WHAT’S WHAT WHEN IT COMES TO THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF INFANT FORMULA?

Dairy-based (Cows’) Formula

Dairy-based formula, also known as cow’s milk formula is the most common type of infant formula used in place of breast feeding. It is a modified cow’s milk that aims to resemble breast milk as much as possible. It can be purchased at supermarkets and pharmacies. It is a specially designed combination of ingredients that will nourish your baby from birth through to 12 months. Some infant formulas are sold in stages. Stage One might represent Birth through to three months, Stage 2 would cover three months though to 12 months, and Stage Three would be used after 12 months.

There are many different brands of formula available and your midwife or doctor may recommend one. Not all brands suit all babies and it is important to find one that your baby likes to drink and can tolerate. Some infant formulas can cause constipation in some babies due to being fortified with extra iron.

Other brands have a ‘Gold’ label or ‘Optimum’ and claim to be superior in nutritional value compared to standard formulas. If you cannot afford the higher price, be assured that a standard formula will still offer your baby everything they need to thrive in the first year.

Midwives recommend NAN as it is believed to be the formulation that is closest to breast milk. 

 Hand holds scoop with newborn milk formula.

A2 Formula

A2 formula is a formula for babies from birth to six months. It is a premium formula as it uses a recipe that is based on a unique protein blend suited to babies where the naturally occurring beta-casein protein comes from cows that are selected specially to produce the A2 beta-casein protein type exclusively, rather than A1 protein.

A1 Protein occurred in milk due to a genetic mutation in Europe several thousand years ago and the proteins differ slightly so can affect the way the body breaks these proteins down. Some parents find that in the absence of an intolerance or allergy, A2 formula is easily digested by babies that have been constipated or colicky with use of other formulas. 

A2 Platinum uses a numbered approach to feeding your baby with each number formulated to meet the specific needs of your baby for their age. A2 Platinum Formula 1 is from 0 – 6 months, 2 is from six months through to 12 months, and A2 Platinum Formula 3 is a toddler milk drink.

Soy-based Formula

It is important not to confuse soy milk with soy infant formula. Soy milk is not a complete meal for a baby so should not be given in the first year of life. Soy-based infant formula is a specially formulated alternative to breast milk, but differs from regular formula in a few different ways. Firstly, it is a vegan alternative to cow’s or goat’s milk formula as it does not contain any animal products. Some babies can not tolerate animal-based milks and so a soy-based formula is an ideal replacement. 

It is lactose free so if your baby is lactose intolerant or allergic to dairy, a soy-based infant formula may be a good alternative. However, it is worth noting that when a baby is allergic to dairy, it is the proteins in dairy that causes the allergic reaction. It is equally possible that they are allergic to the soy proteins, in which case you will need to consult with your doctor on an appropriate alternative.

There is no nutritional advantage to using soy-based formula over a cow’s milk based formula and it is important to note that using a soy-based formula will not prevent a potential allergy. It should only be used where there is an existing intolerance or allergy or for parental choices around the consumption of animal products. 

Goats’ Milk Formula

In most cases goats milk formula is used for babies that can not tolerate cow’s milk formula. Goats milk is said to be easier to digest when some babies immature gastric system doesn’t tolerate cow’s formula well. Goats’ formula is more expensive and there is only one brand available on the Australian market. Due to the expense it is worthwhile making sure that there really is a need to use goats’ formula. 

Goats’ milk is only marginally lower in lactose compared to cow’s milk so if you are looking to reduce lactose intake a soy formula may be the better option. The difference between goat’s milk compared to cows’ milk is the levels of allergenic proteins. It is said that goat’s milk has fewer allergenic proteins compared to cows’ milk, which in turn make it easier for babies to digest.

It is important that you speak with your doctor or MCH Nurse if you are considering goats’ milk formula as some formulations in America and Europe have been reported for being too low in folic acid and Vitamin B6. The Australian brand, Karicare Goats Formula, provide a free call number and will answer any questions you may have about their formulation. However, if you are struggling to find a formula that your baby can tolerate and goats’ formula suits your baby, it can be a trade off worth making if it means your baby is happy and healthy. 

Organic formula

Organic formula for babies comes from organic milk, which comes from cows that have not been given growth hormones. These cows graze on grass that has not been treated with synthetic fertilisers or pesticides. The ingredients used are not genetically modified and need to be certified as organic to carry the label ‘Organic’. 

It is important to check that the product you choose is certified and not just using the word ‘organic’ in their brand name. You will pay a premium for organic products so it is important that you are getting what you have paid for.

Parents opt for organic formula over standard formula if they would prefer to limit their babies exposure to chemicals and synthetic pesticides, fertilisers and preservatives. Because of this very vulnerable time in a babies life some parents choose to protect them from harmful substances in anyway they can. 

Organic infant formula is designed to feed your baby from birth through to 12 months. It is nutritionally balanced to provide all the iron, vitamins and minerals that your baby requires to grow and flourish in their first year. Organic formula is gluten free. 

A well trusted organic brand of infant formula is the Bellamy’s Organic Instant Step 1 Infant Formula. It is certified organic and designed to nourish your baby from birth through to 12 months of age.