Baby formula, baby rice cereal or simply baby food, baby formula or first milk or formula, baby formula is a commercially prepared food designed and sold specifically for feeding infants and young children under the age of 12 months, usually prepared from powder or concentrated liquid or ready-to-serve baby food. Typically it contains other additives and ingredients intended to promote the faster digestion of the food and aid in its absorption when used as a substitute for breast milk or infant formula. The ingredients may include sugar, starch, salt and other additives. Usually baby formula is enriched with vitamins, minerals, calories, proteins and other nutrients in sufficient quantities to ensure good nutrition and growth.
In general baby formula does not contain all the essential nutrients required by a growing baby. As compared to breast milk, which provides a wide range of nutrients necessary to help the baby grow and develop, formula lacks such nutrients. Formula also lacks lactose, which helps the baby to digest lactose and other sugars in food. Milk provides the necessary antibodies, fats and carbohydrates required for the development of the baby’s body and brain. However, most formulas do not contain these all important nutrients leaving the baby at a disadvantage when compared to breast milk.
Baby formula can be separated into two categories based on the ingredient list. The first category includes lactose-free formulas which do not contain any lactose products while the second one includes milk protein formulas which are the only suitable option for babies who are intolerant to lactose. Most babies are intolerant to lactose or galactose, which is found in many dairy products like cow’s milk and goat’s milk. These two components are the main sources of the intolerance to lactose or galactose in babies.
Most of the mothers use cow’s milk or goat’s milk in their milk formulas. However, most of the babies cannot tolerate this type of ingredients because of its cow-like taste. Moreover, goat’s milk contains more protein and iron compared to cow’s milk, which makes it a better choice for babies. Babies who are lactose intolerant can use goat milk protein formulas while those with an iron-deficiency can use human breast milk protein formulas. Since there are numerous formulas to choose from, babies can be prevented consuming the wrong type of formula which may cause health problems.
Breast milk is the only natural food for babies. It has the most nutrients needed by the baby at the right time. However, formula makers claim that breast milk has the highest nutritional value. This is untrue, since the composition of breast milk varies depending on the age and type of the mother. Most formulas are composed of various synthetic substances which are not good for the baby.
In addition, these artificial food ingredients are harmful to the babies. Some of these ingredients are carcinogenic, polluting the environment and have severe effects towards the mothers and babies. There is no doubt that breast milk is most nutritious for babies but there are still several baby formula types available in the market which are not healthy for babies. Mothers should be careful when choosing the best one for their babies. Although there are so many varieties in the market, research must be done to find the best ones which have less or no side effects and are best suited for babies.