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Breast Milk would be most ideal as it is the best (and most natural) form of nutrition for the infant. But if you cannot breastfeed or do not wish to do so, the next alternative would be baby milk powder. It is important to consult your doctor first!
Three main types of formula
- Cow’s milk formula
It is the most common formula in the market. cow’s milk has been treated in order to make the protein more digestible and so that it is more closely similar to breastmilk. If you want to introduce fresh cow milk to your baby, you can do so after your baby turns 1 year old as the protein in fresh cow’s milk would not be able to be digested.
- Soy formula
It is the vegan option for babies who are allergic to the protein in cow’s milk. It is a rare case and usually recommended by the doctor. It is made with plant protein that is altered as well so that it can be easily digested.
Soy-based formulas are lactose-free and would be recommended for babies who are lactose intolerant. Some babies are allergic to soy thus it is important to consult your doctor first before choosing this type of formula.
- Specialised formula
Specialised formula, also known as extensively hydrolysed formula is when the protein in the milk is broken down into smaller parts. It is for babies with particular needs such as premature babies or babies who have a high risk of developing allergies.
Three forms of formula
- Powdered formula
This is a widely used option with the longest shelf life as it does not needto be stored in the fridge like the other two forms. It does take a longer time to prepare but it is the cheapest option.
- Ready-to-use formula
This would be the best option when you do not have access to safe water. It is the easiest and most convenient option but it is the most expensive option. For ready-to-use formula, once open, it has to be consumed within a time frame.
- Liquid concentration formula
Water would be required with this formula.
There are two formula stages: stage 1 is for newborns to 6 months old and stage 2 (follow-up formula) is for babies who are 6 months and older. Follow-up formula contains more calcium, iron, protein and calories than infant formula. The protein is not as broken down which would take longer to digest. This keeps your baby full for a longer period of time.
The World Health Organisation states that the follow-up formula isn’t necessary (link here). If you are unsure, it would be best to consult your doctor on what to do next once your baby reaches 6 months old.
We all know that raising a child is not cheap. From the diapers, baby powder, clothing, etc to the wide variety of milk powder. Hence, it is best to do your research early to find out which formula is best and within your financial means as milk powder can get very expensive too.