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Tips to Choose Baby Formula

While you’re stocking your nursery with diapers and wipes, think about what type of baby formula you'll use. Buy enough to last a week or two. You don’t want to get stuck with too much in case the brand you choose doesn't agree with your baby.

Doctors prefer that moms breastfeed -- and breastfeeding is best -- but baby formula is safe. The FDA monitors all these products, and guidelines dictate what can and can't be added to them. Although formula doesn't contain everything found in breast milk, it has many vitamins and other nutrients that babies need, as well as calories.

Formula From Cow's Milk and Soy

Your baby's doctor should suggest a formula that's right for your little one. Most doctors prefer that babies drink one made from cow's milk. In fact, 4 out of 5 formulas available today are made from that. 

If a baby has a milk allergy or the formula doesn't agree with them, doctors will suggest formula made from soy milk.

Other Formulas

Some babies with a family history of allergies are given a “hydrolyzed” formula, which is easier to digest. It's also thought to make it less likely for the baby to develop allergies.

Some formulas also contain probiotics, the “good” bacteria that live in the gut and are added to yogurt for adults. Probiotics offer formula-fed babies the same bacteria that are found in breastfed babies, to keep their intestines healthier. Ask your doctor if they're right for your baby.

Iron for Baby

Pick a product that’s fortified with iron, unless your doctor says otherwise. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all babies who aren't breastfed should be given formula with iron for the first year of their lives. It keeps them from developing low iron levels in their blood (anemia).

Best Advice for Formula Feeding

Wash your hands before preparing formula. Use tap water if it’s safe, or bottled water if you’re not sure. You can also use water that you've boiled for at least a minute and cooled. If you're mixing powder or liquid concentrate with water, pay attention to the measurements -- they're important.

Don't warm formula in the microwave, which heats things unevenly. Instead, place the bottle in a container of warm water for a few minutes, or run it under a hot tap.

To keep your baby from swallowing air, tilt the bottle upward, filling the entire nipple with formula.

Your baby should drink the bottle within an hour after you fix it. Throw away any unused formula. Bottles may be mixed ahead of time and stored in the fridge for 24 hours.

Ask your doctor how much your baby should eat and how often. Most infants need 2-4 ounces per feed, depending on their weight and age.If your baby vomits or has diarrhea often, isn't gaining weight well, or if you think the formula doesn’t agree with him, ask the doctor if you should switch to another type of formula

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on March 21, 2014

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