Baby formula, baby food or just plain baby food, baby formula or first milk or baby formula, is generally prepared from powdered or condensed milk or powder and designed for feeding babies under the age of twelve months, generally from fluid or powder prepared especially for baby feeding. This special preparation enables the baby to receive the necessary vitamins and nutrients necessary to ensure proper growth and development. As this food is not readily digested by adults, these products are made nutritionally fortified to ensure adequate supply of essential nutrients for healthy growing children.
In most instances, baby formula is provided to infants until they gain the ability to feed themselves at around six months of age. At that point, a child will be ready for a solid food diet based on foods that he can chew on. Until then, the infant can be fed with baby formula using a spoon or a feeding bottle. Infants may also be fed with breast milk but only after their mothers have consumed solid food at the same time.
Because infant formula contains only water and milk in most cases, it doesn’t contain the nutrients that are needed for the little one. Most formulas do contain some vitamins, minerals and protein, which are all important to the growing infant’s development. However, there are no significant amounts of certain other nutrients such as iron, zinc, folic acid or calcium which are necessary for a baby’s overall health. Experts recommend that infants should be fed a daily meal consisting of breast milk or formula if they cannot feed themselves at the breast and those that are between six months to two years of age can be fed with baby formula. The infant formula contains more protein than other forms of formula and can be mixed with water to help reduce the amount of fluid that is wasted during the making of the formula.
There are many baby formula types on the market today and you will need to know what to look for to choose the right one. All of the major brands offer at least one all-natural flavor such as rice cereal or organic soy milk. Your baby formula should be able to provide a wide range of nutrients including the five main nutrients that are critical to healthy brain and tissue growth: Protein, calcium, potassium, magnesium and sodium. Babies who are not getting enough of these nutrients through their mother’s milk are likely not getting enough of them through the baby formula they are taking.
In the United States, most baby formulas are usually made with cow, goat or sheep milk. These milk substitutes are available in single or multi-grain blends. Cow and goat milk usually cost more than soy-based milk formulas. Other commonly used in baby formulas include rice milk, alfalfa and soy. Multi-grain blends are usually made with rice, wheat, corn and oats.
If you are concerned about the safety of using cow or goat milk in your baby formula made for infants and you decide to use soy milk, you will find that it is less common in recalls. However, some researchers believe that the lack of antibiotics in tap water may be a cause for concern. For this reason, they recommend using tap water if possible and adding an antibiotic when using cow or goat milk. Although the risk of antibiotic resistance is higher with the former, the argument is moot since antibiotics can also be found in human breast milk.