Formulas: Choosing The Right One
Infant formulas are a safe alternative to breast milk. Infant formulas have been designed to resemble breast milk and fulfill the nutritional needs of your infant by providing all known essential nutrients in their proper amounts. Most formulas are derived from cow's milk. A few are derived from soybeans and are preferred for infants who may be allergic to the protein found in cow's milk.
Bottle-feeding can provide your child with all the emotional benefits and many of the health benefits of breast-feeding. Bottle-fed babies grow as rapidly and are as happy as breast- fed babies. A special advantage of bottle-feeding is that the father can participate.
Use a commercial formula that is iron fortified to prevent iron deficiency anemia, as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The amount of iron in iron-fortified formula is too small to cause any diarrhea or constipation. Don't use the low-iron formulas because the amount of iron they contain is not enough to prevent anemia.
Commercial formulas with iron contain all of your baby's vitamin and mineral requirements except for fluoride. From 2 weeks to 12 years of age, children need fluoride to prevent tooth decay. Talk with your healthcare provider about this.
Most commercial infant formulas are available in three forms: powder, concentrated liquid, and ready-to-serve liquid. Most parents use concentrated liquid or powder. Powder and ready-to-serve liquids are the most suitable forms when a formula is occasionally used to supplement breast milk or when traveling.
Don't give your child regular cow's milk before 12 months of age because of increased risks of iron deficiency anemia and allergies. The ability to drink from a cup doesn't mean you should switch to cow's milk. While it used to be acceptable to introduce whole cow's milk after 6 months of age, recent studies have shown that infant formula is the optimal food during the first year of life for babies who are not breast-fed. Skim milk or 2% milk should not be given to children before 2 years of age, because the fat content of regular milk is needed for rapid brain growth.
If you have any questions about formulas, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.