Bottle Feeding Nutrition for Your Baby

Breast milk or a suitable infant formula for bottle feeding is recommended as the main milk source for all babies less than 12 months of age. Infant formula is a nourishing alternative when breast milk is not available. Infant formulas have been developed to contain similar amounts of nutrition to breast milk.

Caution on Changing Formula:
There are many different infant formulas available. If given in correct quantities, bottle feeding with formula alone provides enough nutrition for your baby until you introduce solids at around six months of age.

If your child sleeps or feeds badly, or is unsettled or "colicky", you may think you need to change the formula you’re using. There is little evidence that this is helpful for the majority of babies. Seek the advice of your child's nurse or doctor before too much ‘formula swapping’ takes place.

Starter or First Formula:
There are a variety of starter formulas based on cow’s milk protein (whey or casein). These formulas are suitable for bottle feeding from birth to 12 months; may contain additional LCPs (long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids or omega-3 fatty acids), which mimic the fat composition of breast milk; are also available as soy or goat milk preparations.

Soy Formula:
Soy formula use has increased in popularity. These formulas must not be confused with regular soymilk. Although these soy formulas meet the nutrient and growth requirements for babies, their use should be limited to situations with a clear medical reason, such as an allergy to cows milk.

‘Follow Up’ Formula:
‘Follow Up’ formulas are available in the three major protein types - cow’s milk, soy and goat’s milk. Parental choice rather than nutritional need often dictate their use. These formulas: Are made for babies over six months of age; contain higher protein and mineral content than starter formulas; contain lower carbohydrate content than human milk.

Special Infant Formulas:
Special infant formulas are sometimes prescribed by pediatricians for babies with severe feeding problems or medical conditions. These problems might include: Severe allergy or intolerance; fat or carbohydrate malabsorption; severe digestive disorders.

Special Infant Formulas: When They Are Used
These formulas are modified in certain ways that may include changes to fat, carbohydrate and protein content.

For example:
Modified carbohydrate content - used for lactose (milk sugar) intolerance, sucrose intolerance and severe carbohydrate intolerance.
Modified protein content - these amino acid based formula include hydrolysed whey and casein protein. They are used for severe dietary protein allergy, malabsorption and digestive disorders like short-gut syndrome and severe failure to thrive. This formula may also have changed amino acids and is used for metabolic conditions like phenylketonuria (PKU) and tyrosinaemia (amino acid disorder).
Modified fat content - this includes formulas with high concentration of triglycerides and lower levels of fatty acids. Required for babies with chest conditions such as chylothorax, gastrointestinal disorders like protein-losing enteropathy, and liver disease.

Premature Babies:
If your only alternative is to bottle feed your premature baby, they need a formula with additional energy and mineral content. Special formulas are available to supply their nutritional needs.

New Additions to Formula:
The composition of infant formula is driven by research and a greater understanding of the role of the special ingredients contained in breast milk. A variety of new ingredients have been added to infant formula and breast milk substitutes recently. These include: Carbohydrates; fatty acids called DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and AA (arachadonic acid); biologically active substances that are thought to be good for the immune system.

Breast milk is a rich source of nucleotides, a substance that plays a role in immune functions of the gastrointestinal system. This has led to research into how this substance can be added to infant formula.


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