Formula What Type

Commercially prepared infant formulas are powdered, liquid concentrate, or ready-to-feed. Before feeding, dilute powdered and liquid-concentrate formulas with boiled or sterile water. Ready-to-feed formulas don't need to be diluted. They're ready "as is"—packaged in cans or in bottles.

What's in a name? Regardless of which formula you use, commercially prepared infant formulas are usually cow milk-based or soy-based. Formulas based on modified cow milk are appropriate for most babies. A soy-based or specialty formula might be best for the small number of babies who are sensitive to protein in cow milk. Vegetarian moms who don't choose to breast-feed may prefer a soy-based formula, too. For premature or low-birthweight babies, a soy-based formula probably won't be recommended. Ask your baby's healthcare provider.

Old-fashioned homemade formulas from canned evaporated milk and corn syrup may have nourished you or your mother, but they're nutritionally inferior to today's commercial formulas. And corn syrup may contain botulinum spores, which can produce a deadly toxin. Your baby's better off with commercially prepared, iron-fortified infant formula.

Consider this when choosing a formula:

Iron. Many infant formulas are fortified with iron. Iron is a key mineral in forming hemoglobin, the part of red blood cells that carries oxygen to cells to make energy. Your baby also needs iron for brain development; an iron deficiency may cause irreversible delays in your baby's development. Full-term babies are born with enough iron stores to last four to six months. An iron-fortified formula right from the start helps keep a baby's iron stores adequate.

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