If you are formula feeding your baby and things aren’t going well, it might be because your baby has a dairy allergy. The most common reported symptoms of dairy allergies are diarrhea, vomiting, hives, eczema, difficulty breathing, and rashes that come and go. If these or any other symptoms are occurring after every feeding time, you should let your Pediatrician know. They can figure out if it is really a food allergy and if so, guide you through the process of finding the best formula for your baby.
If a dairy allergy to milk based formulas is diagnosed, there are hypoallergenic formulas that will be easier for your baby to digest. These hypoallergenic formulas are categorized into three groups; (1) Extensively Hydrolyzed Formulas, (2) Elemental Formulas, and (3) Partially Hydrolyzed Formulas. Depending on what symptoms your baby is having, your doctor will recommend that you try formulas from one of these groups.
The first group mentioned is Extensively Hydrolyzed Formulas (EHFs) which are milk and soy protein based but has been broken down by heat and enzymes. The breaking down of the heat and enzymes in this type of formula make it hypoallergenic and is tolerated by the vast majority of infants with allergies. According to Daniel More who is a board-certified allergist, the best brands of formulas that fall into this group are Nutramigen, Pregestimil, Similac Alimentum Advance, and Peptamen.
The second group mentioned is Elemental Formulas (EFs) which are also hypoallergenic. These formulas are made from amino acids instead of broken down proteins. The formulas in this group are also well tolerated by infants with allergies. If your baby is vomiting or having other stomach issues, then your doctor will probably suggest you try a formula in this group first. The brands Daniel More suggests are Neocate, Elecare, Vivonex, and Nutramigen AA.
The final group mentioned is the Partially Hydrolyzed Formulas (PHFs). While this group of formulas do somewhat break down enzymes and protein, the process is not enough to be considered a hypoallergenic brand. Formulas in this group would be recommended if your baby has very mild allergies and also if your baby is at high risk of developing a dairy allergy. These types of formulas are easier to digest than other formulas, so if you have never formula fed your baby, you might want to try one of the formulas in this group first. Carnation Good Start, Enfamil Gentlease, and Carnation Good Start Soy are brands Daniel More suggests.
Even if your baby doesn’t have a dairy allergy, you still might want to consider trying one of the formulas in these three groups since they seem to be easier for your baby’s digestive system. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends Extensively Hydrolyzed Formulas for babies who aren’t breastfed or who have a diary allergy. However, there are a small percentage of babies that don’t tolerate hypoallergenic formulas very well. In a 2008 study conducted by the American Academy of Pediatrics, they found that these babies responded well to the amino acid formulas found in the Elemental Formulas group instead of the Extensively Hydrolyzed Formulas because they are broken down to specific amino acid components instead of proteins and enzymes.
You might be thinking that Soy formula would be best for your baby if they have a dairy allergy, but this isn’t always the case. Soy formula is also a common dairy allergen. This is why it is recommended that you stick to hypoallergenic formulas. Don’t be surprised if you will have to try more than one formula before you hit on one that is a great fit for your baby.