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Choosing baby formula

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Follow-up baby formula and switching formulas

Sometimes you may need to change the formula your baby drinks. Reasons for switching baby formula include food allergies, a baby’s need for iron, extreme fussiness or diarrhoea.

These and other symptoms can also be signs of something unrelated to baby’s formula. In that case, a change may not help or could make baby’s symptoms worse. That’s why you should always talk to your baby’s doctor or health visitor before changing infant formulas, and seek medical advice if your baby has any of these symptoms:

  • Dry, red and scaly skin
  • Diarrhoea
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Forceful vomiting

What about switching to follow-on formulas when the baby gets older? Geared for babies six to 12 months old, these formulas have more calories and nutrients than regular infant formulas, but again, this change may not be right for your baby. Talk to your GP or health visitor before trying them.

Are baby formulas safe?

In the winter of 2008, several news stories came out about melamine - a synthetic chemical used to produce fertilisers, pesticides and cleaning products - in baby formula. Should you be concerned?

If you are using formula made in the UK, the short answer is no. Most of the reported health problems were connected to a few baby formulas made in China. In the UK the regulations don’t allow melamine to be used as a food ingredient, so there is no risk of it in baby formula manufactured in the UK.

12 tips for using baby formula

Now that you have the basic formula facts, here are some quick tips for safe and effective feeding with formula.

Feeding

  • Feed your newborn as much baby formula as they want, but don’t force them to finish a bottle he’s no longer interested in. Most newborns will eat about 60-90ml (2-3oz) every two to three hours
  • Read the instructions on your baby’s formula to find out exactly how much water to add to concentrates and powders. Adding too little water can lead to diarrhoea and dehydration.
  • Don’t ‘stretch’ your budget by watering down infant formula or breast milk. Not only will the baby get too few nutrients, but there’s also the small but serious risk of “water intoxication”. This over-consumption of water can disturb baby’s electrolyte balance, resulting in seizures or brain damage. If you are having trouble affording baby formula, speak to your health visitor or doctor for advice.
  • Feed your baby a little less formula and more slowly than you have been if they have a lingering problem with spitting up. You might also try limiting active playtime after feeding.
  • Don’t give regular cow’s milk to a baby younger than one year old. The proteins in cow’s milk infant formulas have been cooked or processed, making them much easier for babies to digest than regular cow’s milk.
  • Give your one-year-old cow’s milk if he enjoys it, but only full-fat milk, not semi-skimmed or skimmed milk; neither has the fat or calories a growing toddler needs.
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