Things to Know When Switching Baby Formula
As every parent will know, there is a wide array of options available on the baby formula market, with each product promising you they are better than the rest. However, this can make things a little overwhelming, especially when each child has their own unique set of needs. There are so many formula products specifically designed for babies struggling with certain symptoms, whether that be a poorly tummy, colic, acid reflux, constipation, gas, and more. So, it becomes a question of…
Am I using the best formula for my baby?
If you are looking at making a switch to a particular formula, or simply want to know whether making a switch is a good idea, you have come to the right place. After all, small dietary changes can make a big difference for your child, so let’s dive into the details.
Where to start
The first place to start is always… why? Why are you looking to make a switch in the first place? What concerns do you have with your current formula? Usually, there are two main reasons behind a desired switch, tummy troubles and your baby’s temperament.
Many parents look to switch formula because their baby is fussy or irritated. And yes, these things could come as a result of the formula you are giving them, but they could also be caused by a number of other things. Baby’s become irritated by a whole number of things, as outlined by SeattleChildrens – sometimes it is literally impossible to pinpoint the exact reason. It could be hunger, overfeeding, they need changing, they need burping, they are tired, they are overstimulated, they are hot, they are cold, they are uncomfortable, or something else.
Remember, your baby is an individual person, and with that comes an individual temperament. While some babies are smiley all the time, others can get the grumps – it is completely normal. It takes some children a little longer to find their feet when adjusting to new things, which is why some are fussier than others. Even if your baby has been diagnosed with something like colic, it doesn’t mean the formula is definitely to blame.
Tummy troubles and similar symptoms can cause a parent to worry - whether it is inconsistent diaper movement, spitting-up, gas, hiccups, straining, or something else. It’s all about understanding what is normal and what is a symptom of a wider issue.
Remember, your child is very young, and so is their digestive system. Everything is new and working itself out. In the womb, they never had to digest food coming from the mouth, so switching things up can be a process. There are so many potential reasons behind digestion issues that have no relation to the food itself, as outlined by LiveStrong. It may be that their pancreas is still in the developing stage, meaning they don’t have a high level of enzymes for digestion. It may be that the valve in the oesophagus is still developing and does not yet effectively stop gas/reflux. It may be that their stomach is not yet fully protected against bacteria/microbes as the mucosal barrier is not fully developed. Or it may be that their gut microbiome is not fully developed yet, which is more common in C-section babies.
For all of the above reasons, every baby experiences some form of symptom at some point. Therefore, if the entire reason for you changing formula is because of one of these symptoms, the best thing to do is first consult your paediatrician for a professional opinion on the cause of their symptoms.
Switching formulas should always be your last choice – Here’s why
Babies are very sensitive to change. After all, every single change is something wild and new to them, something they have never seen or experienced before. For nine months in the womb, they lived in the most controlled environment in the world, so changes will take time to get used to.
How long does it take for a baby to get used to a new formula?
It can take up to 14 days for a baby to acclimatise to a new formula. That is a pretty big deal. If you switch formulas too often or too soon, it can make any digestive problems or temperament issues even worse for a period of time. Therefore, you should first look towards a less drastic solution than changing formula. We recommend:
- Use the paced-feeding technique to prevent overfeeding
- Use different positions for feeding to aid bowel movement
- Massage their tummy
- Do bicycle legs to reduce gas
- Use probiotic supplements in the formula
- Hold your baby in an upright position for half an hour after feeding
- Use gripe water or gas drops as stomach settling solutions
- Consult with your paediatrician
It can often be easy to fall into the trap of believing that switching formulas will be the magic solution, but that is simply not always the case. In many cases, it makes things worse. Therefore, we recommend any and all of the above before you turn to the last resort of swapping formulas.
Why and when you should actually switch formula –
If you have tried absolutely everything, including the suggestions we made above, your child may indeed require a switch of formula. The conditions that necessitate a switch include:
CMPA (Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy) – Two or three of every 100 children have this, and it involves their immune system mistaking cow’s milk protein as an invader that needs to be attacked.
Galactosemia – This condition does not allow a child to process galactose (a type of sugar). This condition is inherited and rare.
Intolerance to corn or soy – Some babies are intolerant to the soy or corn in formula, in which case HiPP HA PRE is a good alternative.
GERD or silent reflux – Reflux is completely normal in young children up to four months, but children suffering from severe symptoms (called atypical, abnormal, pathological). Sometimes, in these cases, thicker formula that sits in the stomach a little heavier is the best choice. One good option is HiPP AR Anti-Reflux.
If your paediatrician recommends a partially-hydrolysed or extensively-hydrolysed formula option, then HiPP Comfort is much easier for digestion due to the smaller, broken-down protein.
It is always a good idea to consult your paediatrician for advice on specialised formulas, and just general advice over whether you should be swapping formulas in the first place.
How to switch formulas
If your paediatrician has given the okay for you to swap your child to a new formula, the important thing to remember is to take baby steps. The slower you introduce the new formula, the easier the process will be, and the less likely your child is to show additional or elevated symptoms.
Choosing the perfect formula for your baby can be overwhelming, and the best way to avoid the need to switch is to pick the best option from day one. Fortunately, you can find lots of advice on our website to do just that.