intolerant.
This formula is rich in both pre and probiotics and DHA. Meaning, they are easy to digest, improves immunity, safe on sensitive tummies, reduces spit-ups, softens stools and promotes brain and eye development. It also has antioxidants to help with the breakdown of proteins.
Specially formulated, the Gerber Good Start Gentle Pro is meant for those who may be lactose intolerant.
The Happy Baby is an organic package of goodness for your little one. Containing all the key ingredients present in breastmilk, this formula can supplement all your child’s needs till they turn 1 year of age.
The Happy Baby is highly nutritious containing DHA and ARA for the development of the nervous system and eyes. It contains various vitamins (C and D) and minerals like zinc, phosphorus, calcium, choline, and organic lactose to promote the development of the child’s body systems, organs and to boost overall health.
It is also made with prebiotics GOS and FOS to enhance immunity, and develop good bacteria in the gut to ease digestion. Rich in proteins and lactose, the Happy Baby helps to build your child’s bones, muscles, organs as well as energy reserves.
This formula has been carefully made, with organic non-genetically engineered materials. Even the lactose is sourced from cows that are raised on organic farms.
There are two factors that always influence our decision to buy a product- benefits and cost. Happy Baby infant formula ticks both the boxes on our list, being both nutritious and the most affordable formula on our list.
Additional Points To Keep In Mind:
- Check the expiry dates of the formula.
- Buy formulas that have been recommended by your physician.
- Ensure that the formula is packed in containers that are BPA-free., Otherwise, it may contaminate the formula.
Introducing Formula To Breastfed Babies:
Now that you have chosen your formula, it's time to introduce it to your baby. The key is to start slow. Give both yourselves time to get used to the process. To start with, try to establish a one bottle-a-day routine. You can do this by feeding your baby a bottle at a time when he is happy and calm, more receptive to the formula. After this, you can try to increase the number of feeds.
Another way is to introduce by topping up. In this method, nurse your baby completely and then supplement or top up your feeds with a little bit of formula. In time, you can gradually increase the quantity of formula.
Tips For Preparation:
Use these tips to safely and properly prepare the formula for your little one:
- Wash and clean hands and countertops before mixing the formula
- Read and follow all directions as given.
- Clean and sanitize all bottles and nipples.
- Use boiled water (once cooled) instead of bottled water for mixing the powder.
- Ensure that you do not stretch out the formula as it will affect the nutritional value of the feed.
- Mix the needed quantity. Avoid storing extra formula for more than 24 hours in the fridge.
- Throw away an unfinished bottle. It's not safe to refrigerate it for a later feed.
How Long Do Formulas Last?
When using formulas, you must adhere to the following safety precautions:
- Do not store a prepared bottle of formula at room temperature for more than an hour.
- Finish a warmed feed within an hour of warming. Do not give it later to the baby. Also, avoid re-warming the feed to prevent the risk of bacterial growth.
- Discard any leftover milk after an hour and avoid feeding it to the baby.
- Refrigerate ready-to-feed and concentrate formula immediately. In the case of powdered formula, refrigerate and use the mixed unused formula within 24 hours.
- Discard the opened container of powder formula after 30 days.
Can We Mix The Formula And Breastmilk?
Theoretically, it is safe to mix formulas with breast milk. Having said that, there are a few points to keep in mind while doing so:
- Prepare the formula correctly. Follow the instructions while mixing your powdered or concentrate type of formulas with distilled water.
- Do not replace the water with breast milk.
- Add the breast milk only after you have prepared your formula. This way you can ensure that your child receives the correct amount of nutrition.
While you can mix the formulas with breastmilk, it is not always recommended. This is to avoid wastage of the pumped breast milk, in case your infant refuses the bottle or does not finish it.
Can We Change Formulas?
There is no hard rule stating that you have to stick to one brand of formula alone. You can switch brands as long as your child does not show any discomfort with it. Check to see if babies are overly fussy, gassy or exhibit changes in their stool.
In fact babies may prefer a particular brand of formula over another. You might have to experiment with a few brands to identify which formula your child likes best.
Selecting a formula for your baby can be overwhelming, especially when we have a wide list to choose from. To save you the time and effort, we have compiled this list of formulas that can help supplement your breastfed babies needs. Using our guide as a reference and bearing in mind your baby's specific needs, select a formula from our reviewed list of tried and tested baby formulas.