Firstly, the best source of nutrition is your own breastmilk as it provides all the necessary nutrients for your baby to grow well. Numerous studies have demonstrated a number of important health benefits to breastfeeding.
- Stronger Babies
Breast-fed children are stronger and have better resistance to disease and infection early in life than formula-fed children.
- Lower Health Risks
For Mothers who breastfeed are less likely to develop osteoporosis later in life, are able to lose weight gained during pregnancy more easily and have a lower risk of breast, uterine and ovarian cancer.
- Cost Effective
Breastfeeding also has advantages in terms of saving you money: it’s cheaper than buying formula and helps avoid medical bills later because it helps equip the baby to fight off disease and infection.
Choosing and Using Baby Formula
However, in certain instances, when it may not be possible to breastfeed, or in case you do not have adequate breastmilk, you may need to feed some infant formula. Here are 5 commonly asked questions mothers would ask about using baby formula.
1. How much formula does my baby need?
To know how much formula your baby needs, you should follow baby’s cues for hunger. Usually, a baby will cry when hungry every 2-3 hours. So, you should feed baby following this 2-3 hourly cycle. Sometimes, baby may seem hungry/ cry for milk even before the scheduled time. This is normal, and you should feed baby even if it is not following his or her usual schedule.
2. What type of formula should I choose?
You will notice that there are many types of formula in the market. To choose the best formula for your baby’s needs, understand the 3 main types of formula first:
- Cow’s milk formulas. Infant formula is made with cow’s milk that’s been processed to resemble breast milk. This gives the formula the right balance of nutrients – and makes the formula easier to digest. Most babies are able to grow on cow’s milk formula. Some babies, however – such as those allergic to the proteins in cow’s milk – need other types of infant formula.
- Soy-based formulas. Soy-based formulas can be useful if your baby is intolerant to cow’s milk formula or to lactose, a carbohydrate naturally found in cow’s milk. However, most often than not, babies who are allergic to cow’s milk might also be allergic to soy milk.
- Protein hydrolysate formulas. These types of formulas contain protein that’s been broken down (hydrolyzed) – partially or extensively – into smaller sizes compared to standard formulas. These formulas are used in babies who don’t tolerate cow’s milk or soy-based formulas. Extensively hydrolyzed formulas are required for babies who have an allergy to cow’s milk.
Choose the best formula that you think will suit your baby, as you know your baby best of all. If your baby has been diagnosed with cow’s milk allergy, your paediatric allergist or your dietitian will also advise you on the most suitable types of formula for your baby.
3. What kind of water should I use?
Plain boiled water is safe for mixing with infant formula for baby. Sterilize infant bottles by using a bottle steamer sterilizer or immersing bottles in boiling water in a large pot.
4. What are the signs of a formula allergy?
All food allergies are caused by an immune system malfunction. Your immune system identifies certain milk proteins as harmful, triggering the production of immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. The next time you come in contact with these proteins, these IgE antibodies recognize them and signal your immune system to release histamine. Histamine and other body chemicals cause allergic responses, e.g. runny nose, itchy eyes, dry throat, rashes, hives, nausea, diarrhea, difficulty breathing and anaphylactic shock.
By Ms Suzanne Khor
Senior Dietician at Thomson Paediatric Centre
The Child Development Centre Novena Medical Centre
The Child Development Centre
10 Sinaran Drive
#09-04 Novena Medical Centre
Tel: 6397 6627/ 6397 6966 (hotline)
This article was first published in The New Age Parents e-magazine