Many parents find themselves in a situation where they want or need to mix different formulas together to prevent wasting what's left in one packet before opening another. Whether you are trying to save money or make use of free samples and baby shower gifts, you may be wondering whether mixing formulas will hurt your baby or not.
For the most part, it should be fine to mix baby formulas every once in a while. This is because ingredients are similar across all major infant formula brands. In fact, you can mix different brands of the same type of formula together if you feel that your baby responds better to a mixture of two brands.
However, try not to make this a daily practice, because it may make some babies gassy and fussy.
What to keep in mind when mixing formulas
Whenever you are switching or mixing formulas, it is important to monitor your baby closely for 1-2 days to see if they have any digestive problems. Although some changes in the color of stool, odor of gas, etc. are normal, you should not see any significant issues such as digestive bleeding, hives, or forceful vomiting.
- When mixing formulas, follow the same guidelines for safe preparation as you normally would.
- As with switching formulas, keep a close eye on your baby to see if they have negative reactions and weigh them periodically to make sure they are getting enough nutrition.
- Make sure there are no allergy concerns.
- Never mix formulas with cow milk or add extra sugar.
What types of formulas are available for infants?
Infant formulas come in powder, concentrated liquid, and ready-to-use forms, each with their own preparation instructions that should be read carefully. The National Institute of Health's United States National Library of Medicine lists several types of formulas for infants under 12 months:
- Cow's milk-based formulas: Almost all babies do well on this type of formula. Milk protein in this formula is changed to be more like breast milk.
- Soy-based formulas: These are safe and nutritionally equivalent alternatives to cow milk-based formulas that don't contain lactose. Soy-based formulas aren't recommended to prevent colic or milk allergies. Babies who are allergic to cow milk may also be allergic to soy.
- Hypoallergenic formulas: These formulas are generally more expensive and are recommended for infants with true allergies to milk protein. They're also known as protein hydrolysate formulas that contain protein that has been partially or extensively broken down into smaller sizes.
- Other special formulas:
- Reflux formulas
- Preemie formulas
- Formulas for babies who have problems digesting fat
- These should only be used if a pediatrician recommends them.
When to consult a pediatrician
You should consult a reliable pediatric physician before starting your child on a new formula. If your baby has special nutritional needs, discuss them with your doctor to make sure your formula alternative meets the recommendations set forth.
If your child does not seem to gain weight, consult your doctor immediately because this could indicate malnutrition or be a sign of another health condition.
Can I supplement breastfeeding with formula?
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, exclusive breastfeeding is ideal for a baby's nutrition and optimal growth and development for the first 6 months after birth. Furthermore, pediatricians recommend that mothers continue breastfeeding along with other foods for at least 12 months and thereafter for as long as both mother and baby can.
Infants weaned before 12 months of age should not be given cow's milk but instead iron-fortified infant formula. Supplementing breastfeeding with formula may be helpful in cases where the mother is not producing adequate milk or the baby is not able to breastfeed well. Moreover, lactation aids are available as an option to avoid using a bottle when supplementation is necessary.
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