While the choices in formulas can seem overwhelming, they actually fall into 3 main categories: cow's milk, plant-protein based such as soy - or hydrolyzed.

Regular formulas are cow's milk based and work well for most babies. However, many babies experience fussiness or gas around feeding times and may require a partially hydrolyzed formula that's easy to digest. Babies with milk protein allergy may require an extensively hydrolyzed formula. These formulas contain cow's milk proteins that have been extensively broken down so they are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction.

Within the world of hydrolyzed formulas, you may have noticed one or more of the following terms: partially hydrolyzed, extensively hydrolyzed, predigested, partially broken down or extensively broken down. While these descriptors sound quite different, they all describe similar types of formulas.

These tailored formulas aren't actually predigested, but hydrolyzed formulas are often referred to as being predigested because the milk protein has already been broken down into smaller proteins.

A quick way to understand how hydrolyzed formulas are different.

Start by thinking of the milk protein in formula as the size of an entire string of pearls. Now picture breaking that string of pearls in five spots, giving you several smaller strands of pearls. At that point, you'd have the partially hydrolyzed protein found in partially hydrolyzed formulas, which are easy for many babies to digest. If those smaller strands were broken down yet again, you'd be left with the much smaller milk protein pieces found in an extensively hydrolyzed formula, which is hypoallergenic. It's kind of amazing, but when the protein gets broken down into pieces that small in an extensively hydrolyzed formula, the baby's system doesn't even detect the milk protein, and most times there's no allergic reaction.

Which hydrolyzed formula might be right for my baby?
A partially hydrolyzed formula:

  • Helps ease common behaviors of digestive discomfort such as fussiness, gas and crying
  • Has gentle protein
  • Has easy-to-digest proteins that are partially broken down
  • Provides complete nutrition.

While many babies on partially hydrolyzed formulas are following the suggestion of their pediatricians, other moms who have used such formulas successfully for one child simply start their new baby on a partially hydrolyzed formula see continued success. Enfamil Gentlease® is designed to reduce fussiness, gas and crying within 24 hours and offers the complete nutrition your baby needs to reach key milestones. If your baby has fussy feedings, ask the pediatrician if Gentlease might be a good choice.

An extensively hydrolyzed formula is:

  • Effective in managing cow's milk protein allergy for most babies
  • Made with very small protein parts that minimize the chances of the baby having an allergic reaction
  • Designed to get allergic babies back on track
  • Nutritionally complete

When an extensively hydrolyzed formula successfully manages a cow's milk protein allergy, babies generally remain on this type of formula, which still provides the complete nutrition they need to reach developmental milestones. Milk protein allergies are often outgrown by the time children reach school age and most go on to be able to digest dairy products without a problem.

An extensively hydrolyzed formula like Nutramigen® can manage the colic due to cow's milk allergy fast - often within 48 hours. This tailored formula has been helping babies feel better for over 70 years - and has numerous clinical trials behind it. Recent innovations such as Nutramigen® with Enflora™ LGG® can help babies acquire tolerance fast - often by the age of one year.

If you think your baby may have cow's milk protein allergy because you've noticed hives, skin rashes, diarrhea, constipation, a chronic runny nose or long periods of crying, ask the pediatrician if Nutramigen might be a good choice.