I’m talking about formula feeding your baby in this post, and because the haters are gonna hate, I have to say the following: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding until your baby is at least 6 months old. Ya’ll. That may not be a possibility for so many reasons (and you can read about some of them here).
While formula companies work tirelessly to create a formula that is as close to breast milk as possible, it is worth noting that human milk has two things going for it: 1) It tends to be more easily digested and 2) it has more whey which is a form of protein that is believed to be one of the contributing ingredients that helps prevent infections and provide immunities. But trust me when I say formula is doing a pretty damn good job of replicating these factors.
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Other than that they’re pretty dang equal in the nutrition and important brain building minerals and proteins that your baby requires.
Have faith though that there are some ways to mitigate these two “naturally” occurring “benefits” to breastfeeding (and we’ll get into that in a hot second).
Is Organic Baby Formula Best?
With a label of “organic”, you can trust that the ingredients haven’t been treated by pesticides, herbicides or other potentially harmful chemicals during their growth or production. If you tend to eat organic produce and meats then you may be inclined to want to choose organic formula as well.
The downside to organic baby formula (and really ALL organic foods) is that it can be up to 30% more expensive than a non-organic brand. Buying in bulk, such as through a subscribe and save subscription to organic formula (such as this one) on Amazon Prime, or at Costco or Sams Club (if they sell an organic brand).
At the end of the day if the price is right for you and your family, and you want to give it a shot go for it. If it’s not, don’t worry. Your non-organic brand formula is also tested and maintained to the highest FDA quality standards making sure it’s safe for consumption for your baby.
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What are the Benefits of Soy-Based Formula?
If your family is vegetarian of vegan, or if your baby has exhibited symptoms of a dairy allergy or has been tested positive for a dairy allergy a soy-based formula can be a suitable alternative to traditional cows milk formula.
Soy-based formulas are made with the same stringent requirements as “regular milk” formula.
Other Formula Options
Nutramigen - Another alternative to traditional milk formula is Nutramigen which is a hypoallergenic formula for babies with dairy allergies or other food sensitivities (including any allergies to soy! So it’s a great alternative to soy milk formula as well).
Holle Formula - Only found in Europe and not recommended for sales in the United States, the moms who use Holle tend to rave about it. I’ve never purchased it before because the trouble to get it seemed too great. And also I’m one of THOSE people who trust the FDA (when I know there are reasons to question things).
Mom Junction has a pretty extensive review of the various types of formula including 15 of the best which you can read here.
What About Trying out A Bunch of Formulas?
It’s not typically advised to test out different formulas. While formula production is heavily monitored, there are slight variations in each brand that have the potential to cause tummy problems to your baby’s developing digestive system.
If you are thinking of switching it’s best to try combining both over time, and easy your way into a new formula rather than switch cold turkey.
When my baby was diagnosed with acid reflux I did tons of research on the different formulas available at the time, and we actually tried three different types of formula over the course of a month. I didn’t love that the formula we were giving him (An AR formula) wasn’t organic - there have since been versions provide with organic ingredients but not back then, so I wanted to try some organic options to see if it also helped with his acid reflux and kept him thriving
1) gave him horrible constipation
2) gave him explosive diarrhea and
3) was the formula we started with so we vowed never to try and switch again. #lessonlearned.
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How To Pick the Right Formula for Your Baby
It’s possible that before you give birth you will receive some samples from some various formula companies, especially if you’ve registered at certain baby gift/shower locations. It’s also possible your pediatrician or gynecologist can provide you with a variety of samples for formula.
It’s tempting to want to try all of them and see how the baby does, but this is a bit risky. Because of the chemical composition of formula, it can take several feedings (sometimes many weeks of feedings) for your babies sensitive stomach to adapt to a new formula.
So switching between brands can come with side effects such as an increase in painful gas, constipation, and/or reflux.
Choose a baby formula that you would like to feed your baby, whether it be an expensive organic formula, or the cheapest one from Costco and try that one.
You’ll want to be looking out for general signs of irritability after feedings including seeming extra gassy or fussy. If this seems to be the case, this is when it’s recommended to try a different formula. Try switching brands entirely as each brand creates a unique formula that is intended to mimic breast milk. Once you find a formula that works stick with it until it doesn't.
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How to Choose the Right Formula for Your Baby
Here are some additional tips to help you get the right formula for your baby:
Talk with your pediatrician who may be able to uniquely recommend the latest and greatest formulas. They also will likely have samples available. My pediatrician sent me home with about a month supply of formula once we figured out which one we wanted to go with.
Use the cow’s milk formulas first unless it’s not recommended by your pediatrician. If there is no imminent need to try a specialized formula such as nutramigen or a soy-based formula, it is not needed.
Double check that the formula you choose is fortified with iron and vitamin D which are both essential to baby’s growth. Most formulas also come with DHA which has been linked to helping the developing brain in your baby.
Keep an eye out for any signs of discomfort with your baby which can include restlessness, crying, and excessive spit up.
Contact your pediatrician or other formula feeding moms if you have any questions or concerns. Having a community of formula feeders who have been through it can definitely help you with the task of choosing the right formula. I’ve leaned on several facebook mommy groups throughout the years to make sure I’ve made the right choices.
Have you chosen the right formula for your baby? How did you decide which one to use? Comment below.
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