While most moms plan to breastfeed once their little one arrives, statistics show that many moms need or choose to introduce formula at some point in their babies’ lives. However, picking the right formula for your baby can be confusing. The amount of options, along with your baby’s specific needs, are factors that can be overwhelming when looking for formula.
I did a lot of reading before my first child was born to find the best parenting methods for us, although I knew no matter how many books I read our experience would be just that, our experience. I kept my expectations very realistic with both of my first and second child. I did not set myself up for disappointment or the feeling of failure. I did not know if breastfeeding would be the best option for me and my baby. I did not know if he or she would have colic or not.
Neither one of my children had colic and breastfeeding was just not for us. My milk never came in with either child and both responded very well to formula. We started with Similac Advance with Jack and switched to Similac Advance Sensitive a few weeks in due to fussiness related to gas. Caroline started on Similac Advance and ended up on Similac Organic for the majority of her first-year.
Nationally-syndicated pediatrician Dr. Sue Hubbard, “The Kid’s Doctor,” has five tips to help parents in the search to find a formula that works best for their family:
Five Tips For Finding The Right Formula
• Figure out your lifestyle needs and which form of formula will support them: Infant formula generally comes in ready-to-feed, concentrated liquid and powder versions. Which form is going to work best for you will depend on where you plan to use it, how often and how much money you want to spend. If you’re often on-the-go with your baby, ready-to-feed options may be easier while powder or concentrated liquid versions generally provide better value.
• Understand the ingredients: While the FDA regulates all infant formula, that doesn't mean all brands are the same, much like all schools have set educational standards but differ in various ways. Infant formulas primarily consist of carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients to support your baby’s health. But some infant formulas, like Similac, have added lutein, which is a nutrient to support your baby’s eye development.
• Be mindful of your water source: The type of water you have access to may affect the type of formula you want to use. Most U.S. doctors say tap water is safe to use for infant formula and has the added benefit of fluoride. However, water quality can vary based on your location. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor. You may need to boil the water first, use bottled water or consider a ready-to-feed formula.
• Watch and learn: The best way to know if a formula is right is to gauge your baby’s reaction, as it can take anywhere from two days to two weeks to adjust to a formula. If he or she digests it easily, then you’ve probably found a formula that works. If that's not the case, talk with your doctor to see if your baby needs a special formula. Options for specialty formulas may include soy, low-lactose or hypoallergenic formulas.
• Consider your baby’s exact age: As babies grow and solid foods are introduced, consider a formula designed for older babies. Parents can look for a formula geared specifically for babies who are 6-12 months old, which is designed to complement the introduction of solid foods. Parents typically introduce solid foods, like cereal, into their baby’s diet around six months old; although keep in mind that this is a gradual process. Breast milk or formula is still the primary source of nutrition after this time. Although foods like cereal are a good source of carbohydrates, consider a stage two formula that has additional protein, vitamin C and calcium to complement your baby’s diet to support their growth and development.
About Dr. Sue Hubbard, Pediatrician, The Kid’s Doctor:
Dr. Sue Hubbard is a member of the Pediatric Associates of Dallas, where she was the first female doctor in the group and has continued to practice for the past 20 years. She graduated with honors from The University of Texas with a degree in biology. Dr. Sue received her medical degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center Medical School, where she graduated with honors and was a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha honors medical fraternity. Dr. Sue is a regular on television across Texas. Her nationally syndicated newspaper column, “The Kid’s Doctor,” is distributed by Tribune Media Services. Dr. Hubbard has an agreement to serve as a subject matter expert on behalf of Similac.
You may also be interested in my Hospital Checklist for Mom and Baby.
This post may contain affiliate links and/or sponsored content, please read my disclosure policy here.