The statement that mother’s milk has no viable substitute for the child’s wellbeing in the fist few months is true, but only to a certain degree. If you simply can’t breast feed, then it has very little relevance to you. In this case parents, and particularly mother, should not worry too much and look for a viable alternative. Everything has a solution.
Cause and reaction
Even if lactation seems like the most natural thing in the world, there can still be hurdles in the process. Whether it is stress because of work, medication received during labour, or the consequences of caesarean birth, there can be many reasons impeding the natural milk producing reflex. Many mother’s particularly regret not having had the opportunity to form that early bond with the child. They furthermore worry that the infant will have missed out completely on all the nutrients from the mother’s milk. Both of these problems have good solutions.
Substitute for breast milk
Any substitute for breast milk needs to be carefully chosen in order to assure that all important nutrients are present in the right amounts. The only safe solution are probably industrially manufactures infant formulas that have to abide to the strict EU guidelines for such products. These products can be cow milk or soy based. If the base is cow milk it will certainly be indicated on the label.
During the first four moths the most adequate formulas are those using the term ‘PRE’, as they are generally formulated to be as close as possible to mother’s milk, both in composition and in texture. This will generally help the amounts drank and the pace of drinking.
Infant formula that is defined as stage 1, often carries starch and other carbohydrates on top of lactose that might not really be necessary. Children can easily be overfed with these products. To make sure you choose the right milk formula, thoroughly read the label and consult your paediatrician.
Generally speaking, PRE or stage 1 formula can be given up until one year of age. They are indicate for use up until 6 months of age, but can actually be given all the way to 12 months, and complementing baby food at this stage. Although there are stage 2 and 3 formulas, these are often too sweet and too high in energy to be really recommendable. In any case, consult your paediatrician for his or her recommendation.
Tip: In order to satisfy the sucking urge of your baby, you should choose a baby bottle with a relatively small opening.
Special case of allergy risk
If one or both parents have allergies, your child should probably start on a hypoallergenic formula. This way you might reduce or delay the onset of an allergy. These specific formulas have a modified protein component and are referred to as HA. Here the proteins are split up in order to allow for easier digestion. If there is still a reaction to the cow milk protein, you might have to opt for a 100% hydrolysed formula, where the protein particles are even more spilt up. These products have a very bitter flavour, often to the dislike of the infant. If you have to use such an ultra hydrolysed formula, do make sure that it also has sufficient amounts of calcium.
If you are not able to breast feed your child you should try and compensate by having as close physical contact with him or her as possible. Don’t sit your child down as much, but rather keep it close to you body. In order not to strain your back too much there are handy slings or wraps that can help you support the baby’s weight. Regarding the baby’s sleep don’t be too ambitious to have him sleep alone just yet. If your baby is restless it is perfectly fine if he sleeps with you for some time, in a little bed by your side.
Even when feeding with the bottle you can simulate the breast feeding sensation a little by holding your child as close as possible to your body. This way he can perceive your heart beat and your smell and clearly identify you as his mother. Additionally, try to create a relaxed atmosphere, this way the feeding experience will create a special mother and child moment.