Health Care and Baby Formula

- September 16, 2013
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Infants require regular feeding, and common knowledge in pediatric medicine confirms the importance of breast feeding newborns and babies until they are weaned from their mother’s milk. However, in some cases, babies are unable to be nursed. In those situations, baby formula is a good substitute to help with growth, nutrition, and oral stimulation.

Baby formula has been around as a substitute food for infants for decades. Since the development of the first commercial infant formula more than 135 years ago, each decade has brought new advancements and the constant refinement of infant formula products’ nutrient composition to ensure that non-breastfed infants receive the essential nutrients needed to thrive.

Today’s baby formulas contain energy-providing nutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat as well as water), which provide the calories necessary to maintain bodily functions, support activity, and promote growth, according to this website: .

They also promote desirable immune functions as an outcome of overall nutrition. Protein provides the building blocks necessary to form and repair tissue. Additionally, baby formulas contain appropriate vitamins and minerals, which are essential in the metabolism of the energy nutrients. Minerals play an important part in bone structure, regulate certain body functions and, together with water, help maintain the body’s water balance.

The baby formula industry, through ongoing research and innovation, has continually developed new products that can help infants thrive. These formulas are helping to improve the survival rates and long-term health outcomes of many infants, including helping to significantly reduce the rate of iron-deficiency anemia in specific populations, according to .

According to the Mayo Clinic, your baby needs iron to grow and develop, especially during infancy. If you're not breast-feeding, using iron-fortified formula is the easiest way to provide this essential nutrient. Some infant formulas are enhanced with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). These are omega-3 fatty acids found in breast milk and certain foods, such as fish and eggs. Some studies suggest that including DHA and ARA in infant formula can help infant eyesight and brain development, but other research has shown no benefit.

Additionally, many infant formulas include pre- and probiotics — substances that promote the presence of healthy bacteria in the intestines — in an effort to mimic the immune benefits of breast milk. Early studies are encouraging, but long-term benefits of these substances are unknown. If you're unsure about enhanced infant formula, ask your child's doctor for guidance.

Don't buy or use outdated infant formula. If the expiration date has passed, you can't be sure of the formula's quality. While checking the expiration date, also inspect the condition of the formula container. Don't buy or use formula from containers with bulges, dents, leaks or rust spots. Formula in a damaged container may be unsafe. Infant formula is generally recommended until age 1, followed by whole milk until age 2 — but talk to your child's doctor for specific guidance. Reduced-fat or skim milk generally isn't appropriate before age 2 because it doesn't have enough calories or fat to promote early development. Much more detail about this subject is available at this website: .

Preparing baby formula isn't hard, but it's important to mix it in the proper ratio of formula to water to make sure that your baby is getting just the right amount of nutrients. Also, because your baby doesn't have much immunity to germs just yet, especially as a newborn, it's important to take precautions to protect him from foodborne illnesses, according to Quite a bit if detailed information about preparing formula can be found at this particular site: .

There are several types of formula available but the two that are most used are milk formula and soy formula. Both of these are as nutritious and usually both are fortified with the same amount of nutrients. However, the soy based formula is important for those babies who have a problem digesting cow’s milk. It is not advisable to use soy formulas unless the doctor specifically recommends it. This is because soy formulas have very high estrogen levels and has been linked to several thyroid autoimmune conditions. Another important thing to consider while feeding your baby is that the formula should be hypoallergenic, according to .

If a mother didn’t receive the right nutrition when pregnant, the baby may be underweight and susceptible to various disorders. In such a case, the infant may need a protein based high calorie nutrition formula. A special 24 calorie infant formula is available which can give your child 24 calories per ounce of the formula. Such a diet is recommended for babies who are underweight at birth or those who are prematurely born.

According to, choosing a formula for your baby can be a bit overwhelming. There are three types of formula: powders, which are mixed with water; concentrates, which are liquids that must be diluted with water; and ready-to-use liquids that can be poured directly into bottles. The formula type you choose depends on your budget (powder is the least expensive; ready-to-use is the most costly) and your baby's preference. To help you decide which formula to choose, ask your pediatrician which brand he/she recommends. Some parents find they need to try a few different kinds before finding the right match. Most pediatricians recommend staying with a formula for at least one week to see how a baby reacts to it.

Between birth and 6 months of age, your little one will need an average of 2-2.5 ounces of formula per pound per day. So if your baby weighs 10 pounds, she will need 20-25 ounces per day. Keep in mind that no baby -- regardless of age -- should have more than 32 ounces of formula each day. Here is an easy guide:

• Newborns may take only an ounce or two at each feeding
• 1-2 months: 3-4 ounces per feeding
• 2-6 months: 4-6 ounces per feeding
• 6 months to a year: as much as 8 ounces at a feeding

More info can be found at this site: .

Pediatricians can help guide new mothers through the feeding and care of newborns and infants. When you find the use of baby formula can be confusing at times, take time to talk with your family doctor, your pediatrician, or certified medical professionals to help guide you through the maze of choices available in the marketplace. There are valuable tools online and at your local health care offices to help you figure out what is best for your baby and you.

Until next time.
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