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The Facts on Baby Formula, Part 1

There are loads of formulas on the market today, which may prove overwhelming to new parents. How do you know which one will give your little one the nutrition they need to grow up healthy and strong? Here, we take the guesswork out of choosing the right one, along with some other helpful formula tips and facts.

Facts on Baby Formula
  1. First, baby formula comes in three forms, so it's important to educate yourself on what kind works best for you and your baby:
    • Powders: The least expensive option, these are to be mixed with water&mdashone scoop per two ounces of water.
    • Liquid concentrates: Pricier than powders, these are generally diluted with an equal part of water.
    • Ready-to-use baby formulas: Often the most expensive and convenient, ready-to-use formulas can be poured straight into baby's bottle.
  2. Next, you'll need to decide what kind of base ingredient is best for your baby:
    • Milk-based baby formulas: Made with cow's milk, vegetable oils (for fat calories), vitamins and minerals, and usually iron-fortified (as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics), milk-based formulas are appropriate for healthy, full-term babies.
    • Soy-based baby formulas: Made with soy protein, vegetable oils, corn syrup and/or sucrose (for carbohydrates), and sometimes iron, these formulas are good for babies with lactose intolerance, or those who have allergies to the whole protein in cow's milk. Soy infant formulas aren't recommended for low-birth-weight or preterm babies.
    • Specialty baby formulas: This category spans a wide range of formulas for babies with special diet needs, such as infant formulas for low-birth-weight babies, low-sodium formulas for babies who require restricted salt intake, and "predigested" protein formulas for babies who can't tolerate or have allergies to the whole proteins in cow's milk and milk-based formulas.
  3. Last, here are some handy tips to apply at feeding time:
    • There's no need to heat the formula for your baby. Drinking it at room temperature is fine.
    • If you have leftover milk in your bottle after a feeding, it's okay to store in the refrigerator until the next feeding. But after that, you should throw it away.
    • Wipe, rinse, or wash the top of the can before you open it so that dust and dirt from the top of the container does not fall into the formula. Baby formula is very rich in nutrients, so any germs that fall in will quickly multiply and ruin the entire batch.
    • Always mix the formula with the correct amount of water. If you use too much water, then your baby won't get enough nutrients and energy to grow and develop. If you give too little water, it may cause diarrhea or dehydration.