Best Baby Formula For Preemies
Preemie formula is designed to provide more nutrients, protein, and vitamins than regular baby formula to help a preemie grow and gain weight.
About 15 million babies are born preterm each year, amounting to more than 1 in 10 of all births around the world, according to the World Health Organization.
What is a Preemie?
A full-term baby has been in utero for at least 36 weeks, if not all 40 weeks or more of pregnancy. Babies are known as preterm or preemies when a little one is born before 36 weeks. According to this article from the CNN-Health the rate of premature birth in the United States is climbing. Having a premature baby is tough. It can feel like you're having an entirely different experience of parenthood to friends with full-term babies, even once your baby is safely home with you.
For preemies, breast milk is essential to help protect them from infections, develop a healthy gut and meet their milestones. But most babies don't set the ability to suckle before around 34 weeks, so they might need to be tube fed at first, usually either with expressed milk or donor milk.
Once they're able to feed, you might be able to breastfeed them full-time or find that you need to top up or switch to formula. If your premature baby does need formula, your pediatrician might recommend a specialist preemie formula.
What Is Preemie Formula?
As mentioned earlier, Preemie Formulas have more calories than other formulas to help your baby put on weight faster and are specifically designed to boost the growth and development of premature babies. Doctors and pediatricians recommend breast milk from the baby's mother as the best food for premature infants, but sometimes a mother can't breastfeed.
Regular baby formula has adequate nutrition for full-term babies but isn't enough for preemies. Because they were born early, preemies need more nutritional support to gain weight and grow, particularly when it comes to bone growth.
The 27th to 40th week of pregnancy, called the third trimester, is when babies develop their bones, and preemies miss out on all or part of this stage of development. Preemie formula contains higher amounts of calcium and phosphate to support bone growth. Newborns also need extra folic acid and vitamins D, E, K, and iron.
The United States ranks as one of the ten countries with the highest number of preterm births after India, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Indonesia.
Types of Preemie Formula
Not all babies will respond well to standard preemie formulas, and there are different types of baby formulas to fit a baby's special needs:
Amino Acid-Based Formulas
Amino acid-based formulas are recommended for preterm babies with cow's milk allergies or trouble digesting fat. These formulas use simple proteins called amino acids instead of protein from milk.
These formulas are designed for preemies who can't digest lactose, the sugars in cow's milk. They may benefit from a lactose-free formula. However, some formulas do not contain lactose but are still made from dairy proteins.
Hypoallergenic baby formulas are designed for newborns with an intolerance to cow milk protein. Due to the hydrolyzed milk protein babies are better capable of digesting it as it is smaller and softer. Research has shown that hypoallergenic baby formula can prevents atopic disease and treats milk protein intolerance in high-risk infants.
Regardless of what formula parents choose, it is incredibly important that these little ones get pure nutrition. With minimal research, parents are often surprised to see that there are basic guidelines for what nutrients should or can be included in big (US) brand baby formula.
European baby formulas are only sourced from certified farms that consider the entire farming ecosystem. Soil, seeds, plants, animals, and humans are a priority. You will never find hidden dangers such as pesticides, chemical fertilizers, or genetic modifications at any part of the process from planting to processing, which can be incredibly detrimental to a premature baby's delicate system.
Choosing a Preemie Formula
When you bring your preemie home, you'll undoubtedly be armed with plenty of advice from your hospital on feeding. If your doctor has recommended you use a particular formula, stick with that unless your little one does not respond well or your pediatrician/doctors change their recommendation.
If you're choosing formula for your preemie, remember that their little tummy is likely more sensitive than most full-term babies, so they may find some formulas hard to digest. They may be prone to issues like reflux and more likely to develop allergies.
Look for a natural, easy-to-digest starch-free formula that is designed for the tiniest babies. Starch can be great at providing energy, but preemies often find it's just too hard to break down. To help you navigate through this, we have created Formula Comparison Chart. It illustrates the differences between the baby formulas across the most important categories. The following Organic Formulas that we carry are gentle and starch-free:
We also carry Hypoallergenic baby formulas like HiPP HA Pre, designed for babies with cow's milk intolerance. Studies have shown that hypoallergenic formula prevents atopic disease and treats milk protein intolerance in high-risk infants.
Preemie Formula Side Effects
Most preemie formula side effects are digestion-related and include gas, upset stomach, or diarrhea. If a baby has an intolerance or allergy to cow's milk, they may have digestive issues and skin issues (like a rash or eczema). Tell your baby's doctor right away if your baby shows any of these symptoms.
When to stop with Preemie Formula
If your doctor recommends a premature baby formula, it's important to keep using it for as long as they recommend.
Depending on your baby's unique needs, that may be until your original due date or several months later. Often, doctors look for the baby to achieve catch-up growth (rapid growth marked by notable weight gain, height increase, and increased head circumference).
From preemie formula, your doctor may transition your baby to regular infant formula. Specific feeding plans will vary, as every baby is unique with their own health needs.
Not sure which formula to choose?
Our dedicated support team will work with you to determine the best formula for your baby's needs. We love talking with parents, caregivers, or family members about our unique products. Please shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We're here to help!
Please note: every person and situation is different so we always advise you to talk to your pediatrician first and see how these guidelines and tips can help you. This guide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.