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Infant Formula

Frequently Asked Questions



Why does WIC provide the Similac brand of formula products?

Minnesota WIC has a contract with Abbot Nutrition to provide the Similac brand of formula. This means the WIC Program receives a rebate on Similac formulas, allowing the program to serve many more participants.

  • Similac formulas are safe for your baby. They are very similar nutritionally to other brands. Pediatricians believe most brands of formulas are nutritionally identical since all must meet strict government guidelines.
  • Minnesota WIC does not provide standard formulas made by Mead Johnson (Enfamil LIPIL, Prosobee LIPIL, Enfamil AR LIPIL, Gentlease LIPIL), Nestle (Good Start), or Store Brand Formulas (Parents Choice for example). These formulas are not provided under any circumstances.
  • Medical formulas are available for infants and children with special medical conditions.

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Why does WIC provide iron-fortified formula?

Although breastfeeding is best for your baby, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends "infants who are not breastfed or are partially breastfed should receive an iron fortified formula...from birth to 12 months."

  • Iron helps make red blood cells, which carry oxygen, and is necessary for brain development.

Studies have shown low blood iron during a baby's first year of life can cause physical and developmental problems years later.

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Does iron-fortified formula cause fussiness, irritability, colic or constipation?

Iron is often blamed for a baby's fussiness, irritability, colic or constipation. Yet, scientific studies comparing the effects of iron-fortified and low-iron formulas have been unable to show that iron causes any of these problems in babies.

WIC cannot provide low-iron formula for two reasons:

  • Iron is too important for a baby's physical and mental development.
  • Studies do not show that iron causes these problems.

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If iron doesn't cause constipation, why does your baby seem constipated?

Formula, in general, is harder for a baby to digest than breastmilk and may cause some babies, who are sensitive to the proteins in formula, to be constipated.

Before considering a different type of formula, you should determine if your baby really is constipated. Constipation refers to how hard your baby's stool is, not how often he goes.

  • Your baby may "dirty" his diapers only once per day or once every few days - this is perfectly normal.
  • The number of times he dirties his diapers will change as his digestive system matures and as he starts eating different foods.

Symptoms of constipation include: straining, turning red-faced, pulling his legs up to his tummy and grunting and stools that are dry, hard and pebble-like. There may also be blood along the outside of the stools.

NOTE:Always talk to your health care provider about any concerns you have about changes in your baby's bowel movements.

A couple of things you might try if your baby seems constipated:

  • Double check that you are mixing the formula correctly.
  • If the weather has been hot, offer an ounce or two of water between feedings.
  • Gently massage your baby's tummy.
  • Lay your baby on his back and move his legs in a bicycle motion.
  • Give your baby a warm bath.
  • If your baby is less than 6 months old, wait until after your baby is 6 months old before introducing cereal.

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What is soy formula?

Soy-based formulas are made from soybeans instead of cow's milk.

The sugar used in soy formula is cornstarch, cornstarch hydrolysate, tapioca starch, or sucrose instead of lactose.

NOTE: If your baby is sensitive to lactose, your health care provider may suggest trying a soy-based formula instead. However, if your baby is allergic to the protein in cow's milk, she may also develop an allergy to soy. For this reason, you should check with your baby's doctor before switching to soy formula.

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How do I mix my baby formula correctly?

NOTE: the directions for mixing formula are on each can. Be sure to follow them precisely!

If using powdered formula:

  • Use cold (not warm or hot) water to mix the formula.
  • Measure the water carefully before adding formula.

NOTE: If you put the formula in the bottle and then try to measure the water on top of it, you will be unable to get an accurate measurement.

  • Measure 1 level scoop of formula for every 2 ounces of water.

If using concentrate formula: mix one can of formula with one can of water in a clean pitcher.

FORMULA STORAGE: After making formula, put it in the refrigerator until you need it. Formula made from powder may be kept in the refrigerator no longer than 24 hours. Formula made from concentrate may be kept in the refrigerator no longer than 48 hours. Throw away any formula left out of the refrigerator for more than 2 hours. If you have warmed the bottle or fed any of the formula to your baby, throw away the formula after one hour.

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When should your baby stop drinking formula?

Your baby should stop drinking formula once he turns 1-year old.

During the first year, your baby will grow more quickly than at any other time. Even as he begins to eat more solid foods, formula will continue to be the primary source of calories, fat and nutrients (especially iron), he needs throughout his first year of life.

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How do you switch your child from formula to milk?

Once your baby has turned 1-year old, she is probably eating a lot of different foods and should be drinking from a cup. To introduce whole milk:

  • Put 2 ounces of prepared formula and 2 ounces of whole milk into a cup at each meal.
  • The following week, offer 4 ounces of whole milk in a cup at each meal.

Use whole milk until your child's second birthday.

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