Thinking about using an infant formula for your baby? Wondering what’s in formula and how to go about selecting one to use?

Here are some simple facts available from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about infant formula that should give you a better understanding about how to buy and use formula products.

We Know: 7 Facts About Infant Formula

What is infant formula?

Infant formula is a liquid or reconstituted powder that you feed to your baby as a substitute for human milk.

Is infant formula regulated?

Yes. The composition of commercial infant formula is controlled and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and every product sold in the U.S. as infant formula must meet FDA standards.

What’s the best way to select which infant formula to use?

If you have questions about choosing which formula to buy, the best thing to do is ask your doctor.

If I use formula, will my baby get everything she or he needs?

Yes. Infants fed infant formulas don’t need additional nutrients. (However, if you feed your child a low-iron formula, check with your doctor about the need for a supplement.)

Do generic or house brand formulas have all the required nutrients?

Yes. All infant formulas marketed in the U. S. are required to meet the nutrient specifications listed in FDA regulations.

What about counterfeit formulas on the market?

Most counterfeit formulas are infant formula products that have been relabeled because their ‘use by’ date has expired, or to misrepresent the quality or quantities of ingredients or the contents of the product.

Always look for any changes in formula color, smell, or taste. Also, make sure the lot numbers and "use by" dates on the containers and boxes are the same, check containers for damage, and call the manufacturer's toll-free number with any concerns or questions.

Are the new formulas with fatty acids in them better or worse?

Some manufacturers now add the fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) to formula. Here’s what the FDA says about these new additions:

"The scientific evidence is mixed. Some studies in infants suggest that including these fatty acids in infant formulas may have positive effects on visual function and neural development over the short term. Other studies in infants do not confirm these benefits. There are no currently available published reports from clinical studies that address whether any long-term beneficial effects exist."

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