Infant Formulas

  • Medical Author:
    David Perlstein, MD, MBA, FAAP

    Dr. Perlstein received his Medical Degree from the University of Cincinnati and then completed his internship and residency in pediatrics at The New York Hospital, Cornell medical Center in New York City. After serving an additional year as Chief Pediatric Resident, he worked as a private practitioner and then was appointed Director of Ambulatory Pediatrics at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Quiz: Your Baby's First Year!

Quick GuideBaby Health Pictures Slideshow: The Facts About Bottle Feeding

Baby Health Pictures Slideshow: The Facts About Bottle Feeding

Can I make my own infant formula?

The FDA and AAP recommend against homemade infant formulas. This is due to the fact that these formulas do not meet all of an infant's nutritional needs. In addition, cow-milk protein that has not been cooked or processed appropriately is difficult for an infant to digest and may damage an infant's immature kidneys and/or intestines, causing anemia from bleeding into the bowel movements. Today's infant formula is a very controlled, state-of-the-art product that cannot be duplicated at home.

So, what types of formula should parents give to their babies?

  • Most infants and children will thrive on a cow-milk-based, lactose-containing formula such as Similac (Abbott Nutrition), Enfamil (Mead Johnson Pharmaceuticals), or Good Start (Nestle).
  • Some infants may be lactose intolerant (not allergic) and will better tolerate a lactose-free milk-based formula such as Enfamil Lactofree (Mead Johnson Pharmaceuticals) or Similac Lactose-Free (Abbott Nutrition). For children who are recovering from infectious diarrhea and gastroenteritis, the short-term use of lactose-free formulas may help decrease cramps and diarrhea. This should only be a temporary change, and reintroduction to standard formulas is recommended.
  • Some parents of lactose-intolerant infants may prefer to use soy-protein-based formulas such as Isomil (Abbott Nutrition), Prosobee (Mead Johnson Pharmaceuticals), and Allsoy (Nestle). Infants who are allergic to cow-milk protein can also use soy-based formulas.
  • For infants who are allergic to cow-milk protein and soy protein, the "predigested" protein formulas including Pregestimil (Mead Johnson), Nutramigen (Mead Johnson), and Alimentum (Abbott Nutrition) can be used.
  • Unique medical conditions may require a specific formula recommendation by the pediatrician. This applies to children with some common genetic deficiencies such as PKU, and for premature and low-birth-weight infants.
  • Generic infant formulas are also available and are often made by the same manufacturers that produce the brand name products. Whether you are considering brand name or generic products, check the expiration dates on the packages, and compare ingredient lists to be sure you are purchasing products with the same ingredients.
  • Homemade infant formulas are not recommended.

Medically reviewed by Douglas Barton, MD; Board Certified Pediatrics

REFERENCES:

“Frequency of cow's milk allergy in childhood.
Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002 Dec;89(6 Suppl 1):33-7.

Allergy to soy formula and to extensively hydrolyzed whey formula in infants with cow's milk allergy: a prospective, randomized study with a follow-up to the age of 2 years
J Pediatr. 2002 Feb;140(2):219-24.

Meta-analysis of LCPUFA Supplementation of Infant Formula and Visual Acuity
Pediatrics Vol. 131 No. 1 January 1, 2013
pp. e262 -e272

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/6/2015

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