A child’s nutritional needs are very individual. Due to digestive problems and food intolerances, not every infant can be given classic baby formula. Some babies require specialized formulas. What are these types of products, and who are they intended for?
According to all specialist recommendations, breast milk should be the nutritional basis for a baby up to 6 months of age whenever possible. Sometimes difficulties related to lactation or health make parents decide to use the baby formula. However, a regular mixture does not work for every baby. It sometimes turns out that after its introduction to the baby’s diet, digestive problems or skin changes appear, which require changing the baby formula to a specialized formula. In such situations, parents may want to check how different formulas vary, for example, HiPP HA Pre vs Stage 1.
Parents should not reach for specialized infant formula on their own. Any worrying symptoms related to digestive problems and skin changes in a baby should always be consulted with a pediatrician. Therefore, when parents are concerned about excessive regurgitation, colic, constipation, diarrhea, rash, too frequent feeding, or problems with weight gain, it is necessary to check with a specialist.
Specialized Baby Formulas
Currently, there are many types of specialized formulas dedicated to specific groups of babies with allergies, intolerances, and digestive problems. The most common types are lactose-free and hypoallergenic formulas.
Lactose-Free Baby Formulas
Due to impaired intestinal function, a baby may develop lactose intolerance. It is manifested by diarrhea with a very unpleasant stool odor, abdominal pain, flatulence, and noises accompanying the food movement in the intestines. This type of digestive disorder can lead to serious health consequences, including dehydration, inhibition of growth, or anemia. Lactose intolerance in infants can also manifest as changes in the facial and body skin. It becomes red and can take the form of eczema or spilled spots.
Lactose-free baby formula is free of lactose. It is not recommended to use this type of product constantly. It is always necessary to confirm lactose intolerance with appropriate laboratory tests. There are also lactose-reduced products, commonly referred to as Comfort or AntiColic, depending on the manufacturer. They are commonly known as infant formula for colic and bloating. Pediatricians also recommend them in the case of diarrhea.
Up to 3% of infants are allergic to cows’ milk proteins. Symptoms mainly occur in the first months of a baby’s life as his immune system is still immature. This type of food allergy can cause gastrointestinal discomfort, diarrhea, stomach pain, vomiting, and nausea. It also happens to cause skin changes such as urticaria, atopic dermatitis, and angioedema, as well as respiratory symptoms such as rhinitis or asthma.
Hypoallergenic formulas are produced based on a protein that is hydrolyzed to a different degree. This method involves cutting a long protein chain into shorter lengths, making it much less allergenic. Hypoallergenic formulas, otherwise known as HA formulas, are dedicated both to children with food allergies and to infants of mothers who tend to have atopic skin lesions and allergies. In more severe cases, when the allergy symptoms persist despite the introduction of HA milk into the diet, the doctor usually orders the introduction of an elemental (amino acid) mixture. It is completely devoid of cow’s milk protein.
When and Whether to Change the Formula?
A specialized baby formula does not always need to be given to the baby for a long time. The exception is the HA formula. According to the guidelines, a hypoallergenic diet containing only hydrolyzed cow’s milk proteins should be followed consistently in the first six months of a child’s life. However, the decision to change the formula should be made by a pediatrician or a child allergist.
In other cases, it may be enough to feed the baby with a specialized formula for two weeks or a month for the symptoms to subside. Then gradually, observing the baby’s behavior, parents can try to return to the regular mixture. Any such nutritional changes should be consulted with a specialist.
Many nutritional problems in newborns and infants result from the fact that a baby is born with an incompletely developed digestive tract. Sometimes, even short-term use of a specialized formula, which is easier to digest, can relieve the infant’s digestive system and reduce the annoying symptoms. Each dietary modification in babies up to the age of a year should be subject to medical supervision. Only in such cases will it be completely safe and bring the best results.