When you become a new parent, you are confronted with a world of baby formulas; this can make the decision a lot harder, because each brand claims to have the best formula for your baby! To help you get more informed about baby formula – and enable you to make an informed decision – here is our overview of common baby formula types and their characteristics.
First infant formula is a type of formula used for newborns; this when the mum cannot breastfeed for a medical reason. First infant formula is usually made from cow’s milk and therefore contains two types of protein called casein and whey.
Even though first infant formula can be given from birth, your child can stay on first infant formula until they reach the age of one. Once you start introducing solid foods, you can continue the use of first infant formula until your child is ready to drink normal cow’s milk or goat’s milk.
Goat’s milk formulas are produced according to the same nutritional standards as first infant milk, so they can also be used from birth. Goat’s milk formula is nutritionally complete too; this means that it provides all the nutrients your child needs for good growth and development.
Since the proteins in goat’s milk formula and cow’s milk formula are quite similar, you might wonder why you could choose goat’s milk formula instead of cow’s milk formula? Well, goat formula contains higher levels of vitamin A, vitamin C, magnesium and calcium compared to cow’s milk, so this could be advantageous for children who are prone to being deficient in any of these vitamins. In addition to that, goat formula is also an excellent source of prebiotic oligosaccharides.
Prebiotic oligosaccharides inside goat formula stimulate digestion. When goat formula is consumed, these prebiotic oligosaccharides travel to the large intestine and start to absorb water; this makes the stool softer and easier to pass in general. The prebiotic oligosaccharides inside goat formula also promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria and limit the growth of pathogenic bacteria – two reasons which make goat formula a serious consideration for many parents.
A hungry baby formula is usually only obtained upon the advice of the midwife, health advisor or a paediatrician. The protein content inside hungry baby formula can be quite different than that of standard formulas, so this option should only be used on medical advice.
Hungry baby formula usually contains higher levels of casein. While it still contains whey protein, the casein protein inside this type of formula is usually the overpowering factor. However, casein is harder to digest for young children, so do not obtain hungry baby formula unless you are advised to do so for medical reasons.
The anti-reflux formula is quite similar to the hungry baby formula, because this type of formula is only used on the advice of medical professionals. The anti-reflux formula is created to prevent reflux in children; this is when the baby tends to bring up milk after bottle-feeding.
An anti-reflux formula will only be recommended by a health professional when a baby constantly brings up milk and seems to be in distress after bottle-feeding. If you are forced to use this formula, please make sure to follow the directions to the letter.
Comfort formula is better known under the name hydrolysed protein formula, since this is a type of formula where the proteins have been broken down to make digestion easier. Like many of the formulas we have discussed above, the use of this formula is only recommended upon medical advice.
Hydrolysed formulas are used to reduce colic and constipation, but we do need to mention that there is currently insufficient evidence that a hydrolysed formula could prevent digestive-related problems. Therefore, the recommendation of this formula could vary on the health advisor, midwife or doctor.
Children with an allergy to lactose in regular formulas will need a lactose-free formula. However, the use of a lactose-free formula is not without risk, so this type of formula should only be used under medical supervision. While some lactose-free formulas may be available without prescription, medical professionals advise against its use if you have not had your child checked for lactose intolerance.
A follow-on formula is only used for children aged six months and older. If you decide to use a follow-on formula, please contact a health professional for advice first. Children can stay on infant formula until they reach the age of one, so switching to follow-on formula is usually a personal choice.
Please note that a follow-on formula is not suitable for children younger than six months. If you are looking for formula for a newborn, you will need to refer to any of the options mentioned above.
Not all parents decide to use this one, because good night milk is a combination of follow-on formula and cereal. It is claimed that this type of formula makes babies settle better and sleep longer, but there is currently no scientific evidence that this is the case. Good night milk should not be given to babies younger than six months either, since the child does not have the ability to digest the ingredients in this formula.
There are a tremendous amount of formula types and you might come across even more on your journey; this includes soya formula, growing up milk, hypoallergenic formula and so much more. Still, it is important to do your research into the various formulas available and avoid options you are not familiar with. If you notice that your child has problems digesting a formula – or seems to be in distress after bottle-feeding – please make an appointment with a medical professional as soon as possible. A child’s tummy can be delicate, so in most cases there is nothing wrong. However, there are cases where an underlying medical condition is the core of the problem. Therefore, having your child checked out medically is absolutely essential!