Important Things To Look Out For When Buying Formula Milk

Important Things To Look Out For When Buying Formula Milk

Mothers looking for the best formula milk for their little ones may find it surprising that there are so many choices to the point that they can be overwhelming. From the standard powdered formula to speciality baby formula and the various ingredients used, the expansiveness of the baby formula market means deciding between brands is more complicated than ever.


Do note The World Health Organisation highly recommends breastfeeding as the primary source of nutrition for your baby during the first six months of their life. Other forms of feeding, including bottle feeding, can have adverse consequences for breastfeeding. Beyond the age of six months, parents can incorporate age-appropriate foods into their babies' diets while breastfeeding continues for a few more years. It's vital to consult a paediatrician if you are unable to breastfeed and need to resort to infant formula.


In this article, we've collated the information below on what to look for when choosing the best formula for your baby, aged above 12 months, to help you navigate this issue more efficiently.


Baby formula and breast milk

Before diving into the factors to consider in baby formula, we must first understand its need and how they work to substitute breast milk as the baby grows. Baby formulas are designed to be a highly nutrient-dense food source that promotes the growth of babies by mimicking human breast milk and its nutritional composition.


Factors to consider when shopping for baby formula

1. Type

There are mainly four types of baby formulas available: soy-protein-based, cow’s milk protein-based, hypoallergenic and specialised formulas.


  • Milk-based formulas are mostly made with cow’s milk, but if your child is allergic or sensitive to it, goat's milk is also available in Singapore. They both contain vitamins, minerals, and vegetable oils and are generally iron-fortified and made for healthy, full-term babies.
  • Soy-based baby formulas are for infants born with congenital galactosemia or lactase deficiency. Additionally, they are also used by parents who don't want their children to consume animal protein. Unless your doctor instructs you otherwise, only feed iron-fortified soy formula to your child. Do note that soy baby formula is ill-advised for preterm newborns or babies who were born underweight. Take into account that there may be some cross-reactivity between soy and milk formulas, especially if the infant has an allergy to milk-based formulas.
  • Hypoallergenic baby formulas are meant for babies who are allergic to soy and milk proteins and are thus unable to consume cow’s milk or even soy formulas. The Hypoallergenic formula contains proteins that have already been broken down, so they are more digestible.
  • Speciality baby formulas are a big category ranging from formulas with low sodium to those with rice starch that adds a thicker texture. A common example is hydrolysed formulas, which are made for babies with low tolerance or allergies to milk-based formulas. There are also baby formulas with ARA and omega fatty acids, which appear to improve vision and facilitate babies' brain and nerve development.


In addition, they also come in several forms, namely powder, concentrates, and premixed ready-to-use formulas that can be immediately served to babies.


Consulting your baby's paediatrician for recommendations is ideal for determining which types of baby formula suit your little one, given their tolerances and health conditions. They can guide you to the best products and considerably narrow your options. Remember that all formulas meet strict nutrition requirements from governing bodies such as the FDA, so your baby will most likely be fine as you try out different brands.


2. Nutritional ingredients

 To promote the proper growth of your baby, a quality baby formula must contain certain nutritional ingredients that play a significant role in their development. However, some of the added ingredients may not be optimal for your child's development. Either way, it's vital to familiarise yourself with them before making your purchase.


  • Omega-3 fatty acids

Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which is an omega-3 fatty acid, and arachidonic acid (ARA), which is an omega-6 fatty acid, are always present in breast milk and can usually be found in commercial infant formula. These fatty acids can be used safely, and they promote growth as well as the development of the nervous and visual systems.


  • Probiotics

The probiotics in infant formula work to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the child's intestines and inhibit the growth of potentially infectious and inflammatory "unfriendly" organisms.


  • Palm oil

Palm oil is occasionally included in newborn formulae to mimic the fatty acid composition of human milk and produce comparable quantities of palmitic acid. However, there are differences in the positions of the fatty acids on the triacylglyceride between human milk and palm oil that can influence fat absorption and have unforeseen physiological effects. Clinical research shows that in contrast to formulas without palm oil, infant formulas with palm oil result in decreased fat, DHA, palmitate, calcium, bone mineralization absorption, soft stools, and growth (weight accretion).


  • HMOs & 2FL

After lipids and lactose, human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) come in as the third most commonly found solid component and a crucial part of human milk. They are a collection of intricate, indigestible sugars that are both structurally and physiologically varied. By fostering healthy gut bacteria, enhancing the function of the gut barrier, and preventing pathogens from entering the body, HMOs directly boost the immune system.


Prior to this, the only source of HMOs in large amounts was human milk. Recently, however, 2FL has been synthesised and was discovered to have the same structural makeup as the 2FL present in human milk. Currently, several marketed infant formulae contain 2FL HMO.


  • GOS 

GOS is a type of prebiotic, also known as galacto-oligosaccharides. Prebiotics are a vital source of food for intestinal flora, sometimes referred to as gut microbiota, which is a complex community of bacteria that maintains the health of the gut and the body as a whole.


Infant formula containing trace amounts of GOS can promote human milk-like intestinal Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli, increase faecal pH reduction, and increase stool frequency.


3. Extra ingredients


Some formula products include rice starch, omega-3 fats, and other supplemental doses for the specific needs of babies with reflux and other conditions, as well as those requiring catch-up growth due to low birth weight or premature birth. Again, speak to your baby's paediatrician to know if your little one needs formula with supplemental ingredients.


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4. The label


The label is the most important thing to read when buying infant formula.

Some things to check for include the kind of formula, expiration date, and any specific instructions. For instance, certain formulas are made for children with particular medical issues, such as allergies or sensitivities.


It's crucial to carefully read the label and choose the appropriate formula for your child. You'll want to carefully check the expiration date since expired formula poses a risk to infants. Make sure to adhere to any particular recommendations and instructions on the label, such as how to prepare the formula or store it. In doing this, you'll be able to ensure adequate and quality nutrition for your baby.




Baby formula is a nutritious food source and a crucial part of a baby's development as they transition from breastfeeding. Hopefully, the contents listed here helped demystify the complexity around the various types of baby formula and gave you a better idea of what to look for.

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