What is baby formula?
Baby formula is available in a variety of forms. There are powders and concentrates that need to be mixed with water as well as ready-to-use versions that don't need to be mixed. Before the invention of infant bottles and formula, children were either breastfed by their mother or a wet nurse. Parents started bottle feeding in the early 19th century. This is also when it became more acceptable for parents to feed their infants milk from other animals.
In the early 1850s, an inventor from Texas added sugar to evaporated milk. He canned the substance and sold it as Eagle Brand Condensed Milk. This product became a popular infant food for many families in the United States. The first form of infant formula was developed in 1865 by chemist Justus von Liebig. His formula was first available in liquid form and then as a powder, which could last longer.
By 1883, there were 27 patented brands of infant food. By 1929, the first non-milk (soy) formula was available to the public. Despite these advancements, many parents used an unsweetened condensed milk product, marketed as "evaporated milk." Pediatricians recommended the use of this product during the 1930s and 40s.
Modern formula was developed through recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and as a result of the Infant Formula Act of 1980, which authorized the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to regulate the required nutrients in formula and assure quality control.
Why would you need baby formula?
For the first year of life, your baby needs breast milk, formula, or both. Babies shouldn't eat solid foods before they are five or six months old, and they shouldn't try cow's milk before they are 12 months old.
The World Health Organization recommends that infants breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recommends that infants breastfeed for at least 12 months. If a baby does not breastfeed, they will need to get the necessary nutrients and calories from formula. Parents choose formula for their babies for a variety of reasons. There are several types of formula available.
3 main types of baby formula
There are three primary forms of formula. These different forms are designed for the diverse needs of infants who may or may not be able to tolerate a milk-based formula.
Cow's milk based
Formula made from cow's milk is the most commonly used type of infant formula. It is made from an altered form of cow's milk and designed to mimic breast milk. This process makes the formula easier for babies to digest and causes less stomach upset.
This type of formula is an alternative for babies who can't tolerate the lactose in cow's milk. Some parents choose soy-based infant formula to avoid feeding their baby any form of animal protein.
This type of formula starts with cow's milk. The proteins are then broken down into smaller sizes (hydrolyzed). This process makes the formula much easier for babies with sensitive stomachs to digest. It is also great for babies who can't tolerate cow's milk or soy-based formulas.
Other specialized types of formulas are also available. These are typically suggested for premature infants and babies with specific medical conditions.