The best natural food for your little one is breast milk. It has all the nutrients necessary for brain growth, development of the nervous system, and immunity against many kinds of diseases, particularly during the first six months of life up to two years old and beyond.
Above three years, choosing the right milk formula supplement for your growing child is important for continuous development.
It is a good practice to seek advice from a pediatrician or your doctor when considering a milk formula supplement. It’s also good to learn about your options as you start adding milk formula supplements into your child’s nutrition.
Here's a guide to help you when considering a milk formula supplement that can best support your child's nutrition needs.
Types of Milk Formula Supplements
When considering a milk formula supplement for your child, the first step is to familiarize yourself with the various milk formula supplement types. A particular category usually indicates the source of the formula milk or describes how it is made.
Here are some examples.
1. Cow's milk-based milk formula
Full cream milk or fresh cow’s milk is different from cow’s milk-based milk formula supplements, or milk formula supplement. The nutrient levels in full cream or fresh cow’s milk may be too high, designed for cows weighing over 1,000 pounds. Fat and protein levels may be higher than what a child needs. In contrast, certified organic milk formula supplements have been modified to provide the right level of nutrients to support growth needed of your child.
While soy-based milk supplements may contain adequate levels of vitamins and minerals, soy protein may cause an allergic reaction to some children. Soy-based milk formula supplements are not recommended for children with G6PD (glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase) deficiency. It is best to consult your doctor before giving your child a soy protein based formula.
3. Certified Organic
Certified organic formula milk supplements are produced free from chemicals like synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, and GMOs. In organic farming, organic cows are not fed with GMO-foods and are not given prophylactic antibiotics. Certified organic cows graze on natural meadows. Organic milk formulas pass through stringent quality checks based on local and international standards to qualify for a certified organic seal.
Specialty milk formula refers to those that fall under the category for special needs such as lactose intolerance, cesarean births, cow milk protein allergies, premature births, and low birth weight, among others.
What to look for in a Milk Formula Supplement
Milk formula supplements are a major source of nutrients for growing children. Only the healthiest and safest components and nutrients should be present in every glass of milk formula supplements, Free From chemicals that don’t belong in your child. Here is a list to consider when choosing a milk formula supplement.
Probiotics refer to beneficial bacteria in the digestive system. Probiotics in milk formula supplements help restore the balance required between good and bad bacteria, which is essential for a healthy gut. Probiotics also promote strong immunity and good mental development among children. Some studies suggest that milk formula supplements with probiotics may help relieve or avoid problems like eczema.
2. Free from added artificial sugars
The only natural sugar in milk is lactose. Sugar may be in other forms when added to milk formula such as glucose, sucrose, corn syrup solids, maltodextrin, or fructose.
When choosing a milk formula supplement, check the label for added sugars. Excess sugar can lead to weight problems or affect dietary choices later on in children's life. For children below 2 years, health authorities do not recommend consumption of any added artificial sugars. For above 2 years, the limit has been set to upto 25g a day or equivalent to not more than 6 teaspoons a day.
3. Fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acid DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and omega-6 fatty acid ARA (arachidonic acid) are important for a child’s brain development. Omega 3 fatty acids present in breast milk is essential to good vision and brain and nerve development in children.
4. Free from pesticide or antibiotic residues
Organic milk supplements are produced following strict guidelines and regulations, Free From harmful chemicals, GMOs, artificial hormones, prophylactic antibiotics.
5. Free from allergens
Allergens are food substances that cause allergic reactions. Choose an organic milk formula supplement free from common allergens such as gluten peanuts, eggs, soya, shell fruits, nuts, and fish.
Tips on Choosing Milk Formulas
- Review the ingredients list
All food products are required to indicate the ingredients used on their product labels. In milk products apart from the type of milk used, you may see a list of the sugars, fatty acids, protein, vitamins and minerals, and probiotics present in the milk formula supplement. When you choose certified organic milk supplements, you have assurance that they are free from harmful chemicals such as pesticide residue, antibiotic residue, genetically modified organisms (GMOs) or artificial growth-promoting hormones.
- Aim for consistency
Once you've found what works best for your child, try to stick to that milk formula supplement. Always consult your doctor if your child manifests discomfort or intolerance.
Milk Formula Supplements as Part of Your Child's Growth Journey
Science points to breastfeeding as the best food for children up to 2 years old and beyond. Mothers’ milk has the perfect balance of nutrition necessary for raising healthy children.
When your child turns 3, it's good to consider your options for milk formula to supplement your child’s nutritional needs. A pediatrician can work with you in providing answers to questions you may have regarding the milk formula supplement that can support your child's growth journey, including organic milk supplements.
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