Choosing an Infant Formula
No brand of infant formula is best for all babies. You should pick an infant formula that is made especially for babies. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates commercial infant formulas to make sure they meet minimum nutritional and safety requirements. Iron-fortified infant formulas are recommended, and most commercial infant formulas sold in the United States contain iron. Commercial infant formulas come in liquid and powdered forms.
When choosing an infant formula:
- Make sure it is not expired.
- Make sure the container is sealed and in good condition. If there are any leaks, puffy ends, or rust spots, do not feed it to your baby.
- Make sure it is not labeled for toddlers.
Talk with your child’s doctor or nurse if you have questions about choosing an infant formula for your baby or if you are thinking of switching infant formula brand or type.
FDA and the American Academy of Pediatrics warn against using recipes to make homemade infant formula. Using homemade infant formula can lead to serious health problems for your baby. Your baby’s nutritional needs are very specific, especially in the first year of life. Homemade infant formulas may contain too little or too much of certain components, such as vitamins and minerals (like iron).
Homemade infant formula may also have an increased risk of contamination, which could lead to your baby getting sick or developing an infection. Commercial powdered formulas are also not guaranteed to be sterile. However, FDA regularly inspects these products and the manufacturing facilities where they are made to help make sure these products are safe.
There are some public claims that infant formulas sold in other countries and promoted as “natural” or “organic” are better for babies. However, there is no scientific evidence that these infant formulas are better for babies than commercial infant formulas sold in the United States. All infant formulas legally sold in the United States—whether made in the United States or imported from other countries—must be reviewed by FDA. The American Academy of Pediatrics warns against using illegally imported formulas, such as products ordered online from third-party distributors. FDA may not have not reviewed these products. Illegally imported formulas also may not have been shipped and stored properly.
FDA reviews all infant formulas sold legally in the United States to make sure they meet minimum nutritional and safety requirements. FDA also makes sure that the water used to make formulas meets safety standards set by the US Environmental Protection Agency.
Toddler milks, drinks, or formulas are not needed to meet the nutritional needs of young children. They typically have added sugars. At age 12 months, your child can be introduced to plain whole cow’s milk or fortified unsweetened soy beverage.
Babies younger than age 12 months should be fed infant formulas specifically designed to meet their nutritional needs. They should not be fed toddler milks, drinks, or formulas labeled for toddlers.