Feature Article

Formulas and milks for infants and children

Rebecca Fisher

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Abstract

Despite the fact that breastfeeding is the best way to feed an infant, each year there is an influx of more infant formulas onto the market. Are there real nutritional differences between various formulas? What is the best choice?

Key Points

  • Mothers should be encouraged to breastfeed their infants for at least the first 12 months.
  • Healthy term infants who are not breastfed should be given cow’s milk-based formulas. The choice of formula can be based on cost and availability.
  • There are no nutritional advantages for healthy term infants in using ‘follow-on’ formulas, soy-based formulas or formulas with added nucleotides, long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids and/or thickening agents.
  • Formulas or supplements are not necessary for healthy young children.
  • Children can be given full cream cow’s milk from the age of 12 months, preferably by cup rather than in a bottle. In general, reduced fat milks can be used from the age of 2 years. However, the use of skim milk is not recommended until after the age of 5 years.

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