Mom, read this before switching your baby’s formula

You should always talk to your paediatrician before switching formula, but here’s some helpful advice from registered dietitian Megan Pentz-Kluyts before making the switch.

Know what’s available

Infant formula manufacturers try to mimic human milk. Like breast milk, formula is designed to deliver fluid for hydration; protein to provide amino acid building blocks for growth; carbohydrates to fuel the muscles, brain, and other organs; concentrated calories of fat for energy; and various vitamins and minerals.

Regular formula

Most regular infant formulas are made from cow’s milk and in 2013 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), approved goat milk as a protein source in infant formula. The EFSA Panel concluded that protein from goat milk can be suitable as a protein source for infant and follow-on formulae. These milks are specially adapted to be suitable for babies. The proteins are changed to be easily digestible, and the composition is adapted to meet the nutritional requirements of a growing baby.

Hydrolysed formula

These formulas are often a cow’s milk-based formula that is treated with enzymes to break down the proteins that can cause unfavourable symptoms in allergic babies. The protein content is broken down into smaller proteins, making it easier for baby to digest. Partially hydrolysed formulas are often recommended by Healthcare professionals for babies that are allergy prone or have a family history of allergies in order to prevent these allergies from occurring in the baby. The higher the level of hydrolysis, the more the protein is broken down and the better the product is in preventing allergies.

ALSO SEE: When and how to introduce allergy foods to your baby

Soya based formulas

Soy-based formulas use soybeans as the protein source and the composition is adapted to meet the nutritional requirements of the growing baby.

Why (or when) would you need to switch your baby’s formula?

Every baby’s development is different, and there’s no blanket rule about using (and switching) formulas. For instance, you might find that your baby is hungrier than usual. If you feel that their current formula isn’t supporting them as best as it could, it’s always best to seek advice from your doctor to discuss changing to a formula that better supports your child’s nutrition. If you get the go-ahead from your doctor to change formulas, you may want to consider slowly moving your baby onto the new product.

Other reasons for switching can include a milk protein allergy, a lactose intolerance or metabolic conditions, such as, for example galactosemia.

Signs that your baby isn’t tolerating his formula?

Parents often assume that formula plays a part in a baby’s fussiness, gas, spitting up, or lack of appetite. But often that’s not the case.

Speak to your doctor before switching formulas and they will recommend an alternative option and how to navigate the switching so that your baby’s feedings and digestion aren’t interrupted.

Do I switch formulas immediately or is there a ‘recipe’ I should follow?

This is not a ‘one-size fits all’, as it depends on the reason for switching formulas. Most importantly, always read and follow the preparation methods on the product labels exactly.

Depending on the reason, you may have to switch to a new formula immediately, but if not, you will most likely start increasing the volume of the new formula you are transitioning or weaning onto, by a certain amount, while decreasing the current formula, to check tolerance until the target volume is reached.

Switching from breast milk to formula – tips for moms?

There is no one right way to start with formula feeding. Every baby is different and you should always speak to your doctor. If you are breastfeeding, try to do so for as long as possible, and if possible, express your breastmilk.

ALSO SEE: Easy tips to express more breast milk

If your decision is to formula feed, make the switch gradually. Don’t switch completely at once, but start with one fixed feeding a day. If your baby accepts this feeding and is used to it (for instance after a week) then you can add a second feeding and so on. This will allow your baby to grow accustomed to this new way of feeding and it will also help your body to adapt and gradually decrease your milk supply. Start introducing formula when your baby is actually hungry.

More about the expert:

Megan Pentz-Kluyts is registered dietitian with a Masters in Nutrition. She owns her own Nutrition Consultancy, where she consults both hospital and private clients, advises on medicolegal cases, various health issues and sports nutrition. She also speaks at schools and has published numerous articles and a recipe book. Megan also performs food demonstrations. Learn more about Megan Pentz-Kluyts here.

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