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What kind of formula should I use?

Although breast milk is nature's perfect baby food, some women are unable to breast feed. For this reason, scientists and medical experts have spent years developing high quality and nutritional baby formulas.

How do you decide on a formula that will right for your baby? You will need to consider the baby's health, age and dietary needs, as well as what the formula will cost and how much preparation time is necessary. You have two basic types to choose from: milk based and soya based.

Most infant formulas are based on cow's milk, which is modified by adjusting the carbohydrate, protein, and fat levels, and adding vitamins and minerals in order for it to resemble breast milk as closely as possible. There are also special types of formula available for premature babies.

Some manufacturers produce two types of formula; a first stage formula and a second-stage formula. The second stage formula is touted as being for babies with a larger appetite. Proteins in milk can be broken down into curds or casein, and whey. First stage formulas contain more whey than casein and have a whey ratio of forty to sixty, which approximates the ratio of whey to casein in breast milk. These formulas are suitable for babies from birth and are thought to be easier to digest and are suitable for babies up to about a year old. Second-stage or follow-on milks have a higher casein count, an eighty to twenty ratio. They take longer to digest because of the high casein content.

Tiny babies cannot digest cow's milk easily because it contains large amounts of protein and salt. Cow's milk is considered to be unsuitable for babies under six months old.  It is also not recommended as a main drink for babies under the age of one year. Cow's milk is low in iron and Vitamin C. Small amounts may be used in the baby's breakfast cereal.

Soya based formulas are made from soya beans which are modified for use in the formula with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. Babies should only be given soya based formula on the advice of a health professional. Babies who have a cow's milk intolerance or allergy may be fed a soya based formula or a cow's milk based formula which has been specially modified for babies with an allergy or intolerance. There no evidence that changing to a soya based formula can ease a baby that is colicky.

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