Choosing Baby Formula? Here's What You Need to Knowby Craig Sutton • August 15, 2016
In a previous article, we took a look at infant feeding and the ongoing debate over breastfeeding and baby formula. The article went over the pros and cons and pointed out that While the health benefits of breastfeeding are well documented there are several unsung lifestyle-related benefits of formula feeding plus there are many instances where mothers are not able to breastfeed or it just isn’t practical.
We concluded that in the end, a fed baby is the only options that matters, mothers should have the freedom to choose which option best fits their lifestyle (without judgment) and that our society needs to offer better support for working mothers whether they are breastfeeding or not.
Doctors recommend breastfeeding but in reality, 80% of all mothers will use formula at some point during their baby’s first year, especially working mothers.
In this article, we’ll take a detailed look at the benefits, and costs of different baby formulas in addition to some shopping tips in order to help mothers who choose to use formula.
What Are Doctors Saying About Baby Formula Today?
Doctors recommend breastfeeding and say it is not superior to breast milk but they do agree that today’s formula has all the nutrition babies need.
“The American Academy of Pediatrics and all of us agree on the benefits of breastfeeding. The AAP and the pediatric medical community also agree that infant formula is a safe, science supported, nutritious means to nourish babies. Even though breast is best there are many moms who can’t or choose not to breastfeed. Others use it a supplemental nutrition to their breast milk” - Pediatrician/Mom Dr. Lisa Thornton
Benefits of Formula Feeding
Let’s review some of the under-discussed advantages of formula feeding your baby
1. Vitamins and Nutrients
Today quality formulas contain all the nutrients babies need plus some contain Vitamin D and Omega 3 something breastmilk does not.
2. Easier to tell how much baby has eaten
With breastfeeding a common concern is that it is difficult to know how much milk the baby has actually consumed.
3. More sleep for babies
Formula makes babies feel fuller so then tend to sleep for longer.
4. More sleep for mothers
Because babies are fuller there tends to be more time in between feedings - which means less interruptions through the night.
5. Less stress and pressure on mom
Because it is easier to share feeding duties there is lot less stress and pressure on mom.
6. Stronger bond with dad
Shared feeding allows dads to be more involved earlier and helps create an early and crucial bond with the baby.
7. Flexibility/easier to return to work
Easier to leave baby with spouse, relative or nanny without worrying about feeding, also because there is no need to pump or schedule life around the baby’s feeding schedule mothers have more freedom to return to work, run errands and attend social events.
8. Fewer dietary concerns for mom
Less concern over what medications, foods and how much caffeine or alcohol mothers consume.
How to Choose The Right Baby Formula
In the video, Beverly Bitterman former nurse and current ARNP health and wellness consultant talks how to choose the right baby formula for you and your baby.
3 Types of Baby Formulas
What types of baby formula should mothers use? Let’s consider what some qualified experts had to say about the types of formula.
1. Powder — cheapest option, most work to prepare, containers will last a long time
2. Liquid concentrate — more expensive than powder but easier to prepare, once you open the container it needs to be consumed within 24 hours
3. Ready to use formulas — most expensive but easiest to prepare
All three formulas are the same from a nutritional standpoint. Your choice will likely be based on cost and personal preference.
What are the Ingredients of Infant Formula
The three types of formula may contain the following ingredients:
1. Milk based — made with cow’s milk, vegetable oil, vitamins, and minerals.
2. Soy based — made with soy protein, vegetable oils, corn syrup and iron. This type of formula is especially beneficial for babies who are lactose intolerant or have specific dietary concerns.
3. Specialty baby formula — These formulas are designed for babies who have health conditions that require them to adhere to a strict diet. Also great for babies who have allergies or resist cow’s milk.
Most formulas today are good but parents should pay attention to the ingredients. In a video, Dr. Paul Thomas spoke on the ingredients in formula and the type he recommends, saying “I will never put any pressure on you to breastfeed… There are lots of good formulas, I prefer organic”
Consumerreports.org’s Baby Formula Buying Guide indicates the many specific baby formulas, tailored towards certain health needs, this includes formulas:
- To ease diarrhea and gas
- Designed for pre-term and low-birth-weight babies and toddlers.
The article also points out that even after you’ve consulted a physician, your child may not accept the formula you’ve chosen and provided timely advice from doctor Steve Abrams who said, “You should discuss it with the pediatrician instead of picking a formula that you think will solve the problem.”
Formula Shopping Advice
One of the downsides to using formula is the cost. An average baby will drink about $35 of formula per week. Which equals $1,820/year. After you’ve consulted your physician and found a formula your child will accept, you’ll have to make decisions based on your finances.
When shopping keep in mind, “formula is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which requires manufacturers to include 29 specific nutrients in each serving. While different brands have different names, packaging, and prices, none of them will short-change you on the required ingredients.” ~Evonne Lack, Babycenter.com
Here are some baby formula cost saving tips:
1. Don’t buy too much
You may receive free samples of formula from the hospital. In addition, your baby may react to the formula as she grows, any intolerance should encourage you to consult a physician.
2. Purchase at mass merchandisers
Larger retailers may sell baby formula cheaper.
3. Consider store brands
Studies have shown that only 24% of caregivers would consider buying store brand baby formula because they believe that store brand formulas do not have the same nutritional benefits to name brands like Similac. The truth is that nutrition wise there isn’t much different between most store brands such as Walmart and Target and name brands. They all have comparable nutritional profiles but store brands are a fraction of the cost.
3. Save by registering
When you register at various websites, you can qualify for various coupons and savings on baby formula.
4. Powders are less expensive
They are more work to prepare but powders are by far the cheapest type of baby formula. Also, the unopened amount left in the can lasts longer than liquid formula.
5. Check the “Use By” Date
Prepared baby formula lasts for 24 hours. Liquid concentrated formula last 24hrs once opened. For any unponed formula check the package for a “use by” date. Don’t use baby formula past the manufacturer recommended “use by” date. Nutrients deteriorate with time and need to be at a certain level for proper infant development. In addition, if formula is stored too long, it starts to separate and can cause blockages in the baby bottle.
For many mothers, formula is a necessity or perhaps the most practical choice for feeding their babies. Hopefully all the lifestyle, medical and financial factors we’ve discussed here will help you but also be sure to consult a doctor when making decisions concerning formulas and infant nutrition.
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