Baby formula is essential for young mothers who cannot or do not want to breastfeed. These kinds of milk have a composition adapted to the needs of newborns. The composition of the milk is similar to that of breast milk and provides all the nutritional elements necessary for the proper development of the infant. The age range for using first-age milk is from birth to 6 months.
Good to know: in its latest recommendations, the European Academy of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (EAACI) insists on not using cow’s milk-based formulas as a regular complement to breastfeeding during the first week of life.
Composition of infant milk
First, milk mainly contains proteins (10 g/litre) essential for the baby’s cerebral and muscular development. Unlike classic cow’s milk, the protein content is adapted to the baby’s needs.
It also contains:
Essential fatty acids,
Mineral salts (sodium, potassium, chlorine, magnesium, iron…), which contribute to the proper functioning of cells,
Vitamins (A, B9, C, D, E, and K),
Good to know: a supplementation in vitamin D, prescribed by the doctor, is necessary from the first months of the baby’s life.
By its composition, the first age milk makes it possible to fill the nutritional needs of the child:
Mineral salts contribute to the proper functioning of cells;
Carbohydrates and lipids provide energy; they are present in fast sugars (glucose and lactose) and slow sugars (maltose dextrin). The sugar in breast milk is mainly lactose.
First, milk also contains minerals such as sodium, potassium, chlorine, calcium, magnesium, and iron… which contribute to the proper functioning of the cells. Their quantity is calculated as accurately as possible so as not to overload your baby’s kidneys. Vitamins are also essential: A (it acts on vision and the immune system), B (it facilitates the assimilation of sugars), D (it fixes calcium in the bones), C (it favors the absorption of iron), E, K, B9 or folic acid.
Different types of infant milk
Anti-reflux milk (AR)
Anti-reflux milk has the same ingredients as standard infant milk but is generally enriched with starch or carob flour. These are thickeners that limit the risk of regurgitation.
Anti-reflux kinds of milk are suitable for babies suffering from regurgitation. They are only sold in pharmacies. Be careful: reflux that occurs after the bottle is benign and does not require a change of milk.
Comfort milk is simply slightly thickened milk (corn or rice starch, carob seeds, etc.) intended for newborns who are hungry or who spit up very often. This milk is given under the advice of a pediatrician.
Hypoallergenic milk (HA)
In hypoallergenic milk, the proteins have been broken down to reduce their allergenic effects. This type of milk is recommended when one or both parents have a proven allergic background (asthma, eczema, food allergy, etc.) or, sometimes, as a replacement for breastfeeding when the first bottles are introduced.
HA kinds of milk are not intended for infants with a proven allergy to cow’s milk proteins. In this case, the pediatrician prescribes another type of formula: advanced protein hydrolysates. Their characteristic: proteins are even more fractionated than in hypoallergenic kinds of milk to eliminate the allergic risks.
In addition, rice protein hydrolysates or soy-based infant formulas can sometimes be a second-line solution if advanced protein hydrolysates are not accepted. However, beware, a soy allergy is found in about 15% of children allergic to cow’s milk proteins.
Transit milk or special milk
This type of milk is suitable for babies with slow intestinal transit, which can cause constipation and pain. With its low casein content, transit milk is specially formulated to facilitate and improve the speed of intestinal transit.