The composition of most organic baby formulas is very similar – the main 5 nutrient-rich ingredients are present in any first and second milk, the difference is in proportions, additional ingredients, and production techniques. Such a similarity in composition is easily explained – there are general quality standards established by governments and private certifications that ensure any infant or toddler formula available in the baby food market today provides the proper nutrition for little children.
The top nutrient-rich ingredients in organic baby formulas are:
- proteins – provide energy and building material for the cells
- carbs – source of energy and help regulate different processes in a baby’s body
- fatty acids – essential for brain development and immune system development
- vitamins – provide useful elements significant for all the systems in a child’s organism
- minerals – support overall health
Every one of these ingredients is essential for the normal development of an infant or toddler, so baby food standards require manufacturers to always add them into formula milk. Let’s dive into the details a little and find out why these 5 ingredients are so important.
Animal proteins (got from cow’s or goat’s milk) – whey and casein – are the most common ingredients for baby formulas, because they are the perfect source of natural protein needed for growth and activity. After breast milk, obviously, but there are cases when breastfeeding is not an option and baby formula should be used instead.
The proportions of whey to casein is typically 60% to 40%. The majority of baby formulas are characterized by such a ratio, for example, Dutch formula from HiPP or Kendamil cow’s milk formulas.
Parents whose babies can’t digest animal proteins are forced to look for other sources of energy. Alternative infant and toddler foods are soy-based formulas and special formulas created using modern science and technology to provide children who have digestion issues with high-quality nutrition.
Carbohydrates or carbs
According to the European Commission standards, at least 30% of carbohydrates in infant formula should come from lactose, as lactose is the main carb in breast milk. Carbohydrates are needed by infants and especially toddlers as a source of energy. Except for lactose, such carbs as maltodextrin, pre-cooked and gelatinized starch, glucose, and glucose syrup can be added to formula milk. American formulas also often contain corn syrup.
The saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids contained in breast milk and baby formulas are essential for a child’s brain development and immune system. Among the fatty acids added to baby formulas are omega-3 (DHA) and omega-6 (ARA), oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, alpha-linolenic acid, and stearic acid. One of the most important functions of fatty acids is making the absorption of certain vitamins easier.
A long list of vitamins is required to be added to infant and toddler formulas. In particular, Vitamin A (for skin, eye, and hair health and for the immune system), Vitamin E (for the nervous system and as an anti-inflammatory agent), Vitamin D3 (for muscle development and the immune system), Vitamin C (for bone and muscle development and immune system), Vitamin K1 (for blood clotting, to prevent a serious disease called hemorrhagic disease of the newborn), Vitamin B1 (turns food into energy and aids in the development of different organs), Vitamin B6 (for brain development and immune system development), Vitamin B12 (for the nervous system, blood cells, and creates DNA), etc.
Minerals are also significant ingredients of any baby formula. They take part in developing various systems of a child’s organism and ensure the appropriate functioning of a body. Among the obligatory minerals present in formula are iron, zinc, selenium, manganese, iodine, copper, calcium, etc. At the same time, the amount of these microelements has to be well-measured for a certain age of a child. Baby food manufacturers add them in formula not randomly but after complex scientific research.