Home Family Maternity and Newborns Everything You Need to Know About Baby Formula (South Africa)

Everything You Need to Know About Baby Formula (South Africa)

baby formula

There aren’t many guides on baby formula in South Africa. While everyone agrees that breastfeeding is ideal, it just doesn’t work for every family. Some parents need to use baby formula full-time while others give formula in addition to breastfeeding. Breast milk or formula should be your child’s only source of nutrition for about the first six months.

From six months to 12 months, breast milk or formula will continue to be the primary source of food as your little one slowly transitions to solid food. During this time, you’ll likely have many questions concerning your child’s nutrition. Such questions are why we’ve put together a guide to explain the best formula milk for a baby 0-6 months of age, a good baby formula in South Africa to use, and which formula is closest to breast milk in South Africa. 

Is one brand of baby formula better than another? What is the best baby formulated in South Africa? Are generic brands, OK? Is soy-based formula better than cow’s milk formula? Here’s what you need to know about baby formula milk in South Africa as well as a list of the best formula for babies:

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I’m bottle-feeding my baby. Which baby formula is best?

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in the formula aisle. Choosing the right nourishment for your baby is a pretty weighty decision, and there are lots of options. To determine the best baby formula milk for a baby 0-6 months in South Africa, you’ll first need to examine the best formula brands in South Africa carefully. 

When choosing formula, consider the form it comes in, the type of protein and carbohydrate it provides, and what other ingredients are included. In the end, you’ll be able to choose the formula that is best for your baby and your family’s lifestyle. To start this process, we’ll look at the top-rated baby formula in South Africa and the different types of formula there are.

baby formula south africa

What are the main types of baby formula?

Commercial Baby formulas are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The major types are available:

1. Regular formula:

Most infant formulas are made from cow’s milk which has been adapted to be suitable for babies. The proteins are changed to be easily digestible, milk sugar (called lactose) is added to resemble breastmilk more closely, and vegetable oil is replaced for butterfat.

A. Starter formula:

These milks are suitable from birth to 6 months of age.  They are usually based on the whey of cow’s milk, which is known to be more easily digested.  This lighter protein is preferred for younger babies since the digestive system is still very immature and could struggle to digest and adapt to heavier protein-based formulas.

B. Follow on formula:

Follow–on milks are suitable for babies from 6 to 12 months of age, covering nutritional requirements of the infants as part of a diversified diet.  These milks tend to be predominantly based on the casein of cow’s milk. This is referred to as the “heavier” protein type to digest.  The reason for changing the protein profile is for easier weaning, to prepare the baby’s gut for the digestion of solids.

C. Growing up formula:

These milks are suitable for babies from 12 to 36 months of age.  As your child grows and develops, their nutritional requirements change.  Often toddlers tend to be fussy eaters and as a consequence of not following a balanced diet, are at risk of nutrient deficiencies.  Growing up formulas could provide your toddler those nutrients that they might be lacking. Using these formulas will help to ensure that they can remain strong, healthy, and ready to learn!

2. Hydrolyzed formula:

These formulas are defined as cows’ milk-based formula treated with enzymes in order to break down most of the proteins that cause symptoms in allergic infants.  What this also means is that the protein content is broken down into smaller proteins, making it easier for the baby to digest.  What is important to know about hydrolyzed formulas are whether they are partially hydrolyzed or extensively hydrolyzed. 

Partially hydrolyzed formulas are often recommended by health care professionals for infants who are allergy-prone/ have a family history of allergies, in order to prevent these allergies from occurring in the infant.  The higher the level of hydrolyses/ the more the protein is broken down, the better the product would be in preventing allergies, reducing the allergenicity of the product. 

Extensively hydrolysed formulas are indicated for the treatment of a cow’s milk protein allergy.  However, if you ever do want to feed these formulas to your little one, it is best to do on your healthcare professionals’ advice.  You’ll want to make sure that this is the best decision for their overall health. A medical professional’s opinion will help to ensure that.

Read our in-depth guide to the best-hydrolyzed baby formulas here

3. Soy-based formula:

Soy based formulas are made from soybeans supplemented with vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.  However, soy formulas are even more different from breastmilk than cow’s milk. This are not generally recommended as a first choice infant formula.  Some healthcare professionals might still recommend soy based formulas for babies with a cow’s milk allergy. It is important to know that it is common for infants with a milk allergy to also be sensitive to soy protein. The choice to use soy formula in this particular case is also debatable.

If your goal is to find the top-rated baby formula in South Africa and the formula closest to breast milk in South Africa, this probably isn’t the best choice for you.

4. Special formula:

Special formulations are available for special medical purposes such as for premature babies, babies that suffer from severe cow’s milk protein allergies or maybe metabolic disorders.  However, these infant formula products should be used only on the recommendation of a healthcare professional like your baby’s pediatrician.

However, so many times our little ones struggle with more common tummy troubles such as colic, reflux, constipation, diarrhoea and for these conditions there are also infant formulas on the market that are specifically designed to address these problems, in my case i used Novalac as they have a whole selection of products for each of these problems.

In addition, specialized formulas are available for premature Baby’s and babies who have specific medical conditions. By consulting your pediatrician, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re buying your child the best special formula milk for a baby 0 – 6 months old in South Africa.

Why use formula instead of regular milk?

Commercial Baby formulas provide all the nutrients that most Baby’s need. Milk from animals or milk substitutes from plant sources doesn’t contain these nutrients in a healthy balance for a Baby. For example, Baby’s younger than age 1 who drink cow’s milk are at risk of iron deficiency. Such iron deficiency is why it’s especially important to do your research so you can find the top-rated baby formula in South Africa.

What Baby formula preparations are available?

Ready-to-use formula is undoubtedly the most convenient – no mixing or measuring required, just open and serve. It’s the kind of formula that hospitals often give to newborns. It’s hygienic and especially helpful when you don’t know whether you’ll have access to safe water.

The convenience of ready-to-use formula comes at a price. This kind costs about 20% more per ounce than powdered formula. The containers also take up more storage space in your cupboard and more space in the landfill.

Once opened, the ready-to-use formula has a short lifespan—it must be used within 48 hours. Also, because the liquid formula is often darker than powdered formula, many moms complain that it’s more likely to stain clothes. All of this is important to take into consideration when trying to decide which is the best formula milk for a baby 0 – 6 months old. 

Liquid Concentrate Formula requires mixing equal parts of water and formula. Compared to the ready-to-use formula, the concentrate is less expensive and takes up less storage space. Compared to powdered formula, it’s a little easier to prepare but more costly. Because this formula takes equal parts water and formula, you’ll want to make sure that you have access to safe water. If you’re not sure about the safety of your water source, buy a pH testing kit to find out. 

Powdered Formula is the most economical and the most environmentally friendly formula option. It takes up the least amount of space in transport, in your pantry, and your trash can. Like liquid concentrate formula, you’ll want to make sure that you have a water supply that is safe for your child to use before investing in this. 

The powdered formula takes more time to prepare than other types of formula. You must follow the directions exactly, but it has a one-month shelf life after the container has been opened. As with liquid concentrate formula, you can mix up just the right amount (as much or as little as you want). Mixing the formula as you need it is especially helpful if you’re a breastfeeding mom who may only need a supplemental bottle occasionally.

Be sure to follow any mixing instructions carefully.

What’s the difference between generic and brand-name Baby formula?

All Baby milk formulas sold in South Africa must meet the nutrient standards set by the FDA. Although manufacturers might vary in their formula recipes, the FDA requires that all formulas contain the minimum recommended amount — and no more than the maximum amount — of nutrients that Baby’s need.

Generic brands of formula must meet the FDA’s requirements for nutrients in the formula, so in many instances, the only difference between generic and brand name is the price.

Whether you’re buying generic or name brand, take a minute to look at the label before you purchase the formula. Specific ingredients do vary from brand to brand, and this can make a difference to your baby. Looking at the ingredients is an especially important factor to consider if your child has an allergy problem. In this case, finding the best formula milk for a baby 0 – 6 months old in South Africa may take a little digging.

 How do formulas differ?

There are five main components to formula: Carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals, plus other nutrients in smaller quantities. What makes one brand of formula different from the next are the specific carbohydrates and proteins as well as any additional ingredients. For example, casein and whey are two kinds of cow’s milk proteins found in various proportions in different brands of cow’s-milk-based formula.

It’s very easy to get confused by all of the items listed on the ingredient label. Below is a guide through the maze of ingredients and a comparison to the ones found in breast milk.

Carbohydrate: Lactose is the main carbohydrate in both breast milk and formulas made from cow’s-milk. Corn maltodextrin is sometimes used as a secondary source of carbohydrate in formula. Lactose-free, soy, and special formulas contain one or more of the following carbohydrates: Sucrose, corn maltodextrin, modified cornstarch, or corn syrup solids.

Protein: Breast milk contains about 60 percent whey and 40 percent casein. Most formulas have similar protein content. Others contain 100 percent whey. If you want to find the baby formula closest to breast milk in South Africa, this will be an essential factor to take into consideration. 

Partially hydrolyzed formulas are not hypoallergenic—don’t use one if your baby has a protein allergy, or even if you suspect she may have one. However, compared to standard cow’s milk formula, partially hydrolysed whey formulas have been shown in studies to reduce eczema. If you suspect that your child needs a partially hydrolysed formula or extensively hydrolyzed formula, be sure to consult your child’s paediatrician. They’ll be able to give you more information (especially regarding nutrients specific formulas may not have) before you make your final decision. 

Extensively hydrolyzed formulas contain proteins that are completely broken down into their building blocks (amino acids), which allow them to be easily absorbed. These formulas are considered hypoallergenic and are used for babies who have a protein allergy.

Soy formulas contain soy protein isolate – a processed soybean ingredient that is almost pure protein (at least 90 percent). Some brands use partially hydrolyzed soy protein (protein is partially broken down) to allow easier digestion.

Fat: Breast milk contains a blend of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, and saturated fat. Formulas use a variety of oils to match the fat makeup of breast milk. They include soy oil, coconut oil, palm or palm olein oil, and high oleic sunflower oil.

Although palm and palm olein oil is widely used, research has shown that these fats can reduce the absorption of fat and calcium. This would mean that your baby would not absorb as much fat and calcium as she would from a formula that doesn’t contain this oil.

Medium-chain triglycerides require less effort to digest and are more easily absorbed. They’re used in special formulas for premature infants and for infants who have trouble digesting or absorbing nutrients.

The federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the addition of two long-chain fatty acids to formula: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid), which are now standard ingredients in formula. Both of these substances are found in breast milk when the mother’s diet is adequate, and both are important for brain and vision development.

Babies get DHA and ARA from their mother during the third trimester, but the transfer is cut short when a baby is born prematurely. All babies need a steady supply of both substances throughout their first year.

Vitamins and minerals: Most words on the ingredient label describe vitamins and minerals. These words can be hard to figure out – ferrous sulfate is iron, for example. Sodium ascorbate is vitamin C, and calcium pantothenate is vitamin B5.

The AAP recommends that all healthy babies who aren’t breastfed exclusively be given iron-fortified formula until their first birthday. It’s important that babies receive the minimum recommended amount of iron (0.27 milligrams [mg] daily for infants 0 to 6 months; 11 mg daily for babies 7 to 12 months) to prevent iron-deficiency anemia. Iron is especially important during their early months. Iron is one of the vital minerals that is needed to develop a strong and healthy body. 

Iron is vital to the blood’s ability to circulate oxygen, which all of the body’s cells need to function properly. Studies have shown that getting enough iron in the first year of life is important for brain development. A baby’s iron stores are established in the third trimester, so premature babies need extra help in getting plenty of iron.

Most formulas contain at least 4 mg of iron per liter, although “low-iron” formulas are still on the shelves. These were developed years ago in response to the misconception that iron causes constipation. The AAP would like these low-iron formulas to be discontinued or labeled as nutritionally inadequate.

Nucleotides: These are the building blocks of DNA and RNA, naturally present in breast milk. They have several functions and may aid in immune system development. Different brands of formula have different amounts of nucleotides added.

Rice starch: Rice starch is added to “anti-regurgitation” formulas. Your doctor may recommend this type of formula to alleviate your baby’s acid reflux.

Dietary fiber: Soy fiber is added to soy formula for the temporary treatment of diarrhea. The only formula containing fiber is Similac Expert Care for Diarrhea, which is clinically shown to reduce the duration of diarrhea.

Amino acids: Amino acids such as taurine, methionine, and carnitine are added to soy formulas, and sometimes to cow’s-milk formulas, to match the amino acids in breast milk.

Probiotics and prebiotics: Probiotics are a type of live bacteria that may help prevent intestinal infections and inflammation. Prebiotics boost the numbers of probiotic bacteria in the gut.

The AAP says some studies show probiotics and prebiotics can play a role in keeping your child’s digestive system healthy. This can also be unsafe for babies with compromised immune systems and certain other medical conditions. Always check with your baby’s doctor before using these formulas. Any benefit from probiotics and prebiotics goes away once your baby stops using them.

How important is the expiration date on Baby formula?

Don’t buy or use outdated Baby formula. If the expiration date has passed, you can’t be sure of the formula’s quality. While checking the expiration date, also inspect the condition of the formula container. Don’t buy or use formula from containers with bulges, dents, leaks or rust spots. Formula in a damaged container may be unsafe.

How long should a child drink Baby formula?

Baby formula is generally recommended until age 1, followed by whole milk until age 2. Talk to your child’s doctor for specific guidance. Reduced-fat or skim milk generally isn’t appropriate before age 2 because it doesn’t have enough calories or fat to promote early development.

What about adding cereal or milk to my baby’s formula?

Never add any ingredients – including vitamins, cereal, fatty acids, olive oil, regular cow’s milk, or anything else – to your baby’s formula unless your doctor recommends it. Formula is a carefully developed substance with precise amounts of dozens of nutrients. Adding anything to formula could jeopardize your baby’s health.

Olive oil, for example, can lead to permanent lung damage and even death, because of the danger of inhaling the oil into the lungs when spitting up. Because cow’s milk is so hard for babies to digest, never mix cow’s milk with formula. You need to wait until the baby is at least 1 year old. And adding breast milk to formula is a waste of breast milk if your baby doesn’t drink the entire bottle.

What if I’m still not sure which formula is right for my baby?

If you’ve decided to feed your baby formula and you’re still baffled by the many options available, or you’re considering switching formulas, talk with your baby’s doctor. He’ll consider your baby’s health, age, and nutritional needs and make an appropriate recommendation.

He can also monitor your baby’s reactions and investigate any symptoms. Don’t try to diagnose an allergy or sensitivity on your own. You could miss a serious underlying condition or prevent your baby from getting adequate nutrition.

With all of that in mind;  we’ve rounded up the best formula milk for every kind of baby. Got a baby who’s a picky eater, or one with a sensitive stomach? There’s a formula for that, too! From GMO-free and organic options to a goat’s milk version and hypoallergenic picks. *Remeber that not every baby will agree with or like these formulas. Keep an eye on your baby and speak to your doctor if you are unsure about anything.

S26 Gold Infant Formula

Nestle’s Nan Gold

Baby formula South Africa - Nan

Baby’s Only Organic Dha & Ara Lactorelief – Toddler Formula

south african baby formula

Aptamil Profutura Infant Formula

Baby formula South Africa
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