The first year of life is important in developing the digestive system. The body adapts to the environment, and the GI tract is finally “maturing.” During this period, breast milk is the ideal product for the baby. It contains various components which cannot yet be found in even the best formula. Breast milk is the key to a baby’s physical and mental health. Keep breastfeeding as long as possible, at least for the first 12 months.
In some cases, moms have to give up breastfeeding for a variety of reasons. But don’t worry, you’re not the only one who has to go through this! However, if there is a lack of natural nutrition, it is necessary to supplement it with special products. For such purposes, there are different baby formula options among the products for infants.
What is better for the baby, mixed or formula feeding?
The transition from breastfeeding to formula can be partial – that is, the formula will only supplement breast milk – this way of feeding is called mixed feeding – or it can be complete when breastfeeding is replaced by formula feeding.
The reasons for switching to mixed feeding may be different, but in the first place is a lack of breast milk. There are other situations where it is necessary, but they are much rarer. Sometimes a sufficient reason for mixed feeding is considered allergies in the baby, frequent regurgitation, and constipation, but this is not true. These conditions themselves are not a reason to introduce formula as a part of your baby’s nutrition – often, some of these problems can be solved by changing the mother’s diet.
Mixed feeding allows the baby to receive nutrients from breast milk that are impossible to get only from formula milk. Even a small portion of breast milk contains essential antibodies and immunoglobulins for the baby’s development and health. Moreover, mixed feeding provides close physical contact between mother and baby, which gives them certain psychological benefits.
There are a few recommendations for moms of babies who are breastfed or on mixed feeding:
- The baby should be given alternately to both breasts;
- For feeding with formula, you should use nipples and bottles individually selected for the baby in shape, volume, and other details, depending on the age of the baby;
- You need to measure the correct amount of formula – only a pediatrician can do this, taking into account all the baby’s individual developmental and nutritional needs.
- Gradually increase the amount of formula in your baby’s diet and watch his or her reaction. If your baby has problems with digestion, or allergic reactions, visit your pediatrician.
Mixed feeding is usually a temporary stage, after which the baby either returns to breastfeeding or switches to fully formula feeding.
Transition to the new formula: how does it work?
If the need arises to change the formula – when the baby has switched to a new stage or needs specialized food – it should also be done gradually.
There are different schemes for switching a baby to a different formula. Still, all have a general recommendation: the new formula starts with a small amount, approximately 2 teaspoons, in the first half of the day. And it is necessary to keep an eye on possible negative reactions of the baby’s body to the new product. Then the amount of new formula and the number of feedings will increase. A gradual introduction will allow your baby’s digestion to adjust to different food and accept it without problems in the future.
If we often change the formula for reasons unrelated to health – for example, more expensive, cheaper, more popular – the baby’s digestion is constantly working under stress. There is no guarantee that the new formula will be as good for your baby as the old one. Instead of the expected benefits of the new product, you can get new problems.
The baby may have temporary disorders when switching to the new formula, such as increased colic, constipation, or diarrhea. Parents should immediately tell the doctor about the symptoms. During this period, you should not increase the amount of the formula, perhaps the portion was too large, and the baby’s immature digestion was not ready for it.
When introducing a new formula to your baby, choose a time when the baby is completely healthy and calm. Any stressful situation can interfere with the baby’s successful absorption of the new food.