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The quest for the right baby formula

I?m glad to say that my ride on the formula roller coaster is over?at least for now. I knew I?d be dealing with plenty of guilt over my inability to breastfeed this baby but I wasn?t prepared for the challenge of trying to find the right infant formula for my little one?s sensitive digestive system.

Since giving birth to my second son 8 ? years ago, the options have multiplied. I wished I had researched different formula options before having this baby, but I was busy dealing with my older kids and getting through the non-stress tests and ultra-sounds that were required during my high-risk pregnancy.

After consulting with a perinatologist and lactation consultant, I knew that breast-feeding wasn?t a good idea in my situation. I read about different bottles?in particular, those which are supposed to prevent baby from sucking in too much air (leading to a gassy, fussy baby). But I didn?t look into what would go inside those bottles. I knew he?d likely end up on Enfamil, maybe the lacto-free version, which had worked for my second son.

But instead, we went from standard baby formula with iron, DHA and ARA, components found in breast milk which benefit brain and eye development, to lactose free, to Enfamil Gentlease (with partially broken down milk protein and reduced lactose) to soy-based formula to our current formula. I consulted with the pediatrician many times about baby?s gas and digestive troubles.

He is currently drinking a hypo-allergenic formula (for babies with colic due to an allergy to cow?s milk protein, although our doctor recommends it to anyone who has a particularly sensitive baby). Enfamil?s version is Nutramagin and Similac?s version is Alimentum. These are the most expensive formulas of all; we got several sample bottles from our doc but used up that supply pretty quickly.

Fortunately, most babies are able to switch to another (non-hypoallergenic) formula after a few months or so.

I appreciate there being so many options for babies with different digestive needs. If your baby does have ?issues? such as colic, fussiness, gas or major spit-ups, it may take a little while to settle on which formula is right for him. Frankly, I miss breast-feeding? although it?s been many years since I?ve done it, rolling over in bed so baby can feed seemed a lot simpler than dealing with the preparation involved in feeding baby from a bottle.

One perk, of course, is the fact that it?s easier for someone else to feed baby, allowing me more freedom than I?d have if I were exclusively breast-feeding. Also, I?m pretty sure my baby sleeps longer than breast-fed babies generally do at his age; formula really ?fills them up?. That?s not to say that he sleeps through the night, but at 7 weeks old, he is sleeping a good six-hour stretch before needing to feed. My older kids never slept for more than a few hours at a time at this age (one breast-fed exclusively, the other was both breast- and bottle-fed).

Besides looking into your formula options, be sure to try different bottles and nipples; this can really impact your baby?s digestion. Good luck to anyone who takes that ride on ?the formula roller-coaster? One last word of advice: be sure to consult with your pediatrician before making changes; I?ve found mine to be extremely helpful!

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