is switching baby formula the right move for you? | Plum Organics

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BABY’S FIRST YEAR
is switching baby formula the right move for you?

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.
Lactose Intolerance Unlike cow’s milk allergy, which involves the immune system, lactose intolerance is linked to the digestive system. Due to a deficiency of lactase (the enzyme that digests lactose), the lactose (a type of naturally occurring sugar) in cow’s milk cannot be fully digested. This triggers bacteria in the gut to release acid and gas. The symptoms of lactose intolerance are similar to colic; however, lactose intolerant babies can also have diarrhea shortly after consuming cow’s milk. Lactose intolerance is extremely rare in newborns and does not usually appear in children younger than three. There are two types of lactose intolerance: congenital and transient. Congenital lactose intolerance is often diagnosed in the first weeks or months of life, while transient lactose intolerance is a temporary condition that is diagnosed after a bout of diarrhea or gastrointestinal illness that can happen at any age.
  • 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.
We have to keep in mind that each baby is unique - before you make any changes to your diet or your child’s feeding, please consult with your pediatrician for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. If you are a new parent struggling and sleep deprived through the fussy newborn period, I hear you! I have been there. The most important thing to remember is that life has seasons, and seasons change. The best we can do is to be present for our babies through it all. About Smita MalhotraAbout Smita Malhotra, MD: Dr. Smita Malhotra is a mother, pediatrician, writer and speaker who completed her pediatric residency and chief residency in New York City. Together with her husband, Dr. Gilberto Bultron, she founded Mindful Pediatric Gastroenterology, a practice that helps to heal the whole child and family by combining traditional medicine with alternative therapies such as mindfulness, meditation, acupuncture and yoga. She is a strong advocate for providing children with the tools to cope through the peaks and valleys of their lives and empowering them to take charge of their own health and nutrition. She lives in southern California with her husband and two daughters.