Breast milk provides the best nutrition for your baby during the first year of life. But when breast feeding is not feasible, infant formula is the best alternative. Although formula does not provide immunity benefits from the mother's antibodies as breast milk does, it still provides all the nutrition your baby needs. When your baby reaches 1 year old, he needs more than breast milk or infant formula to meet his nutritional needs. On top of solid foods, he needs toddler formula or cow's milk.
When infant formula first appeared during late 1800s, it was only available through physicians. Its development grew gradually, and during the 1950s, infant formula became the feeding method of choice in the developed world. By the early 1970s, more than 75 percent of babies in the United States were formula-fed. During the late 1900s, toddler formula appeared in the market. Its targets were older children up to age 2. Infant formula was for babies up to age 1.
There are several types of formula for babies with different needs. About 80 percent of formula sold today is a cow's milk–based formula. Another type of formula, hydrolyzed formula, has protein that is broken down for easy digestion to help babies with high risks of developing allergies to avoid symptoms. Soy-based formula does not contain lactose, the main carbohydrate in cow's milk formula, and is suitable for babies with lactose intolerance as well as vegetarian babies, since it is plant-based. Toddler formula is different from infant formula due to its higher levels of calcium, iron and phosphorus. The increased levels are set to meet a toddler's increased nutritional needs.
Your 0 to 12 month-old baby can get his nutritional needs from infant formula. But as he turns 1 year old, his calcium, iron and phosphorus needs increase to the point where infant formula cannot meet them. Toddler formula contains higher levels of these minerals. However, experts agree that if your toddler eats a balanced diet with cow's milk, he most likely receives all the nutrients he needs, and does not need toddler formula, according to the Sydney Morning Health.
Infant formula is targeted for babies from 0 to 12 months old. On the other hand, while it depends on the specific brand, toddler formula generally is suitable for children from 9 to 24 months old.
If you suspect that your child is not meeting his nutritional needs or is not growing normally, consult your doctor for feeding advice and possible supplementation.