7 Things You Must Check to Get the Best Formula Milk or Baby Food
6 mins read
Health & Safety for New Born, Baby, Toddlers
While your breastmilk's quality depends on your diet, the quality of formula feed depends on quite a few factors.
Doctors recommend breastmilk at least for the first six months of a baby's life. There is no comparison or substitute that is as beneficial as breast milk for your child. However, some moms may opt or have no choice but to feed their kids formula milk - an industrially produced substitute that tries to mimic the nutritional composition of breast milk as closely as possible. If you are looking at starting your baby on formula food (whether it be to switch from breastmilk to formula or supplement breastmilk with formula), you need to check for certain things when buying them so that your baby gets the best of nutrition and care.
For buying best formula milk for babies, understand what type of formula does your baby need. There are three main types of formula available in the market:
Ready-to-use Formula: Typically most expensive, this type requires no mixing and is relatively mess-free.
Concentrated Liquid Formula: Slightly less expensive than ready-to-use formula, you need to mix equal parts of this formula type with water before feeding. This is not as messy as a powdered formula.
Powdered Formula: The most common formula available in the market. It is also the least expensive and can be the messiest of all types.
The ideal type of formula differs from baby to baby based on various factors. But certain facts need to checked for regardless of the type of formula.
7 Tips on How to Chose the Best Formula for Newborns
A checklist of the following things will guide you in choosing the best ready to use formula for newborn babies:
The Formula Food for Your Child's Age:
Powdered formula is not sterile and babies who are younger than two months or have a weaker immune system (e.g. premature babies) should be fed ready-to-serve formula (if, for certain reasons they can't be exclusively breastfed). Additionally, if you're starting your baby on formula along with solids, baby food brands offer different ranges for different stages (from beginner to toddler). Make sure you choose the right one for your child’s age.
The Expiration Date:
Make sure to check the expiration date of the baby formula. Also, see the amount of time it can be used after it is opened. Generally, it is recommended to discard formula one month after the container is opened.
To buy the best baby formula for breastfed babies as well as for those who have started on solids, it is imperative that you check the container or packaging labels to understand the different ingredients that are used. Make sure your child is not allergic to any of them and that the ingredients do not list common allergens. The ingredients that that should be introduced after 1 year (like honey) should also not be listed if your baby is younger than 1 year. Additionally, different formulas have a different base with cow-milk being the most common. Ensure you choose the one that suits your baby. Some options available are soy-based formulas, hypoallergenic formulas, etc.
For Your Information: Recent reports on a study stating baby food contains arsenic & other harmful substances have been doing the rounds on the internet. However, the study didn't state clear methodologies or reasoning for the conclusion. Additionally, the study wasn't verified or published in any peer-reviewed journals either. There is no evidence behind the claims of the study.
Watch: Baby formula is a 'literal life-saver' and is a healthy substitute for breastmilk
Key Takeaway: When it comes to feeding your baby, formula is a completely safe and nutritious alternative to breastfeeding. So, if you are unable to breastfeed your baby for medical or personal reasons, don't feel guilty. You can safely rely on baby formula food.
The Seal and Manufacturing Details:
When buying a baby formula, ensure that the packaging or container is sealed; and check whether the manufacturing date and lot number (in case of product recalls) are mentioned clearly.
Formula comprises carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients in smaller quantities. The difference between ingredients of brands is the type of protein or carbohydrates used. When choosing a brand, compare the nutritional value of the brands and check for the right type of carbohydrate/protein that suits your baby after consulting your doctor. For e.g: Studies have shown that DHA and ARA enhanced both cognitive and physical growth in preterm infants while another study proves that iron in the first year of life is important for brain development. Therefore, based on his age, your baby's daily nutritional intake should be on track to ensure optimum quality of growth and development.
Additives and Preservatives:
Watch out for food colouring, additives, and preservatives like sugar and artificial flavouring when choosing a baby formula brand. The formula you choose should preferably be free from these substances. When in doubt over the safety of any ingredient, please discuss with the paediatrician.
The Condition of the Packaging:
Any formula or foods that are in bloated, leaking, opened, or packaging containers should be strictly avoided as the food may be contaminated. Also, refrain from purchasing if the packaging seems tampered.
Do's and Don’ts of Safe Formula Feeding
In addition to points that should be remembered while buying baby food or formula, one should also remember to take certain measures while handling the food.
Do maintain hygiene. Wash hands thoroughly and use clean containers while handling your baby's food.
Any baby feeders (bottles, nipples, caps, and rings) should be sterilised. You can do this by boiling them in hot water or using sterilizers available in the market.
Make sure you measure the ingredients in the correct proportions and mix them well for a smooth consistency.
Warm the food on a stove and don't warm the bottle in a microwave to ensure the food is warm uniformly.
Store the formula in the back of the refrigerator, where it is coldest, but do not freeze it. Make sure you discard any formula that is stored for more than 24 hours in the fridge.
Throw away a baby formula that has been at room temperature for more than two hours.
Hold your baby in a semi-sitting position when you feed him and watch out for signs that he is full. You can also check for other bottle-feeding positions to find one more comfortable for you.
Choose the right nipple for your baby. The milk shouldn't flow too quickly and he should be able to suck the nipple properly.
Your baby is at a stage where his food is crucial for his health & overall development. With an immunity that is still developing, it is your responsibility to ensure that you provide him with the best and safest nutrition possible and keeping a track of these points when buying baby food will ensure his safety.