Choosing the right infant formula can be a daunting task for new parents. There are so many different types on the market, each with benefits and drawbacks. Selecting the right infant formula can ensure your baby receives proper nutrition for healthy growth and development.  So, how can a parent make the best choice for their child?

Consider Your Baby’s Needs

Consider your baby’s needs regarding allergies or dietary restrictions. If your child can’t consume cow’s milk, you may need a soy-based formula. Or, if your baby is lactose intolerant or has a protein allergy, specialized formulas are available without these ingredients.

Age and Stage

As your baby grows, their nutritional needs will change. Generally, newborn formula is designed for babies aged six months or younger. It’s essential that you read the labels to understand the differences between the three developmental stages: newborn, infant, and toddler formulas.

Check the Ingredients and Expiration Date

Read the ingredient list and check the expiration date. Formula should contain essential nutrients like fats, carbohydrates, proteins, vitamins, and minerals.

Consider the Price

Formula costs vary widely. What is your budget and how often will you buy this formula? Keep in mind that many name-brand formula companies sell store-brand formulas in retail stores. Consider what brand will work best for your baby and your budget.

Proper Formula Preparation

Wash your hands and all feeding parts with soap and water before preparing your baby’s formula. Follow the instructions. Some formulas require boiling water, others are pre-mixed. Teach those who will care for your baby how to prepare their formula correctly, and to hold the baby in an upright position when feeding by bottle.

When in Doubt Ask Baby’s Pediatrician

Your baby’s pediatric care provider is a great source of information when it comes to choosing baby formula. Ask questions that help you navigate the many different options and discuss any other concerns that you have. Baby’s provider can also recommend special formula brands if your baby has dietary restrictions.  At each well-baby visit, share with your baby’s healthcare provider how they are adapting to their formula as they grow.

Ensure the formula you choose is made for your baby’s age and development stage; when in doubt, ask your baby’s pediatric care provider for their recommendation.

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Shawana S. Moore, DNP, APRN, WHNP-BC, PNAP, FAAN, is a women’s health nurse practitioner. She serves as an Associate Professor and the DNP Program Director at Emory University’s Nell Hodgson School of Nursing. She is passionate about equitable, respectful, and inclusive maternal-child care.

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