If you are a young parent, you may think about formula feeding as you go. Definitely many questions may arise in your head about this kind of milk. For example, is it safe enough, can it replace breast milk, what kind of formula to choose, what ingredients it contains and many others. If you have already started your research on this topic, you have seen loads of them on the market. Baby formulas don’t only differ with their country of origin and price, but also with their composition, nutritiousness, suitability to different ages and functions.
Why is it important to understand the composition of the formula?
It’s a well-known fact that breast milk is specifically created for your child’s needs. But in case of impossible breastfeeding, almost all mothers choose baby formulas as the best alternative. Usually, breast milk’s composition is a key model for baby formulas and manufacturers try to come as close to it as possible. But, unfortunately, there are some of them that may harm your little one because of unnatural or unsuitable ingredients. If you want to make sure that all the elements included in baby formulas have a positive effect on a baby, or simply understand what your baby consumes, you need to learn more about that.
Here are some basic ingredients included almost in each formula
Generally speaking, most of the ingredients that are found in baby formulas are carbohydrates, fats and proteins. They are just necessary for a baby’s health and development. Let’s talk deeply about each of them.
Carbohydrates are a source of energy for babies, who definitely need much of it. Lactose is the primary carbohydrate in breast milk, that’s why it is commonly used in baby formulas. It benefits the gut microbiota and helps with the absorption of vitamins. Most babies are doing great on lactose as they are born with the ability to digest lactose well, but some may have intolerance. In that case, parents should choose a baby formula that will be suitable for a baby. It’s not a big deal as there is a wide range of them on the market.
It’s a well-known fact that breast milk is specifically created for your child’s needs. But in case of impossible breastfeeding, almost all mothers choose baby formulas as the best alternative.
Other commonly used carbohydrates are Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup solids, Corn Maltodextrin, Glucose syrup, Brown Rice Syrup and Sucrose. Most of them are sugar sources and they are used as they are cheaper, much sweeter and easier to digest than lactose. But a lot of experts don’t recommend Corn Sugar for babies as the main carbohydrate.
Proteins actually play a vital role in a baby’s growth and development. They are frequently named as «building blocks». Proteins can be animal-based or plant-based. These are the most popular of them:
Whey and casein proteins are the most commonly used proteins in baby formulas and they are both animal-based. Whey and casein are considered high-quality proteins and have 9 essential amino acids which support timely development. They are used as the main source of proteins in many baby formulas because their biological value is extremely high. At the same time, they differ in their functions. Whey proteins help to increase muscles, while casein plays a role in binding calcium and phosphorus that are important for bones.
Plant-based proteins are commonly used in vegetarian formulas and are created for kids with cow’s milk protein intolerance. The most popular of them are: soy protein concentrate, pea protein concentrate and almond butter. The last one is really controversial. It is still unknown whether it should be used for baby formulas.
They are also quite important for babies’ health as about 50% of the calories come from it. Fats consist of fatty acids and there are a lot of them in baby formula’s compositions to make it as close as possible to breast milk. The most frequent fats are palm oil, soy oil, coconut oil and high oleic sunflower. Some of them are quite controversial, for example, palm oil which is absorbed more difficult than breast milk.
Moreover, almost all formulas contain ARA and DHA. These fatty acids are not essentials for babies’ bodies but are considered to be beneficial. They are found in human breast milk and they fairly help brain and eye development. So, it’s a good advantage for a formula that is created for babies under 6 months old.
Of course, there are other ingredients that can be included in baby formula. These are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients. Sadly, they may have some adverse elements in their composition that may cause allergies or other health issues. We surely recommend choosing organic baby formulas that are produced in a fully natural way. They don’t contain synthetic elements and are considered to be healthier and safer than regular ones. For example, HiPP organic baby formula, Holle organic baby formula, Kendamil Organic baby formula are well-known among young families nowadays.
It definitely takes time and effort to choose the best baby formula that has only beneficial ingredients. You can do it alone, considering all the nuances, or ask your child’s healthcare provider for advice.