Mothers' own milk is the best source of nutrition for nearly all infants. Beyond somatic growth, breast milk as a biologic fluid has a variety of other benefits, including modulation of postnatal intestinal function, immune ontogeny, and brain development. Although breastfeeding is highly recommended, breastfeeding may not always be possible, suitable or solely adequate. Infant formula is an industrially produced substitute for infant consumption. Infant formula attempts to mimic the nutritional composition of breast milk as closely as possible, and is based on cow's milk or soymilk. A number of alternatives to cow's milk-based formula also exist. In this article, we review the nutritional information of breast milk and infant formulas for better understanding of the importance of breastfeeding and the uses of infant formula from birth to 12 months of age when a substitute form of nutrition is required.
Keywords: breast milk; cow’s milk allergy; cow’s milk alternatives; infant formula.