Infant formulas are food products designed to provide for the nutritional needs of infants under 1 year old. They include powders, concentrated liquids, or ready-to-use forms.
A variety of formulas are available for infants younger than 12 months old who are not drinking breast milk. Infant formulas vary in nutrients, calorie count, taste, ability to be digested, and cost.
Guidelines for infant formulas and normal infant feeding based on human breast milk are available from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).
SPECIFIC TYPES OF FORMULAS
Standard milk-based formulas:
Hypoallergenic formulas (protein hydrolysate formulas):
Special formulas that should be used only under a health care provider's supervision:
Newer formulas with no clear role:
Most formulas can be purchased in the following forms:
The AAP recommends that all infants be fed breast milk or iron-fortified formula for at least 12 months.
Standard formulas contain 20 Kcal/ounce and 0.45 grams of protein/ounce. Formulas based on cow's milk are appropriate for most full-term and preterm infants.
Infants who drink enough formula and are gaining weight usually do not need extra vitamins or minerals. Your doctor or nurse may prescribe extra fluoride if the formula is being made with water that has not been fluorinated.
Infant formula can be used until a child is 1 year old. The American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend cow's milk for children under 1 year old. After 1 year, the child should only get whole milk, not skim or reduced-fat milk.
PREPARING, FEEDING WITH, CLEANING, AND STORING FORMULA
Clean bottles and nipples with soap and then boil them in a covered pan for 10 minutes. They should cool while still covered.
Parents can make enough formula to last for up to 24 hours.
Formula feeding; Bottle feeding
O'Connor NR. Infant formula. Am Fam Physician. 2009;79:565-570.
Labiner-Wolfe J, Fein SB, Shealy KR. Infant formula - handling education and safety. Pediatrics. 2008;122 Suppl 2:S85-S90.
Heird WC. The feeding of infants and children. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 19th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier;2011: chap 42.
Updated by: Jennifer K. Mannheim, ARNP, Medical Staff, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health, Seattle Children's Hospital; and Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.
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