Premature babies may need to start with a special formula specifically designed to help them grow strong and healthy. But it’s hard to know what’s best for your newborn as they progress from the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to different ages and stages. You may also be wondering when it’s time to switch to regular formula, breast milk only, or cow’s milk.
Learn about the special nutritional needs of premature babies and how you choose a formula for them that can give them the healthiest start possible. While you should always be guided by your neonatologist or pediatrician, it is important to understand why some infant formulas and feeding habits may be better than others. — and when to change.
Preemie Formula in the NICU
For many premature babies, feeding can be a challenge. They often lack the overall strength and coordination to make the sucking motion needed for bottle or breast feeding. Premature babies may also have an immature gastrointestinal (GI) tract, so their bodies may not properly break down the milk proteins to absorb important nutrients. Some premature babies also have GERD or acid reflux, which causes them to spit up large amounts of formula or breast milk.
For healthy growth, many babies in the NICU begin to receive formula or pump breast milk through a thin feeding tube. These tubes are inserted directly into their stomach, through their nose (nasogastric tube), or through their mouth to their stomach (gastronasal tube). Others receive nutrients directly into their bloodstream through an intravenous (IV) line.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), infants should be given breast milk, which has unique immune-boosting benefits, whenever possible. Often, breast milk-derived supplements are combined with pumped breast milk to boost calories and nutrients. Recent research suggests that breast milk supplements may be safer and healthier for babies than cow’s milk supplements.
If you are unable or choose not to breastfeed or breastfeed, your NICU doctor will likely recommend a special formula to meet your infant’s nutritional needs. Preemie formula tends to have more calories, protein, vitamins and minerals than regular infant formula and is designed to help low birth weight babies grow faster. Common services for infants in the NICU include Similac Special Care and Enfamil Premature.
When babies are first formula-fed, doctors start with a small amount of formula with the same calorie ratio as breast milk. As your baby adjusts to breastfeeding, your doctor may recommend higher-calorie formula to help your baby grow faster.
Preemie recipe after hospital discharge
NICU doctors often determine when premature or low-birth-weight babies are ready to be discharged from the hospital based on when certain developmental milestones have been reached. Once your baby has been discharged from the hospital, you have a number of different ways to breastfeed.
If your baby can’t get enough nutrients from breast milk, you can add formula to increase protein, calcium, and fat. Or, you can give your baby a doctor-approved formula made specifically for babies. It’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations for low birth weight and premature infants who have unique nutritional needs.
Usually, premature babies switch to colostrum formula before going home. These include products like Similac Neosure or Enfamil EnfaCare. They have higher calories and more protein, vitamins and minerals than regular infant formulas, so the catch-up growth that started in the hospital can continue at home.
Premature babies with certain digestive problems or food allergies can benefit from special infant formulas. Here are some of the most popular formulas for babies with special dietary needs.
Amino acid based formula
Infants with severe stomach problems may be sensitive to most formulas. For these children, a formula containing free amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) can promote growth. These products include EleCare, Enfamil PurAmino and Neocate.
Sometimes, a baby may not have enough lactase, the enzyme used to digest the sugar lactose in milk. Since these babies don’t digest lactose well, they may experience unpleasant gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as upset stomach, gas, bloating, and diarrhea, making them especially fussy or fussy. exceed. In these cases, it’s best to talk to your baby’s pediatrician to determine which formula is best for your baby.
Some children are allergic to both cow’s milk protein and soy protein. Hypoallergenic formulas contain pre-digested proteins, so babies allergic to milk proteins can often tolerate hypoallergenic formulas. Infants with GI conditions or food allergies may benefit from a hypoallergenic formula such as Similac Alimentum or Enfamil Nutramigen.
A newborn check-up is especially important for premature babies, so never skip a check-up. Your pediatrician will want to regularly monitor your child’s weight, length, and other signs of growth to make sure they’re getting the right type and amount of nutrition.
How to choose a Preemie formula?
Preemie formula is designed to provide all the protein, vitamins and minerals that premature babies need to catch up with growth and development.
The best formula feeding plan for your infant will depend on their overall development, their unique dietary and nutritional needs, and any food allergies they may have. . Discuss these factors with your baby’s neonatologist or pediatrician to determine the best formula for your baby.
The same is true if you want to change their formula. As your baby gains weight and gets stronger, his nutritional needs may change. Or, you may just want to see if your child likes a different product. Do not switch infant formula until you have talked to your doctor.
While different formula products serve different needs, all formula sold commercially in the United States must meet the same nutritional and safety standards. No matter what formula you give your premature baby, make sure it’s safe by only buying products from reputable brands and retailers, checking the expiration dates on the packaging, and looking for colors or Strange odors indicate that the recipe has expired or has been tampered with.
How to use formula for premature babies
Because premature babies have strict dietary needs and are especially susceptible to infections, it’s important that you follow the right steps to prepare infant formula.
- Clean and disinfect any equipment, including preparation surfaces, bottles, and teats.
- Boil water (even if it’s bottled water).
- Let the hot water cool for about 30 minutes before pouring it into the bottle.
- Add the correct amount of water and formula to the bottle.
- Insert the bottle and shake to dissolve the formula in the water.
- Run the bottle under cool running water.
- Check the temperature of the formula to make sure it is cool enough before feeding.
Remember that it’s important for babies born prematurely to get all of their calories and nutrients possible from formula. For that reason, it should never be diluted.
When to Stop Using Preemie Formula
If your doctor recommends a formula for a premature baby, it’s important that you keep using it for the time they recommend.
Depending on your baby’s unique needs, it may be until the original due date or several months later. Often, doctors are looking for a baby to achieve catch-up growth (a rapid growth rate marked by marked weight gain, increased height, and increased head circumference).
From pre-mixed formula, your doctor can switch your baby to regular formula (if under 12 months) or cow’s milk (if over 12 months). Specific feeding plans will vary, as each baby has his or her own health needs and concerns.
A very good word
It can be scary and overwhelming to bring a premature baby home from the NICU and suddenly have to take responsibility for all of their care. But with support from your neonatologist and your baby’s care team, you can find a feeding routine that works for your baby and provides all the nutrients they need to thrive. strong and sturdy.
If you choose or need to give your baby pre-mixed formula, be sure to consult your doctor about what type and amount is best for your baby. Regular check-ups and discussions about each feeding transition will ensure your pup continues to grow healthy through infancy and beyond.
frequently asked Questions
Which formula is safe for premature babies?
Several types of infant formula are available to meet the special health and nutritional needs of premature and low birth weight infants. Like other infant formulas, most preemie formulas are derived from cow’s milk. But preemie formula that is lactose-free and hypoallergenic is also available. Your baby’s doctor will recommend the best formula to make sure your baby is getting all the calories, protein, and nutrients they need to keep pace with their growth.
When will my baby stop drinking formula?
While every baby’s needs are different, most babies use special formula at least until their initial due date, and sometimes three, six or even 12 months. afterward. From there, your doctor may recommend regular formula if your baby is under 12 months, or whole cow’s milk if your baby is 12 months or older.
How much formula should my baby eat?
Newborns have different nutritional needs. Consult your pediatrician for the proper amount of formula and a feeding schedule based on your infant’s height, weight, and health issues. Always prepare formula according to product instructions and never dilute to ensure your baby gets all the calories and nutrients he needs for catch-up growth.
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