Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your children. It provides them with all the energy and nutrients that children need in the first months of life.
Most women do not usually have problems with breastfeeding, but there are many who cannot for various reasons.
For mothers who are unable to breastfeed, or who choose not to, baby formulas or infant formulas are a healthy alternative.
Below you will learn what infant formulas are, what role they play in feeding children up to 12 months, and how they can continue to support your children's nutritional needs from the age of one.
What are baby formulas?
Infant formulas, also called baby formulas or growth milks, are a suitable infant food to replace all or part of the mother's milk. They are also used to supplement the feeding of children from the age of 12 months.
These formulas are usually made from cow's milk that is specially treated to make it more suitable for babies. In fact, attempts are being made to reproduce breast milk using a complex combination of proteins, sugars, fats and vitamins that would be impossible to manufacture at home.
"Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your children"
There are powdered formulas for mixing with water, as well as ready-to-use liquid formulas.
The major difference between the two is that liquid formulas are more expensive and once opened need to be used more quickly.
What What types of infant formulas are there?
There are many types of formulas. They are available for children who are at different stages of growth, and also for those who have specific nutritional needs.
Among the most common formulas are these:
The starting formulas are intended for babies from 0 to 6 months. This should always be the first formula given to a baby.
They are usually made from cow's milk containing two types of protein: whey protein and casein.
Formula 1 is made from whey protein because scientists believe that this protein is easier to digest.
Formulas of Continuation.
The consumption of formula 2 usually starts when complementary feeding has already been introduced in the baby's diet (cereals, fruits...). At this stage milk is still a very important part of your diet.
Follow-up formulas were designed for infants 6-12 months.
Type 3 formulas, also called growth formulas, are a good option for supplementing children's nutrition from the age of one.
They can be used as a transition product between follow-on milks and cow's milk as they represent an excellent alternative to the early introduction of cow's milk.
They are characterised by a lower content of saturated fats. In addition, they have a concentration of proteins and minerals that is more adjusted to the degree of maturity of the child's renal and digestive system, while providing a greater amount of iron.
There are specific dietary problems that may discourage or contraindicate both breastfeeding and the use of normal formulas.
This is why a group of food formulas have been developed for infants and children with problems in absorption, digestion or intolerance to some substance.
They constitute a heterogeneous group of infant formulas that include, among the most common: formulas for premature infants, lactose-free formulas for infants with poor lactose absorption or lactose intolerance, soy formulas for infants with sensitivity to cow's milk protein, and the hypoallergenic formulas.
What role does infant formula play in the first months of life?
Breast milk is the ideal food for children in their early years, providing them with all the nutrients they need and protecting them from disease and infection.
In addition, breastfeeding provides them with a number of special nutrients that support the proper development of babies.
On many occasions, mothers are unable to breastfeed. This is where infant formula plays a very important role in continuing the good nutritional development of babies.
What are some of the reasons for substituting infant formula for breast milk?
How can infant formulas supplement the nutritional needs of your children from 12 months onwards?
The reality is that many 12-month-old children still eat quite little. For this reason, the type of milk children drink is still important.
Of course, the main objective is to promote good eating habits that are rich in fruits and vegetables, cooked in a healthy way, and consumed in adequate, varied and balanced portions.
However, it is sometimes difficult to get the children in the house to eat all the nutrients they need in the right proportions. Many times children are directly opposed to incorporating new flavors or textures into their diet.
How important is a balanced diet for children and how can it be achieved?
Good nutrition is the first line of defense against many childhood diseases that can leave their mark on children for life.
A balanced diet in the first stage of growth is extremely important for visual and cognitive development, for muscle and bone development, for the nervous system and for building a strong immune system.
In order to promote the adequate growth, development and maintenance of the child's organism, feeding must be complete.
And for it to be so, all the food groups must be consumed including carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables, proteins, dairy, fats and sugars.
The key is to find a balance in the intake of each nutrient group.
Children are in a period of significant growth so their bodies have very high energy and nutrient needs.
Each food group has specific and essential functions, so it is important to encourage children to maintain a varied diet.
These are some of the important nutrients a child must receive to grow strong and healthy:
Foods rich in Omega 3 help visual and cognitive development.
Iron-rich foods support cognitive and immune development, as well as serving many other functions, such as maintaining healthy muscles, carrying and storing oxygen in the body, or preventing anemia.
Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption and bone development. The sun's rays help to synthesize it.
Iodine is an important mineral for cognitive function and the development of the nervous system.
Many times parents fail (no matter how hard, patient and creative they try) to get their children to eat all the nutrient-rich foods that are necessary for their growth.
It is here that the growth formula, which is a complete food, for daily consumption and easy access, becomes a great ally to achieve a healthy and balanced diet that provides the nutrients that the child needs at this stage of his life.
Compared to unmodified cow's milk, the incorporation of growth milks (or milks adapted to the feeding of children from the age of one) is very useful as it allows the appropriate nutritional profile to be reached in a more specific way.
What nutrients are in infant formulas and why are they important?
Among the components found in formula milks there is a part, such as vitamins, which are essential and which the legislation requires to be included.
Then there are other functional ingredients that are voluntary and that manufacturers include as an extra.
This means that the different brands of formulas that you find in pharmacies or supermarkets are not all the same, as they have a personalized composition by the different manufacturers.
There are more basic formulas, as well as premium formulas that have a better quality and nutritional composition.
In addition, some premium brands offer you an added value that is a formula created from milk that comes from cows raised on organic farms.
Formulas labelled organic, ecological or biological offer as a guarantee of quality their origin from animals fed and treated with 100% natural products.
In addition to being manufactured without the addition of any synthetic chemicals.
Apart from all this, many brands come from countries like Switzerland where there are rigorous controls on organic products.
An organic infant formula manufactured in Switzerland can pass more than 50 analyses and quality controls from the cow to the consumer (your children).
¿What functional ingredients are added to the formulas and what are they for?
On the labels of infant formulas there are some abstract, unclear terms that sometimes make some parents hesitate and even frighten them.
But there's nothing to be scared of as these are ingredients added to infant formulas to make them more nutritionally complete and as close to breast milk as possible.
Some of the ingredients you'll see on the labels are
DHA and ARA
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA) are necessary for the development of the central nervous system and visual acuity in children.
DHA is a polyunsaturated essential fatty acid of the Omega-3 series that is part of the cells of the brain and the retina, and helps visual and cognitive development.
Two of the most important sources of DHA are blue fish or egg yolks.
ARA, on the other hand, is an Omega-6 series fatty acid. One of the main sources from which ARA is obtained is the fungus mortierella alpina which, although it sounds very bad, is considered safe by the food safety authorities.
GOS and FOS
Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and fructooligosaccharides (FOS) are prebiotics naturally found in breast milk and promote the development of beneficial intestinal flora.
The GOS/FOS mixture in the formulas has demonstrated a prebiotic effect similar to that of breast milk in relation to the intestinal microbiota, which promotes the growth of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.
These living microorganisms are beneficial to children's health because they regulate the intestinal ecosystem, improve intestinal function and nutrient absorption, and modulate the immune response to prevent infections and allergies.
As not all formulations contain these functional ingredients, it is important to review the labelling to detect differences and make the right choice.
No added sugar
This is a piece of information that you have to look for on the labels of infant formulas.
It is very important that you look at all the added ingredients, but it is especially necessary that you look at whether the formulas contain sugars or sweeteners, which is totally unnecessary and excessive in some versions.
If you want to avoid causing a variety of health problems to your children (such as obesity, diabetes, etc.) it is recommended that you look for infant formulas that specify on the label that they do not contain added sugars.
"It's no secret that sugar is terrible for our bodies and we shouldn't consume it in large quantities"
The best infant formulas are created to be as similar as possible to breast milk, which naturally contains lactose which gives it that sweet taste that children love.
Almost all the carbohydrate in breast milk and cow's milk is lactose. This is the kind of carbohydrate that babies and young children are designed to eat.
It is easy to digest and helps "good" bacteria grow in the intestine, and it does not increase blood sugar like other sugars.
In fact, lactose has a glycemic index of 45. (The glycemic index is a measure of how much a meal raises blood sugar.)
In contrast, pure glucose has a glycemic index of 100.
Lactose is also not very sweet, on a scale of 0 to 100, 100 being the equivalent of white table sugar, lactose tastes sweet on a scale of 16.
The importance of reviewing the labelling on infant formulas.
The reality is that the ingredients on formula labels are often explained in too technical a manner and are sometimes difficult to understand.
To be able to choose quality products that provide more benefits in the nutrition of your children, there are two fundamental points:
One, is to have a better knowledge about the nutrients needed in the children's diet.
And two, is to have a better understanding of the ingredients described on infant formula labels.
Once you have in your hands the best infant formula for your children it is time to know how to prepare it.
6 steps to prepare infant formulas correctly
Your child is hungry and you need to quickly prepare the bottle. Don't worry, because the process is very simple!
Besides, it's a task you'll repeat a lot of times, so many that in the end you'll do it even without thinking.
These are the 6 steps to prepare correctly a baby formula:
Step 1: Sanitize your hands and bottle
It is very important that you wash your hands with soap and water and then clean the bottle you are going to use.
The bottle must be completely clean, for this you have to use water and soap with the help of a bottle brush.
If you clean it after each shot you will avoid sticking remains of the preparation. If there's milk attached, one trick is to use coarse salt.
Step 2: Sterilize the bottle
You should sterilize the bottle to remove bacteria right after each feeding.
This process, as the baby grows, will be done less often because his or her immune system will be more developed.
There are several types of sterilizers:
- Electric Sterilizer
- Microwave Sterilizer
- Microwave sterilization bags (ideal for when you are out and about)
Step 3: Prepare the water
If the water in the area where you live is drinkable, you only have to boil it for one minute.
It should not be boiled for more than a minute, as boiling concentrates the mineral salts (especially sodium), and infants still have little ability to expel excess salt.
Boiling water destroys any bacterial contamination of the water.
If you use bottled water, it should have a weak mineralization. You should look at the label on the bottle of water that is suitable for feeding breastfeeding babies.
In any case, we must keep the water in a cool, dry place without exposure to sunlight.
When you have the water ready (either boiled drinking water or bottled water suitable for nursing babies) it is time to warm up the bottle.
You can use an electric bottle warmer or a microwave.
In order to mix the water with the formula, the water must be at a temperature of approximately 70ºC.
Step 4: Add the water to the bottle
When you have the water ready, add it to the bottle, and the next step is to add the formula.
When preparing the bottle, it is always necessary to add the water first and then the powdered formula.
If you do it the other way around, you may not add the right amount of water, so you could cause a dehydration problem.
Step 5: Add the infant formula
You must add the powdered formula strictly following the manufacturer's instructions or the instructions given to you by your pediatrician.
It is important that you never add less, or more, than the manufacturer's or pediatrician's instructions.
If you add less, the baby will be water fed. If you add too much you can cause dehydration or kidney and digestive problems.
Step 6: Mix the water and the powdered formula
Before giving your child the bottle, you should check that his temperature is ideal.
Breast milk has a constant temperature of about 32 degrees Celsius, so you should try to let the bottle cool down so that it does not exceed 35 or 36 degrees.
You can use a thermometer for this, or the traditional way: you pour a few drops on the back of your wrist and make sure it's not too hot.
If you need to cool the bottle, you can place it under cold water.
Properly preparing a bottle is a very simple process, as long as we don't skip any of these 6 steps.
5 important points to know if you use infant formulas
- 1Do not keep the remains of one drink for the next, as the milk will already be contaminated.
- 2You could prepare the bottles in advance and keep them in the fridge for up to 24 hours as long as you prepare each bottle separately, cool the bottles quickly and put them in the fridge (below 5 degrees Celsius).
- 3Never freeze the bottles. You should discard any refrigerated sockets that have not been used in 24 hours.
- 4Use the right formula for the stage of growth your child is in.
- 5Follow the preparation instructions on the label or given by the paediatrician to the letter.
Whether maternal or formula, milk is a fundamental and exclusive pillar in the feeding of babies. However - and according to science - the two milks are not and never will be the same.
Breast milk is the ideal food for the proper growth and development of the child. It is the best preventive health strategy in the medium and long term.
But, in the event that breastfeeding is not possible, formula is a safe and effective option for feeding babies and an excellent nutritional supplement in the feeding of young children.
The information presented on nutrigrow.club is not intended to provide or replace the advice of your pediatric physician or medical nutritionist.
The information presented in this post is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Full medical clearance must be obtained from a licensed physician before modifying a child's diet.
The authors assume no liability to any person or entity for any liability, loss or damage caused or alleged to be caused directly or indirectly as a result of the use, application or interpretation of the information presented in this post.