Although breast milk is always the best source of protein for a growing baby, powdered protein is a reliable substitute. There are many varieties available. However, because commercial infant formulas are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), they are recommend by most doctors as the best alternative source of protein for infants.
Protein is comprised of amino acids that are essential for human growth and development. Amino acids build muscles and organs, create essential antibodies and hormones and help maintain fluid balance. Thus, making sure your baby gets enough protein is vital for its overall health and well-being. According to the FDA, the recommended daily allowance of protein for babies age 0 to 6 months is 2.2 g per kilogram of body weight.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, humans need a total of 22 amino acids to sustain life. Of those 22, there are eight that the body cannot produce and therefore must be consumed. A source that contains all needed eight amino acids is known as complete, which is ideal for feeding an infant. For example, whey and cow milk protein are complete protein sources. However, soy protein is incomplete, meaning it's missing a few key amino acids.
There are several types of infant protein powder available. Some of the top brands include Similac Infant Formula, Nestle Gerber Good Start Protect Plus Powder Formula, Enfamil Enfagrow Premium Unflavored Powder, Earth's Best Organic Soy Infant Powder and Neocate Infant Formula. Check with your doctor and nutritionist to find out which kind they recommend for you and your baby.
Beyond protein, there are a few other factors to consider when selecting a protein powder for your infant. According to MayoClinic.com, iron is also essential for your baby's development. Thus, you'll want to be sure that the powder you choose is iron fortified. Also, some formulas are enhanced with docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA, and arachidonic acid, or ARA. These are omega fatty acids found in breast milk that may help brain and eye development.
MayoClinic.com recommends that you only feed babies protein powder during their first year. After age one, they will need more fat and calories to sustain advanced growth and development. However, as with any diet, be sure to check with your pediatrician to find out what is best for your child.