There are three different types of formula:
- cow’s milk-based formula
- hydrolysed protein formula
- soya-based formula
Cow's Milk Based Formula
The majority of Formula Milks are based on cow's milk, which is modified to resemble breastmilk as closely as possible. The cow's milk is modified by adjusting carbohydrate, protein, and fat levels and adding vitamins and minerals. There are specific brands that modify the milk especially for Premature babies too!
One thing that perplexed me is reading "Stage 1" and "Stage 2" on on milk's containers. So, what do they mean?
When the milk is modified, it is broken down into curds (casein) and whey. The ratio of casein to whey can vary according to the type of baby formula milk. This is what Stage 1 and Stage 2 are referring to.
Stage 1 milks consist of mostly whey, with a casein:whey ratio of 40:60, which is more or less the same as breastmilk. They are thought to be easier to digest, and are suitable from birth up until your child's first birthday. Stage 2 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.
In truth, your baby will only ever need the Stage 1 milk, nutrition-wise, but you might wish to switch to Stage 2 as your baby grows - perhaps to prolong the gaps between feedings. Be careful not to switch from Stage 1 to Stage 2 too early, as it might cause your child to become constipated. "How early is too early?" you might ask. Well, many milk manufacturers market their second-stage milk as suitable from birth, you are better off waiting until your baby is at least four weeks old. Your can decide to completely skip the second-stage milk if you want, and once your child is 1 yr old, switch directly to cow's milk.
Cow’s milk is low in iron and vitamin C, so it shouldn't become the main milk before your child is at least 1. You can, however, use small amounts in cooking for your baby once s/he has started weaning.
Hydrolysed-protein formula milks are based on cow's milk and have the same nutritional value as standard formula milk. The difference is that the protein in the milk is hydrolysed, which means it is broken down so your baby is less likely to have allergic reactions to it. These milks are also generally lactose-free, so babies with an intolerance to cow’s milk can digest them easily.
If you think your baby has a cow's milk allergy or intolerance, see your doctor who will be able to prescribe a hydrolysed-protein formula for your baby. You can usually buy these from your pharmacy. You can also buy special lactose-free formulas, which your doctor might suggest is your baby has a lactose intolerance.
Soya-based formula is made from soya beans. It is modified with vitamins, minerals and nutrients to make it suitable for formula milk. If you would like to opt for Soya-based formula milk, speak to your doctor beforehand. Soya formulas are usually marketed as suitable for babies from birth, however health professionals don't recommend them for babies under the age of six months.
It's not recommended that your baby has soya formula if she has a cow’s milk allergy. Babies who are allergic to cow's milk are often allergic to soya, too.
There isn't any particular health benefits that your baby would get from soya formula as opposed to other formula milks. Quite the contrary! Soya formula milks can actually damage your baby’s teeth over time, since they contain glucose syrup.This means that if you do choose to give your child Soya formula milk, you'll have to take mega extra super special care of their teeth.
If your baby doesn’t seem content with the formula you first started her on, talk to your doctor before changing formulas.
"What about older babies?"
Oh,b there are a vast variety of 'specially-lalbelled' formula milks out there, so I can understand your confusion...
Here's a brief list of different older-baby-formulas and what they mean:
Follow-on milks are milks with higher protein and mineral content than ordinary infant formula. They are sold as suitable for babies from six months old.
Goodnight milks are follow-on milks with added cereal, which are marketed as milks that help your baby sleep better at night. However, there’s no evidence that they help babies to settle at night, nor that they take longer to digest. Don’t give goodnight milk to overweight babies, nor to babies less than six months old because cereal isn’t suitable for younger babies.
Growing-up milks are marketed as a better option than cow's milk since they contain added iron and other vitamins and minerals. They are promoted to be used for babies from about one year old. However, growing-up milk isn’t needed. Once your child is 1 year old, s/he can have full-fat cow's milk as her main drink. Since by that age, your child will also be eating a varied and balanced diet, any essential vitamins and minerals ill be obtained from solid foods, thus rendering growing-up milks obsolete.
If you decide to raise your child as a vegetarian, you might wish to switch to an iron-rich formula once you start the weaning process if you find it difficulty in finding enough vegetarian foods that are rich in iron.
One important thing to check for is any particular brand having had negative publicity. I came across an article today about a brand called Enfamil where there have been illnesses linked to its consumption, so there is doubt on whether it might be tainted or not.
When purchasing formula milk, you will find prices tend to vary a fair bit, depending on brand, type and retailer. Hydrolysed-protein formula milk tends to be the most expensive option. If you find some time, go around different shops in your area [if you work, you might want to check the surrounding area over there as well] and just take note of Shop name, Type of Formula, Brand Name, and Price. If you are the type to carry a note book with around at all times, jot down the above info - or alternatively, your mobile phone will do. This will then allow you to compare prices, for you to be able to get the cheapest deal without compromising quality.
It can take on average 30 minutes to prepare a bottle. This depends on your sterilisation method and the type of formula milk you choose. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to prepare a bottle, and here is a guide on how to store pre-prepared formula milk safely in a fridge.