What Type of Formula Should I Give My Baby?
Posted by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services on Feb 26th 2019
Ask the Dietitian: How do I Know What Type of Standard Formula to Give My Baby?
There are so many types of standard dairy-based formulas to choose from! How do you know what’s best for your little one?
Choosing a formula to supplement breast milk or converting to formula feeding can be incredibly overwhelming for any parent. There are so many types of standard dairy-based formulas to choose from! How do you know what’s best for your little one? Our Dietitian weighs in…
For a healthy, full-term child transitioning from breast milk to formula or for a child who receives formula as a primary source of nutrition, either a casein-predominant or a whey-predominant dairy-based formula can be used under the guidance of a child’s healthcare provider. Both casein-predominant formulas such as Baby’s Only® Organic Dairy Formula or Baby’s Only® Organic Dairy with DHA & ARA Formula and whey-predominant formulas such as Baby’s Only® Organic Gentle Dairy Formula or Baby’s Only® Organic Gentle DHA/ARA Formula are nutritious and healthy formulas to support a child’s growth and development.
Whey and casein are the two predominant proteins in both breast milk and cow’s milk. The best way of describing these two proteins is by using the children’s nursery rhyme about Little Miss Muffet where “Little Miss Muffet sat on a tuffet eating her curds and whey.” Curds are the casein portion and whey is the more liquid portion of cow’s milk protein and breast milk protein. When milk is mixed with an acid such as vinegar or our stomach’s digestive juices, the milk proteins form small curds (casein) and liquid whey. So Little Miss Muffet was most likely eating cottage cheese!
Non-fat cow’s milk has been used for decades in formulas. These formulas have a whey to casein ratio of 18:82 and have been clinically researched to document their safety and nutritional adequacy in supporting a child’s growth and development. These 18:82 formulas are known as “casein-predominant formulas.” Because of research documenting the unique components and benefits of human milk, the thinking was that the addition of whey to formula to achieve a whey to casein ratio of 60:40 would be beneficial. After all, if this is the ratio in mother’s milk, why not formula? The formula industry has introduced formulas containing 60:40 ratio and these formulas are referred to as whey-predominant formulas. Both casein-predominant and whey-predominant formulas have been used for decades and are nutritious and healthy to support a child’s growth and development.
When transitioning from breast milk to formula or from one brand or type of formula to another, changes in stool color, consistency, odor, and frequency can occur. One frequent complaint from parents during this transition period is that their child may have firmer stools or constipation. This may simply be nothing more than the child’s developing gastrointestinal tract becoming used to the new formula, just like adults if we consumed only one type of food every meal occasion. Whey-predominant formulas will produce soft and sometimes watery stools whereas casein-predominant formulas form firmer stools. If constipation is a concern, a whey-predominant formula may be the preferred type of formula. If watery or very loose stools are a concern, then a casein-predominant formula may be the choice. Parents now have the option of selecting either a casein-predominant formula or a whey-predominant formula and, as always, should seek the advice of their child’s healthcare provider who is in the best position to guide your selection.
Should you have additional questions and/or need help preparing for a formula discussion with your doctor, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional