For families who formula-feed, the question of what to fill a bottle with doesn’t end with formula versus breast milk. Walking down the formula aisle gives new parents a wealth of choices, but some families feel tied to whichever brand they were sent a free sample of or took home from the hospital, and it’s not always clear whether it’s a good idea to shop around when it comes to types of formula.
Different types of formula
Most formula is cow’s milk-based, but there are two other types of formula that are sometimes recommended for babies with specific dietary restrictions – soy-based formula and elemental formula. Soy-based formula is sometimes recommended for babies with dairy allergies, although 50% of infants with true dairy allergies are also allergic to the proteins in soy-based formulas. Elemental formulas, which have proteins that are broken down until they’re easier to digest, are usually a safer bet for babies with allergies.
True allergies are very rare in infants, however, and it’s generally a good idea to keep a baby on cow’s milk-based formula unless their pediatrician or healthcare provider recommends making the switch. Some babies do have more sensitive stomachs, though, and may benefit from switching to a gentler brand or type of formula within the category of cow’s milk formulas.
Switching between brands
Whether it’s because a baby seems fussier when drinking a certain brand of formula or just because name-brand formula gets pretty expensive, plenty of parents might find themselves thinking about switching brands of formula, but if there’s no reason to make the switch, it’s generally a good idea not to. Different types of formula can have slightly different flavors and different effects on a baby’s digestive system, and sticking to what you know works is never a bad choice.
However, if there’s a reason to make the switch, whether it’s for digestive reasons or based on cost, as long as it’s to a formula designed for your baby’s age range, there’s no danger in just making the switch one day. Some babies, especially those who are more sensitive to changes in their environments, may prefer a gradual change based on mixing types of formula together, but in most cases, there is no need for this. If you do choose to make a more gradual transition, it’s important to make sure both types of formula are mixed with the recommended proportion of water – in most cases, formulas are mixed with the same proportion of water, but a few brands recommend something slightly different.
It is important to only give your baby formula that’s recommended for their age-range – babies under a year old aren’t ready for toddler, follow-on formula yet.
Effects of changing formula
Whether you’re switching brands or changing from newborn to infant or infant to toddler formula, you may notice a slight change in consistency of your baby’s poop. As long as they are still producing a consistent number of dirty diapers, and it’s not a drastic change, this is normal and to be expected.
If, after switching types of formula, your baby seems fussier or gassier, it may be a sign that the new formula doesn’t agree with their digestive system as well as the old one.
- Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph. “Formula Feeding FAQs: Some Common Concerns.” KidsHealth. The Nemours Foundation, February 2015. Web.
- Gian Mussara. “Breaking Down Baby Formula.” St. Louis Children’s Hospital. St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Web.
- Wendy Sue Swanson. “Mix And Match: Goldilocks Formula.” Seattle Children’s. Seattle Children’s Hospital, November 30 2012. Web.
- “Types of formula milk.” NHS. UK.Gov, February 10 2016. Web.