Choosing the Best Formula for Your Premature Baby

There are countless baby formulas on the market nowadays – how not to be confused? Choosing the best formula for premature babies requires some know-how.

It’s a decision that you should make with your pediatrician or neonatologist. Nevertheless, it’s important to learn about different types of formulas as it can help you have an informed discussion with your specialist.

Regular Formula

Most baby formulas are made from cow’s milk. The majority of them are intended for full-term infants. Scientists have not yet duplicated the nutritional and immunological benefits of breastmilk.

However, baby formula is a good alternative. It is also very safe. Modern formulas are rich in iron and fatty acids.

Both of those ingredients help promote brain development. The formulas also provide all the nutrients that a growing baby needs. Some of the most common regular infant formulas are Nestle Good Start, Similac Advance, and Enfamil LIPIL.

Preemie Formula

Prematurely born infants and low birth-weight infants often require special formulas. The American Academy of Pediatrics mandates that a physician should make sure the child is getting an adequate amount of calories and all the necessary nutrients.

Intravenous feeding is one possible way of achieving that in the beginning. As the baby grows and becomes stronger, the doctor might put your baby on a regime of supplemented formulas. This may occur in the neonatal intensive care unit and after getting home.

If you want to nurse, but your child cannot be fed that way directly, it’s good to keep expressing it. Breastmilk contains the best nutrients for fragile infants, so, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, your specialist might suggest that.

In such a case, adding a supplement like a human milk fortifier is a strong possibility. Another option would be freezing your breastmilk and storing it for later use. Pumping breastmilk continuously will make sure your breastmilk supply doesn’t get disrupted.

Pre-Discharge Formula

When you first start feeding milk to a premature baby, the doctor will begin with a small amount of formula that has a calorie ratio similar to that of breastmilk. As the infant gets more used to feedings, the doctor may introduce higher-calorie milk. Such milk helps the baby grow more quickly.

In the neonatal intensive care unit, specialists use products that are made for prematurely born infants. An example of such a product would be Enfamil Premature LIPIL. Such a type of formula has more protein than other kinds, and a doctor might mix more formulas to get a higher-calorie preparation.

Preemie Discharge Formula

Before low birth weight and prematurely born infants are sent home from the hospital, they are usually fed a preemie discharge formula. Such formulas are Nutriprem 2, Similac Neosure, and Cow and Gate.

They come with more calories and a larger amount of protein, as well as vitamins and minerals. The ingredients allow the catch-up growth that was started in the NICU to continue after the discharge from the hospital.


Human Milk Fortifies

Premature babies that are being nursed, or are just receiving expressed breast milk might, need to take in more calories than breastmilk can provide them with. Human milk fortifiers are introduced when the doctor thinks that fortifying the mother’s breastmilk is the best solution for the baby’s growth.

Human milk fortifies come in powdered and liquid form. The doctor adds them to the breastmilk to increase its amount of calories and protein. They help prematurely born or smaller infants gain weight quickly.

Update - 2019.01.23In most cases, HMFs contain cow milk. Although, lactose-free, hypoallergenic, and soy formulas are also added to breastmilk.

Mommies of premature infants tend to have breastmilk that has more calories, compared to mothers of full-term infants. Nevertheless, adding extra protein to your breastmilk is still very important. Science isn’t done with HMFs, so developments are still being made.

Formula For Digestion Issues

Preemies with digestive difficulties could benefit from making some changes to their formula mixture. Typically, formulas made for sensitive stomachs are not intended for preemies and therefore maybe don’t have enough calories. Because of this, it’s important not to make any changes before consulting with your pediatrician first.

Soy Formula

Some infants might experience difficulties with digesting protein that comes from cow milk. Newborns with milk allergy might experience diarrhea, respiratory or skin issues.

Soy-based formulas do not contain cow milk, and, because of that, might help in alleviating symptoms of nursing intolerance. Some of those formulas are Nestle Good Start Soy, Similac Isomil, and Enfamil ProSobee.


Hypoallergenic Formula

Some children might suffer from both cow milk protein and soy protein allergies. That’s where hypoallergenic formulas come in.

They consist of pre-digested proteins, so infants who suffer from beforementioned allergies are able to consume them safely. Such baby food doesn’t have any lactose. Examples of such products are Similac Alimentum and Enfamil Nutramigen.

Lactose-Free Formula

Sometimes, a newborn might not have enough lactase. It is an enzyme that breaks down the lactose coming from milk sugar. If a baby is not able to digest milk sugar properly, they can become fussy or cry a lot. Lactose-free formulas, such as Similac Sensitive, might help babies suffering from such problems and make them feel much better.

Amino Acid-Based Formula

Newborns that are experiencing severe stomach issues might not be able to digest even the pre-digested proteins that can be found in hypoallergenic baby food. Those babies need a formula that contains free amino acids. Unfortunately, it might be their only option.

Amino acid-based formula is suitable for babies who suffer from serious, life-threatening allergies or gastrointestinal problems. Babies who have had intestine surgery are also fed such formula.

It contains special fats for babies who are experiencing difficulties absorbing fats that can be found in regular formula. Examples of amino acid-based products include Neocate, EleCare, and Enfamil Nutramigen AA.

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Preemies often make their families worry. It is especially true when it comes to nutrition. It’s quite understandable as feeding is essential for their growth.

Talking to your doctor is very important. Let them know about any concerns you might be having. Your doctor will offer you the best guidance when it comes to the best formulas and fortifiers for your little one.


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