For the newborn baby, the best food is breast milk. It contains all the substances your baby needs and helps strengthen his or her immune system.
But breastfeeding is not always possible. And in such cases, parents should choose the best baby formula.
How to choose the best baby formula for your newborn?
The answer depends primarily on the health condition of the particular child. It is important to remember that regular milk formula can not be suitable for all infants.
Some babies need specialized formulas: which are introduced to eliminate the symptoms of lactose intolerance, treat allergies to cow’s milk proteins, reduce or stop regurgitation, and get rid of constipation and other problems.
The first rule in choosing baby formula is to follow your pediatrician’s recommendation to determine your baby’s needs.
The best baby formula is the one that gives your baby a healthy weight gain and is easy to digest.
Despite this, parents should also be aware of the composition and characteristics of the formula. Hence, they know clearly what ingredients their baby needs and better understand the recommendations of a specialist.
The formula is differentiated not only by its purpose but also by age. The numbers on the jars (packages), which are called stages, can be used to determine the stage of feeding:
- Stage 1 (starter formula) – from 0 to 6 months;
- Stage 2 (follow-on formula) – from six months to 12 months;
- Stage 3 (toddler milk drinks) – from 12 months onwards.
It is worth emphasizing that this is not the only possible classification. For example, among milk formulas, there are “0 to 12 months” formulas designed to feed a baby throughout the first year of life and formula marked “PRE” for premature infants.
What is a baby formula made out of?
When it comes to the base of the formula, cow’s milk is used more often than goat’s milk.
Despite the seeming simplicity of choosing the type of milk, good tolerance is important.
It means clean skin without rashes or redness, no colic, and weight gain in the baby.
A great option to choose from is the Holle brand, which produces organic baby formula both based on cow’s and goat’s milk, which are designed according to the developments of European researchers and using the latest achievements in the field of pediatrics.
Nutritional composition of milk formulas
The composition of formulas is tailored to the nutritional needs of newborns, infants, and older babies and their ability to digest and absorb food.
As a rule, infant formula contains four groups of components: protein, carbohydrate, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
What then distinguishes one product from another? They differ in the degree of similarity of the composition with breast milk and the presence of additional functional components beneficial for child development.
Mature breast milk contains about 60% whey protein and 40% casein. Many starter formulas have similar proportions – it makes the protein easier to digest.
Whey protein is quicker and easier to ferment and digest than casein, which takes much longer to digest. In follow-on formulas, the ratio of whey to casein 50:50 is optimal.
Breast milk fats consist of saturated and unsaturated fatty acids, including linoleic and α-linolenic acids – they should be a necessary component of infant formula.
They are essential for the development of mental and visual functions and are the main source of energy for babies.
Most formulas contain lactose (milk sugar) as a main carbohydrate component, which helps the absorption of macronutrients. There is also a combination of lactose and maltodextrin (a smaller proportion of it), which gives the baby a longer feeling of fullness after drinking the formula.
The presence of prebiotic oligosaccharides (GOS) is also essential: together with bifidobacteria, they help resist the growth of harmful bacteria and stimulate the intestines and immune system of a formula-fed baby.
Vitamins and minerals
However, due to the reduced absorption of vitamins from the formula, they are added to it in larger amounts when compared to breast milk.
In infancy and early childhood, children must receive sufficient amounts of vitamin D, iron (reduces the chance of anemia), calcium (strengthens bones and teeth), and B vitamins (factor in immune support and protection against neurological disorders).