Follow on milks – to feed or not to feed?
I often get asked whether a baby who is happily feeding on a ‘first infant milk’ needs to change onto a follow on milk when the baby reaches 6 months, or if a baby is switching from breastmilk to formula at 6 months or older whether they should use an infant milk or a follow on milk. There usually isn’t a definite answer to these questions and it will usually involve me asking the parent several other questions before I’ll give my advice, and even then it may not be a straightforward “yes” or “no” to using a particular milk formula.
Generally, if a bottle fed baby is happy on their infant milk there is usually no reason to change them onto a follow on milk just because they’ve reached the age of 6 months. Infant milks are perfectly suitable for babies from birth up to the age of 1 year and beyond, and they will provide valuable vitamins and minerals as well as energy and protein needed by babies throughout the weaning process. However, some parents seem keen to move their babies onto the next stage of formula at this age and I wouldn’t stop them from doing so.
Follow on Milks are intended for use from 6 months onwards when a baby has moved onto a mixed diet including a range of foods. If parents choose to switch their babies onto a follow on formula at this stage they will generally not have any problems with this, and the formula along with a variety of foods will meet the nutritional requirements of babies at this age.
A key nutritional advantage of follow on milks over infant milks is that they contain significantly more iron than infant milks (HiPP Organic Follow on milk contains twice as much iron as the first infant milk - 1mg vs 0.5mg iron per 100ml) and it is this characteristic of follow on milks that might lead me to actively encourage some parents to swap their babies from an infant to a follow on milk at 6 months onwards. Babies are born with a store of iron that generally lasts about 6 months (longer if baby is formula fed from an early age) and once this is depleted then external sources of iron (i.e. foods in the diet that are a good source of iron, such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, pulses) are needed. In the absence of enough iron in the diet a baby is likely to become iron deficient which can make them tired and irritable and more susceptible to infections. A baby who doesn’t eat many iron-containing foods can really benefit from this extra iron in a formula.
For babies that have been exclusively breastfed up to 6 months there is a chance their iron stores may be very low. Weaning foods containing iron must be actively encouraged at this stage. If a mum wants to introduce formula feeding at this stage I would say an infant milk, which is closer to the composition of mature breastmilk, would be fine if sufficient iron sources are present in the weaning diet. However, choosing a follow on milk might on the other hand offer greater assurance that her baby’s iron requirements are going to be met and she might want to consider this instead.
So, if you’re in the situation of not knowing which formula to choose for your baby, I hope this helps. However, if you have any other specific queries you can always contact myself or one of the other health professionals on our team for advice at the following link.......
All the best...
Should you move your toddler onto a Growing up milk?
As your baby approaches his/her first birthday, you might start thinking about whether you should be keeping them on the same milk feeds or not. Although they need less of it, milk is still an important part of a toddler’s diet and provides them with valuable protein, energy, vitamins and minerals such as calcium. From the age of 1 year, they should be getting about ½-¾ pint (about 300-400 ml) milk each day. You shouldn’t let them drink much more than this as it reduces the appetite for other valuable foods.
Toddlers are often switched from formula milk feeds to whole cows’ milk at the age of one. But is this the best thing to do or are there any benefits in sticking with formula milk instead and if so which one should you use? Cows’ milk can give your toddler lots of the nutrients that he or she needs, but certain nutrients such as iron and vitamin D are found in much higher amounts in formula milks and this can been a nutritional advantage.
Toddlers are particularly susceptible to iron deficiency. It is estimated that 1 in 8 toddlers in the UK may be anaemic, with the problem being even greater than this in some groups. Babies are born with enough iron stores to last until about 6 months of age and after this they rely on food sources, but some toddlers may not eat enough of these iron-containing foods to meet their needs. Fussy eating during toddlerhood can certainly make the situation worse.
If your toddler is a fussy eater or their intake of iron-containing foods such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans, lentils and fortified foods such as breakfast cereals is limited, then they could very well benefit from the continued use of a formula milk such as a Growing up Milk from the 12th month. These Growing up Milks usually contain 40 times more iron than whole cows’ milk. But this doesn’t mean that you can stop encouraging them to eat these other foods; variety is key to a healthier diet for your growing child.
For vitamin D is another nutrient that toddlers may be lacking. It is only found in a limited number of foods e.g. oily fish, eggs, fortified margarines and cereals, and although it can also be made by the action of sunlight on skin this synthesis may be reduced if the skin has limited exposure to sunlight (as a result of clothing worn, living conditions or use of sunscreens). Growing up Milks are fortified with vitamin D and can help safeguard toddlers against a deficiency of this vital vitamin which is important for the normal growth and development of bones and teeth and for nerve and muscle function.
For more advice on milk and other drinks at this age, you might want to have a look at the HiPP Baby Club website.
Bye for now.