Discussing Formula with Dr. Mona Amin of PedsDocTalk
Making the decision to introduce formula can be tough-- especially if you get pushback from those in your circle. That’s why we reached out to some of our favorite medical providers (and baby experts on Instagram!) to get the scoop about why they chose to supplement or formula feed.
Today we’re bringing you an interview with Dr. Mona Amin, the pediatrician and mom behind @PedsDocTalk-- a fantastic resource for all things infant and child health. With nearly 50,000 followers on Instagram, Dr. Mona is highly regarded by moms around the world for her easy-to-understand content and authentic perspective on parenthood.
We’re thankful that she agreed to answer some of our community’s most pressing questions and we hope it encourages you that using formula is totally fine. As a reminder, Dr. Mona’s answers are for the purpose of education only and do not constitute medical advice. If you have a concern about your child’s growth or what formula to use, please consult your child’s pediatrician. Read on to learn from Dr. Mona!
Tell Us About Yourself…
I am a board-certified pediatrician through the American Academy of Pediatrics. I believe that, as adults, a large part of our health habits begins in childhood. My mission is to help parents understand how they can implement strategies to help foster healthy habits from a young age to raise well-adjusted children. I love my husband Gaurav, our son Ryaan, my dog Shiloh, working out, and traveling!
What Do We Need to Know About Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy?
Cow’s Milk Protein’s Allergy (CMPA) affects 3 in 100 babies in the first year of life. This is different from lactose intolerance (which is rare in children under 5 years of age). CMPA is an allergy to the protein in milk. The good news is that many children outgrow this allergy! Babies with CMPA are monitored by their pediatrician and/or a GI doctor to determine when the introduction of dairy can occur.
Babies with CMPA are not more likely to develop lactose intolerance in the future. Parents commonly mistake gas in their baby for lactose intolerance. Again, lactose intolerance in babies is rare! Any changes, including to a lactose-free formula, should be discussed with your child’s doctor.
How Can Constipation be Treated in a Formula-Fed Baby?
Constipation can be tough for babies and parents. Typically, prune juice is a great, safe remedy. I recommend 1 ounce for how many months the baby is (with a max of 4oz a day). You can mix it directly in a formula bottle or use a syringe and give it to the baby that way. This can be done as needed or every 2-3 days depending on how bad the constipation is. Water intake with meals after 6 months can also help (in addition to formula or breastmilk).
Should I Add Supplements to my Baby’s Formula?
Formulas are filled with vitamins and minerals. While some parents like to add other options, like DHA or probiotics, they are not necessary to add. While there is more research coming out about probiotics in formula helping with colic symptoms (specifically the strain Lactobacillus reuteri), it’s important to remember that over-the-counter probiotic supplements are not regulated in the United States. Clear any use of probiotic supplements with your child’s doctor as there are some instances where we do not recommend them (namely ultra-premature babies or babies with low birth weight).
If probiotics or DHA is important to you, find a formula that has them included. The use of these supplements in formulas is regulated and researched for safety and efficacy.
Does a Rash Mean I Should Switch Formulas?
A rash alone is not an indication to switch formulas, but always speak to your child’s doctor! An eczematous rash (rough patches of skin on cheeks, face, elbow creases, stomach, or back of knees) in conjunction with other GI symptoms can be a sign of a milk protein allergy. GI symptoms to discuss with your doctor along with eczema include severe constipation where home-remedies like prune juice do not help, mucous in the stool, blood in the stool, and/or reflux symptoms.
Are Organic Formulas Better for Babies?
Choose what works best for your child! Many times, a baby is doing great on a non-organic formula and a mother is told by a friend to switch. There is no need to switch formulas if one is working for your baby. I support the use of organic formulas (organic European formulas like HiPP and Holle are great) and I also support the use of standard formulas which are great too. It’s important to find the right formula to fit your baby.
When is Spit-Up a Concern?
Spit-up is very normal in infants! That said, spit-up is a concern if:
- Baby is not gaining weight on their own growth curve
- Spit up is projectile
- Spit up is green
- Baby is arching back and very uncomfortable immediately after feeds
If your baby has one of these symptoms, please discuss your concerns with their pediatrician.
What’s the Best Option for Toddlers After Formula?
Most children can be transitioned to dairy products; specifically whole milk. If parents want to skip cow’s milk, alternatives include goat’s milk, soy milk, pea milk, or almond milk. In my opinion, the best plant-based alternative to cow’s milk would be soy, pea, or almond. Cow’s milk has 8g of protein and 8g of fat. Soy has 7g of protein and 4.5g of fat, whereas pea has 8g of protein and 4.5g of fat. Toddlers need more fat than older kids hence why soy and pea are preferred alternatives if you’re not using cow’s milk.
(Little Bundle note: Information about toddler formulas can be found here.)
What Else Should Parents Know About Formula Feeding?
The decision to formula feed can be a tough one for many, especially for mothers who were adamant about breastfeeding. Rest assured that formula feeding is a great way to feed your baby, and in conjunction with a nurturing environment, formula-fed babies have outcomes similar to breastfed babies. I formula feed my son as well!
Choosing an infant formula can be tough as there are many choices. To navigate this, I recorded a podcast episode on The Pedsdoctalk Podcast about choosing a formula. Check it out wherever you listen to podcasts, Episode 30: The Formula of Infant Formula.
Thanks, Dr. Mona!
If you have additional questions about formula feeding, we have answers for you! Check out our blog for more information or send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org for personalized support. We’re confident that Little Bundle can help you find a formula that you can feel great about.