Choosing the Right Baby Formula


Most doctors agree that breast milk is best for babies—but for parents who need to use formula, picking the right one can be tough. Since formulas in the U.S. are required to have similar amounts of vitamins and nutrients, “choose one based on what your baby tolerates best after talking with your pediatrician,” says Sharon Collier, R.D., clinical nutrition director at Children’s Hospital Boston. Here’s how the different formula options stack up:

Formula: Dairy

What it is

Cow’s milk–based formula

Who should have it

Most babies who aren’t breastfeeding can have dairy formula, as long as they don’t have a milk intolerance.

Formula: Lactose-free

What it is

Dairy formula without the sugar lactose, which some people can’t digest

Who should have it

It may be appropriate for some babies who suffer from gassiness—but if your baby is truly lactose intolerant(which usually happens later in life), an elemental or soy formula may be better, since lactose-free formula has 1 percent lactose.

Formula: Added rice starch

What it is

Dairy formula with rice starch, which causes the formula to thicken when it reaches the stomach to help minimize reflux

Who should have it

Babies who spit up often may benefit.

Formula: Protein hydrolysate

What it is

A dairy-based formula with predigested proteins, which is better tolerated by infants who can’t digest standard dairy formula

Who should have it

Babies with a mild dairy allergy

Formula: Elemental/amino acid

What it is

A dairy-free, hypoallergenic formula consisting of synthetic amino acids, the simplest form of protein

Who should have it

Babies with a severe dairy allergy, or infants with multiple allergies (like milk and soy)

Formula: Soy

What it is

Nondairy formula made from soybeans

Who should have it

Babies whose families have religious or ethical reasons for avoiding dairy. Note: The AAP doesn’t recommend soy for milk allergies; babies with milk allergies should first try an elemental formula.
Reprinted from KIWI Magazine

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