A Brief Guide to Understanding Different Types of Infant Formula
A common question that moms ask is ‘where does infant formula come from?’, and the broad answer is: from a variety of sources. Specifically, the protein in baby formula can be derived from a traditional source such as cow’s milk or from substitutes such as soybeans. Here is a look at the key features of different types of infant formula.
Among the first things your child may learn to say is that the cow goes ‘moo’. While generations before us insisted on the health benefits of drinking a glass of milk everyday, arguments against dairy consumption have emerged in the 21st century. Still, formula made from cow’s milk continues lining supermarket shelves worldwide, and it is the most common type of baby formula used as an alternative to breastfeeding.
Basically, it is modified cow’s milk intended to taste and feel like breast milk, and fortified with ingredients to deliver the nourishment your baby needs from zero to 12 months. At pharmacies and supermarkets, you will find different stages of formula designed to align with different ages, starting from birth.
- Stage 1: 0-3 months
- Stage 2: 3 months- 12 months
- Stage 3: After 12 months (>12months), when your baby officially becomes a toddler!
As far as the choice in infant formula brands is concerned, you have nothing to worry about. However, not all will suit your baby equally; some are better than others and there will always be one that is right for your baby. Use recommendations from your doctor or midwife; see whether or not you want to go with an infant formula containing extra iron, which could cause constipation in babies; and read the product label to learn about the ingredients in the formula. Midwives usually recommend NAN as it is the closest formula to breast milk.
You may be tempted to buy a formula with an ‘Optimum’ or ‘Gold’ label, where the brand claims to offer a higher nutritional value than other formulas. Do your research online and decide if you want to pay the extra cost of ‘premium’ infant formulas. A standard formula also provides babies adequate nutritional growth and developmental support in their early years.
A2 formula is made from A2 milk, which is cow’s milk lacking a form of beta-casein protein known as A1 and containing more of the A2 protein form. Beta-casein is one of the major casein proteins, making up 30% of the total protein in cow’s milk. All commercially prepared milk contains A1 beta-casein, while A2 is produced by Jersey, Guernsey, Limousin and Charolais cows. The presence of the amino acid proline in A2 beta-casein makes A2 milk similar to milk produced by humans and other mammals such as goats and sheep.
The main reason why A2 is regarded as a premium formula is because A2 protein is more easily digested by babies who are sensitive to protein in some formulas and face colic symptoms, or those who become constipated.
If you insist on superior nutrition and can afford to pay for a premium brand, A2 Platinum formula is a good choice. It is available as a product series, with different numbers to match the age of babies. A2 Platinum Formula 1 is intended for 0-6 months; Formula 2 is for 6-12 months; and Formula 3 is for toddlers.
Goat’s milk formula
As goat’s milk forms a softer curd, making it easier to digest, goat’s milk formula may be recommended for babies whose delicate digestive systems cannot tolerate cow’s milk. On the flip side, goat’s milk formulation can be pretty expensive and on top of that, your choice is limited to just one brand in the whole of Australia.
Also consider the fact that goat’s milk is not lactose-free, even though its lactose content per se is lower than that in cow’s milk. If your baby is lactose intolerant, soy milk (discussed below) is a better alternative to cow’s milk infant formula. On the other hand, if you’re only concerned about ensuring fewer allergenic proteins, goat’s milk will do nicely compared to cow’s milk, and aid your baby’s digestion.
Do consult with your doctor or MCH nurse about the suitability of goat’s milk formula for your baby. There are reporting suggesting a low folic acid and Vitamin B6 content in goat’s milk formulas sold in the United States and Europe. To make an informed choice, call up Australia’s Kari brand to enquire about their Karicare+ Goat’s Milk Infant Formula. A clarification from their representative on the company’s toll-free number should clear up a few things.
Soy infant formula is not soy milk, whose popularity has soared in recent years and started giving entrenched dairy producers a headache! It is a vegan alternative to cow’s milk as it is free from any animal product. In this sense, soy infant formula is also an alternative to breast milk, but it is not a complete meal for babies, and should be considered only after your child has turned one year old.
If your baby is lactose intolerant, soy-based formulation may be a good replacement. However, note that lactose intolerance is an allergic reaction to the proteins in dairy. That means your baby may also be allergic to soy proteins. It is best to consult your doctor on the most suitable formulation for your little one.
While a shift to soy milk does not guarantee a defence against potential allergic reaction, no special nutritional advantage is assured either. Consider it for existing intolerances and personal reasons, such as if you and your partner lead or plan to live a vegan lifestyle.
The world is going organic, so organic infant formula should not come as a surprise! The good news is that organic formulations come from cows that haven’t been injected with growth hormones. Organic milk is produced from cows feeding on pesticide-free, GMO-free grass. There’s a difference between grass-fed and organic, so make sure you check for the ‘organic’ label to confirm the type of product.
That’s not all. Stick to certified organic infant formulas, not just a passing mention of ‘organic’. As organic infant formulas can be quite pricey, you want to choose a gluten-free product that delivers irons, vitamins and minerals in a balanced way to support your baby’s growth and development.
Organic formulations are preferred by parents who wish to restrict their children’s exposure to pesticides, preservatives, genetically modified ingredients and chemicals from as early an age as possible.
Organic infant formula starts for 0-12 month babies. Bellamy’s Organic Step 1 Infant Formula is a high-quality and trusted certified organic product to put on your list.