Babies can have different responses to different formula brands and choices and changes are mostly made by trial and error. Talk to your health-care providers about which formula type is appropriate for your baby.
1) Infant formula type
Most healthy, full-term babies who are not breastfed or given breast milk use regular formula based on cow’s milk and fortified with iron. This is also the formula most commonly used when babies need milk supplementation and the mother’s own breast milk and pasteurized donor human milk are not available. Regular infant formula can also be based on goat’s milk. Other types of formula are given to babies who cannot tolerate regular formula for a medical reason.
Standard formula has either 0.64 calories/millilitre (19 calories/U.S. fluid ounce) or 0.67 cal/ml (20 cal/oz). Ingredients vary between formula types, manufacturers, and countries. Even the same brand made at different times can have different ingredients (Furse 2019).
Cow’s milk is not a formula substitute for babies under one year of age. They should receive breast milk or formula. After this age, children can receive up to 500 ml (2 cups) of whole cow’s milk each day if they are not breastfed. There is no need for toddler milk. Goat's milk should not be given to babies.
2) Infant formula brand
Formula companies often make and advertise several types of formula, each with its own brand. Choosing one brand can be confusing. As formula is one of the most regulated foods in the world, there is no evidence to recommend one brand over another (Dipasquale 2019). However, each manufacturer has slightly different ingredients (O’Connor 2009; Wargo 2016). The important decision is around which type of formula to use and to then see how the baby tolerates it.
Brands can also be name-brands or store-brands, also known as generic brands.
There is no evidence to choose a more expensive brand over a cheaper one or to continue using the brand of formula you were given in hospital.
3) Infant formula form
You will need to choose one of three formula forms:
These products vary in price, ease of use and risk of contamination. Each form is designed to provide enough nutrients for your baby to grow.