Sourcing for the right infant formula for your little tot can be tricky business, given the bewildering choices available. If you’re heading back to work after maternity leave, breastfeeding may no longer be as feasible. Infant formula can be a suitable substitute for breast milk in babies above one year, as recommended by the American Association of Pediatricians (AAP). In this article we do a little digging into the intricacies of milk selection for your baby.

Several types of infant milk are available commercially – Cow’s milk, Goat’s milk, Soya-based formula, and Hydrolyzed-protein formula. Infant milk manufacturers have introduced nutrients such as DHA, AHA, Choline, Anti-oxidants, Prebiotics and Probiotics to further supplement infant formulas.

Infant Formulae

 

Infant formula is typically classified into two categories. The first caters for newborns up to six-months, and the second for babies past the six-month mark. The latter is more common, as breastfeeding for the first six months is generally recommended due to the prescribed health benefits to the baby.


Lactose Intolerance vs. Milk Allergy

When our bodies lack sufficient levels of the enzyme lactase, the lactose present in milk to simple sugars. This will lead to various abdominal discomforts, also known as Lactose Intolerance.

On the other hand, Milk Allergy is caused by reactions toward the protein present in milk. Symptoms of milk allergy include skin rashes, swelling in lips and sometimes difficulty breathing.

In these situations, an alternative to the milk causing the symptoms is needed.

 

Cow’s Milk Formula vs. Goat’s Milk Formula

Most commercial infant formula is made from altered cow’s milk, to resemble human breast milk. The nutrient blend makes the milk easier to digest, and babies often do well on this diet. However, some babies are allergic to the proteins in cow’s milk! In this case, goat’s milk will not be the best alternative – a soy-based or hypoallergenic formula would serve better.

Goat’s milk contains trace amounts of allergenic casein protein alpha-S1, which is found in cow’s milk. However, the levels of beta-lacto globulin, the other allergenic protein in milk, are similar to cow’s milk. It’s possible that allergies would trigger for goat’s milk, which makes it an unsuitable alternative.

Goat’s milk and cow’s milk are fairly similar in terms of mineral content. Goat’s milk contains more of certain minerals like potassium and niacin, but is heavily deficient in the folic acid department. Check whether your goat’s milk brand is supplemented with folic acid; if not, be sure to supplement your baby’s diet with folic acid.

 

Hydrolyzed-Protein Formula

If your child cannot handle cow or goat’s milk, hydrolyzed-protein formula may be the way to go. Designed for babies with an allergy or intolerance to the former, this milk contains protein that has been hydrolyzed (broken down), and is generally lactose free, so babies’ sensitive stomachs can digest the milk formula easily. Consult a doctor to understand your baby’s condition before switching to hydrolyzed milk formula.


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