Breast milk of course is the absolute best milk for your baby during the first or two years but if this is not possible there are many alternatives; but which would you choose?
In days gone by, babies were given watered down “carnation milk”, “condensed milk” or cow”s milk; some added “Pentavite” for vitamins, some failed to. Research has revealed these are certainly not the best options for babies and may even do harm.
Today in 2010, we have been lucky enough to have infant formula which has been researched, modified and tested and is still researched to provide milk nearest to living breast milk. It really is commercially synthesised therefore it is going to never get to the premium standard of natural breast milk but a minimum of it has to be a lot better than what our ancestors used.
Until age one year a child requires a baby formula for optimum digestion and nutrients.
There are lots of types and brands of milks listed under the age categories of starter (1), follow on (2) or toddler (3). ‘Starter’ and ‘Progress’ formulas are complete food substitutes but ‘toddler milk’ is like a vitamin in milk form rather than a food substitute. ‘Progress’ (2) formulas have added iron and nutrients for increased development and growth requirements however if the ‘starter’ formula is much better tolerated after six months and solid food has become introduced then its not absolutely essential to use.
Cow’s milk based infant formula – This is commercially modified cow’s milk to resemble breast milk and it is suitable for most babies. It is not suitable when babies possess a cow milk protein allergy, lactose intolerance or have parents who want to keep away from animal based foods. Some milks have finally been further enhanced with added docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) Omega – 3 essential fatty acids and prebiotics and probiotics for more immunity and digestion. Scientific studies are ongoing for even further refinements.
Goat milk based infant formula – This commercially modified goat milk contains slightly less lactose than cow’s milk with the protein similar to cow’s milk but forms a softer non clustered curd. These facts can make goat milk formula simpler to digest for many babies. It really is more rapidly digested therefore can be helpful to get a baby with reflux.
Soy based infant formula – This milk is commercially made from the soya beans which may have similar protein content to cow’s milk. It contains lactose. During processing the protein is isolated without its cofactors required for digestion and metabolic process therefore is not really a good choice for babies.
Lactose free infant formula (LF)- This milk is normally cow milk based and it has no lactose. This formula may help babies who are suffering from excessive wind, explosive poos and unsettled sleep patterns because of lower bowel pain.
Anti Reflux infant formula (AR)- This may be a cow milk based formula which has been thickened using either carob bean gum or maltodextrin (enzymatically based on any starch but usually corn or wheat). This thickened milk is made for babies who have difficulty keeping milk down. Depending on the thickening agent used this milk may not really suitable for babies who are lactose or wheat intolerant.
Protein modified cow milk infant formula (HA)- In this particular milk the cow milk protein has been broken down making it easier for babies to digest and it is a different milk for babies who may have a primary risk of dairy allergy. Do not use when a baby had been subjected to dairy through breast milk or any other formula.
Protein free infant formula – An extensively hydrolysed 100% whey protein concentrate specialty formula for babies with a diagnosed dairy protein or soy allergy. Medical supervision is needed for babies about this formula and in Australia is just available by script.
Casein dominant or whey dominant infant formula -Whey and casein would be the proteins found in milk. Whey dominant formula is the most common on the market, is nearest breast milk and digested quicker than casein based. Very hungry babies are thought to accomplish better on casein dominant formula.
After one year the gut of a baby is mature enough to succeed onto cow’s milk or perhaps an alternative such as rice milk, oat milk, soy milk, goat milk or toddler milk. These milks are not natural or organic but deciding on a which to use is yours. Babies require full fat milk until at the very least 2 years old.
Goat milk has a similar protein in a comparable quantity to cow’s milk but forms a softer, non clustered curd and possesses slightly less lactose, possibly making it easier to digest. It is more rapidly digested, therefore may be useful for an infant with reflux or frequent positing. It will always be not tolerated by those who have a cow milk protein allergy.
Cow milk is really a nutrient dense food when ingested in their raw organic form (breast milk or unpasteurised milk) but unfortunately minerals and vitamins are lost today with the pasteurisation and homogenisation process (heating it to make it better for us!) Additionally there is a difference in milk produced from relaxed cows grazing in open fields of grasses and flowers to a mass produced commercially fed cow located in overcrowded cement floor stalls. Milk just is not really the same milk as years past. Lactose free cow’s milk is additionally available.
Soya milk is made of soya beans and it has the equivalent amount of protein to cow’s milk it is therefore not tolerated if allergic to cow milk protein. Studies have shown that processed soy can avoid the absorption of essential nutritional vitamins such as calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. The commercial processing involved with isolating the protein in soya beans leaves out the natural digestive and metabolism cofactors, deeming soya milk often challenging to digest.
Rice milk is manufactured out of brown rice, has no lactose and is usually fortified with minerals and vitamins, and it is higher in carbohydrate and lower in protein and calcium. A suitable milk alternative when cow, goat and soy milks have to be avoided.
Oat milk is made of whole oats making it higher in fibre than other milks. It is almost always calcium fortified and naturally sweet.
Toddler milk is marketed for toddlers one year to 3 years. Yes, it includes added nutrients and iron but if a toddler’s diet is adequate then this milk is unnecessary. It can be helpful for a poor eater as it increases iron drsdus their diet that can enhance their appetite as well as supplying a healthy amount of nutrients. Do not give more than the necessary milk intake as it is NOT a substitute to food.