What's Really in Your Baby's Formula?

BottleEven though I wanted to exclusively breastfeed my baby, I struggled with latching problems and milk production for almost all of the first 12 months of his life. That meant I needed to supplement with baby formula.

My pediatrician's office suggested a particular brand, but I wanted to do my own research. How difficult could it be? The answer was very. There are so many different kinds of baby formula: Soy, lactose-free, cow's milk, organic.

As if that's not enough choices, most of the big brands are now also including additional nutrients and amino acids. I have to wonder if the specialty formulas are really beneficial or are they more of a marketing tool to drive up the cost of formula?


Any of the major formula brands should meet your baby's basic nutritional needs. But that doesn't mean that all infant formula brands are the same. Here are some of additives and special enhancements you'll find within the major formula brands: 

  • DHA and ARA are important nutrients that occur naturally in breast milk. They are added to most baby formulas, but not all -- so make sure and check your labels. 
  • Antioxidants also can be found in breast milk and as an additive in some the major formula brands.
  • Probiotics are the newest addition to some formulas. Probiotics may help in reducing antibiotic-associated diarrhea, lowering the risk of food allergy, and improving infantile colic. The key words here are "may help," there is no conclusive evidence to support this to date. 

Of course, there is no magic eight ball when it comes to formula, and it's worth it to have a lengthy conversation with your pediatrician to determine which one is best for your baby.

If you are bottle feeding, what formula do you use and why? Would you pay more for antioxidants or probiotics?


Image via Joe Shlabotnik/Flickr

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