You only want the best for your baby—we get that. And with many different products and formulas for your baby on the market, it can be difficult to determine which is the right one for your little one.
There are many factors to consider when choosing the best formula for your baby, but it’s important to consider the most important ones when picking your product.
If you’re stuck on where to start when choosing a formula, you’re not alone.
However, we’re here to help. Here are 6 tips to help you choose the best formula for your baby!
1. Know the Forms of Formula First
While there are many forms of formulas, formulas in general, can be divided into three main categories. These categories include ready-to-use formula, liquid concentrate formula, and powered formula.
Unparalleled in convenience, ready-to-use formula does not require any mixing or measuring.
Simply open and serve!
This is the kind of formula often fed to newborns in hospitals, and it is especially hygienic. This means it can be helpful if and when you don’t know whether you’ll have access to safe water.
However, keep in mind that this formula has a short lifespan. This means it is less suitable if you want to stock up on formula for your baby.
Once opened, this kind of formula must be used within 48 hours.
Additionally, the convenience of this type of formula comes at a cost, with the prices usually being about 20 percent more per ounce than that of powered formula.
Containers for ready-to-use formula also take up more storage space—both in your cupboards and in landfills.
Also, although ready-to-use formula is undoubtedly the most convenient, many moms complain that it’s more likely to stain clothes because liquid formula is often darker than powered formula.
Liquid Concentrate Formula
The more affordable formula option than ready-to-use formula is liquid concentrate formula.
Liquid concentrate formula requires mixing of equal parts of both water and formula.
This kind of formula also takes up less space, so it may be a better choice for people who don’t have much cupboard space to store formula.
Powdered formula, such as Cow & Gate, takes the cake for the least expensive formula. It is the most environmentally-friendly option as well!
Additionally, it takes up the least amount of space in transport, as well as in your pantry and in your garbage can.
The downfall for powdered formula, however, is that it takes significantly longer to prepare, and you must follow the directions exactly.
Lasting approximately one month after being opened, this form of formula has a relatively long shelf life.
Other Types of Formula:
- Cow’s-milk-based formula
- Partially and extensively hydrolyzed formulas
- Soy-based formula
- Lactose-free formula, such as Aptamil
- Formula for premature and low-birth-weight babies
- Human milk fortifier
- Metabolic formula
- Organic formula, such as HiPP Organic
- Other specialty formula
It is recommended to start your baby with a formula made from regular cow’s milk, as most babies will tolerate it very well.
They are also usually the least expensive.
However, if your little one doesn’t seem to be responding to the standard cow’s milk formula, try out soy.
Although soy protein has been controversial, it can work well for children who become gassy, get a rash, or have another negative response to standard cow’s milk formula.
2. Digestion is a Key Denominator
While convenience and expense of a formula do play a role in your selection, the most important factor for the best formula is digestion.
Many parents report their children experiencing digestive discomfort as a result of the baby formula. Therefore, it’s important to choose formula wisely to attempt to avoid such distress.
Even though cow’s milk formula may be the best formula for some babies, it may not be suitable for you baby’s digestion.
If cow’s milk formula seems to cause digestive distress for your baby, try other options such as goat’s milk formula like Holle Goat Milk Infant Formula, or hydrolyzed baby formula, or other types of formula listed above.
Additionally, new formulas are often released and marketed to parents to help babies with digestion issues and to relieve problems such as colic or acid reflux.
So keep an eye out, and if you think your baby could benefit form a specialty formula, ask your doctor about it first!
3. Name Brand vs. Generic—Which to Choose
Because generic brands of formula must also meet the FDA’s requirements for nutrients in formula, generic brands are nutritionally adequate for your child.
In many instances, the only difference between the generic and name brand options is the price.
But while generic brands may be nutritionally adequate, some doctors say formula isn’t the place to hunt for a bargain.
However, no matter which way you choose to go with formula—generic or name brand—always take a minute to check out the label before making a purchase.
Ingredients vary from brand to brand and can make a difference, so be sure to look over the label.
4. Stay on the Lookout for Various Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are also a key denominator during selecting the best formula for your baby.
And while most of the ingredient label describe vitamins and minerals, the words can be hard to figure out.
The vitamins and minerals a formula contains are key in the growth and development of your child. So while many parents are mainly concerned with protein and carbohydrates, check out the whole label.
Some dairy sources have a high amount of vitamins and minerals naturally.
Compare the natural vitamin content in different formulas to make sure you’re getting the best formula for your baby, with the right amount of vitamins and minerals for his or her diet.
Keep in mind that all healthy babies who are not breastfed exclusively be given iron-fortified formula throughout their first year.
5. Homemade Formula—Is it Worth it?
While it may sound like a good idea initially, doctors don’t recommend making the attempt at creating your own formula.
Professionals strongly advise against homemade formula, as it could lead to failure to gain weight, malnourishment, or even death.
Potential dangers of making your own formula for your child include:
- Some ingredients aren’t safe
- Contamination is possible
- An imbalance of nutrients is likely
If you do decide to give homemade formula a try, consult an expert first, always keep the process clean, and watch your child closely for health probelms.
6. Pick One with Plenty of Prebiotic Oligosaccharides
Looking for prebiotic oligosaccharides can be one way to find the best formula for your baby.
Prebiotic oligosaccharides are non-digestible carbohydrates that remain in the digestive tract and can make digestion easier for your baby.
Once in the digestive tract, they perform various important functions and are able to stimulate a specific type of bacteria in the digestive tract.
These bacteria stimulate digestion, making the formula easier for your baby to digest in general. Therefore, look for a formula with plenty of prebiotic oligosaccharides.
What formulas have you tried out for your baby? What have you found to be the top contenders, and which have you found that fall short? Tell us about your experiences with different formula products in the comments!