Is formula, or milk powder, bad for your baby?
As the mother of four, I (for personal reasons) did not breast feed my first three. By the time baby number four came around I decided I’d give it a whirl. I lasted about 8 weeks and then decided that with three small children and a farm to run, bottle feeding was definitely where it was at.
As for all the stats on how much healthier a breast fed baby is…my oldest didn’t see a doctor (other than for shots and stitches a couple of times) until he was twelve. My youngest (the breast fed baby) had more childhood illnesses than all the others combined. I’m just sayin’…
The different types of baby formula
There are basically two different types of baby formula milk powder--milk based and soy based.
Milk-based formulas are the most common and are derived from cow’s milk. Recognizing that some babies may be more sensitive to the lactose (sugar) in milk, there are varieties of milk-based formulas that are lower in lactose.
These will often relieve gassiness in babies who are having trouble digesting the sugars. If this still presents a problem, you can find lactose-free varieties as well.
Soy-based formulas are just what they say. They contain soy proteins rather than milk proteins. These formulas are better tolerated by babies who display symptoms of allergies to milk.
Formulas specifically designed for premature babies have a much higher calorie content to provide the necessary energy they need to survive and grow.
How to tell if my baby has allergies
The ways allergies choose to manifest themselves can vary from baby to baby. As a result there are several indicators you need to watch for in determining whether or not your baby may be allergic to formula.
- Excessive spitting up or even projectile vomiting
- Gassiness and discomfort after eating
- Nasal congestion without any other symptoms of a cold or sinusitis
- Skin rashes and/or hives (rashes can appear on any part of the body)
- Changes in bowel movements-your baby’s allergic reaction will not always be immediate
- Lack of weight gain or possibly even a loss of weight
The first step
If you suspect your baby is allergic to his/her formula, do not hesitate to contact your pediatrician. Take your baby to be checked and to discuss your suspicions with the doctor and come up with an alternative for feeding.
The next thing you need to do is remember this isn’t the end of the world. Lots of babies have allergies. That’s why there are so many alternatives-to make sure there is something out there for every baby. You also need to get rid of any feelings of guilt or self-doubt over not breast feeding or not picking up on the problem right away. Babies are a mystery in many ways. The process of elimination is sometimes all we have.
What will you feed your baby
Your pediatrician will be able to provide you with the best advice as to which baby formula to try first. Most of the time switching from milk to soy based products does the trick (it did with one of my daughters). Aging, don’t worry if the first switch doesn’t take. You’ll find one that will.