World Breastfeeding Week: Top 3 alternatives to breast milk

By  mid-day online correspondent | Mumbai | Posted  01-Aug-2017

There may be instances when breastfeeding is not possible and formula milk comes to the scene. Formula milk, when contains the right amount of nutrients, can act as an amazing alternative to breast milk

World Breastfeeding Week: Top 3 alternatives to breast milk
Formula milk, when contains the right amount of nutrients, act as an amazing alternative to breast milk

Breastfeeding is the natural and strongly recommended way of feeding infants. Even when artificial feeding is affordable, clean water is available, and hygienic conditions prevail for preparing and feeding infant formula exist, brest feeding tends to retain a strong position. The World Health Organization recommends that infants should be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life. Breast-feeding is beneficial both mother and the child. However, there may be instances when breastfeeding is not possible and formula milk comes to the scene. Formula milk, when contains the right amount of nutrients, act as an amazing alternative to breast milk. Three such alternatives to formula milk are listed below:

1. Commercial infant formulas: If an infant is not breastfed or is partially breastfed, commercial infant formulas can be used as an alternative until 12 months of age. Commercially prepared infant formulas are a nutritious alternative to breast milk, as they are fortified with vitamins and nutrients that are essential for infants.

2. Cow-milk based formula: This is an amazing alternative to breast milk. It is also one of the first foods introduced into an infant’s diet. When formula feed is not feasible, cow milk based formula can be included in the infant's diet. However, plain cow milk should not be given in excess to an infant because it contains surplus of few minerals and less of some important nutrients like iron and vitamin C. Cow-milk-based infant formula contains added vegetable oils, vitamins, minerals and iron for consumption by healthy full term infants.

3. Formulas made from soy proteins: These are effective options for infants with galactosemia or congenital lactase deficiency. However, soy products should not be given to infants under six months of age and those suffering from food allergy.

Before starting any feed other than breast milk, for any infant, parents should consult a pediatrician, who can advise and help to take a decision on starting the appropriate feed, after considering the socioeconomic status, whether the infant is preterm or term, or if there are any medical conditions. If mother’s own milk is unavailable or insufficient, the next best option is to use pasteurized donor human milk (PDHM). PDHM can be prescribed on priority for preterm babies and sick babies, babies of mothers with postpartum illnesses, and for babies whose mothers have lactation failure, till their milk output improves

(With inputs from Dr Nikita Magdum and Dr. Sujata Kanhere, K.J. Somaiya Medical College)

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