If you don't breastfeed your baby or only partially breastfeed your baby, infant formula from the supermarket or drugstore is the alternative. You can get different products such as formula that comes ready-to-drink in a bottle or formulas that comes in the form of powdered milk. There are different types of infant formulas. In Germany, early infant formulas are roughly divided into ‘initial milk’ formula (Anfangsmilch) and ‘follow-up’ formula (Folgemilch). The ‘initial milk’ formula (Anfangsmilch), which is more similar to breast milk than the other formula products for babies, is available in Germany as so-called ‘pre-milk’ (Pre-Milch) and is marked with a numeral ‘1’ on the packaging. Always prepare the baby food fresh and follow the instructions on the package. If you are feeding your baby with formula in addition to breastfeeding, give your baby the breast first and then the bottle. All formula products from pharmacies, drugstores and supermarkets are developed and sold according to strict standards, regardless of price.
‘Pre-milk’ (Pre-Milch) is a kind of early infant formula known as ‘initial milk’ formula (Anfangsmilch) in Germany and contains only lactose as sugar. Other carbohydrates must not be present in it. The basis of this early infant formula is cow's milk, which is enriched with unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals. The protein content is also brought in line with that of breast milk. When you give your baby the bottle, make sure the open where your baby sucks from is not too big. Otherwise, the milk will just run into their mouth. As a result, the baby eats too quickly and the meal does not last long enough to give the baby a feeling of satiety. As a general rule, give babies as much time as possible to drink.
If you feel that your baby is not getting enough or is not getting enough from the pre-milk (Pre-Milch), you should consult with your midwife or paediatrician. Maybe your child is going through a growth spurt and needs to eat a little more or more often. In rare cases it makes medical sense, under the guidance of your midwife or paediatrician, to switch to an early infant formula known as ‘first milk’ (1er-Milch) in Germany. ‘First milk’ is also a kind of early infant formula known as ‘initial milk formula’ (Anfangsmilch) in Germany. It is creamier than pre-milk because more carbohydrates may be added to it, mainly in the form of starch. ‘First milk’ formula does not contain many more calories than the pre-milk formula. Never make the switch from pre-milk to first milk without the advice of a professional when your baby is very young.
Follow-up formula (Folgemilch) does not corresponds to breast milk in its composition. It is no longer recommended by current infant feeding recommendations. In addition, it is not suitable as a sole source of nutrition. Follow-up formulas are only allowed for babies six months and older if they are already being fed complementary foods.
If a baby’s parents or siblings suffer from allergies, doctors and midwives advise using of. It is also called HA nutrition (HA-Nahrung) for short. The milk protein in hypoallergenic infant formula is broken down into very small fragments. This is to avoid the baby’s body having a defensive reaction to it. HA nutrition is available for children in all developmental stages. Scientists have shown that, like breastfeeding, it has a preventive effect against possible allergies. However, this effect can only set in if HA milk is used exclusively during the first four months of life.
It is not unusual for some of the milk that your baby has ingested to end up on their spit-up cloth. However, if your baby's spitting up or vomiting doesn't stop, you should consult with your paediatrician or midwife. If your baby is diagnosed with pathological burping (better known as reflux), it may be recommend that you feed your baby anti-reflux formula (Anti-Reflux-Milch). The milk powder is enriched with locust bean gum. This makes the mixed formula thicker so it stays put more easily in your baby’s stomach. You should never switch to anti-reflux formula without the advice of a professional, though.
For babies who suffer from an allergy to cow's milk, there are infant formulas that are not cow's milk based. These formulas are only available with a prescription. Special powdered formula products for premature infants are also available with a prescription. These contain particularly high levels of protein and additional minerals. Special formula for babies suffering from digestive problems is available freely without a prescription. However, you should consult your paediatrician or midwife before feeding it to your baby.
Experts in infant nutrition strongly advise against making your own infant formula. Do not experiment on your own with animal milk or plant-based milk! The risk that your baby won’t get important nutrients is high. There is also a risk that your baby could develop allergies or get sick with a gastrointestinal infection. However, you can also find soy-based baby nutrition, which is made purely from plants, in the shops. It complies with the European guidelines for baby food and formula and is therefore a safe alternative.