This question is very common for mothers, especially for those who have been breastfeeding their children for the first 6 months of age and do not know when it is time to introduce follow-on milk in the baby’s diet.
Although it is true that breast milk is exclusively recommended during this first stage and then prolonged, for at least two years, according to the WHO recommendation, there are mothers who cannot meet this objective.
For these families, follow-on milk represents a solution to offer their little one all the necessary nutrients in this demanding stage of growth.
It should be noted that these milk formulas have been specially designed to serve as a transition between breast milk and cow’s milk, since we know that the latter has a very high content of fats that the child’s body is not ready to digest.
It is not until the 1st year of age that pediatricians recommend starting the intake of animal milk.
The opinion of an expert
Regardless of your case, whether or not you breastfeed your baby, at the age of 6 months you should talk to your pediatrician so that he can tell you the most appropriate milk formula for the little one, in case you cannot continue breastfeeding at demand.
In this way, the doctor will give you the parameters to follow in your baby’s daily diet, what foods to introduce in this new stage and how much follow-on milk he needs to cover the nutrients that his body demands.
Preparation and regulations
In general, the main ingredient of follow-on milk is cow’s milk, which undergoes some modifications to synthesize the fat and protein content, in addition to adding nutrients and vitamins to make it a very beneficial food for the baby. There are also milk formulas that are made from vegetable milk such as soy.
The European Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition (ESPGAN) offers recommendations to laboratories and manufacturers of infant formulas to improve their nutritional content. At the same time, the Ministry of Health establishes the standards that all follow-on milks must meet in order to go on the market.
For this reason, all the formulas are similar and have almost the same nutrients, but in different quantities, always within the minimum and maximum range established by these organisms.
give to try
To successfully introduce follow-on milk, you need to start small. Giving the baby small amounts to try and without forcing the intake is a way for him to become familiar with the taste of the new food.
Some mothers and childcare professionals recommend giving a test when the baby is calm, has rested enough and has satisfied his hunger beforehand. This way the child will not be anxious and will be able to show receptivity to drink the milk.
Similarly, you should avoid giving him a bottle when he is sleepy, irritated or needs a diaper change, as it could hinder the process by generating direct rejection of milk.
You should know that during this process it is important to reinforce the affectionate bond with the baby, talk to him affectionately and explain how good this new food will do him, do not appear nervous or insecure.
Bottle or glass
If your baby hasn’t used a bottle for the first 6 months of life, it’s likely he’ll have a hard time drinking directly from it at first. To do this, you can buy models with ergonomic nipples that resemble the shape and drip of the mother’s breast and make the transition between the breast and the bottle easier for him.
In case the little one is reluctant to use the bottle, there are other techniques such as giving a drink from a common glass or the use of glasses and training cups. There is a wide variety of these on the market, with different types of nipples or spouts designed according to the baby’s age.
Benefits of follow-on milk for the baby and the family
Mainly, follow-on milk is introduced to alternate or reduce breastfeeding, with mothers who re-enter the labor system being the ones who most use this type of feeding for their babies.
With the use of follow-on formulas, the care of the baby can be delegated to relatives or in specialized maternity centers without the correct feeding of the child being affected.
The nutritional contributions that follow-on milk offers to all children are regulated by the aforementioned organisms, so you can be sure that your baby will receive an adequate diet, with the nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for its normal development.
In terms of cost, these milks are cheaper than those of the first stage, which is why they are used by low-income families, so the mother can start working soon and does not have to spend a large part of her income to buy the follow-on milk that the little one will use.
Tips on feeding with continued milk
It is important to take into account that under no circumstances can this milk be given to the child before 6 months of age, because until then his digestive system is not fully developed to digest the proteins and fats that this food has.
In addition, from the age of 6 months, the complementary feeding of the child begins, so the follow-up milk will not be its only source of nutrients. You should get good advice from your pediatrician to know which foods you can gradually introduce, depending on the child’s age.
For this process, many mothers and pediatricians recommend the Baby-led Weaning method, which consists of offering the baby healthy and nutritious food in small portions so that he himself is the one who regulates what foods to eat and in what quantity.
In this way the baby learns to distinguish flavors, textures and smells. This method can work simultaneously with the intake of baby food, preferably homemade, and follow-on milk, in addition to breast milk in some cases, to offer the baby a balanced and very complete diet for normal growth.