Choosing an Infant Formula When Breastfeeding Isn’t an Option

Choosing an Infant Formula When Breastfeeding Isn’t an Option

All parents want the best for their child, this can include the option to breastfeed their child as there are expert studies that recommend breast milk as the best source of nutrients for a baby’s immune system. [1]

While most mothers choose to breastfeed their child, not all women have that option. The reasons vary from woman to woman and can include not being able to produce a healthy amount of breast milk, or she is taking certain medications that interfere with her breast milk.

Whatever the reason may be, liquid infant formula and powdered formula are both acceptable alternatives to feed a baby. However, with so many different brands of formula on the market, it can make it hard for parents to choose, luckily, we’ve gathered together some information to help make that decision easier.

It’s important to note that all infant formula in the United States is FDA approved and rest be assured that all formulas made as guided by the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. [2]

So, what are the options?



  • Least expensive of all the forms.
  • Product is shelf stable for one month after opening.
  • Great for mom’s who can breastfeed, but supplement on occasion.


  • Must follow mixing directions precisely. One scoop of powder to every two fluid ounces of water.
  • Can’t always ensure drinking water quality. If you have well water, always boil the water before making the formula and allow to cool before mixing. [3]
  • May not be easily digested and can cause constipation and gas in your baby.



  • Easier to prepare. Just add water and shake.
  • Doesn’t take up a lot of storage space.


  • Once opened needs to be consumed within 24 hours.
  • Can’t always ensure drinking water quality. If you have well water, always boil the water before making the formula and allow to cool before mixing.



  • Most convenient.
  • Easiest to prepare out of all the formulas. It’s pre-mixed, so no water needed.


  • Least economical.
  • Only has a shelf life of 48 hours after opening.

What are the ingredients of Infant formula?

There are four types of formula: milk based, soy based, lactose-free, and elemental formula. For parents who are unsure about which brand of formula to buy, it’s important to note that although there’s pros and cons to each form it come in, all formula types sold in the United States, regardless if they are a name brand or not, have the same nutritionally value.

Although, it’s important to look out for added ingredients as some formulas will add supplementary ingredients that may not be necessary for your baby to consume. Look out for formulas denoted with “AR,” meaning these are “Acid Reflex formulas” and have a rice thickening agent in it. If you’re unsure if your baby should be consuming “AR” or any other formulas with additives, be sure to talk with your pediatrician before starting them on a brand.

After choosing a formula, consult your doctor if your baby shows these signs:

  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Vomiting
  • Excessive fussiness
  • Rash

How much formula is needed?

You should continue using formula until your infant is at least one year old. The general rule of thumb is infants need about two to two and half ounces of formula per pound per day. Therefore, a baby who is 10 pounds would need about 20-25 ounces in a day. It’s also suggested by pediatricians that babies should not exceed 32 ounces in a day. [4]

If you feel that your baby is not getting enough formula, look out for these signs: less urination, no weight gain, constant crying, and/or loose skin.

If you feel your baby is getting too much formula, look out for these signs: excessive weight gain, vomiting, and if your baby is pulling their legs up to chest, it might be a sign of abdominal discomfort.

It always important to talk to your pediatrician about infant formula, they will be able to provide you with more information and answer any questions you may have about starting your infant on formula.


  1. “Infant Formula.”, Health Canada, 12 Jan. 2012,
  2. “Infant Formula Guidance Documents & Regulatory Information.” U.S Food and Drug Administration , Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, June 2015,
  3.  “5 Facts About Baby Formula.” Store Brand Formula,
  4. “Feeding Guide for the First Year.” Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library,,P02209.