Baby’s First Milk – What does my baby really need?

best baby formula

Have you ever given a second thought to the baby goods section at your local supermarket before you were pregnant? So many tiny jars of colorful mush, rows and rows of formula and nappies everywhere – now that you know you’ll be needing them soon, you don’t just pass by without another glance any more. The seemingly endless options can feel completely overwhelming and it can be tough researching all the different kinds of baby foods out there. In order to help you make sense of it all, we’ve gathered some ready-to-use information on several different kinds of infant milks for you.

Breast Milk

True: No need to go shopping for breast milk, or to decipher any list of ingredients. It’s the absolute best diet for your baby; not only does it contain all the nutrients your newborn requires to grow, but also helps him or her develop a strong immune system.
But as things don’t always go according to plan, breastfeeding may not be the right option for you and your baby – be that for personal reasons or because your baby just won’t drink. If that’s the case, please ask your doctor, midwife or a lactation specialist – it’s okay to use all the help you can find!

Thankfully, there’s more than just this one option to feed your baby and the research in baby formula has brought several great alternatives onto market.

First Infant Milk

Suitable from birth onwards, first infant milks are designed to meet the specific needs of your baby – right from the start. This type of formula can be used as a sole food or as complementary feeding to breastfeeding. It is usually based on lactose only. To provide benefits as close to breast milk as possible, many producers include very special ingredients, such as prebiotics and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, which are crucial for an infant’s healthy development. You can read all about that here. In any case, it is always good to read the packaging information carefully and choose the formula you trust.

Follow-On Milk

While it’s possible and absolutely okay to feed first infant milk for your baby’s entire first year or even longer, follow-on milk is designed for different age groups, starting at 6 months and going up to a year. As your baby develops, so do his or her nutritional needs: with an advanced digestion, your baby requires higher energy input and nutrients from a variety of sources. That’s why follow-on milk will in general be a bit more filling than the first infant milk, thanks to containing extra carbs, like starch and maltodextrin.
Follow-on milk is great in combination with baby’s first foods: purees, fruits and veggies, as well as porridges. You can also use follow-on milk complementary to breastfeeding.

Hydrolysed Protein Formula

For babies at a high risk of developing an allergy to milk protein, or who may have developed such an allergy already, special hydrolysed formula is produced. The milk proteins are partly or fully split, reducing the risk of an allergic reaction. You may find that even if you breastfeed your baby and consume lots of dairy products, your baby may react differently. Please see your doctor if you think that your baby might be reacting badly to milk-based products, for example if you notice an increase in diarrhea, reflux, eczema or constipation.

Premature Baby Milk

In case your baby was born early and your milk supply hasn’t kicked in yet, there are plenty of options to get you through this already tough time. The best thing to do is to pump consistently, so that your milk supply can establish itself. In the meantime or in case your preemie isn’t able to latch on yet, special milks for premature babies exist. Please talk to your doctor or your neonatal care unit to find the best option for you!

Growing-Up Milk

After about a year, babies are able to fully digest regular cow’s milk. They may prefer their bottles of formula or continued breastfeeding (and that’s more than okay too!), and both of these can be continued on for longer than a year. But if you and your baby are finding yourselves ready to make a switch, go for it! Along with the cow’s milk you yourself drink, you’ll find growing-up milk for toddlers between one and three years old – these are enhanced with extra vitamins and prebiotics to make sure your little one is getting all the nutrients it needs.

Homemade Baby Formula

Some parents don’t feel comfortable buying industrial-made baby formula, not knowing which ingredients go into it and where some of them come from. We absolutely get that, that’s why we have developed our own traceability codes on each product so you can be sure that you’re only feeding your baby formula with ingredients you feel comfortable with. You may find the internet holds plenty of DIY baby formula recipes to be made at home – but there’s so much that can go wrong with this! The milk that we as adults don’t think twice about drinking cannot be fully digested by babies younger than one year old, neither does it provide an appropriate composition of nutrients for an infant. By making your own formula at home, you’re putting your baby at a high risk for gastrointestinal infections – please always talk to your doctor before making any decisions in regards to feeding your baby homemade milk.

Good Night Milk

As an even more filling alternative to follow-on milk, good night milk blends formula with added cereals. This can be a great option for you if your baby isn’t a big fan of porridge by itself yet but tends to wake up at night because it’s hungry after regular follow-on milk. Of course, you can also have porridge or other foods your baby loves, along with the evening bottle, in order to make sure your baby is full and happy.


We hope that the next time you’re at the store, you’ll have an easier time deciding what to go for – because let’s face it, the options are (almost) endless. As a general rule: It’s always smart to take a look at the ingredients of any formula you’re thinking of giving your baby – and most of all, just do what feels right! If you’re happy breastfeeding for a full year or longer, that’s great – and if you’d like to start weaning with different options, that’s also valid. Let us know how feeding works for you on our social media channels – and don’t forget to check out our baby milks, now available exclusively at Whole Foods!