This article is written in conjunction with Mamamag.
Push your pram down any supermarket aisle and you’re faced with endless choices of baby formula. Between the marketing claims, the eye-catching packaging, and the confusing labelling, how do parents choose between the good, the bad, and the gimmicks?
It is widely accepted that breast milk is the ideal nutrition for any baby, but not everyone can breastfeed. So if that’s the case, what should you be looking for?
In Australia, there are strict standards surrounding the composition of infant formula, it is in fact, the most regulated food product on the market. All formulas on Australian supermarket shelves are made to have approximately the same amount of energy (kilojoules), protein, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals.
Emily Dupuche, author of Food Babies Love, admits she was daunted by the task of choosing a baby formula for her children. She started by first looking at those ‘buzz words’, the most common terms seen on formula labelling.
Organic foods are everywhere these days, and that includes formula. So what exactly does that mean?
Well, it makes perfect sense that we’d want to give our tiniest treasures the cleanest food possible. But unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
What makes organic formula different to others is how the base ingredients are farmed. In order for a formula to be deemed, ‘certified organic’, means the farms where the dairy is sourced, and the vegetables grown for oils, need to meet strict criteria. Put simply, these ingredients are sourced from farms that do not use pesticides or any other form of artificial or synthetic chemicals.
Keep in mind, this is an Australian standard, and beware of any so-called organic formulas that are not manufactured here. Different countries have different standards on what can be deemed organic.
We’ve all heard of them, but what are they, and what do they mean for our bub? Well it seems they go hand in hand when it comes to good gut health for our bubs.
Probiotics are the ‘good’ bacteria that, research suggests, keep baby’s digestive system healthy.
Prebiotics create the environment to help that good bacteria grow.
Prebiotics and probiotics are naturally found in breastmilk, and some strains are added to infant formula. Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus are the most common types of probiotics added. Clinical trials have found that these bacteria could assist in preventing disorders such as colic, eczema, and food allergies.
Gold formulas contain a specific type of ‘good fat’, specifically, longchain polyunsaturated fatty acids, or LCPUFA’s.
LCPUFAs, which are naturally occurring in breastmilk, have been found to be crucial in brain and eye development. DHA, Lutein, and ARA are among those proven to be the most beneficial.
After vast research, Emily concluded parents should be looking for these key ingredients that replicate what is found in a mother’s breastmilk:
- DHA (also known as Docosahexaenoic Acid): is an omega 3 fatty acid that supports brain development and health.
- Lutein: is a vitamin that maintains healthy cells in the eyes, and supports visual development for babies and toddlers.
- ARA (also known as Arachidonic Acid): is an omega 6 fatty acid that supports brain development during infancy.
- Magnesium: regulates muscle and nerve functions in the body.
Emily’s tip is to find a formula with those vital ingredients, but also says parents should opt for organic when possible.
“Organic formulas mean the ingredients haven’t been exposed to pesticides, herbicides or other chemicals during their growth” she says.
One of the Australian formula brands that is organic and includes all of Emily’s list above is the newly launched Nature One Dairy organics range, which is an inexpensive option found at Priceline stores across Australia. With Melbourne the base of it’s manufacturing hub, Nature One Dairy has promised Australians a product that won’t run off shelves. This is because Nature One Dairy is already widely available in China and Asia.
Nick Dimopoulos of Nature One Dairy says the company has been growing in the wake of the emergence of new organic Australian farms. In reaction to the downturn of the dairy industry, and more competition in the organic formula market, this means organic prices are now comparable.
“Shop around,” Nick says, “supermarkets tend to inflate prices of premium formula exorbitantly, but places like Priceline and Chemist Warehouse carry alternatives which offer better health benefits because they’re a pharmaceutical outlet, and it means they can be more selective.”
Nature One Dairy Organic milk formula is available in select Coles and Priceline Pharmacies in Australia nation wide.