Baby formula, first milk or baby formula or simply baby milk or formula, baby formula is generally a ready-made, commercially available food designed and sold for feeding infants and small children below twelve months of age, usually preparing for either bottle-feeding or nipple-feeding. It may also be called infant food, pouched milk, or infant food supplements. The preparation of this food is most often by homemakers and mothers. It is usually not required to meet the recommended dietary requirements for infants.
Baby formula is made up of various mixtures of sugars, fats and carbohydrates. The purpose of each of these components is to provide the baby with the nutrients needed to help develop his/her physical and mental abilities. These various components commonly used in baby formula are: Milk, Cereal, Whey, Fruits, Green Tea, Brown Rice, Oats, Corn, Dry Milk, Yogurt, Nuts, Chicken and fish. There are other less common ingredients that are sometimes included. The sugar is usually most commonly from sucrose, glucose, or maltose. These provide the babies with the energy they need to grow and develop normally.
Most baby formula manufacturers are directed to provide adequate amounts of vitamins, minerals, and proteins, and to avoid chemicals that may be harmful to the infants’ health. Most formulas also have well-balanced and hypoallergenic compositions to cater to the nutritional needs of infants. The baby formulas are marketed as single-ingredient formulas or as ready-to-serve products. Some companies, however, market their baby formula as nutritionally complete, with additional or substitute vitamins and minerals that are suitable for alternative or vegetarian diets.
Different baby formula brands vary in terms of the amount of lactose they contain, i.e., the amount that a particular brand considers to be a safe amount for a lactose-intolerant baby. Some baby formulas for babies who do not tolerate lactose, nevertheless, do not contain any lactose at all, making it possible for lactose intolerant parents to feed their baby formulas that are not made from cow’s milk. A milk allergy is often diagnosed upon the detection of symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, and skin rash, or chronic rashes in more sensitive infants. In such cases, it is wise to consult a physician to identify the exact cause of the allergy and to prescribe appropriate medication.
There are four basic baby formula types, based on the biological feeding process of humans. These include: human breast milk, cow’s milk, soy formula, and rice/pea formula. In addition, there are also specialty formulas for babies with specific medical conditions such as those with diabetes or immunodeficiency, or those who are lactose-intolerant. Specialty formulas can sometimes provide higher-quality nutrients at lower costs.
Human breast milk is the most commonly used baby formula type. It is also the most commonly recommended by doctors and physicians worldwide, due to its proven ability to provide healthy, low-fat, and nutritionally balanced foods for infants. Although there are cow’s milk alternatives available, human breast milk is still the best food for infants. For lactose-intolerant babies who cannot tolerate formulas made from cow’s milk, human formulas are the safest way to provide them with the nutrition they need. To date, studies have shown that babies fed with formulas made from rice and peas are generally healthy and have lower rates of death and illnesses compared to those who are fed with cow’s milk.