Lowdown on formula milk

By admin
15 August 2014

If you’re giving your baby formula milk you may have some basic – but important – questions. Here’s some advice on the safe use of formula.

Why is milk important?

During the first year of your child’s life, milk is the most important item in their diet.

  • It’s high in calcium, which is important for growing bones and teeth. Calcium is more easily absorbed by the body from milk than from vegetables.
  • It’s also a good source of protein.
  • It provides a multitude of vitamins, especially vitamin A (in the milk fat) and B-group vitamins.

The right amount of formula

It can be confusing trying to work out how much formula to give your baby every day. It depends on your baby's age, weight and whether you're feeding them only formula, or giving it along with breast milk or solids.

If your baby isn’t eating yet, they’ll want between 150 ml and 200 ml of formula per kilogram of their body weight every day. So, if your baby weighs 3 kg, they'll need between 450 ml and 600 ml of formula over a 24-hour period to satisfy their hunger.

How much formula your baby needs depends not only on their weight but also on their age. Here’s a rough guide to help you work out how much to give your baby:

  • The first two weeks: Try giving your baby between 60 ml and 70 ml at each feed. They won’t be able to manage much more than this in one go.
  • From two weeks  to two months: Your baby will probably want between 75 ml and 105 ml at each feed. They’ll consume anywhere from 450 ml to 735 ml in a day.
  • Between two and six months:Your babymay want between 105 ml and 210 ml at a feed.
  • At six months: Your babymay want between 210 ml and 240 ml at a feed. Their total formula intake may be around 900 ml a day.
  • After your baby's one year old: Your baby can switch from drinking formula to cow’s milk.

How to use formula safely

·         Check the expiration date –  It may be tempting to grab a can and run when you're shopping with a fussy baby but taking a few seconds to check the use-by date helps ensure safety and quality.

  • Keep the powder formula cool Heat degrades the ingredients and nutrients in formula, so keep unopened formula stored in a cool place.
  • Don’t wait too long after opened Once you've opened a can of powdered formula use it within a month.
  • Use clean and sterilised bottles To reduce the risk of contamination, all bottles and feeding equipment must be sterilised until your baby is at least three months old.
  • Store the liquid formula in the back of the refrigerator, where it’s coldest Discard formula after 24 hours in the fridge. Never freeze formula. Use a cooler with ice packs to transport bottles.
  • Learn the symptoms of food-borne illnesses The most common symptoms are vomiting and diarrhea.  If you notice these symptoms, call your baby's doctor right away.

The signs your baby’s allergic to formula

According to Jan Barger, a lactation consultant, themostcommon food allergy or sensitivity among babies is to cow’s milk protein, found in most formula.

Some of the most obvious signs of this sensitivity include a rash, hives, eczema (dry, flaky patches of skin, especially around the forehead), and vomiting.

“You should be aware of more subtle clues too. Shortly after you've started or finished a feeding, watch for signs such as continual fussiness or crying and obvious discomfort,” says Barger.

When to replace formula with solids

When you introduce your baby to solids at about six months they won’t be eating a wide enough variety of foods to give them all the nutrients they need. So it’s important to carry on giving your baby formula milk until they’re a year old.

Once your baby is fully established on solids, their daily intake of formula milk is likely to gradually decrease to about 600 ml a day.

Putting cow’s milk on the menu

Cow's milk becomes a big part of your child's diet when they pass the 12-month mark. Whole or full-fat milk is usually the beverage of choice at this age because your little one needs fat to fuel their growth and their considerable energy needs. You should give your child this until they’re at least two years old.

Nutritionists recommend one-year-olds drink no more than 350 ml of milk a day. Parents of reluctant milk drinkers can try mixing whole milk with some breast milk or formula at first then slowly increase the amount of milk to 100 percent.

Alternatives to formula

Besides breastfeeding and cow’s milk, there aren't really any other good alternatives to formula for your baby.

  • Tap water is healthy and freely available, and also helps protect against tooth decay. Most children enjoy water if they get into the habit of drinking it from a young age. Start by setting a good example yourself and always have water available for the whole family.

  • Tea and coffee shouldn’t be given to children. These are low in nutrition and high in caffeine. Caffeine can make it difficult for the body to absorb iron and may cause sleeping problems.

  • Only offer fruit juice, cordial and sweetened drinks diluted with water on special occasions and resist having them in the house. Drinking too much juice can give toddlers diarrhea, and can cause tooth decay and excess weight gain.

-Janine Nel

Sources: todaysparent.com, about.com, netmums.com, parenting.com

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