How To Pick The Right Infant Formula
With so many different brands and options on the market for infant feeding, it can be confusing to know which infant formula to choose. Babies have specific nutritional needs and some even have food allergies to consider. Breast milk is the best source of nutrition and for those who choose not to breastfeed or are supplementing, high-quality infant formula is the best option. For the first six months of your child’s life, one of these two sources should be their primary source of nutrition.
There are a few things that will factor into what brand and type of infant formula you end up choosing, such as the cost, ingredients, and your child’s specific health concerns. Even after spending days or even weeks researching the perfect infant formula, there is a chance your baby simply won’t like the taste. If you are confused about which formula would be best for your little one, our guide can help.
Infant Formula Safety
Any infant formula that is approved by the FDA or in the case of European infant formula, the European Commission, are safe for consumption. This includes big brand names, organic brands, and generic infant formula brands as well. Your pediatrician can recommend quality brands, but as long as the infant formula has the seal of approval from either of these governmental agencies, they are safe to use.
Due to regulations, any infant formula sold must meet a baby’s basic nutritional needs. For most parents, only providing the basics is not all they desire in infant formula. Aside from the basics, brands and infant formulas are not equal. There are many differences in ingredients among brands and there are further differences when looking at different types of infant formula.
Types of Infant Formula on the Market
There are a few options to consider when thinking about infant formula. Before we get into the ingredients or protein source, let’s talk about the preparation. There are three types; ready-to-feed, liquid concentrate, and powdered infant formula.
Ready-to-feed infant formula: This is a great option for parents who are on the go or those who want a no-mistake option for when their child is in daycare. It is the most expensive of all options, but the ease of use makes it worth the cost. Once a package is opened, it will remain useable for as long as 48 hours refrigerated.
Powdered infant formula: This type of infant formula is great for big families, those who want to control feeding cost, and parents who prefer to buy in bulk. Powder formula has a longer shelf life than already prepared formulas and is easier to store long term.
Liquid concentrate infant formula: Infant formula concentrate is a liquid form of baby milk that you can store for 48 hours once opened. Unlike pre-made infant formula, you still have to add water before feeding it to your baby. It is more costly than a powder formula but less expensive than premade infant formula.
Variations of Infant Formula Available
Infant formula, regardless of type, is created to mimic breast milk as closely as possible. That being said, the ingredients in infant formula vary according to brand and the protein from which it is derived. When it comes to anything that has to do with babies, especially feeding, no two infants are alike. One child may love a goat milk formula, while the other prefers soy or cow’s milk-based formula. There are a few different variations of infant formula, so let’s look a little closer at each.
- Lactose-free infant formula: These infant formulas come in two types, one that is made from cow milk and one that is plant-based. In both types, the lactose is removed and those are replaced with an alternative form of sugar. This type of infant formula is intended for babies who are allergic to milk and those that suffer from genetic conditions that prevent them from digesting lactose.
- Cow’s milk-based infant formulas: The majority of infants will drink formula made from cow milk, such as Loulouka infant formula. The milk treated to break down the proteins to make them easier for developing systems to digest. Most, if not all cow milk infant formulas have added iron and other minerals. Organic brands and European infant formulas will also include probiotics and prebiotics in cow milk formula as well.
- Gentle infant formula: Some babies get irritated with regular concentrations of lactose. Gentle formulas are not lactose-free, but they do have less than normal infant formulas. Infants who suffer GERD, fussiness, or gas may benefit from this type of infant formula. One great option is HiPP anti-reflux infant formula.
- Soy infant formula: Vegans and infants who suffer from galactosemia or other milk protein allergies are able to drink soy-based infant formula. This is made from cooked and processed soybeans and enriched with iron and other minerals needed for proper infant development.
- Premature Infant Formula: Preemies need special care to help ensure they get the nutrients they need to thrive. Infant formulas created for early arrivals have extra calories to help boost birth weights more efficiently. The proteins are also broken down further to make digestion easier for underdeveloped systems.
- Goat Milk Infant Formula: Goat milk infant formula, such as that offered by Kabrita is easier to digest than cow milk infant formula. They offer the same range of nutrients but are easier on little stomachs. Just like traditional cow milk infant formula, goat milk formula has added iron and other nutrients to help boost infant development.
Differences Between Infant Milk Brands
Now that you understand the different formulations and ingredients in baby formula, it will be easier to choose which one is right for your child. There is a difference between brands and the best way to understand those differences is by putting the list of ingredients side by side. For example, if you are interested in a cow milk-based formula for your child, compare Lebenswert and HiPP Dutch formula and choose which of the two will most appeal to your needs. For goat milk, Kabrita is a great option that is full of nutrients and is made from premium ingredients. If organic ingredients are important to you, then choose a brand that utilizes all organic ingredients. No matter which brand you choose, Mommy Formula is always here to help make sure you get freshest European infant formula on the market.