What baby formula should I buy for my infant? It’s a question that probably only keeps getting harder to answer. There’s a huge spectrum of formulas out there – and I’ve spent quite a bit of money trialling different ones.
If your kid is doing fine on a basic supermarket formula, you’re good to go!
If you’re struggling with reflux, eczema, colic, etc – then you might be wondering what to try next.
There are dedicated Reflux formulas or Colic + Constipation formulas on the shelves. Honestly, I haven’t tried these and don’t know anyone who has, though we definitely struggled with all those symptoms. But having narrowed down the cause of Spud’s stomach and skin reactions, we have been through the gamut of practically all other formula types. Turns out we were dealing with a pretty common problem…
CMPI vs CMPA – intolerance or allergy?
Our journey was harder than the average. Spud had severe intolerances to multiple foods that took months to identify with trial and error. And the worst of the bunch was dairy.
I knew nothing about this beforehand, but oh how much I’ve learned since. How dairy lingers in your system for weeks. How most babies are reacting to the proteins in milk, not the sugars (ie, it’s not the lactose that’s the problem). How freaking common of an issue this is. And how dairy is in SO MANY THINGS. Even foods you might not expect.
I quickly got up to speed with acronyms like CMPI (cow’s milk protein intolerance) and CMPA (cow’s milk protein allergy). Allergy = probably pretty self explanatory.
Intolerances don’t show up on allergy tests and can sometimes just result in digestive and temperament symptoms. (And that’s if you can convince a doctor to test your baby, as many are reluctant to, and tests aren’t always reliable at a young age.) The only way to figure out if you’re dealing with CMPI is a food diary and elimination diet.
The formula options
When it comes to babies who don’t tolerate cow’s milk formula, the options look something like:
- Soy formula (if over 6 months old)
- Goat’s milk formula (very similar to cow’s milk in terms of the proteins, and not recommended for that reason BUT Spud was okay on goat’s, and I’ve heard of lots of other babies doing all right on it as well)
- Aptamil Allerpro formula (hydrolysed – i.e. the proteins have been broken down)
- Aptamil Pepti Junior (lactose-free and extensively hydrolysed – i.e. the proteins have been broken down)
- Neocate (elemental formula based on amino acids, i.e free of cow’s milk proteins)
We mix fed from the beginning. I spent 5 days in hospital where Spud was EBF. When we came home, he started on the odd bottle of goat’s. I was annoyed that T had bought the most expensive type (goat’s milk formula is NOT cheap), but in the end, I was glad for it.
Because Spud did NOT take well to normal cow based formulas. He was already a spitty baby, but once we switched off goat’s (I was trying to save money, as it was literally twice the price of some of the regular cow’s milk formulas) his reflux hit the next level.
Over the coming months we experimented with different cow’s milk formulas, then worked our way through the alternatives: Allerpro, Pepti Junior, and eventually Neocate. Allerpro and Pepti Junior did nothing for us; goat’s was still better. Doctors said to avoid goat’s, as per the conventional wisdom – but I had to trust my own eyes and instincts, because the evidence in front of me said otherwise. So we stuck with it, until I was able to nab some Neocate to try.
And as soon as we were able to get a prescription for Neocate around 7-8 months, I weaned him. Between Spud growing his first (ridiculously sharp) teeth and the ever-growing list of foods I could not consume, it was time.
Neocate was the game changer. The reflux stopped. The eczema improved. Spud slept through the night every night, no longer waking with tummy pains.
We recently finished our last tin of Neocate. It was a little bittersweet; the end of an era. T always complained about it. And I can’t argue with him – but, ultimately, who cares how nasty it was, if it was the one formula that actually worked?
The stuff is gross. It smells foul. It tastes nothing like milk. Lots of kids don’t take to it because of the flavour. But Spud didn’t take much coaxing. He was always a champion feeder. And I like to think that he knew, somehow. That this was the magic formula. The stuff that wouldn’t upset his gut. The stuff that would finally bring him – and me – peace.