Breastfeeding is clearly the healthiest way for babies to be fed. This is widely accepted, and widely known to have a number of benefits for the health of both the baby and the mother. However, there are instances where breastfeeding simply is not practical, such as:
- Sometimes medications taken by the mother cause breast milk to be harmful to the baby.
- Sometimes, for one reason or another, mothers do not produce breast milk as they should.
- Certain conditions cause it to be difficult or even impossible to breast feed.
- Working mothers may not always have the ability to exclusively breast feed due to job obligations and/or lack of a suitable place to express breast milk.
If you need to use infant formula for these or any other reasons, you shouldn’t feel badly about it. Despite what some will tell you, babies who are formula fed generally grow up just fine. They are not less intelligent, nor do they necessarily feel less attached to their parents.
Of course, if you do give your baby infant formula, you want to make sure that you are giving her the absolute best nutrition you can, whether you are supplementing breast feeding or using formula as baby’s entire diet. Here are some things to look for in an infant formula:
- Iron fortified. While all baby formulas are required to have certain nutritional content, not all are iron fortified. Unless told otherwise by your pediatrician, use iron fortified formula.
- Look for formula that has been DHA and/or RHA enhanced. These enhanced formulas provide Omega-3 fatty acids found in breast milk. While studies are not completely conclusive, there is reason to believe this enhances brain and eyesight development.
There is not a great deal of difference in the core nutrients from one baby formula to the next, regardless of name brand or generic labeling. They all follow the same government guidelines regarding their nutritional value. That said, some babies will digest certain formulas better than others. If you suspect your baby may be having trouble digesting the formula you feed her, change to a different kind. If the problem persists, take your baby in to see the doctor.