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Health & Baby

Choosing Baby Formula

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The Right Formula for Your Baby

With all those choices, how can you figure out what’s best for your child?

Begin by asking your baby’s pediatrician for recommendations. Talk to friends and family about what they use and why. You may also have a chance to sample a wide range of baby formulas, as moms are often sent home from the hospital with free baby formula or coupons.

No matter which baby formula you start with, it helps to know that all formulas made in the United States meet strict FDA guidelines for nutrition, so your infant will probably do just fine on any of them. Whichever baby formula you choose, be sure to check its expiration date and don’t buy damaged cans or bottles.

Follow-Up Baby Formula and Switching Formulas

Sometimes you may need to change the formula your baby drinks. Reasons for switching baby formula include food allergies, a baby’s need for more iron, extreme fussiness, or diarrhea.

These and other symptoms can also be signs of something unrelated to baby’s formula. In that case, a change may not help or could make baby’s symptoms worse. That’s why you should always talk to your baby’s doctor before changing infant formulas. 

Call your doctor if your baby has any of these symptoms:

  • Dry, red, and scaly skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue or weakness
  • Forceful vomiting

What about switching to follow-up formulas when your baby gets older? Geared for babies 4 to 12 months old, these formulas have more calories and nutrients than regular infant formulas, but again, this change may not be right for your baby. Talk to your pediatrician before trying them.

Are Baby Formulas Safe?

In the winter of 2008, several news stories came out about melamine -- a synthetic chemical used to produce fertilizers, pesticides, and cleaning products -- in baby formula. Should you be concerned?

If you are using formula made in the U.S., the short answer is: no. Most of the reported health problems were connected to a few baby formulas made in China. In the United States, the FDA doesn’t allow melamine to be used as a food ingredient, so there is no risk of it in baby formulas manufactured in the U.S.

To find out the latest about melamine and food products, visit the FDA web site.

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