When Should I Switch to Follow On Formula?


Infant formula is made from cow milk, goat milk, or soy milk. Regardless of brand, baby formula is specifically processed to meet the nutritional needs of infants while also supporting proper digestive health. Many parents will supplement breastfeeding with infant formula while others may choose to exclusively feed their children baby formula. As babies age, their appetite will increase, and their nutritional needs will also change.  

Feeding Your Child As They Grow

There are many European infant formulas to choose from. Brands such as Holle, HiPP, Nanny Care and many others offer various stages of infant formula to help support proper growth. Infant formula from Europe is available in powder form, in pre-mixed ready to feed liquid formula.

Infant formula offers babies the nutrients they need to grow up healthy and strong, but as they grow older they will need to add other things to their diet. After infants reach a certain age, solids and juices will become a regular part of their daily meals.

Although infant formula has stages that support infant health up to their toddler years, many parents are not sure what the next step should be after reaching that final stage. Depending on which European infant formula brand your family prefers, you have noticed Follow-on formula in the lineup.

What is Infant Follow-on Formula?

Follow on infant formula is suitable for babies that are at least six months old. It can be given alongside solids or other age-appropriate baby food. It is important to note that Follow-on formula and “staged” infant formula have very different nutritional profiles. Regular infant formula is intended as a full meal that provides all the nutritional needs of a child at that stage.

According to the World Health Organization, breast milk is the best form of whole food for an infant, and infant formula is an equal substitute for breast milk. Follow-on formula is not to be used in place of breast milk or infant formula for children whose entire nutritional intake is based on their formula consumption. In other words, it is not to be used as a child’s first milk and is best reserved for children over 12 months of age.

When Should You Feed Your Child Follow-on Formula?

Now that you understand what Follow-on formula is, you may still be confused about when is exactly the best time to feed it to your child. Follow-on infant formula can be introduced as early as 6 months of age. That being said, it is not an infant formula replacement. If you are starting your child on solids, or if you want to give a boost to their current feeding schedule, you can opt to give them Follow-on formula as part of their meals. This is most often referred to as complementary feeding.

In most countries, families will start their children on Follow-on infant formula once they reach at least a year old. Follow-on infant formula is most often casein-based which will keep babies satiated for much longer. Infants who are still hungry after their regular feedings can supplement with Follow-on infant formula once they are at least six months of age. Infants and toddlers who are transitioning to solids can also supplement with Follow-on infant formula to help balance their nutritional profiles.

Is Follow-On Infant Formula Healthy?

Follow-on formula is often are packed with higher amounts of iron, calcium, protein and other micro-nutrients. The concentrations are higher than breast milk and even traditional European infant formula. While a boosted nutrient profile can be good for some children, it is also important to note that most infants in the West consume much more protein and fat that is recommended. A higher level of protein during the early years can also lead to a higher chance of a child becoming obese as they age.

This is not to say that Follow-on formula is unhealthy, but rather that it should be used at the right time along with a complimentary diet. Follow-on formula is beneficial for infants who are having trouble weaning and missing out on essential nutrients as well as fussy eaters who may not be gaining as much weight as they should for their age. Many brands also add DHA, an essential fatty acid to their Follow-on formula blends. This omega 3 fatty acid helps to boost short-term visual function in small children.

The Bottom Line

European Follow-on infant formula offers extra nutritional benefits for children who are having trouble weaning, those who are transitioning to solids, and those who may not be eating enough solid foods. Six months of age is the earliest that you can feed your child Follow-on infant formula, but keep in mind that it is not a replacement for breast milk or regular infant formula.

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