Infant formula: A substitute for breast milk for feeding infants.
Pediatricians generally advise exclusively breastfeeding (that is, breastfeeding with no formula) for all full term, healthy infants for the first 6 months of life. However, many infants are formula-fed today, at least in part. For infants to achieve normal growth and maintain normal health, infant formulas must include proper amounts of water, carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
The three major classes of infant formulas are:
The use of infant formulas: Most infants and children thrive on a cow milk-based, lactose containing formula such as Similac (Ross Pharmaceuticals), Enfamil (Mead Johnson Pharmaceuticals), and Good Start (Carnation Food Corp).
Some infants are lactose intolerant (not allergic) and will better tolerate a lactose-free milk-based formula such as Enfamil Lactofree (Mead Johnson Pharmaceuticals) or Similac Lactose-Free (Ross Pharmaceuticals). For children who are recovering from infectious diarrhea and gastroenteritis, the short-term use of lactose-free formulas may help decrease cramps and diarrhea.
Some parents of lactose intolerant infants may prefer to use soy protein-based formulas such as Isomil (Ross Pharmaceuticals), Prosobee (Mead Johnson Pharmaceuticals), and Alsoy (Carnation Food Corp.). Infants who are allergic to cow milk protein can also use soy-based formulas.
For infants who are allergic to cow milk protein and soy protein (approximately 35% of infants allergic to cow milk protein are also allergic to soy proteins), the "predigested" protein formulas including Pregestimil, Nutramigen, and Alimentum can be used.
Unique medical conditions may require a specific formula recommendation by the pediatrician, as for example Lofenalac for patients with PKU (phenylketonuria).
Reasons for formula feeding: Some common reasons for choosing formula-feeding include the following:
Learn more about the different types of baby formula that you can feed your infant, including cow's milk based, soy and elemental formulas.
Wonder which type of infant formula is best? Here's help making the choice.
Information for parents about infant formula, including how often and how much to feed your baby, when to switch formulas and how to clean and sterilize bottles.
Read a comparison of formula feeding and breastfeeding benefits, learn about homemade formulas and how to choose the healthiest infant formula for your baby.
Choosing a formula for your baby used to be easy, with parents having to choose from regular cow's milk based formula, soy formula or an elemental formula.