Everything you need to know about formula

The American Academy of Pediatrics right now does suggest that parents only turn to soy formula if a baby can't tolerate milk, and they don't wanna pay the cost of a hypoallergenic formula or if the parents are vegan
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Everything you need to know about formula


- Most people think there are no differences between formulas, and all formulas are alike, and this is simply not true. Here's the thing. All formulas are going to feed your child and nourish your child just fine, and they all have to adhere to certain standards set forth by the International Formula Council and the FDA. But the thing is, they do differ. And as any sensitive baby can attest, some babies do great on one brand and not the other, even with the normal formula. I'm not even talking about sensitive versus soy. So it's really important to realize that if one formula isn't working for your child, another one probably will. Now, the different kinds of formulas, the first category are just your regular milk-based formulas. Now, these include your Similac Advance or any of the ones usually that you're given in the hospital if your hospital does give out samples. Most babies will tolerate these just fine, but some don't. And if they don't, then your next step is usually to try a sensitive formula, which is also milk-based, but these contain what's called partially hydrolyzed proteins. Now that just means that they're breaking down the protein a little bit to make it easier to digest for your baby, but an interesting thing to note is recent studies have actually shown that babies who are fed partially hydrolyzed-based formulas do fair better in some significant ways. So it's just something to consider. There are generic brands that have the partially hydrolyzed protein, so in terms of cost, it's usually pretty equal to the normal milk-based. But if your baby is super sensitive and can't handle any milk derivatives, your next option is gonna be a hypoallergenic formula. These are completely broken down, and they are actually dairy-derived, but the protein is so tiny and so predigested that even typically milk-allergic babies can tolerate them. If they can't, there's also amino-based, which are prescription formulas for really the most allergic babies, but these are super expensive, available by prescription only, and tend to taste awful. So, it's usually better not to go there unless you have to. The one other option you have is soy. Soy formulas are a bit controversial because there is some concern about giving that much soy to babies, especially boys. The American Academy of Pediatrics right now does suggest that parents only turn to soy formula if a baby can't tolerate milk, and they don't wanna pay the cost of a hypoallergenic formula or if the parents are vegan. But what I would say is if you are concerned about soy, do your own research because a lot of this advice coming from these organizations are being extremely overcautious, and most likely if your baby is fed on soy formula, it's not gonna be the end of the world. Formula not only differs by brand and by type, but it also differs in the way that it comes to you. So there are three different kinds. There's powdered formula, which is usually the most economical and most commonly used by parents. With powdered formula, you have to reconstitute the formula by mixing it with water. Your other two choices are ready-to-feed, which is exactly what it sounds like. It's ready to feed from the container directly to your bottle. And a good thing to know about ready-to-feed formula is a lotta companies will offer it in what's called nursers or nursettes, which are small pre-filled bottles, usually of anywhere between three ounces and even up to eight ounces, that you can just attach a pre-sterilized nipple onto. Now these are great to have in an emergency preparedness kit, if you have one of those in your home, because in an emergency, your water source might be compromised, and with these, all you need to do is attach the nipple, and you'll have formula. They're also great when your baby's a newborn, and there's way less chance for human error. So I really recommend if you can afford to use at least ready-to-feed, if not the nursers, it's a great way to go for the first month because we all know that an exhausted parent is also one that's prone to error, and every new parent is an exhausted one. So, it just takes out some of the chance there. Your third kind of formula is concentrated, which barely anyone uses these days, but it is available. And this is sorta like condensed soup. It's just in a liquid form, and you have to add water to it. And any form will feed your baby well, but some babies actually tolerate one better than the other. For instance, powdered formula often contains anti-caking ingredients, which are very often corn-derived, and some babies are a little sensitive to corn, so they might do better on a ready-to-feed or a concentrated. Or some babies with reflux prefer the ready-to-feed 'cause it's a little smoother and a little creamier and thicker going down. So, again, it's just a matter of finding the right formula for your child.

The American Academy of Pediatrics right now does suggest that parents only turn to soy formula if a baby can't tolerate milk, and they don't wanna pay the cost of a hypoallergenic formula or if the parents are vegan


Expert Bio

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Suzanne Barston, CLC

Blogger & Author of Bottled Up

Suzanne Barston, CLC is the former Editor-in-Chief of Los Angeles Family Magazine, a Certified Lactation Counselor, and a freelance writer specializing in parenting, women’s interest, and science/health topics. She is the author of Bottled Up: How the Way We Feed Babies Has Come to Define Motherhood, and Why It Shouldn’t and blogs as her alter ego, the "Fearless Formula Feeder". "FFF", as it’s known to an international fan base representing over 40 countries, supports parents dealing with issues of guilt, fear, conflict and uncertainty regarding infant feeding difficulties and choices through critical assessments of research, pithy commentary, practical advice, and a weekly series allowing parents to share stories in a cathartic way. She is also the co-creator of the #ISupportYou movement. 

Barston was raised outside of Boston and earned her Bachelor of Science degree from Northwestern University in 2000. After living and working in Chicago and London, she now resides in Los Angeles with her husband, the photographer Steven Barston, and their two obnoxiously cute children. She and her husband were featured on two award-winning online reality series for Pampers.com, A Parent is Born and Welcome to Parenthood, about their pregnancy and first years as parents. Suzanne's writing and her work with FFF and Bottled Up have been featured in the New York Times, the Huffington Post, SheKnows.com, Babble.com, Pregnancy & Newborn Magazine, Parenting, Babytalk, OhBaby!, Fit Pregnancy, The Observer, Yahoo Shine!, Australia's Good Weekend magazine, and on a variety of radio programs including KPCC's "Take Two", numerous NPR affiliates, "Parenting Unplugged", "Positive Parenting", "Mom Enough", "For Crying Out Loud", "Voice of Russia", and more. Suzanne was honored to be one of the keynote Voices of the Year in 2012 for the annual BlogHer conference.

She currently works both as a writer and as an Infant Feeding Counselor. 


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