With over 50 formulas for full-term infants on the market, it is no wonder that parents are confused. Actually, there is little difference between the brands and a formula should be chosen based on availability and cost.
‘Starter’ and ‘follow-on’ formulas
Starter formulas are for infants from birth to 12 months. Follow-on formulas are marketed for 6-12 months of age and have slightly higher protein/mineral content. As solids are now started at around 6 months, there is no nutritional reason to change to a follow-on formula at 6 months.
Soy milk formulas. Can be useful for cow’s milk allergy in infants over 6 months of age. Soy formulas do not prevent allergy from developing as once thought.
Lactose-free milk formulas. There are several lactose-free cow’s milk-based formulas for infants unable to digest lactose (milk sugar). ‘Lactose intolerance’ can occur temporarily after gastroenteritis.
Goat’s milk formula. There is no nutritional reason to select goat’s milk formula, but it is safe for infants. It is not suitable for infants allergic to cow’s milk.
Partially ‘hydrolysed’ formulas (HA formulas). Useful as a breastmilk substitute for the baby at risk of food allergy (e.g. in an atopic family). They are not suitable for babies with cow’s milk allergy.
There is little good evidence of any benefit from milks with:
· Added ‘nucleotides’ or ‘long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids’ (PUFAS)
· Thickening agents, used to try to reduce reflux after a feed (AR formulas)
Always make up the formula exactly as it says on the can and check with your GP before changing to a different type of milk.