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Bottle Feeding
Can't Seem to Find the Right Formula
By Jennifer J. Francis, MPH, RD/LD

Jennifer FrancisQ. My baby is now 5 weeks old, and I am having a real problem finding the right formula. We have figured out that he is allergic to the regular formula so we put him on soy based formula. We did have him on Isomil but he has been extremely contipated. I have today switched his formula to Alsoy. Will this help with the constipation? Also, will the "easy to breakdown proteins" make him hungrier?

A. I know how frustrating it can be when you can't seem to find the right formula. Changing a baby's formula can disrupt their normal bowel habits, and cause either diarrhea, gas or constipation. If the constipation continues and is severe (baby is straining very hard, there is blood in the diaper, etc.). your doctor can give you some help with that.

The "easy to break down proteins" will not make your baby hungrier. Basically, proteins that are in foods that adults eat are in very long chains made up of amino acids (thousands of them!). Digestive enzymes in our stomachs break them down into individual amino acids that we can absorb into our bloodstream. With these "hydrolyzed" formulas, the chains are already broken down into smaller pieces- in some cases down to two or three amino acids linked together. So the baby is getting the same *amount* of protein as he would with a different formula; it's just already partially "digested".

The only way to make sure your baby is getting all the nutrients he needs is to monitor his weight gain. Your doctor or dietitian will help you keep track of how much he is gaining, and evaluate his growth.

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