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Newborn and Infant Care

Infant formula

12/23/1998

Question:

if under some circumstances I cannot breast feed, how can I choose the best infant formula? what ingredients should I look for?what ingredients are closest to breast milk? please help

Answer:

No formula can truly be called a close match. Most infant formula manufacturers try to balance carbohydrates, fats and proteins so they are as similar to the balance in human milk as they can make the formula. However, many of these nutrients are not the same ones as are found in human milk. For instance, the protein in most formula is dairy or soy protein, which many babies are allergic or sensitive to. And no formula contains antibodies to many kinds of diseases that a mother's milk provides.

I'm not sure what circumstances might interfere with breastfeeding, but if you use an infant formula it is best to discuss different brands with the baby's pediatrician or nurse practitioner. (Be sure to let them know if allergies run in your family or that of the baby's father.) Another option may be to pump your breastmilk and offer it in a bottle (breastmilk-feed), which many mothers have done when direct breastfeeding was not possible.

The best of luck with your new baby. If this answer is unclear or you need more information, please write again.

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Response by:

Karen Kerkhoff Gromada, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Adjunct Clinical Instructor
College of Nursing
University of Cincinnati