One of the most common and important questions for parents is the choice of baby food because the child’s health directly depends on its quality. Breast milk is considered the best source of nutrition for infants. Numerous studies show that mother’s milk contains many bioactive substances that affect the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and the immune system, as well as the development of the central nervous system. Thus, breast milk is essential for the optimal growth and development of kids.
Furthermore, researches prove that breastfeeding can prevent the development of metabolic disorders in the future, in particular, prevents the development of obesity. That is why it is recommended that newborns be exclusively breastfed at least for the first six months of life. Unfortunately, in some cases, breastfeeding is not suitable for every family, and parents may need to use formula constantly or give it in addition to breast milk. The best formula for your child is the one that your pediatrician recommends and that your child absorbs well. The good news is that all infant milk is strictly regulated and must meet the same basic nutritional requirements.
What does organic baby formula stand for?
The main feature that distinguishes organic baby food is the strict requirements for the quality of the ingredients, production technology, as well as the conditions in which the raw materials are obtained:
- organic products are produced in ecologically natural conditions, away from industrial areas.
- only GMO-free and untreated seeds are used in the cultivation of cereals, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and other organic products thus guaranteeing plants grow naturally. Chemical fertilizers and other hormones for growth stimulation are not used in organic agriculture
- to carry the organic label, the formula is subject to mandatory regulatory and systematic quality control from grain to counter. Quality control proceeds out by authorized government services – accredited certification departments, as well as laboratories of the manufacturer itself e.g. HiPP formula is checked by one of the best laboratories in Europe. You can check organicsbestshop.com for more information about this.
What’s more, organic baby products are distinguished by their taste and higher nutritional value: on average, they contain 20-50% more vitamins, mineral components, biologically active substances in comparison with products produced using traditional technologies.
Types of organic baby formula
- Cow-based milk formula. About 80% of the formulas sold are based on cow’s milk protein. Proteins are specially processed so that the child’s digestive system can easily break down and assimilate them. Most often, such infant milk is fortified with iron, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and arachidonic acid (ARA) which are necessary for the development of the child’s organism.
- Soy-based formula. Pediatricians believe that there is no need to use these formulas, except in two situations: galactosemia or hereditary lactase deficiency, and when a vegetarian diet is preferred. Remember that soy foods should not be consumed by children under six months of age with food allergies.
- Lactose-free formula. For children with reduced activity of the lactase enzyme. It is a real alternative to soy ones. For example, after acute gastroenteritis, temporary lactase deficiency may occur. Pediatricians recommend a lactose-free formula for babies under three months old or with low weight after acute gastroenteritis.
- Hypoallergenic formula. Designed for children with allergic reactions to cow’s milk protein and lactose. Cow’s milk proteins are pre-broken down to make them easier for newborns to digest. If your child is at risk of developing an allergy or is already allergic to other formulas, your pediatrician may recommend such formulas.
- Anti-reflux formula. They are made against the regurgitation of newborns.
What ingredients must be present in formula?
It is preferable to choose a highly adapted infant formula with important functional components such as proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. The other important ingredients are Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids that are not produced by a kid’s organism and must be ingested with food. They are needed for the development of the brain and mental health. Prebiotics and probiotics are recommended to be included in infant milk. Prebiotics are for the growth of beneficial intestinal microflora while probiotics improve intestinal microflora.
What to avoid in baby formula?
High-quality infant formula should be free from gluten, synthetic flavors, and colors, starch, preservatives, salt, sugar, fructose. There could be several synthetic nutrients found in organic baby food, however, none of them are legal for anything labeled organic in the European Union: lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, and l-carnitine. You should also avoid carrageenan. Even though carrageenan is plant-based, research finds that this supplement can cause serious health consequences. In particular, carrageenan leads to inflammation, digestive problems, glucose intolerance, food allergies, bloating, and even cancer.
European vs. American Organic Baby Formula
Both EU and USDA have a few things in common for providing official Organic labels:
- both formulas can only be considered organic if 95% or more of the ingredients are organic
- animals should be grown and fed naturally without artificial growth hormones
- American and European formulas have to contain essential nutrients
However, European standards are higher. The main difference is that organic standards are much stricter in Europe than in the United States. European standards require infant formula not only to meet 95% organic ingredients, but the EU also requires more transparency and has stricter rules when it comes to detecting trace amounts of any toxic substances in infant milk. In addition, it is not allowed to add sugar or dry syrup. It also requires at least 30% of calories from lactose (a naturally occurring carbohydrate found in breast milk).
Other things to pay attention to
An important aspect is the ratio of whey proteins to casein. The protein component of breast milk substitutes is of great importance for a baby. In most adapted formulas, it is represented by whey proteins and casein in a ratio of 60:40; 70:30; 80:20 (50:50 is acceptable). Whey proteins should prevail over casein proteins. There won’t be indigestion with such a ratio of whey proteins and casein. For the proper growth and development of a child, two of the most important polyunsaturated fatty acids linoleic and linolenic must be present in baby food. They are necessary for the synthesis of protein in the membranes of brain cells. In breast milk, their content is 15%, and in milk replacers, at least 10% is recommended.