Manufacturers of baby formula are constantly working to bring the composition as close as possible to breast milk because the choice of infant formula is not an easy task. Despite the fact that you need to select the formula based on your pediatrician’s recommendation, understanding the basics of the contents of infant formula will not be superfluous.
In order for babies’ organisms to digest formula easily, manufacturers adapt the protein by adding demineralized whey to the contents of cow milk. These proteins help bring the amino acid contents of the formula closer to the amino acid contents of breast milk. The contents of casein proteins in breast milk do not exceed 35%, in cow milk, these proteins are 80% of the total percentage of proteins. Therefore, in baby food contents the proportion of whey proteins and casein should be in the ratio 60:35 – 60:40.
Fats provide 30 to 55% of the daily energy requirement. Vegetable oils are the main source of polyunsaturated fatty acids involved in the development of the brain, and vision. Typically, baby foods include coconut, soy, sunflower, and corn oils. They are marked on the label as linoleic and linolenic acids. The optimal combination of these acids in formula is 7: 1, respectively. In the HiPP formula, the combination of such vegetable oils as palm, rapeseed, and sunflower increases the contents of the Omega 3 and Omega 6 and brings the fatty acid composition closer to that of human milk.
Lactose is considered the main source of the carbohydrate component. A more physiological component for a baby in the first months of life is precisely lactose. It promotes the absorption of magnesium, manganese, and calcium, and also stimulates the growth of bifidobacteria in the intestines of a child. However, starch, sucrose, and maltodextrin sometimes are added instead of lactose.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
They influence the development of beneficial intestinal microflora and are responsible for strengthening the immune system. Not all manufacturers add prebiotics and probiotics to the contents. It is better to give preference to infant formula, in which they are included.
Vitamins and minerals
Their number contained in formula should be 15–20% higher than in breast milk because they are absorbed worse in formula than in mother’s milk. The baby’s diet must contain water- and fat-soluble vitamins of groups A, B, C, D, E, K. In addition, infant formula should be enriched with calcium, zinc, copper, selenium, iron, iodine, and potassium.
In cow milk, amino acids important for the child’s organism are absent, therefore their addition is mandatory. Lutein is an antioxidant that protects the retina and stimulates the development of memory. Babies can only get this element from breast milk. Taurine is an important amino acid that is essential for the growth of the brain and the development of the retina. As taurine is not found in cow milk, the regular formula should contain 5-7 mg of taurine per 100 ml; in breast milk, these indicators are closer to 5 mg / 100 ml.
The other important elements are nucleotides and choline which participate in metabolism, the construction of DNA, RNA, strengthen the immune system, and are needed for the nervous system.