Infant formulas are specially designed foods mostly in powder form and meant for feeding infants and babies below the age of one year. They are usually designed to serve as a substitute for breast milk. Apart from those in powder form, there are also those in liquid form. Both powdered and liquid formulas can be used for bottle or cup-feeding. According to world health organization (WHO) properly formulated infant formulas are not only safe but can perfectly substitute breast milk, which is otherwise the best food that infants below one year of age should be fed on.
The need for infant formulas
There are various reasons why a mother may resort to using infant formulas to feed her infant. While some of the reasons can be personal, others are medically related. The use of infant formulas becomes necessary in case a mother is incapable of producing enough breast milk to satisfy her infant. Mothers under medication can also resort to feeding their infants using infant formulas so as to prevent passing on medication chemicals to their infants. Mothers who must return to work soon after delivery have no option but to make use of infant formulas. Last but not least, the use of infant formulas becomes very necessary in case an infant develops allergy to milk, including breast milk.
Types and ingredients of infant formulas
There are basically three types of infant formulas: milk-based, soy-based and special formulas. Milk-based formulas have milk as the main ingredient with fats, water, carbohydrates, proteins, minerals and essential fatty acids added in varied degrees. This type of infant formula is the most common and is very suitable for healthy infants and babies. The varied minerals and vitamins included in this type of formula help infants develop both physically and mentally. This type of infant formula contains ingredients unsuitable for milk allergic infants.
Soy-based infant formulas are carefully formulated to serve as breast milk substitute in cases where milk-based formulas are not appropriate. This type of formula has soy protein as the main ingredient with vegetable oil, corn syrup (in place of carbohydrates) added. This type of formula is recommended for infants and babies allergic to milk. It is also recommended for infants with the problem of milk intolerance.
Special infant formulas are specially designed for feeding infants and babies with low birth weight, infants who need special care in terms of diet to gain appropriate weight and lead a healthy life. This type of formula is carefully formulated to have low levels of sodium and proteins. Other ingredients included are carbohydrates, fats and essential fatty acids.
Regardless of the type of infant formula, water is usually a mandatory ingredient included. As a matter of fact, infant formulas are formulated in such a way that 85% is water. It must however be emphasized that although properly formulated infant formulas can substitute natural breast milk, breast milk remains the most suitable food for infants and mothers who can still breastfeed are encouraged to do so for the full benefits to their infants.