My four-week-old baby has been having problems with her formula. After switching her to a soy formula milk without success, our doctor advised us to put her on pet milk and a vitamin supplement. Will my baby get the necessary nutrition by going this route? The doctor says she does not have colic, but is allergic to the formulas.
Given the limited range of activities of the newborn infant – eating, sleeping, urinating and stooling – it’s not surprising that a whole range of symptoms are (mistakenly) attributed to a formula problem.
Breast milk is best for infants. For those infants not breast-fed, a standard infant formula, which is milk-based but modified to resemble mother’s milk, is appropriate. Some infants have true formula intolerance or allergy, either to the protein in the milk-based formula, or, more rarely, to the sugar in the milk-based formula.
However, up to 8% of infants may be allergic to cow’s milk protein and display symptoms such as diarrhea, bloody bowel movements, poor weight gain or suspected abdominal pain. Approximately half of the infants allergic to cow’s milk protein also are allergic to soy protein, so the appropriate formula is one in which the protein is broken down into its fundamental subunits (amino acids) that the infant can digest. Nutramigen and Alimentum are examples of such formulas.
The vast majority of infants with colic (fussy crying between the ages of 3 weeks and 3 months) do not have a dietary problem. Still, an estimated 10-15% do improve on Nutramigen or Alimentum.
Pet milk with added vitamins is not an appropriate alternative if your baby is thought to have a true formula allergy. Pet milk has the same milk protein and milk sugar as infant formula. I suggest you seek the opinion of an experienced pediatrician who can help determine whether your baby has a true formula intolerance.