The first choice when it comes to feeding your newborn in the first months of life should always be breast milk, but this is not always possible, and it may be necessary to use infant milk as an alternative to breast milk, which have a very similar nutritional composition, suitable for each development step.
In addition to these formulas, special-purpose baby milks are also available to provide adequate nutrition, especially if the baby has allergies, regurgitation, food intolerance and gastrointestinal disorders.
When to give milk formula to the newborn
You can choose powdered milk when you cannot breastfeed, or when the baby has some difficulty digesting breast milk. Therefore, the baby can take a bottle when:
- The mother is undergoing treatments: such as chemotherapy, treatment for tuberculosis or taking some medication that passes into breast milk;
- The mother is an illicit drug user;
- The baby has phenylketonuria: milk formula without phenylalanine may be used and if the doctor advises you to give breast milk you should measure blood phenylalanine levels weekly;
- The mother has no milk or decreased production;
- The baby is far below the ideal weight and breastfeeding may be enhanced with adapted milk;
- The mother is ill: If you have HIV, cancer or serious psychological disorders, if you have diseases caused by viruses, fungi, bacteria, hepatitis B or C with high viral load, or active herpes in the breast or nipple, you should stop breastfeeding temporarily, until you solve the problem.
- The baby has galactosemia: they should be fed soy-based formulas like Nan Soy or Aptamil Soy.
In temporary cases you will have to opt for infant milk and maintain milk production by removing it with a pump until you can breastfeed again after being cured. In cases where there is no other solution, you should opt for the infant formula and talk to the doctor to dry the milk.
What milk to give to your newborn baby
In cases where the baby cannot drink breast milk, cow's milk should never be given because it may hinder its development as its composition is very different from breast milk.
So, with the help of the pediatrician, you should opt for a baby-friendly milk, which although not the same as breast milk, has a closer composition and is enriched to provide the nutrients the baby needs at each stage. The options can be:
1. Regular infant milks
Regular milks formula can be used by healthy babies without risk of allergies, gastrointestinal discomfort or metabolic diseases.
There are several brands available for sale, all of which have a similar nutrient composition and may or may not be supplemented with probiotics, prebiotics, long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and nucleotides.
The choice of infant formula should take into account the age of the baby, because during its development it has specific needs. Then between 0 and 6 months a starting milk, such as Aptamil proftura 1, Milupa 1 or Nan supreme 1, should be used, and from 6 months should be given a transitional milk like Aptamil 2 or Nan supreme 2, for example.
2. Milk formula for baby's with an allergy to cow's milk protein
Allergies to the protein of cow's milk is the most common food allergy in childhood, where the immune system is still immature and sensitive to antigens, so it reacts in the presence of cow's milk protein causing symptoms such as generalized redness, itching, vomiting and diarrhea.
There is a wide variety of milks for this particular problem, which usually have in their constitution cow's milk protein divided into small fragments, or even divided into amino acids, so as not to cause allergies, or may also be derived from soy:
- Widely hydrolysed, lactose-free formulas such as: Carnation Good Start;
- Extensively hydrolysed lactose formulas such as: Alimentum or Nutramigen;
- Amino Acid Formulas such as: Neocate or EleCare;
- Soybean formulas such as: Isomil, Prosobee or Nestlé Good Start Soy.
About 2-3% of children have a cow's milk protein allergy in childhood, mostly developing cow's milk tolerance between the ages of 3 and 5 years. So, for babies with this type of allergy or family history of allergies and have to take synthetic milk, parents should use a hypoallergenic milk, known as HA milk.
3. Milk formula for baby's with reflux
Gastroesophageal reflux is common in healthy babies due to the immaturity of the esophageal sphincter and consists of the passage of food from the stomach to the esophagus, resulting in frequent gushes. In such cases, it can lead to weight loss and malnutrition being detrimental in the baby's development. See more about reflux in babies.
So, there are anti-reflux milks such as SMA Anti-Reflux, where the composition is the same as the other formulas, but thicker due to the addition of corn, potato or rice starch, carob seed flour or jatai gum.
The presence of these thickeners means that because of their thickness milk is not so easily refluxed and gastric emptying occurs faster.
4. Lactose Intolerant Baby Formulas
Lactose is composed of two sugars that have to be separated by an enzyme present in the body, lactase, in order to be absorbed. However, there may be situations where this enzyme is missing or insufficient, causing cramps and diarrhea. Lactose intolerance is very common in babies because their intestines are still immature.
To do so, lactose-free infant formulas should be chosen, in which lactose has been degraded to simpler sugars that can already be absorbed by the body, such as SMA lactose free formula or Enfamil O-Lac.
5. Formula for baby's with intestinal discomfort
Intestinal discomfort is very common in babies because the bowel is still immature, causing cramps and constipation.
In these cases, prebiotic-enriched milks such as Happy Family Organic Sensitive Formula should be chosen, which, in addition to favoring the presence of good bacteria in the gut, also reduces cramps and constipation.
6. Formula for Premature Baby's
The nutritional needs of premature babies are different from those of normal weight. In these cases, you have to choose formulas that are adapted to this situation until your doctor tells you to switch to a regular formula or breastfeeding is possible.
How to use formula properly
In addition to the right choice of formula, it is important to take certain precautions in its preparation. So, milk should be prepared with pre-boiled water, taking care to allow water to cool before preparation so as not to burn the baby's mouth or destroy the probiotics in the milk.
The bottle and the nipple should also be washed and sterilized and the dilution of the powder in water should be done exactly as recommended on the package.
However, The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until the 6th month of life as the sole source for baby's nutrition.