Background: The infant formula market has grown significantly and offers a wide range of products for the different stages of healthy infant growth. Healthy infants often go through a series of unnecessary changes of formulas. The present study aimed to identify the factors leading to switches to alternative formulas. We studied the feeding patterns in the first 6 months of babies born at term, particularly changes in infant formulas. We also investigated the reasons for choosing the first formula, infant formula changes, the addition of formulas to supplement breast-feeding, and various aspects related to formula thickening.
Patients and Methods: Two hundred parents of babies ages 6 to 18 months were interviewed. The interviews included a detailed questionnaire and were conducted in child and maternal health care centers.
Results: Forty-seven percent of these infants underwent changes in their formula in the first 6 months of life, most of which (67%) were to another cow's milk–based formula. The main reasons for switching a formula were regurgitation or vomiting (24%) followed by restlessness (18%). Lower z scores at birth and a higher Δz2 (z score at the time of the questionnaire minus z score at birth) were associated with significantly more formula changes. The impact of pediatricians and other health care professionals on the choice of infant nutrition was surprisingly negligible.
Conclusions: The most common reason for switching a formula was concern regarding common infantile symptoms or behavior patterns perceived by parents to be related to formula intolerance. The decision to switch formula was usually made by the parents without consulting a health professional.