What’s In Baby Formula?
Baby formulas will never be equal to breast milk, however they have been formulated to provide a similar pattern of nutrients to support normal growth and development when breast milk is not available. The ‘Ingredients’ list and the ‘Nutrition Information Panel’ on the tin will give you all the information you require about what is in the specific baby formula you are using.
Until your baby starts solid foods your baby will rely solely on formula milk for their nutrition. A starter stage “1” baby formula provides your baby with all the necessary nutrients needed to grow and develop. These nutrient levels are set by our government and for those of you who love a bit of jargon – specifically it’s the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code that mandate the levels of nutrients present in baby formula.
For baby formula products, it’s Standard 2.9.1
In addition to the required nutrients essential for growth and development, as set out in the standard 2.9.1, there may be additional ‘optional ingredients’ that are present in baby formulas that may set one formula apart from another. These ‘optional ingredients’ may offer a nutritional benefit. Most formulas are based on cow’s milk that has other nutrients added to meet the specific needs of a human baby. Any type of fresh milk (e.g. cow, soy, goat), or home-made baby formula is NOT recommended for babies under 12 months and can lead to serious nutritional problems. Always speak with your health professional if you have questions on your baby’s feeding.
Below, is a list of the MACRONUTRIENTS, VITAMINS and MINERALS that are required by law in baby formula, as set out by standard 2.9.1, as well as the OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS that may be added, and that you may see in some baby formulas on the market in Australia.
- Carbohydrate – Lactose is the natural carbohydrate in breast milk and most baby formulas. For a baby with diagnosed lactose intolerance, a baby formula for lactose intolerant babies can be used. Consult your health care professional before changing from your current formula.
- Protein – Whey and casein are the two main proteins found in both breast milk and baby formulas. Whey is the main protein found in breast milk and most starter formulas. Follow-on formulas usually contain more casein than starter formulas. Partially hydrolysed whey protein is adapted cow’s milk protein that has been chopped up into smaller pieces.
- Fat – An excellent source of energy for growing babies and children. Low-fat foods should not be used for children under the age of 2 years.
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
- Vitamin B6
- Pantothenic Acid
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
*Chromium and molybdenum is essential only if an infant formula product has a specific dietary use
- Long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (e.g. Omega 3)
- Probiotic – L(+) lactic acid producing cultures
- Prebiotics – Permitted inulin-type fructans and galacto-oligosaccharides
If you would like more information about what these nutrients do for your growing baby, a dietitian, or other health professional with nutrition expertise will be the best person to help you decipher what they do for your baby in relation to their growth and development.