Few things are more important to the health and development of an infant than ensuring proper nutrition during the first years of life. The nutrition baby receives now will have a lifelong effect.
Without question, the optimal choice in infant nutrition is breast milk. However, for some infants and parents, breast milk may not be a feasible option and different choices need to be considered.
There are many maternal and infant conditions that do not allow for breastfeeding and for some, breast milk may not be the best option for the family. In these cases, finding the perfect baby formula to nourish your little one will be top priority.
For these parents, choosing the best formula among the many over-the-counter and online formulas available can be a daunting task at best.
Where to start?
Cow’s milk-based formula is the standard choice of formula for most infants who are not breastfed. These formulas account for up to 80% of formulas sold in the United States and in Europe. There are skim milk and whole milk varieties of cow milk formula.
Specialty formulas are for the small percentage of babies that actually need other types of non-cow milk-based formulas. These specialty formulas help with milk protein allergies and intolerance, food and allergy sensitivities, and digestive discomfort.
These include, but are not limited to, the following types:
Goat milk-based formulas provide a healthy alternative for babies that have a dairy intolerance. These formulas are mostly whole milk based and contain a tenth less lactose than cow’s milk-based formulas while providing the same nutrients. Falling under the A2 milk category, goat milk is naturally easy to digest and absorb.
HypoAllergenic baby formulas are amino based and perfect for babies who have allergies or sensitive stomachs. These hydrolyzed formulas have milk proteins broken down into more manageable sizes. This is the perfect formula for the little that has acid reflux, upset stomach, spitting up, or frequent skin rashes.
Sensitive baby formulas contain prebiotics and probiotics for digestion, especially for your little ones that have digestive issues and food sensitivities. Perfect for allergies, lactose intolerance, fussy and colicky babies, acid reflux issues, and more.
Soy milk-based formulas are generally used as an alternative to cow’s milk formulas. Due to unknown and known longer term effects of soy in infants, it is generally not recommended.
Ingredients that will support rapid cognitive growth and help your little ones hit all developmental milestones are the key to finding the very best baby formula.
Finding nutrition that is free of heavy metal, chemicals, and hormones can be challenging; however, choosing organically sourced baby formula can help narrow the field down.
Here are ingredients that you should avoid in your baby formula:
- Processed or Added Sugars: The addition of sugar in baby formula is a filler that is unnecessary for the baby’s growth. The natural occurring lactose is what a baby thrives on in breastmilk, so why would change that for baby formula? Many baby formulas add sugar in the form of sucrose, fructose, high fructose corn syrup, and glucose syrup solids. All of these additions can mess up your baby’s gut health and provide problems further in their life with conditions like diabetes, lupus, obesity, depression, and anxiety.
- Carrageenan: Typically, this ingredient is used to thicken the baby formula. You can find it in acid reflux and sensitive versions of baby formula most often, which seems completely contradictive of what the formula is trying to accomplish. This is because the ingredient has been found to cause colitis, IBM, rheumatoid arthritis, and colon cancer! It’s surprising this ingredient is still allowed, but the controversy around it has been sparking many discussions across the internet.
- Soy: This ingredient is very hard to avoid in baby products from the US, which is quite unfortunate. In the early 90’s, soy was popularized as a health food item and immediately added to all sorts of different products. 30 years later, and with many scientific studies, the positive effects of soy have been thoroughly examined as false. In fact, soy in baby products has led to “soy babies” which have reproductive issues in adulthood. This is because the phytoestrogens in soy blocked the development of reproductive systems and caused problems in both boys and girls. The EU has banned the addition of soy in their baby products as of recent, so you will no longer find soy even in the smallest form of soy oil or soy lecithin added to your baby formula.
- Synthetic Preservatives: Anything synthetic in its name alone says not-real, fake, artificial. As such, why would you want to give your developing synthetic ingredients within their first year of life? Especially when there is absolutely no need for this. Parents should be extra cautious of these preservatives ending up in their baby formula, because companies will use them simply to extend the shelf life of a product. The toxins can seriously damage your baby’s cognitive development and in return, shorten your baby’s life!
- Hormones and Antibiotics: The tricky part about these ingredients is that you will never find them on the label of ingredients, because companies know they shouldn’t be added to the formula. So how do they get in and how do you avoid them? This is why choosing organic formula is very important, because animals are limited the amount of hormones/antibiotics they can receive in order for their milk to be labeled organic. Taking it a step further, EU organic formula means the cows have an even cleaner environment with grassy pastures and plenty of land to roam. This means the likelihood of these animals getting sick and needing antibiotics is decreased as well.
Not all formulas are equal
Not all formulas are labeled organic and not all organic formulas are truly free of all toxins. Unfortunately, many over-the-counter formulas contain cheap filler ingredients such as syrup solids, sugar, and soy.
Rules and regulations that govern the amount of vitamins and minerals, if pesticides are allowed, and what exactly is considered “healthy” varies widely from US markets to the family owned EU companies.
Research and Rest Assured
Finding nutrition that is safe and clean is easy to find with a small amount of time and research. Formula that is organic, chemical free, without GMO or pesticides, plus fitting to all nutritional and digestive needs for your baby is obtainable in the European formulas.
Choosing the best baby formulas today will help build the foundation for the best health tomorrow.