The Importance of Baby Formula in Infant Nutrition

babel · January 28, 2022
Baby formula ensures optimal nutritional intake during the first stages of a baby's life. Find out more in the following article.

Baby formula can be a complementary food to breast milk during the early stages of a baby’s life. It’s designed to provide a number of key nutrients at those times when only the mother’s milk alone isn’t enough.

However, not all varieties of baby formula are good products. Some have too many sugars in them, especially added sugars. Therefore, it’s important to interpret labeling correctly to avoid making the wrong choice that could have a negative impact on your baby’s health.

Baby formula, a food with high nutritional density

A baby drinking baby formula from a sippy cup.

When choosing a baby formula, it’s essential to pay attention to the content of omega-3 fatty acids. According to a study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, infant formula products should contain a high proportion of this nutrient, as it helps to ensure good brain development.

Vitamin D content is also key, as this element has multiple interactions within the hormonal system. A deficit of this nutrient could have a negative impact on the development and functioning of the immune system, which increases the risk of suffering chronic diseases in the medium term.

Furthermore, baby formula must contain proteins of high biological value. These substances are essential for tissue growth. In fact, protein requirements during the first stages of life are increased, according to research published in the Annals of Nutrition & Metabolism.

The importance of avoiding added sugars

A key point when choosing a baby formula is to avoid those that contain added sugars. These nutrients increase the risk of a child developing obesity early in life. They can also lead to insulin resistance, which in turn can lead to the development of juvenile diabetes.

The carbohydrates in formula milk should be mostly complex, with the exception of lactose in powdered milk. This simple sugar should represent a moderate percentage of the total in order not to affect the child’s health.

Baby formula for those allergic to cow’s milk proteins

There are some children who develop a transient allergy to cow’s milk proteins. However, this makes it crucial to choose a special type of formula whose proteins are hydrolyzed or partially digested. This way, they don’t induce hypersensitivity processes.

In any case, it should be noted that this allergy is usually reversed with the passage of time. In case it persists, you’ll need to avoid the consumption of dairy products in the child’s diet, as they can generate adverse reactions.

It’s important to supplement baby formula with breast milk

Until the first year of life, at least, experts recommend that mothers continue to breastfeed, as a mother’s milk is the best food for her baby. But this doesn’t mean that after 6 months of age, other formula products can’t be introduced to achieve a more complete nutritional intake.

After the child’s first year, the amount of baby formula can be increased as breastfeeding decreases, while giving more importance to the consumption of solids. From this moment on, the baby’s digestive system will be ready for more demanding tasks.

Two baby bottles with milk in them sitting on a table, with a mother breastfeeding her baby in the background.

Baby formula is an important element in the baby’s diet

As you’ve seen, baby formula is capable of ensuring an optimal nutritional intake during the first stages of life. It’s usually enriched with essential nutrients, such as vitamin D, omega-3 fatty acids, and some minerals. All these elements contribute to enhancing the growth and development of the baby.

However, it’s not a good idea for formula to replace breastfeeding until after the first year of life. During the first months, breast milk’s capable of providing a series of bioactive components that reduce the risk of developing diseases.

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