Mother’s milk is the best source of nutrients, vitamins, and microelements for your baby. It has everything your little one needs for growth and development.
But sometimes breastmilk isn’t enough or a child is allergic to lactose, an animal protein contained in dairy products. In fact, there are multiple reasons why breastfeeding might be impossible. In cases like this, formula products can help.
Infant milks help your child grow and develop in the first six months of life. They are made with careful consideration of all the peculiarities of baby development. This includes allergy tendency, lactose intolerance, and digestive problems.
Here are five important things you should know before picking baby food for your child.
1. The numbers on the packaging indicate stages according to age
When it comes to European infant formula products, you can normally see easily visible numbers on the packaging. They are the product stages: “1” is for babies up to five or six months, “2” for babies up to one year of age, and “3” is for babies over one year old.
Any formula should be similar in composition to breast milk. And even though it’s possible to fully replicate it (not at this point, anyway), modern products contain all the most important components: proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, and minerals.
Stage 1 products are the ones most similar to mother’s milk. They are also called “first milks”.
Before you start feeding your child with a new formula, it’s worth making a note of how they are feeling and noting digestive problems. Adaptation to a new formula usually takes two to three days. If your baby is uncomfortable after this period, it means that the formula isn’t suitable for them. The best tactic would be to consult a doctor before picking a new baby food product.
During formula feeding, babies might experience regurgitation, slight abdominal pain, skin rashes, or changes in stools. This is a normal reaction to a change in diet: their tummies are just learning to digest food.
2. Infant formula shouldn’t contain gluten or starch
High-quality baby foods shouldn’t contain gluten, synthetic flavors and colors, starches, preservatives, palm oil, milk protein, salt, or added sugars.
What they must contain is prebiotics (galactooligosaccharides). These help to form and support the healthy intestinal flora in a child. You can find oligosaccharides in HiPP, Jovie, Loulouka products. Look them up at online stores like organicsbestshop.com.
Your little one also needs probiotics, the ‘good’ bacteria that live in the intestines. They help to cope with intestinal infections and allergies and increase immunity.
Among other ingredients to look for, there are nucleotides and fatty acids.
3. Anti-reflux formula helps with spit-ups
Your baby is just learning to use his/her digestive system, so even breast milk is sometimes difficult to digest. One manifestation of this problem is reflux or spit-ups.
It’s usually a defensive reaction of your child’s body to overeating or swallowing large amounts of air when feeding. Sometimes it’s a sign of infection, disease, or inflammation of the esophagus.
If reflux is caused by an illness, you should consult a doctor and buy special anti-reflux formulae. They are usually marked as ‘AR’ and contain a special thickening agent that increases the viscosity of food and makes it difficult for it to escape back into the esophagus.
4. Lactose-free formula is for lactose intolerant infants
Lactose-free and low-lactose formulae are required when a newborn baby has an intolerance to milk protein, lactose.
In these foods, milk is replaced by soy-based products. They meet the nutritional needs of newborns and serve as a great substitute for breast milk.
HiPP hypoallergenic formula contains extensively hydrolyzed proteins that help allergy-prone babies to digest their food easier. A good hypoallergenic formula improves digestion, protects the intestines from infections, promotes development, and builds immunity. These products are usually marked as “HA”.
Infant foods based on goat milk are also known to be more gentle on a baby’s tummy. They, however, still contain lactose so if your infant is severely intolerant, they might not be suitable for them.
5. There are baby foods for preemies
Sometimes the number on formula packaging is replaced by “PRE”. This means that the product is intended for babies who are born before their due date or those with low birth weight.
Premature babies are those born before the 37th week of pregnancy. The body formation process is not yet complete, the digestive system is immature, so these babies can’t get enough nutrients from breast milk. To develop and grow, they need special nutrition.
The “PRE”- marked foods have higher energy values and contain more protein, fats, and other nutrients than regular infant milks. The amount of lactose in these products is reduced so as not to burden the digestive system of newborns.
These products should contain omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids, nucleotides and inositol, a substance that promotes lung development. Maybe you should use some baby food makers, so, find few options here! They should also contain choline for better brain and nervous system function, as well as medium-chain triglycerides and L-carnitine that helps absorb fat.
Feeding a special formula for premature babies usually lasts until an infant’s weight reaches 3 kg.
More things you should know
- When choosing a baby formula, you should consider your baby’s age and pay special attention to the ingredients included in it.
- Baby foods must not contain preservatives, artificial colors, flavors, gluten, soy, sugars, or GMO products.
- If you notice that your baby spits up more often than normal and for a long period of time, you should consult a doctor. The issue might be caused by an illness and a medical professional will recommend a suitable anti-reflux product.
Proper nutrition is extremely important for newborns. This is why it’s worth taking your time doing your own research on the products available on the market. Arm yourself with basic knowledge about infant food brands, ingredients, and specifics of every product. Finally, don’t be shy to talk to a doctor in case of the smallest doubt or question. This will help avoid many present and future issues.