Thursday, September 10, 2009

Formula Dilemma **Updated**

Help!! I've done a lot of research and studying preparing for Hannah's arrival but something I hadn't done too much research on was what type of formula I might purchase for her. Given her young age and small size I'm guessing it will be something she uses for at least 6 months so I want to choose what's best for her.

Milk or soy based?

Iron? I'm guessing it's a good thing. Has anyone been discouraged from buying an Iron fortified formula?

What age group should I buy for? Her biological age or slightly younger to give her some of the added nutrients she might have missed in her diet?

When I look at the tins at the store I'm nothing short of overwhelmed by all the options out there.

If the most expensive brand is the best then I'll happily buy that for her but quite possibly the lesser priced ones will be just as good. I must also admit to considering some of the store brands. They have to meet tough standards from the Food and Drug Administration so they must be ok too, right ? Has anyone used the W*lmart brand? many questions! Looking forward to hearing from those who have BTDT!

I have a new bloggy friend who adopted a beautiful baby girl from Hannah's orphanage in March of this year. Sara took pictures of what she purchased for her daughter including the exact formula that the orphanage was using! Thanks Sara!!!

As many have suggested, I will purchase some of this as soon as we reach Hunan and keep her on it while in China. Once home I will begin to slowly transition her to a Canadian brand. President's Choice has been recommended by many so I think I'll try that first and then if I need to switch I'll go with Nestle's Good Start second attempt. Also, think I'll try a milk based formula without iron to begin with. Will take all my clues from her and we'll see where we end up! Maybe by the time she's ready for homoginized milk/lactose free milk I'll finally have it right?

Almost forgot, I'm also going to buy rice cereal in China to add if necessary to her bottle. Once again will take my clues from her.

Quickly learning that this mommy gig is filled with many questions and much trial and error. Sorry Hannah! Mommy is trying...really she is! :o)


  1. It IS definitely overwhelming isn't it?!!!! I am right with you on this one! For our Mara-Grace, she wouldn't drink any of the formula's I tried her on, and then once we were home, I tried her on Enfamil A (PLUS) and she LOVED it! So, that is kind of what I am going to buy the most of this time around:) Mara had been drinking a sugared powder milk drink while in China. I really liked the support that the Enfamil phone line gave when I phoned with a question. They were great, so I am glad she chose that brand! LOL I am not sure about the W*M*rt brand. However, I do know that my niece drank the President's C**ice brand and her doc. said it was equally as nutritious as the higher priced brand. She also had allergies etc... and she did REALLY well on that one.... Not sure if this helps:) Good luck!!!!!

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  3. I can't help you out here.. I know that all 3 of my kids took the soy based formula.. I think it is better on their tummy also..
    I have seen other's bring home a box or two of the china formula and then mix it with whatever you are going to use..
    Can't wait to hear all the great suggestions..
    I know you are getting sooo excited..
    Have a great weekend...

  4. We started with Similac because they gave this to Samuel at the hospital and we were told it's best to stick with the same kind. Then I got free samples from the preditrician...then I found that there are generic brands at half the price at WalMart. Soy based is not good for boys because of all the estrogen in it, but you'll be ok with that since your baby is a girl. Good luck...I know there are a lot of choices.

  5. really hate offering parenting advice because every kid is so different, but i get where you're coming from so i'll just throw in that i was really happy with the PC brand. the extra-enriched one. not too expensive, but when i compared labels it had all of the same stuff.

  6. Well you know all about my feeding issues...

    anyway we used Nestle Goodstart birth to 12 months until just recently (changed to homo milk at 14 1/2 months. Just the basic Goodstart not with probiotics or omegas or anything else special. My ped and my doctor both agree that the basic formulas have been around a long time and the "specialties" are just fulfilling a niche market need of the moment. They both also agree that the extras are not worth the money.

    I used similac in VN as it was readily available and made outside of travel time was shortly after the formula scare in China.

    I have opinions about pablum as well if you want them.

  7. I can't offer an opinion, but I do know that the PC and Walmart brands will be made by the 'big' companies with a different label. The standards are very strict in Canada and I think it will come down to taste for Hannah and I don't know that you would know that in advance or through trial and error.

  8. We gave our son a milk based formula because that is what he was given in Vietnam. We also brought home a few cans of that brand and transitioned to the US brand over a couple of weeks. the formula in VN had a Nestle brand on it so I just called them to find out the US equivelent.

    I later switched to Enfamil because the Nestle one was discontinued. A few months later I found that the Target version was exactly the same for a lot less money, switched to that and never regretted it. I will start with the Target brand this next time right from the start.

    My son isn't nor has ever been lactose intolerant so don't think that all asians are. If she is given milked based formula and handles it well, stick with it.

    You can also register with the major brand and they will send you samples and coupons. That way you can have a little of both the soy and the milk based ones to try when you get home.

    Good luck. It is just one of the many confusing but fun decisions you have ahead of you.

  9. Delurking to post my opinion

    1) Just want to wish you congrats

    2) I'm a feeding specialist in a hospital and work primarily w/infants. As long as she is without digestive issues, any standard formula should be fine. The expensive formulas are for babies w/specific dietary needs. I have a friend who used the W. Mart brand and had no issues. You may want to bring or purchase some baby rice/oatmeal cereal. My understanding is that chinese formulas are thicker (my sister adopted. This will help thicken to her likeness. It will add extra calories. Rice can be constipating. In that case, oatmeal cereal may be a better choice.

    Good Luck!

  10. What we did Catherine both times with Chinese daughters! Is buy at least 2-3 tins of the Formula the SWI gave them and 4-5 Rice powder they were on and then when we got home we changed the formula over slowly.We brought it before we left the handover city as often different formula's are not always as readily available country wide.
    We couldn't buy Emily's formaula in Beijing on the way home was sad luckily another mother decided to change the formula before heading home.
    My feelings are they have been through so much and bottles and formula is the one constant!
    Hope that helps
    Ruth in NZ
    PS Milk powder in China should be fine now with all the controls.

  11. Goodstart for that he is a bit older I've started mixing Costco brand and Goodstart.

  12. All I know is that my friends get formula on line a lot. From ebay (I think people stock up then have too much when their little one stops needing it) and from Amazon too. That's down here. Not sure if those are as good of options for you up there due to shipping costs but it might be worth looking into.

    Good luck! Just thinking about it seems overwhelming!


  13. You've received a lot of great advice here. Speaking as a new mom with a little bit of experience now, what I can tell you is that no matter how much you research and no matter what works for everyone else, you may have to experiment with a few types of formula until you find one that Hannah tolerates well. We've spent a small fortune on formula thus far to find one that the babies like. I have two cans of Nestle Good Start, one can of Heinz and one of Enfamil A+ that you are welcome to. Our babies are on Enfamil Lactose Free.

  14. Most formulas have added junk in it that you may or may not want near your kid.

    Check the secret sugars

    and MSG

  15. Delurking. Congrats on your beautiful daughter!!!! Our daughter was 6 months at referral but 8.5 months when we received her.
    We kept Kieren on the formula from the orphanage until we could transition her (gradually) at home. Believe me, you don't want a baby with intestinal issues on that plane ride!!! (Kieren was already very ill and had more than enough of those issues without changing formula.) Turbulance + runny nappy = UGH!!!
    The formula is usually mixed with rice cereal (you should also buy enough to bring home). Kieren refused to take her bottle until we removed the rice. Every child is different. If your daughter won't take her first couple of bottles, change the nipple, the bottle type (the Chinese siphon bottles ROCK!!!), the temperature, the thickness, or remove the rice. It's trial and error.
    It is very common for Chinese babies to have allergies to milk. Kieren didn't. We used the Target brand of formula and had no problems (they also make soy). Your daughter will probably be on formula until her second birthday to help her catch-up. Most of the girls are.
    Good luck!

  16. Don't do soy unless you have to. There is a phyto-estrogen effect with soy. Read the ingredients. Enfamil has a TON of corn syrup in it. One of the mom's in my daycare recently consulted a nutritionist for her family and the first thing they did was switch the baby to an organic formula. I think it's Earth's Best. I like Nestle's formula, but I've not read the ingredients since learning about the corn syrup thing so I'm not sure about it any more. I do know that babies tolerate it better and it looks and smells more like breastmilk.

    Have you considered inducing lactation? Your daugher is so young that it might really be worth it.

  17. I am a big supporter of Enfamil Lipil with Iron. I've always bought the powder in the cans, so I've experimented with ways to measure and store it for bottles. I will tell you, the cheaper brands do not mix as well as Enfamil. Enfamil is a drier powder that scoops, measures and pours easier. It will mix with water better without lumps. Other brands that I've used seem to not be as dry and cause lumps in the mix. So I have always come back to Enfamil. I would start out with milk based, not soy based, unless she shows discomfort to it or your doctor advises you to change.
    Buy a couple of formula dividers so you can premeasure bottles. Always pour water in the bottle first to the right measure, then add powder. That way you have the correct amount of water in the bottle.

  18. When we were in China we purchased the formula she was on at a local market. It was readily accessible in the area and it was milk-based so I would go with the milk-based. You don't want to put her on soy-based if she's been drinking milk-based. Your guide should be able to contact the SWI and find out what formula she is on. Mia was on Yili follow-up formula. There is a picture of the package on my March 8, 09 entry on my blog. I would assume she would be on the same formula in the same SWI but you never know!
    When we got home we switched her to Nestle Good Start and she transitioned perfectly.

  19. Just read the rice cereal comment -- they told us to add rice cereal as well but Mia wouldn't drink her bottle with that in it. She never liked the rice cereal.

  20. Lots of moms equals lots of opinions. Four adopted...all on Enfamil. My son needed the lactose free formula, and that worked well for tummy issues, so we were able to avoid soy. You don't want to do soy unless you just have to. And I did switch to the Sam's Club version (probably the same as Wal-Mart's brand) a couple of months after getting home. It is comparable to Enfamil and about HALF the cost. I had never done a store brand, but I compared the ingredients. They were exactly the same. She did fine on it!

    Caroline was 13 months...still on a bottle of sludge...cereal in the bottle. Never had been fed by spoon. We weaned her off that cereal in the bottle thing within a couple of days. She took to the spoon quickly and loved baby food. She also loved any and everything we were eating. She was munching on quesadillas and onion rings in China!

    I kept Caroline on formula for about six more months. We did use a couple of the Chinese formula containers in the switching process. I didn't want to switch the basic ingredient of her diet while we were traveling. After one container's worth, I started mixing in one third Enfamil.

    I made the decision to bottle feed for another year. She did not get the rocking and cuddling bonding as an infant, and it was important to me to have that time with her. I would do exactly the same thing. It gave an extra opportunity for eye contact, too. She gave up the bottle easily enough, so that wasn't an issue.

    Bottom your instincts. You can always change course if things don't seem to be working out. You're going to be a great mom!!!

  21. We just went with what our pediatrician told us to use. Are you meeting with a pediatrician before traveling? Can't remember if I asked you that already or not. We interviewed docs, picked out the one we liked, had him review the girls' initial medical stuff when we first got our referral, had him on speed dial while we were traveling in China, and had an appointment with him for the girls a few days after returning home. He had a whole bunch of internationally adopted kids in his practice, so he had (and has) great advice.

  22. OK, so here's my $.02

    When we got Quint he was 6 months and drinking Nestle in Ethiopia.

    When we got home, we switched him to Sam's club Iron/sensitive stomach. He did amazing!

    I researched, just like you - and we found out that all the ingredients were identical to name brand because they have too - it's the law - so it's literally the same "formula" with a different brand. You wallet will thank you!

    Have I mentioned what a doll she is? I mean seriously? Could you eat her up?


  23. Can't go wrong with soy based. It's less upsetting to the tummy, and usually gets recommended by pediatricians when milk based doesn't work out. They don't drink much milk in China, but who knows what's she's currently drinking???
    Our case was a little different, in that our daughter was 16 months old when we got her. That's the age that most babies are weaned. She would have nothing to do with formula while in China. We made sure she started back on formula, and mixed formula with whole milk so that she got the extra booste in vits and mins. Then switched to whole milk with soy milk mixed together from 28 months till she turned 4 yrs old, then finally switched to half 2% milk and half soy now, at almost 5 yrs old.
    It is daunting isn't it?
    I'd wait to stock up till you get home, buy a few of each and see which one she does best with.

  24. If adoptive breastfeeding is something you would consider, here is a very extensive article about the benefits.

    And an article by Dr. Jack Newman (Canada's foremost expert on breastfeeding). He also has a clinic in Toronto!

  25. I have been out of the loop for the past few weeks but I want to say CONGRATS!!!! Hannah's beautiful, amazing, heaven-sent and waiting for her mommy to come and hold her already!!

    Really, our warmest congratulations, friend...

    Now, onto great advice but here's something that I found to be awesome advice: with your research, start going to the websites of different formulas, enter in Hannah's birthdate info and if you don't mind giving your addy, these companies willsend you tons (and I mean TONS) of free formula (ie, big cans) and amazing coupons. There's a lot of competition (as I'm sure you've noticed...)

    Just as a previous poster mentioned, you'll find what works best for your girl. It might take a few different tries so don't do it without registering for free samples and coupons!

    Gwennie was on soy...and she stayed on formula (due to being underweight) way past 12 months...go with your gut and your pediatrician's advice...Mommy's instinct rarely fails.

    Hugs, hugs, hugs to you...and again, many apologies on being so late to the welcoming Hannah home party!!

    All our love,
    Karen and Gwen

  26. I would ask your doctor for samples. You might even stop by the hospital and explain you are adopting and would need samples.

    It may be trial and error to find one she will drink.

    Iron can be constipating so it is not always the best option.

    I would not stock up on any brand until you see what she will take and can tolerate.

  27. Olivia was older (13 months) when we adopted her, but still on formula. We bought bags of it and the rice since it was readily available in her province, of course. I went slightly overboard with it, but was glad because hers was not readily available in Guangzhou. I came home with 6 bags of it (hers was in a bag vs. can and it was cheap!!) and packed it in a plastic shoe box so it wouldn't explode during travel. I left her on it for a week or so while we got used to our new lives then started transitioning her to new formula. We used the Costco formula - I mixed 2/3 China, then 1/2 and then slowly began cutting back on the Chinese formula until I was just using regular formula. This worked well for us and it's the same thing some of our other AP friends did and our pediatrician was on board with it, too. Olivia didn't have any food allergies or intolerances so it was really easy for us.

    It can be overwhelming, but one thing I did was not explore too many options in the beginning to try and keep it from being too much. I knew Costco formula and diapers had worked for many of our friends so I felt comfortable trying them. We got super duper lucky and both worked without issue. I had resolved myself to move to Similac next and then another brand if that failed.

    *squee* still excited for you.

  28. The Walgreens brand of formula is the exact same thing as Enfamil and costs less!

  29. I liked earths best or any other organic brand Weill do they don't have melamine and the rest do

  30. don't change her diet while in China.....there is already enough stress as it is. I vote for purchasing HER formula while in China and gradually integrate it with an American formula. So much to consider when you have a new baby....we are still so happy for you

  31. Another $.02...

    Allergies and intolerance don't always show up as digestive upset. Isabel had really dry skin that got worse over time. It wasn't until we transitioned her to milk from a milk based formula that the digestive stuff showed up.

    We did the trial and error and she did best on fortified rice milk, which she still drinks at 4.

    Best of luck & trust your inner voice.

  32. Mummy is doing an outstanding job!
    7 yrs later we are still learning.LOL but the girlies don't
    seem to notice, we cover our tracks rather well!

  33. We use Enfamil Lipil for our 4 month old son. We've used this brand since coming home from the hospital. He's 55% in weight and 89% in height. His doctor recommended the brand when we went for an expectant parent visit. At around 5.5 months, our doctor recommends adding rice cereal to our son's diet, but NOT in his bottle. Only milk should go in the bottle. At this age, they need to start practicing eating with a spoon out of a bowl. The Enfamil Lipil is fine for 0-12 months and we plan to feed that to him until then. We too were worried about which kind to buy and the Enfamil Lipil is one of the most expensive brands. But, it is only until they are 1 year old so I say buy the best kind you can afford since it is so important to their nutrition. If I were you, I'd go with Enfamil Lipil or Similac Advance. Just my opinion. Thanks.

  34. There are many studies that warn against effects of soy formula (particularly on brain development) - sorry I don't have links to them - I read these a few years ago when someone tried to convince me to start my daughter on soy - the articles had convinced me not to. Google would probably generate some of these articles. If you find updated info different than what I read years ago, please let us know. Good luck!


  36. I am glad a plan is falling into place. Now for the "what kind of diaper is best" challenge ;)

  37. Sounds like you've got a good plan for the formula. Instead of rice cereal, I highly recommend oatmeal instead. Rice is very binding and may cause constipation, something that I hear is of concern with newly adopted babies from China in the first week. The American Academy of Pediatrics also recently changed their recommendation away from rice, too, years after a maternal/infant nutritionist told me not to start with rice. Do you know if Hannah has started solid food yet?

  38. Find out what the components are of what she is drinking, and then make your transition, slowly, mixinf stuff in the bottle gradually as you have indicated, based on nutritional need and her preference. I assume pediatricians in Canada will test for iron--let the blood test tell you if she needs iron and in what format. Here in the U.S. breast-fed babies are often given iron supplements for the period before solids kick in extra iron from cereal. Supplements may be a nasty necesity-may not be. Start with milk-based formula unless her caretakers warn against it. You can always try soy if it seems beneficial (although I am suspicious of phytoestrogens myself, many people have good results). Collecting samples seems a brilliant idea.
    Out pediatrician (often take grandchildren to the doctor) who has IDEAS about LIFE objects to Nestle for its third-world policies.
    My oldest, who is now 40, was reared in accord with the prevalent theory then. She went right from breast milk to whole milk at 4 months. People would recoil in horror now (surely rightly, and I would never discount what has been learned in recent years), but she was just like everybody else I knew then. Does have bad hay fever--is that why? My father had nothing but breast milk until one year; my daughter started solids at 3 weeks. My point is that babies are tough--start where she is and work into your own ideas of nutrition slowly. It's a wonderful adventure ahead, and never discount her individuality.

  39. We broght a regular milk formula with iron. Soy can be difficult to digest for little ones and is only used for kids who are allergic to milk. I brought a thermos to get congee from the restaurant and then mixed formula into it. I also mixed formula into yogurt. At barely 9 months Naomi was used to eating a lot more than a typical baby.

  40. As an aside, someone noted that children from Hunan can have constipation the first week. That was also our experience, too. A couple of options we tried were scratched apples (peel the apple and scratch the flesh with a fork so make a raw applesauce), prune juice, and pear juice - which was the clear winner.

    Also, we found out that the girls were fed honey water every day to keep them regular and they all loved steamed eggs. Amelia was 7 months when we met and was clearly used to eating solids.

  41. Hi - is the honey in China different? We have always heard not to feed anyone under 1 honey due to potential botulism.

  42. You will do great! Many questions will come up, your travel group will have families with experience and don't hesitate to ask your agency employees. You will have a wonderful time caring for Hannah!

    Alyzabeth's Mommy for ONE Year!

  43. Presidents Choice with Omega. approx $20.00. Look at the ingredients on the side---very comparable. AND approx $15.00 cheaper...and if you saw my little guy, (will send you a recent pic) you would see that he is thriving JUST fine!


  44. Anon~

    I doubt the honey is any different there ~ just cultural differences. I think Americans are given similar guidelines for eggs, too.

    Traditionally, the Chinese view food differently than we do - food is their first line of defense against illness according to Traditional Chinese Medicine. Honey & egg both have incredible health benefits.

  45. Hi, I'm delurking too...I'm a doula and infant massage Instructor. I agree with Nic(Wicked Wicked Witch), most of the US formulas are filled with sugar!

    I liked this for my two girls, if you are at all crunchy and organic like me

    I'd stay as far away from soy as you can unless absolutely the last possible option. With infants who have had less than desirable nutrition in the first 6-12 months they are at risk for 'precocious puberty', so the added estrogens in soy is kind of a double whammy.

    TMI? sorry.

    So happy for you! Whatever you choose will be just great!

  46. p.s. anything without melamine is also a bonus! DD2 got the real deal plastic fantastic formula in China! AWESOME!

  47. We used the Nestle Good Start and had no problems. We had more "issues" when Kylie went to a milk. We ended up using a brand called Lactaid because of her tummy troubles. But once she gave up the bottle she gave up on milk/Lactaid all the way around. Oh except for chocolate of course which is a treat :-) LOVE the new ticker on days till you meet Hannah Hooooray!!!!

  48. well it seems you have plenty to read :O) and think about ;o0
    I didn't notice if it was mentioned ... but many SWI's put sugar in the bottles as well. It helps the taste.... so if all else fails.. you could try that. WHen you get home, you can wean her off the sugar. It is not ideal but what she is use to (the sweetness) it - it won't hurt her. Honestly, in the two weeks your in CHina... you aren't going to "Change" her eating habits or "fix" her nutrietion.. just try to enjoy her and keep her and you de-stressed. :O). worry about all the "healthy" when you get home...
    from an organic healthy eating mom of 4 (3 born in China:O)
    Jill S.

  49. I was going to say (and I'm comment 51... so I'm sure you have plenty of advice by now!!!) that I would only take a very small amount of formula, for the first night, if you don't get time to get to the store before handover - but the orphanage people will tell you what Hannah is used to drinking - and it will be available in their stores.

  50. our ped told us not to go with generic. They recommended the 2 big ones enfamil or similac, both which are sold in bulk at Costco. It's worth buying a membership if you dont have one. Also we kept our girls on the formula till they were a little over 1 rather than stopping right at 1.



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