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When Less Is More: Standard Formula May Overfeed Your Baby

carter | February 17, 2022 | 10:39 pm

Many infant formulas could actually overfeed your baby. Ultimately, it comes down to the quality versus the quantity of the ingredients in the formula. While a formula with high quality ingredients has a denser nutritional profile that will better meet the nutritional needs of a growing infant, a formula with low quality ingredients can be added in large amounts to meet the minimum requirements for some nutrients, but simultaneously exceed the amount of other nutrients (and calories) babies need. Allow us to explain: 

To grow and develop properly, infants require a certain amount of various micro and macro nutrients such as the proper proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, etc. All of the required nutrients are naturally found in breast milk, in the amounts they need, so it can be used as the sole source of food for an infant for the first 12 months and longer. To ensure infant formula can also be the sole source of food for an infant, regulatory agencies have set minimum requirements for 29 different nutrients to make sure babies get enough of everything they need.

However, these nutrients do not come on their own and cannot be added individually into formulas. They come in the form of ingredients, such as cow’s milk, which is the source of a variety of nutrients in standard formula like cow’s milk protein, fats, carbohydrates, and many others. If you put enough cow’s milk in the formula to meet the minimum carbohydrate requirements, that does not mean you will meet the minimum requirement for amino acids, so you must bulk up the formula with even more cow’s milk. This will give you enough of each amino acid to meet the minimum requirements, yet will leave you with a formula that greatly overfeeds the amount of carbohydrates your baby needs.

By increasing the amount of any ingredient in a formula, it increases the amount of calories the baby will consume. In a formula with lower quality ingredients there is a greater need to bulk up the formula with those ingredients to meet all the minimum requirements, so there are more cases where an infant given that formula will consume more calories than what is actually needed. Using higher quality ingredients that better match breast milk (and the nutritional requirements of an infant) in a formula means less bulking up is necessary and thus the overload of calories is less likely to occur.

There is another aspect to the quality of ingredients in an infant formula: Not all nutrients are created equal. For example, human breast milk proteins fit the needs of an infant much better than cow’s milk proteins due to differing amino acid profiles, just as the bovine versions will fit the needs of a calf much better. 

At Harmony, we are trying to match breast milk and the nutritional needs of an infant as closely as possible. This means that we are extremely conscious and careful about the ingredients we choose, as well as their sourcing and production. We consider both of these aspects of quality when creating our formulation to ensure that we give infants everything they need to grow healthy and strong, while leaving out anything they don’t need to reduce the excess calories often found in formula.

Learn more about how we carefully consider every ingredient and only accept those that will best match the needs of an infant in The Ideal Baby Formula page.