By now you know that breastfeeding is the best choice for your child, however, there are circumstances when a mother may not be in a position to breastfeed. Alternatively, the mother might decide to supplement breast milk with baby formula. These formulas are great breast milk alternatives and offer more freedom and flexibility to mothers. In addition, formula feeding make it possible for a caregiver to know how much the baby is eating. So, since you want the best for you infant, how do you choose the best baby formula for your toddler? Here are the basics rules to follow:

Begin with cow’s milk
According to Dannelle Fisher, vice chair of pediatrics at Santa Monica’s Providence Saint John’s Health Center, babies tend to tolerate cow-based formulas better compared to soy milk. In addition, cow-based formulas cost less compared to soy-based variations.

Though cow-based formulas are better, there are circumstances when you need to settle for soy milk. This is especially critical if your baby cannot tolerate cow-based milk due to milk allergy. According to Fisher, soy protein has been known to cause hormone-like effects. If you suspect your infant has milk allergy, do not switch to soy milk before consulting a pediatrician. This is because very few infants are unable to digest lactose. In addition, the American Academy of Pediatrics says that there is no conclusive data showing that opting for soy milk improves colic or fussiness.

Go for brand names
When searching for the best baby formula, always go for brand names. According to Fisher, this is not the place to look for great bargains. Why? Simple, though brand names and generics seems to have a list with similar ingredients, they are not necessarily the same.

Top baby formula brands go out of their way to conduct extensive research into clinical outcomes for infants. On the other hand, companies selling generic variations spend less time and money on researching their products and the baby’s outcomes. If you intend to look for bargains, Fisher advises you try cutting corners in other ways such as in generic diapers but not with generic formula.

Rather than go for generic milk because it costs less, consider saving money by purchasing powdered formula since it cost less compared to ready-to-drink formula. However, you will have to measure, mix it with water and shake the mixture thoroughly before feeding it to your infant.

Buy age-specific formula
Buying age-specific formula is a great way to get the best infant formula for your child. Normally, formulas for newborns have different compositions of nutrients such as minerals and vitamins compared to the formula for a toddler or a 6-month old.

Look out for add-ons on labels
Formula manufacturers usually try to outdo each other in an effort to sell their products which can get quite confusing when searching for the best baby formula. However, there are some things you can look out for to sniff out ideal formulas.
Labels that contain probiotics and prebiotics are a good way, to begin with. While both of these are naturally found in breast milk, some strains are added to baby formulas to enhance them.

Probiotics are friendly bacteria which help to keep your baby’s digestive system working optimally. On the other hand, prebiotics creates an environment that assists the good bacteria to grow.

Studies show that probiotics are great for treating and preventing disorders such as eczema and infectious diarrhea in children. Other studies suggest that probiotics can reduce the risk of food-related allergies, urinary tract infections and asthma as well as help to alleviate colic.

Some manufacturers also enhance their formula with iron which is great for a child’s development. Normally, breast milk contain high levels of iron, but after 6 months, your baby’s requirements for iron might be more than what breastmilk can provide. For that reason, buying formula fortified with iron will supplement breast milk.

Ultimately, when searching for the best baby formula, you can rest easy knowing that all these products are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.