is switching baby formula the right move for you?
tips on finding the right formula for your little one
By Dr. Smita Malhotra, Wellness Advisory Panel member for Plum As a pediatrician, one of the most common reasons parents bring their newborns into my office is persistent crying. Oftentimes, parents of babies that are formula fed want to switch their baby to a different formula with the hope of alleviating the fussiness. But, choosing the right formula for your baby can feel very overwhelming, as there are so many options. There can be a few different reasons that babies cry frequently – some of which may require a change to the feeding plan, and others that do not. Below, we’ll take a look at three of the most common reasons, and whether or not a change in formula can help. Colic The medical definition of colic is frequent crying in an otherwise healthy baby. Babies affected by colic cry for three hours a day, for more than three days a week, lasting three weeks or more. Colic starts in the first few weeks of life and affects up to 30% of babies. So, how do you know if your baby has colic? Babies with colic often bring their legs up to their tummy, clench their fists and have tense abdominal muscles. Parents often ask what causes colic and while there is no definitive cause, it’s thought that these babies are overly sensitive to stimulation and have difficulty self-consoling. With colic, switching formulas usually does not help to alleviate the symptoms – it often resolves on its own around three to four months of age. However, as a parent who had a child with colic, I know this can feel like an eternity! Cow’s Milk Allergy One of the most common allergies in the first year of life is cow’s milk protein allergy, which can affect 2-3% of babies. This occurs when the baby’s immune system mistakenly identifies the protein in cow’s milk as dangerous, and releases chemicals such as histamine, which trigger an allergic reaction. While the symptoms of cow’s milk allergy are somewhat similar to colic, babies with cow’s milk allergy have additional symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, blood in stools and/or eczema.
- Breastfeeding only: If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, pediatricians may recommend that you follow a dairy-free diet. This is because even a small amount of cow’s milk could trigger an allergic reaction.
- Formula feeding only: If you are formula feeding your baby, pediatricians often recommend a hydrolyzed formula, such as Plum Organics' Gentle® Formula. These formulas have the protein in the cow’s milk “hydrolyzed”, or broken down into smaller pieces so that the baby’s immune system doesn’t detect the protein and cause an allergic reaction.
- Combo feeding: If you are breastfeeding and formula feeding your baby, then you will most likely need to follow both recommendations outlined above.
- Breastfeeding only: If you are exclusively breastfeeding your baby, pediatricians will likely recommend a dairy-free diet. Babies that have congenital lactose intolerance will need to be fed a lactose-free formula, because even if mom avoids dairy products, her breastmilk will still contain lactose.
- Formula feeding only: If you are formula feeding your baby, pediatricians usually recommend a lactose-free formula.
- Combo feeding: And if you are both breastfeeding and formula feeding, you will most likely need to adhere to both recommendations.