Guiding Your Child Through The Infant Year
Feeding Your Baby
Learn the ins and outs of formula feeding.
InteliHealth Medical Content
For women who choose not to breastfeed for medical or personal reasons, infant formula fortunately contains all the nutrients a baby needs for normal growth. A formula-fed newborn will usually take 2 or 3 ounces of formula every 3 to 4 hours, although some can go longer between meals. By the end of the first month, he may be taking 4 or more ounces at each feeding and may go longer between meals. At 2 weeks of age, your newborn may consume 18 to 22 ounces of milk per day; by one month, that increases to about 25 ounces or more per day.
Types of formula
As you have probably noticed, there are many types of infant formula, and advertisers often give away free samples and make various claims about their products in an effort to win your loyalty. You may want to ask your pediatrician for advice regarding the best formula choice for your baby. Some of your options:
- Cow's milk-based. Most of the commonly available formulas are made from cow's milk protein that has been specially processed so that infants can digest it. These formulas are nutritionally complete and are appropriate for most babies. However, don't feed your baby regular cow's milk that comes in a jug or carton. It doesn't contain the right nutrients and can cause hidden intestinal bleeding that leads to anemia.
- Soy-based. These formulas are made from soy protein and provide complete nutrition, but contain no cow's milk protein. Parents wishing to follow a vegetarian diet can use these formulas. Infants with documented sensitivity to cow's milk are also frequently sensitive to soy and should not be given soy-based formula. There is no proven value in the use of soy-based formulas for colic or the prevention of allergies. Soy formula should not be given to premature infants.
- Lactose-free. In addition to soy-based formulas, there are cow's milk-based formulas without lactose, a sugar that occurs naturally in human and cow's milk. These formulas are useful for infants with some rare medical conditions that cause problems with the digestion of sugars, like lactose. However, true lactose intolerance in infants is rare. Despite popular belief, most children with infectious diarrhea have no difficulty handling lactose and do not benefit from lactose-free diets.
- Iron-fortified or low iron. To prevent iron deficiency, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only iron-fortified formula (unless you are instructed otherwise by a physician). Contrary to popular belief, the amount of iron in iron-fortified formula is too small to cause constipation or other gastrointestinal upset, so using low-iron formulas is not necessary.
- Elemental or hypoallergenic. These formulas are specially made so that proteins, fats and carbohydrates are broken down into smaller molecules. They are designed to minimize allergies and may be useful for children with certain medical problems.
- DHA and ARA. Cow's milk-based and soy-based formulas supplemented with DHA and ARA are now available. These fatty acids, which occur naturally in breast milk, are thought to be important for infant development. However, studies have not clearly shown any long-term benefits, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has not made a formal recommendation about these formulas.
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