While researching about nursing, you may have come across the concept of follow on milk.
If your baby has turned or is about to turn 6 months old, you could take advantage of follow on milk and, later on, toddler formula. But, what do you know about it? Is it the best option for your little one? That's what you are about to find out in the following article.
New stage, new choice
Up to this point, your baby has been exclusively fed either by breast or baby formula. Experts don't recommend introducing new items into the baby's diet until the munchkin is around 6 months old. Once he makes it to the halfway point of his first year of life, he could be given follow on milk. This is basically a new formula that, in comparison to the infant one, provides the little one with extra proteins, minerals and vitamins. It is also made out of cow milk, but adapted to the baby's needs according to his age.
With the carrot comes the stick
Some mums decide to try follow on milk depending on different situations, for example, if they've been breastfeeding their newborns and they start running out of milk. It can also happen that they have to stop doing it for medical reasons or, simply, because they don't want to do it anymore. In case they've been formula feeding their little ones, the new option could end up being a more complete way of supplying the kids everything they need. But is it actually necessary? Though it's a controversial issue, the answer is no.
Breast milk contains around 0,9 g of proteins per each 100 ml dose, the healthy amount for your growing baby. At the other extreme there's cow milk, which has an average of 3,3 g per each 100 ml dose, which isn't tolerated by a baby this age. Right in the middle we find infant formula (between 1,2 and 1,4 g of proteins) and toddler formula, which ranges from 1,2 up to 2,4 g. It is true that, as time goes by and your baby grows up, his body will need to absorb more proteins, but the latter quantity is excessive. Don't forget that a baby will grow up perfectly healthy if he's breastfed until he's 2 years old, so this fact alone should make you think whether it's necessary or not.
What do I do?
Before making a decision about follow on milk or toddler formula, think about it twice. It has one important advantage that is not related to the way it affects your baby: the price. For those families that live on a budget, buying infant milk (it is pretty expensive) during 12 months can be a bad deal. In a situation like this, toddler formula (which is more economic) stands out as a good alternative. Especially, if you were thinking of jumping directly from infant formula to cow milk (get this idea out of your head).
And what about the disadvantages? Well, we've pretty much pointed them out already. A 6 month old baby will start eating cereals, fruits, vegetables and meats that are going to give him necessary proteins. Introducing follow on milk into his diet could result in an excess of them. If you don't have another choice, what you could do is trying to balance his 'menu', considering that the new formula will have a powerful protein component.
Find his best fit
If you are about to use toddler formula, you have to know that some doctors recommend it until your baby turns 2 years old, while others think it's more appropriate up to the first year of life or even until the baby is 18 months old. What's not open to interpretations are the different kinds of follow on milk according to specific conditions. For instance, there's an anti-constipation formula that, as its name indicates, is adapted to those kids who are having problems pooeing sustained over time. If your little one isn't tolerating the normal toddler formula and he finds himself vomiting way too often, you could try with a special anti-vomit kind.
And what happens if it turns out that your baby suffers from lactose intolerance? Then you have a few options:
- Lactose free formula
- Hydrolysed formula: it hardly ever causes any allergies. It is made of cow proteins, but treated so the lactose intolerant kids can drink it.
- Soy protein formula: it's a good alternative to the cow protein kind.
- Aminoacid formula: it has no side effects, so it's a good and safe alternative for your munchkin.
Hopefully, by now you have a better idea of the pros and cons of follow on milk. The best advice here is that, if you or your baby don't have a special affliction and you don't mind breastfeeding, stick with this option at least until he's 12 months old. If you are forced to get toddler formula for your kid, keep in mind that you'll have to work around your baby's diet. Of course, if you get to this point, don't hesitate to contact your paediatrician. He or she will help you set the right amount of calories for your sweet little child.