Walking down the baby formula aisle in any grocery story can be an overwhelming experience. We all know choosing the right nutrition for your child is important. But how can you tell the difference between various types of formula if breastfeeding isn’t an option for you?
Nutrition questions and choosing the right feeding path can overwhelm even the most seasoned parent. As a family living with food allergies, you know better than most that an allergy, or multiple allergies, to food quickly multiplies the questions you encounter regarding food and nutrition.
The number of options when looking at infant formulas does not make the choice any easier. But fear not! Nutricia is here to help you. Let’s take a look at the main types of infant formulas, and how they are different.
Cow milk-based formula: Most infant formulas available in the grocery story aisle are cow milk based. That means they are made from cow milk that is altered to resemble breast milk. However, cow milk-based formulas might not be suitable for many families dealing with food allergies. This is due to the protein found in milk. Milk protein is one of the most common food allergens, especially for infants.
Soy-based formula: When avoiding milk proteins, dairy foods, or perhaps animal proteins in general, soy-based infant formulas are often brought up as an option. This formula type is based on soy instead of cow’s milk so it is dairy-free. Unfortunately, up to 50% of children with an allergy to cow milk are also allergic to soy protein. This makes soy-based infant formulas not suitable for babies with food allergies.
Protein hydrolysate formula: These types of infant formulas contain protein that has been broken down (hydrolyzed) into smaller pieces. There are infant formula options for partially broken down (partially hydrolyzed), and extensively broken down (extensively hydrolyzed) proteins. Breaking down the protein chains makes these types of formulas easier to digest and can reduce the chance of an allergic reaction for babies with food allergies. While these formulas are a bit easier for digestive systems, it’s important to remember that even the partial proteins can cause an allergic reaction in some children.
What makes Neocate Special?: Neocate is classified as amino acid-based formula. This means our formula doesn’t contain any intact protein chains and is made from the original building blocks of all proteins called amino acids. Amino acids are the most basic form of protein, the easiest form for human digestion. What makes Neocate hypoallergenic? 1) Using 100% amino acids as the source of protein, and 2) leaving out proteins and even small protein fragments that can cause an allergic reaction.
If you are a visual person like me, you may find this chart helpful in illustrating the differences in infant formulas that we just discussed.
Here’s another way to look at infant formulas and their potential for triggering an allergic reaction:
Now that you know the basic types of infant formulas, you will have the knowledge to make the right nutrition choice for your child and be prepared for the discussion with your healthcare team.
Need additional resources?
I personally find that our Parent’s Toolbox page is a great place to get started when trying to understand your child’s allergy symptoms. If you have more general questions about food allergies, then start with our overview on the Basics of Food Allergies.
We have also pulled answers to many of the general Neocate questions we hear on our FAQs page.
New to Neocate?
If you are ready to get started using Neocate, we have a variety of information available at your disposal:
Our team of Nutrition Specialists are here to help answer any questions you may have. Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-365-7354 or comment below!
- Kristin Crosby, MS, RDN
 Niggemann B, et al. Pediatr Allergy Immunol. 2001; 12:78-82.