When it comes to breastfeeding substitutes - the reasons and options can be many! However, in matters of breastfeeding you can almost always use some professional guidance. Well, here we are to your rescue.
Read on as we bring you excerpts from Dr Mahesh Balsekar’s book - O to 2 Baby & You and get you some first-hand expert advice on the subject.
As written in the book, in his words...
Stay at home mothers
If you are at home and the baby is doing well, you could start weaning with solids. Babies do very well on breast milk and solids for up to 10-12 months without the need for supplementary milk. You can start top-up milk at any stage you want. 7-8 months is a good age to start one top feed so that the baby gets used to milk coming from a cup. The last feed is a good time as it helps the baby sleep better through the night.
If you are a working mother, it is better to wean with formula or fresh milk. This is because in the initial weeks, babies takes only small amounts of solids, and need a top-up with breast milk. If the mother is not around, the baby will be unsatisfied. Once the baby is taking formula/fresh milk in adequate quantities, the mother will feel confident about going to work. The mother can then gradually start the baby on solids.
BREAST MILK SUBSTITUTES
The choice of breast milk substitutes would be:
Above 1 year: Fresh milk is a good source of nutrition in infants.
Above 1 year: The use of fresh milk for infant nutrition varies in different settings.
Developed world: In the developed world, infants are routinely fed infant formulas. Academic bodies like the American Academy OF Pediatrics recommends that milk should not be given until 1 year of age.
The concern with use of cow’s milk in infancy is the higher likelihood of iron deficiency anemia, higher chance of milk allergy, and risk associated with inappropriate amounts of protein, sugar, sodium and phosphorus in cow’s milk.
Developing world: The use of infant formula is often discouraged due to the high cost of infant formulas, and the risk of infection due to bottles and contaminated water. In communities where one is uncertain about the hygienic preparation of formula, fresh milk can be started at any time of birth.
In families where one is certain about the hygienic preparation of formula, infants are advised formula in the first 6 months, Families may choose to continue using formula till 1 year of age. After 6 months, families are given the option of switching to fresh milk since infants do well on fresh milk. WHO supports the use of fresh milk in older infants.
Formula or fresh milk?
Under 6 months Formula
6-12 Months Formula or fresh milk
Over 12 months Fresh Milk
Buffalo’s milk with cream removed
0 – 2 months 2 parts milk: 1 part water
2 – 3 months 3 parts milk: 1 part water
> 3 months Undiluted milk
Preparation of Formula
How to store the sterile water?
How to prepare the formula?
check the directions on the different products.
How to Use the Formula?
For a happy breastfeeding journey, consult a Lactation Expert.
COW’S MILK FORMULA
It is well-known that breast milk is a superior source of nutrition for infants. However, mothers who need to use formula for their infants need not worry. Infants do well on formulas. The formulas made from cow’s milk are the standard formulas used for infants. The composition of most of the available formulas is very similar to breast milk, and follows the recommendations of the international nutrition societies. More advanced formulas now available are closer to breast milk because they have added Omega 3 and DHA, both of which are essential for brain growth. Some also have added ‘probiotics’, so that the growth of ‘Friendly’ gut bacteria is encouraged.
Type of Formulas
Standard Formulas For infants under 6 months. (Similar to breast milk)
Follow-up Formulas For infants over 6 months. (Higher protein content suitable for a growing infant)
Pre-term Formulas For low birth weight infants under 2 kg (Higher calorie and protein content)
These formulas are not nutritionally superior to cow’s milk formulas, and are used under special circumstances.
These formulas are for special needs. Most specialised formulas are not available in India.
Also read: Breastfeeding Basics: How Much And When
Explore the entire collection of articles: Breastfeeding Tips
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