Monday 21 March 2022

Formula Feeding

Breast milk is the optimal milk feed for infants because it is nutritionally adequate and reduces the risk of illness in infants. But in a case where breastmilk let-down is delayed, infant formula should be given until breastmilk is produced. While doing so, always ensure to properly and correctly sterilize the feeding tools to prevent bacterial contamination which can cause gastroenteritis.  The feeding must be frequently on-demand until breastmilk is produced. Infant formula is nutritionally adequate but does not provide the same protection against illness as breastmilk. Exclusively breastfed infants have a reduced possibility of being hospitalized for diarrhoea or respiratory tract infections in the first 6 months of life.

The standard formulas are made from skimmed cow’s milk with added fats and nutrients to replicate the nutrients composition of breastmilk. There are different brands of infant formula in the market with each brand having different additions of milk proteins. Always check carefully to make sure you are buying suitable milk for your baby.

For a start, it is recommended that formula with a greater proportion of whey protein be used as this is easier to digest and closer to the protein composition of breast milk. The Whey dominant infant formula is often labelled with a ‘1’ and is promoted for newborn babies. The ratio of proteins in the formula approximates the ratio of whey to casein found in human milk (60:40).

Follow-on formula: Follow-on formulas are only suitable for infants over 6 months as they are higher in protein, iron, and vitamin D than infant formula. The follow-on formula is a Casein dominant infant formula often labelled with a ‘2’ and promoted as suitable for hungrier babies. Although the proportions of the macronutrients (fat, carbohydrate, protein etc) are the same as in the whey-dominant formula, more of the protein present is in the form of casein (20:80). The higher casein content causes large relatively indigestible curds to form in the stomach and is intended to make the baby feel full for longer. When your baby is up to 1 year of age, other kinds of pasteurised milk such as whole cow’s milk, sheep’s or goat’s milk can be given.

PS: There is also a range of specialised infant formulas for infants with certain medical conditions and they should only be used on the advice of a doctor or dietitian.

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