The governments of most countries have developed nutrient standards for commercial infant formulas. These guidelines ensure that a formula has allergy: immune system reaction against substances that are otherwise harmless nutrients similar to the breast milk from a well-nourished woman. Most infant formulas are made from either modified cow's milk or soy, and both types will meet an infant's nutritional requirements. Standard infant formula comes in both a low-iron and iron-fortified form. Iron-fortified formula is always recommended, except in very specific circumstances. A third category of formulas has been developed for children with severe allergies, gastrointestinal problems, or other medical complications. These are classified as elemental formulas, and are prescribed when an infant cannot tolerate any other type of formula.
The newborn infant will feed between eight to twelve times a day. As weight is gained, the infant will take more at each feeding and the number of feedings per day will decrease. An infant who is receiving adequate feeds will have at least six wet diapers a day, will appear satisfied after a feeding, and will follow the established growth curve.
In less industrialized countries, or in situations where formula costs are too high, infant formulas made from evaporated milk have been used. This is not recommended, however, since an infant would require more vitamin and mineral supplementation, and there is also a risk of incorrectly prepared formula. When any type of formula is prepared, it is essential that the water, bottles, and all the equipment used are sanitized, that hands are washed during preparation, and that the formula is kept refrigerated.
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