Switching to powder
If you’ve already decided to jump the fence and either supplement breastfeeding with formula or go all the way with formula, plenty of choices await.
The upside, she expresses, is that you can’t really go wrong with formula per se, in that all the formulas approved for sale in Malaysia have passed government standards for nutrition and safety. However, Hor conveys that formula has become ‘very sophisticated, and now can imitate in most ways breast milk.’ She maintains that the main ingredients in breast milk that can never be replicated are the antibodies from the mother that can help keep baby healthy and disease-free.
The choices facing young mums in terms of formula can be mindblowing. Read the labels carefully. You can now get organic formula, or fortified with extra vitamins, minerals and DHA. Designer formulas have arrived.
‘For those who can’t or don’t breastfeed, when they choose the formula they should follow instructions properly. If they’re not sure what formula to try, talk to a doctor. The doctor would be the best person rather than a friend,’ states Hor.
What tends to go wrong with formula isn’t the formula itself, but user error. If a baby isn’t thriving, or is gaining too much weight too quickly, often the reason is incorrect mixing. In other words, read the directions very carefully. Hor says many local mums are tempted to dilute the formula because they believe it’s too heaty. But diluting also diminishes nutrition and baby health can be endangered. On the other extreme, the cavalier scooper who puts in a bit of extra formula for good measure can also be contributing inadvertently to baby’s unhealthy weight gain and possibly other medical complications. A fat baby isn’t necessarily a healthy baby.
The other factor, which is still common even in urban areas like the Klang Valley, is where formula is kept out too long or the bottles aren’t sterilised before use. Bacteria multiply at an amazing clip in formula left at room temperature, and even formula mixed in the morning shouldn’t be kept till the next day in the refrigerator. ‘Contamination from poorly sterilised feeding utensils is a real and common threat that can be fatal.’ warns Hor.
Hor herself is a panellist for www.babycentre.com.my and also recommends www.mumsnet.co.uk.