Choosing a formula for your baby used to be easy, with parents having to choose from regular cow’s milk based formula like Lebenswert, Holleor HiPP, soy formula or an elemental formula. Now, in addition to these basic formula types, you can also find lactose free formula, formula supplemented with DHA and ARA, and formula for preemies.
And there are many different brands, including those made by Mead Johnson, Ross, Nestle and various store brand formulas.
Which brand should you buy?
All infant formulas are prepared according to FDA regulations which ’specify minimum and, in some cases, maximum nutrient level requirements for infant formulas, based on recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. These regulations and the Infant Formula Act help to make sure that all infant formulas are nutritionally complete and safe for your baby.
The American Academy of Pediatrics does not endorse or recommend that your infant drink any specific brand of formula if you choose not to breastfeed, except they do say that low iron formula should not be used.
And convincing studies have not been done to show that any one brand is better for your baby than another. So which brand you choose is something that you will have to decide for yourself.
Which formula is right for your baby?
Once you choose a brand of formula, you will have to decide which type of formula you want for your baby. It might help you choose if you understand what makes each type of formula different. Infant formulas mostly differ in the type of sugar and protein that they have.
Regular iron fortified infant formulas, such as Similac Advance, Enfamil Lipil, and Nestle Good Start Supreme are made with lactose and cow’s milk based proteins. Most infants who are not breastfeeding exclusively should be given a cow’s milk based iron fortified formula.
Soy formulas are made with soy protein and are lactose free. Brands include Enfamil ProSobee, Similac Isomil, and Nestle Good Start Supreme Soy. They are good for children who don’t tolerate lactose or milk proteins.
Elemental formulas are also lactose free and are made with hydrolysate proteins, which are easy to digest for infants with protein allergies. Types of elemental formulas include Nutramigen, Pregestamil and Alimentum.
If you have a family history of food allergies or formula intolerances, you might choose to start your baby off with a soy or elemental formula if you do not want to breastfeed.
Lactose free formulas, such as Lactofree and Similac Lactose free are made without lactose, but do have cow’s milk proteins in them. Infants are not usually thought to be born with a lactose intolerance, so these formulas are usually not needed.
Other infant formulas include Enfamil AR (added rice), which is supposed to be helpful for infants with reflux and premature formulas, such as Similac Special Care and Enfamil Premature.