Infant formulas - overview
During the first 4 to 6 months of life, infants need only breast milk or formula to meet all their nutritional needs. Infant formulas include powders, concentrated liquids, and ready-to-use forms.
Formula feeding; Bottle feeding; Newborn care - infant formula; Neonatal care - infant formula
There are different formulas available for infants younger than 12 months old who are not drinking breast milk. While there are some differences, infant formulas sold in the United States have all the nutrients babies need to grow and thrive.
TYPES OF FORMULAS
Babies need iron in their diet. It's best to use a formula fortified with iron, unless your child's health care provider says not to.
Standard cow's milk-based formulas:
Hypoallergenic formulas (protein hydrolysate formulas):
There are special formulas for babies with certain health problems. Your pediatrician will let you know if your baby needs a special formula. DO NOT give these unless your pediatrician recommends it.
Newer formulas with no clear role:
Most formulas can be purchased in the following forms:
The AAP recommends that all infants be fed breast milk or iron-fortified formula for at least 12 months.
Your baby will have a slightly different feeding pattern, depending on whether\they are breastfed or formula fed.
In general, breastfed babies tend to eat more often.
Formula-fed babies may need to eat about 6 to 8 times per day.
Infant formula can be used until a child is 1 year old. The AAP does not recommend regular cow's milk for children under 1 year old. After 1 year, the child should only get whole milk, not skim or reduced-fat milk.
Standard formulas contain 20 Kcal/ounce or 20 Kcal/30 milliliters and 0.45 grams of protein/ounce or 0.45 grams of protein/30 milliliters. Formulas based on cow's milk are appropriate for most full-term and preterm infants.
Infants who drink enough formula and are gaining weight usually do not need extra vitamins or minerals. Your provider may prescribe extra fluoride if the formula is being made with water that has not been fluoridated.
American Academy of Pediatrics. Amount and schedule of formula feedings. www.healthychildren.org/English/ages-stages/baby/formula-feeding/Pages/Amount-and-Schedule-of-Formula-Feedings.aspx. Updated July 24, 2018. Accessed May 21, 2019.
Parks EP, Shaikhalil A, Sainath NN, Mitchell JA, Brownell JN, Stallings VA. Feeding healthy infants, children, and adolescents. In: Kliegman RM, St. Geme JW, Blum NJ, Shah SS, Tasker RC, Wilson KM, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 21st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 56.
Seery A. Normal infant feeding. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2019. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier 2019:1213-1220.
Review Date: 5/17/2019
Reviewed By: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.