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How To Choose a Baby Formula

When breastfeeding isn't an option, infant formula is a practical, nutritious, and safe alternative to breastmilk. Infant formula is available in a variety of forms and concentrations.


  • Step 1: Select a form once you've chosen a brand. Infant formula is sold as a powder or concentrated liquid to be mixed with water, as ready-to-feed or ready-to-use formulas.
  • Step 2: Ask your pediatrician if your older infant may need a follow-up formula. Follow-up formulas generally have more calcium and iron than regular infant formula, and may be useful if your child is not regularly eating solid food.
  • FACT: Manufactured baby formula was first mass-marketed in the mid-19th century.
  • Step 3: Pick an elemental formula if food allergies run in your family. Consult a doctor before switching formulas.
  • TIP: Enhanced formulas may also contain DHA and ARA, which are found in breast milk. Some studies suggest they help with an infant's development.
  • TIP: All infant formulas sold in the United States must meet the same nutrient standards set by the FDA.
  • Step 4: Consider switching to a lactose-free formula if your baby is fussy, and has diarrhea or gas. Consult your pediatrician first.
  • Step 5: Decide what type of formula to use. Formulas are available in a regular cow's milk-based formula, soy formula, or an elemental formula. Most babies do well on cow's milk formula, but some babies may be allergic to the proteins in cow's milk, and may need another type of formula.

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