Difference between Step 1 vs Step 2 vs Step 3 Formula Milk in Malaysia 2021

   

Milk is something that a lot of us find confusing and unclear, especially when it comes to the topic of Step 1 vs Step 2 vs Step 3 vs Step 4 formula milk. It can be tricky to figure out what type of milk is suitable for each stage of your child's growth. 

Of course, breast milk is the best food for babies. However, if you aren't able to or just don't have the time to breastfeed, the huge selection of baby formulas available on the Malaysian market can be hard to make sense of: infant formula, step 1, step 2, step 3, step 4, etc. 

In this article, I’ll take you through the recommended diet for the first few years of your babies life and explain what is the difference between each step of formula milk in Malaysia. 


Difference between Newborn vs Infant vs Toddler Formula

1. Difference Between Infant Formula and Step 1 Formula Milk

- Infant formula resembles breast milk more

- Infant formula's only form of carbohydrate is lactose 
- Step 1 formula contains starch in addition to lactose

- Infant formula is usually watery, has less protein content, and is easier for babies to digest
- Step 1 formula is creamier than infant milk and will keep your baby full longer

- Both formulas can be used from birth onwards.
- Both formulas can be used until the baby stops bottle feeding.


2. Difference Between Step 1 and Step 2 Formula Milk

- Step 1 and step 2 formula milk have similar nutrients. The main difference is the ratio of casein and whey proteins, which are both derived from milk.

- Step 1 formulas are whey dominant just like breast milk which has a whey to casein ratio of about 60:40. Whey digests quickly compared to casein.

Step 2 formulas are similar to Step 1 formulas but has more casein, with a whey to casein ratio of 20:80. Casein digests slower, keeping babies full for longer.


- Step 2 formulas are often creamier than step 1 formula and has more energy, making it more satiating for babies older than 6 months.

Step 2 formula is mainly appropriate when your child starts eating baby food. It can be used to supplement baby food if your baby is still hungry after drinking step 1 milk. 

- Step 2 formula can be used starting from month 7 (earliest) until the baby stops bottle feeding. 


3. Difference Between Step 2 and Step 3 / Step 4 Formula Milk

- Step 3 formula usually has more starch and energy contents than Step 2 formula, making babies full for longer.

- Step 3 formula is usually not as micro and macronutrient dense as Step 1 or Step 2 formula milk, as it is considered as a weaning formula.


About Step 3 Formula Milk

Step 3 formula is appropriate for toddlers 12 months or older. 

It shouldn't be used as a substitute for a healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, and proteins. This formula milk should be a part of your baby's diet, and shouldn't replace solid foods.

It may not be necessary for toddlers who are already eating a lot of healthy foods. However, if the child cannot consume enough normal food, step 3 formula could be useful. 

As always, consult a child specialist for specific nutrition advice.


Baby Nutrition Guide

1. 0-6 months - Step 1

Newborns should either breast milk or infant formula on demand.

Breast Milk
For new-born babies, WHO advices to solely breastfeed for the first 6 months and then continue with additional nutritious foods up to 2 years old, based on you and your baby's needs. (Source)

Breastfeeding is usually the better option compared to formula milk because it.. 
- Adapts to the baby's changing requirements
- Provides babies with all of the vital nutrition and hydration they need 
- Helps protect against infection and to build a healthy immune system 
- Is a cheap and convenient to feed your babies wherever and whenever they need to.


Infant Formula Milk
In case breastfeeding doesn’t work or you choose not to breastfeed, infant formula is the only suitable alternative. It should be your baby’s only source of nutrition for the first 6 months. A formula-fed infant will drink every 3 - 4 hours and will increase as your baby grows.

According to NHS guidelines, cow’s milk and other substitutes should not be introduced as a main drink until after 1 year. Never start solids before 4 months. Source

Always seek medical advice before buying infant formula. 

Here are some infant milk formulas you can get in Malaysia..
- Enfalac A+ Step 1 (1.8 kg): RM219.20 > Lazada 
- Similac Step 1 (1.2 kg), RM135.10 > Lazada
- Nestle NAN Pro Step 1 (600g), RM76.36 > Lazada
- Anmum Infacare Step 1 (650g), RM67 >  Lazada


4-6 Months Old
Most babies are ready to start solids around 5 - 6 months old. 
Some signs that show they are ready include..
- Mastering the grabbing skill
- Developing head and neck control
- Losing the tongue-thrust mechanism that automatically pushes food out of their mouth. N

Aim to feed about 1-2 tablespoons of food twice a day to your baby. Solid food shouldn't replace milk as the main source of nutrients. 



2. 6-12 months - Step 2

At 6 months, parents will usually introduce more foods into their baby’s diet, so the amount of milk they will need will gradually decrease. For both formula-fed and breastfed babies, the amount of milk they drink should naturally adjust according to how much food they have eaten.

However, for babies 6 to 9 months old, most of their calories should still come from breast milk or formula. Don’t stress about getting them to eat bite after bite of solid food. Feed up to two meals daily (or once every couple of days for some babies), with each meal 2 to 4 tablespoons. 

Suitable baby foods include iron-fortified single-grain baby cereal along with pureed vegetables, fruits, and meats. You can also try offering finger foods like cut vegetables, fruit, yogurt and cheese. However, try not to introduce more than one food at a time to identify possible allergies or digestive problems. 

If they seem to have an endless appetite or don’t seem to be eating enough, contact your child specialist.


9-12 Months Old

At this age, about half of your baby’s calories may usually come from food and the other half from breast milk or formula.

Babies these age are usually interested in trying new foods, so you can try to give them small pieces of your own meals. If they want more, give them more, but if they push it away, maybe that item is just not their one of their favourites.

Babies like to play with their food, so you can try using yogurt, cheese or oats as a sauce for vegetables or whole-grain crackers. Just remember to cut the foods properly and to avoid hard pieces to prevent choking.


3. 12 months onwards - Step 3 / Step 4

Summary : Feed breast milk, dairy milk (cow / goat / etc), alternative plant based milk (soy), more soft / semi solid foods. Seek medical advice before feeding non breast milk alternatives.

Children will usually start to eat larger, more regular meals and get most of their nutrition from foods other than milk. WHO recommends that babies continue to be breast fed up to 2 years and beyond, but they may begin to need less breast milk as they eat more food.

After 12 months, your baby may not need formula milk anymore as they can start drinking cow’s milk and other alternatives more regularly.

Below are some of the main types of milk that may be given at this stage.

Cow’s Milk - For children under 2, choose full-fat cow’s milk. Semi-skimmed doesn’t have the same nutrient profile in terms of vitamins and minerals and has less energy. 

Goat’s / Sheep’s Milk - Their nutrient profiles are similar to cow’s milk so as long as they’re pasteurised, they’re alright to offer. 

Soya Drinks & Other Milk Alternatives - As part of a healthy, balanced diet, soya, oat, almond and other vegetable based milks can be offered or used in cooking. However, they are usually not as nutritionally comparable to cow’s milk. Furthermore, not all brands fortify with the same nutrients.


2 years and above
Summary : Feed cow's milk or alternative, and a balanced diet. Formula milk as an addition if the child is not receiving enough nutrients.

Children will start to eat a more varied, balanced diet and may rely less on milk. You may adjust how much milk you give them based on their diet throughout the week. If your child's diet doesn’t include dairy, you should consider how you can replace any nutrients they might be missing out on, such as formula milk or alternative foods.


Sources

https://www.srnutrition.co.uk/2019/08/milk-recommendations-for-infants-toddlers/
https://www.aptaclub.de/en/baby/which-milk-should-i-use-and-when.html
https://www.who.int/nutrition/topics/infantfeeding_recommendation/en/
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/baby/weaning-and-feeding/drinks-and-cups-for-babies-and-young-children/


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