Although breast milk is the best source of nutrition for your baby, sometimes it just doesn't work out. Sometimes you just don't want to breastfeed. Baby formulas are the next best thing.
Baby formulas are made to simulate breast milk and meet your baby's nutritional needs. The composition of commercial baby formulas is carefully controlled and monitored. The FDA requires that these products meet very strict standards. The Infant Formula Act gives the FDA authority to create and enforce these standards.
There are several types of baby formula on the market. The most basic baby formula available is the iron-fortified cow's milk formula. Depending on how your baby responds to cow's milk, you may need to switch to a soy-based or hydrolysate formula. Some babies are lactose intolerant, which causes terrible stomach upset and pain when they drink cow's milk. A soy-based or hydrolysate formula may be a better option if your baby is lactose intolerant. To help you decide which formula is best for your baby, talk to your doctor.
Baby formula comes in powder and liquid forms. Powdered baby formulas are cheaper, but take more time to prepare. Liquid baby formulas are quite expensive, but the convenience of opening a can and pouring is enticing to some parents. Liquid baby formulas do not contain fluoride, found in most tap and spring water. They also have a short lifespan; an open can of formula must be used within 48 hours.
There are many homemade baby formula recipes available on the internet, but homemade formula is very risky. Homemade formula may not contain all the nutrients your baby needs in the proper balance. This can lead to weight loss, failure to gain weight, or malnourishment.
All store-bought baby formulas are made to meet all of your baby's nutritional needs and don't require any additional ingredients. You should never add liquid vitamin supplements, cereal, olive oil, regular cows' milk, breast milk, or any other ingredients to your baby's formula unless your doctor recommends it.
Baby formula does cost a lot more than breastfeeding -- breastfeeding is free after all. If you are worried about the cost, you can calculate the average cost for formula on a weekly, monthly, or yearly basis. Compare the costs, pros, and cons of different baby formulas before you decide, and always ask your doctor and your friends for suggestions -- they've been there before.