Guide to Formula Milks & Feeding

Guide to Formula Milks & Feeding

Breastmilk provides the best possible food supply for your baby. When you are breastfeeding a baby who is either very upset, refusing to feed, or very sick it can be very tough. If you can’t breastfeed for any reason, or if you’ve chosen not to, formula milk is the next option.

Remember that when changing over to bottle from breast feeding, make sure you take it slow. Don’t stop breastfeeding suddenly, give yourself time to changeover, cutting one feed at a time. Try to give your first bottle feed at a time when you are relaxed and not too tired. Maybe have someone else do this feed, so that your baby can’t smell your breast milk. Changing from breast to bottle is an emotional time, do it gradually and give yourself time to adapt.

High-quality formula milks that provide your baby with the nutrition needed are being developed and launched. There are a variety of different formula types and it can be quite a minefield, if you are just moving over to bottle feeding.

Discuss the change over with your health visitor next time you visit them. When choosing a formula for your baby, you will need to think about a few things first:
  • baby’s health and dietary needs
  • Baby’s age and weight
  • Issues baby is coping with – reflux, poor weight gain, intolerance, allergies

There are several different types of formula:

  • cow’s milk-based formula
  • hydrolysed protein formula
  • soya-based formula
  • Lactose-free formula

It’s most likely your baby can have cow’s milk-based formula, unless there’s a health or dietary reason why he/she can’t.

Cow’s milk-based formula
Most baby formula milks are based on cow’s milk, which is modified to resemble breastmilk as closely as possible. Manufacturers modify cow’s milk for babies by adjusting carbohydrate, protein, and fat levels and adding vitamins and minerals.
The protein in milk can be broken down into curds (casein) and whey. The ratio of casein to whey can vary according to the type of baby formula milk. There are two main types:
  • First-stage formula. These milks consist of mostly whey, with a casein:whey ratio of 40:60, which is about the same as breastmilk. They are suitable for your baby from birth up to about a year, and are thought to be easier to digest.
  • Second-stage formula. These milks consist of mostly casein, with a casein:whey ratio of 80:20. They take longer to digest and are often promoted as being for hungrier babies.

Nutritionally, your baby will only need first-stage formula, although you may decide to move your baby onto second-stage formula as they grow.

Hydrolysed-protein formula
This is a formula milk which is designed for babies with an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk. If your baby has a cow’s milk allergy, the protein in the milk will cause an allergic reaction and your baby will have difficulty digesting the lactose, or sugar, in the milk.

Hydrolysed-protein formula milks are based on cow’s milk and have the same nutritional value as standard formula milk. But the protein in the milk is hydrolysed, which means it is broken down so your baby is less likely to react to it. These milks are also generally lactose-free, so babies with an intolerance to cow’s milk can digest them easily.
Soya-based formula

Made from soya beans and modified with vitamins, minerals and nutrients to make it suitable for formula milk. It is not recommended for babies with a cow’s milk intolerance to be offered soya milk formula. Often babies with cow’s milk issues will also be sensitive to soya. Instead of soya,modified cow’s milk-based formulas called hydrolysed-protein formulas may be better suited to your baby. Only give your baby soya-based formula on the advice of your doctor, health visitor or paediatrician.

Soya milks can also damage teeth over time because they contain glucose syrup. If you are using soya formula, then it is worth giving your babies teeth some special attention at brushing time.
Lactose-free formula
Lactose intolerance is quite rare whilst cow milk protein intolerance is a lot more common. If your baby has an intolerance to their formula, it is most likely the cow’s milk proteins causing the problem
If your baby has been tested for intolerance to lactose, a lactose-free formula is best. Ask your doctor or health visitor for advice if you think your baby has an allergy or intolerance to cow’s milk.
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