Why is formula feeding a baby so confusing?

Being a second-time mom, you’d think that you could just follow the same recipe that you used for your first. The same clothes, the same pram, the same routine and the same way of feeding. But as we know, every little creature is different.

Maybe we hope that all our babies are going to be the same from a convenience point of view (I’ve done the research before, so I don’t need to do it again) or because our ego gets in the way (I’m a mom again, I’ve got my stuff together and I know what I’m doing). Fast forward past my decision to move my second baby onto infant formula just like I did my first. Surely the formula brand and variant that I used for my first would be as well suited for my second? Think again!

tired mom looking at baby that doesnt want to sleep

After a few traumatic nights of reflux, colic and constipation, I knew I had to try another formula brand … or did I need to find another variant of the current formula brand that I was using … or did I need to alternate between the two variants? I stood in the baby section of a pharmacy confronted by over seven formula brands and close to 60 variants in total with so many questions. What’s the difference between HA and AD and AC and what was soy formula for again? What in the world does satiety mean? Why do some tins give an explanation about what the formula variant does, while others don’t?

With no one to ask in a public space (thanks to a piece of legislation called R991), I didn’t know who I could call instead of my paediatrician, so I did what I’m sure many others do and asked Doctor Google. Again, there were so many conflicting messages and explanations, it’s no wonder certain brands and variants remain so popular. Getting correct factual information can be so difficult, so you might as well use the brand and variant that your mother’s mother used and not research new brands and advancements.

“I stood in the baby section of a pharmacy confronted by over seven formula brands and close to 60 variants in total with so many questions.”

In comes BabyYumYum to empower mothers, fathers and caregivers. Below is a dictionary of everything we have compiled using expert resources – not Doctor Google. You may be wondering if I ever found the right brand and variant for my second baby. The answer is yes; after a little bit of research to help me make an informed decision and my baby is happy and satisfied, as am I.

A-Z guide to feeding

Alpha-lactalbumi A major protein in human breast milk, as opposed to casein, a major protein in cow’s milk.
Amino-acid-based formulas Infant formula based on synthetic amino acids. It is suitable for the dietary management of children allergic to cow’s milk or with multiple food protein allergy.
Allergens Substances capable of triggering the production of IgE antibodies to provoke allergic symptoms. Foods, such as cow’s milk, can be an allergen.
AC Typically for babies suffering from colic.
AD Anti-Diarrhoea formula
AR Anti-Regurgitation formula
Bifidus factors Factors in the colostrum and breast milk that favour the growth of the “friendly” bacterium Lactobacillus bifidus in infant’s intestinal tract, so that other less desirable intestinal inhabitants will not flourish.
Colic An infant who, otherwise healthy and well-fed, has paroxysms of irritability, fussing or crying lasting for a total of more than three hours a day and occurring on more than three days in any one week.
Colostrum A milk-like secretion from the breast present during the first day or so after delivery before milk appears; rich in protective factors.
Constipation A condition of having infrequent or difficult bowel movements. Rare defecation in breastfed infants is defined as less than 1 defecation in 7 days, whereas in formula-fed infants it is defined as less than 1 defecation in 3 days.
Complementary bottle feeding Whereby you accompany breast milk with the occasional infant formula.
Casein Main milk protein, making up 80% of the proteins in cow’s milk. Casein has a wide variety of uses, from being a major component of cheese, to use as a food additive, also as a binder for safety matches.
Cow’s milk Consists of whey protein and casein protein.
Dehydration The condition in which body water output exceeds water input. Symptoms include thirst, dry skin and mucous membranes, rapid heartbeat, low blood pressure and weakness.
Diarrhoea The frequent passage of watery bowel movements.
Demand feeding Feeding infants in response to their hunger cues.
Electrolytes Salts that dissolve in water and dissociate into charged particles called ions.
Exclusive feeding Giving either breast milk or infant formula as the only/main source of nutrients/food for a specific duration of time (usually 4 to 6 months).
Food intolerances Adverse reactions to foods that do not involve the immune system.
Follow-up formulas Usually refers to the Number 2 formulas, which is a follow on/up milk formula that covers all the nutritional needs of infants from the age of 6 months.
Gastroesophageal reflux The backflow of stomach acid into the oesophagus, causing damage to the cells of the oesophagus and the sensation of heartburn.
Growing up formula Usually referring to the Number 3 formulas, which are the growing up formulas that have been specially developed to take over from milk formula in your baby’s diet as of the age of 1 year to 3 years.
Hydrolysis A chemical reaction in which a major reactant is split into two products/broken down to smaller fragments.
Hypoallergenic formulas Formula that promotes growth and development, but do not provoke reactions in 90% of infants and children with confirmed cow’s milk allergy. This definition does not apply to the common “HA” formulas on the market, which are only partially hydrolysed formulas adequate for the prevention of allergies, but rather the extensively hydrolysed formulas indicated for the treatment of allergies.
Hydrolysed formula Cow’s milk-based formula treated with enzymes in order to break down most of the proteins that cause symptoms in allergic infants.
Iron Fortified The addition to a food of nutrient (such as iron) that was either not originally present or present in insignificant amounts. Fortification can be used to correct or prevent widespread nutrient deficiency or to balance the total nutrient profile of food.
Infant formula Liquid or reconstituted powders fed to infants and young children instead of or in addition to breast milk.
IT Intestinal transit – best suited for constipation.
IgE Immunoglobulin E (IgE) is a class of antibody elicited by allergens. Elevated blood levels of IgE usually indicate an allergy.
Lactose free When a product does not contain the nutrient lactose, commonly referred to as “milk sugar”.
Organic Infant Formula This is a whole subject on its own but, in a nutshell, this is formula created without the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilisers, sewage sludge, genetically modified organisms, or ionising radiation.
Probiotics Living microorganisms found in foods that, when consumed in sufficient quantities, are beneficial to health.
Reflux The involuntary passage of gastric contents into the oesophagus. Normal physiological event affecting the majority of infants.
Satiety The feeling of fullness and satisfaction that occurs after a meal and inhibits eating until the next meal. Satiety determines how much time passes between meals.
SD Sweet Dreams – this formula creates a longer lasting feeling of fullness in baby.
Sterilisation The removal of all microorganisms and other pathogens from an object or surface by e.g. subjecting it to high heat.
Soy formula An infant food made using soy protein and other components. It is fed to infants as a supplement or replacement for human milk or cow’s milk formula.
Whey protein Whey is the watery part of milk that separates from the curds.

 (Note: The information and/or advice is not intended to replace medical care)

Disclaimer: This post is based on personal experience and personal brand preference of the content author and has in no way been paid for or sponsored. BabyYumYum reserves the right to its opinions and fully supports the notion of promotion that breast is best in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) infant feeding guidelines. Breast milk is the best food for infants. Good maternal nutrition is essential to prepare and maintain breastfeeding. If breastfeeding is not applied, an infant formula may be used according to the advice of healthcare professionals. Preparation and storage of any infant formula should be performed as directed on the tin in order not to pose any health hazards.

Amanda Rogaly is the Founder and Chief Mommy of #1ParentingPortal, BabyYumYum. She is passionate about empowering parenting, leveraging her own parenting journey to educate and inspire others. She was inspired to create BabyYumYum for real parents who understand the stresses and challenges of life.