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Shelve costly formula

Wednesday, 9th December, 2015

Feeding babies formula after they are 12 months old is a waste of money, according to a doctor.

Baby formulas hit the headlines last month when the supermarkets started running out of them because families overseas, particularly in China, began buying them up.

The supermarkets put a limit on the number of tins or packets that could be bought but then last week the price of some formulas rose by a third.

Dr Paul Gardiner, President of the Queensland Branch of the Public Health Association of Australia, said that he wanted health professionals including pharmacists, GPs and child health nurses to help reduce the pressure on household budgets by spreading the word that the formulas were not needed.

“The media has done well in highlighting that overseas demand for Australian infant formulas have driven up the costs in Australia, yet they have failed to highlight that many of these formulas are simply not necessary,” said Dr Gardiner.

According to the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Infant Feeding Guidelines, follow-on formulas are defined by the Australia and New Zealand Food Standards Code as those suitable for 6 to 12-month-old babies. 

They are also labelled “stage 2” or “step 2” formulas. Manufacturers have also created “stage 3” and even “stage 4” for children 12 months and older and officially called toddler milk.  

It is the stage 2 and beyond formulas where the biggest shortages are being seen and where some of the largest price increases have been reported. 

The NHMRC states: “the use of ‘follow-on formula’ for infants aged 6-12 months is not considered necessary”.  

From 12 months of age, recommendations state that children can drink full cream cow’s milk and those who are breastfed may continue to breastfeed as part of a healthy diet. 

“Cow’s milk is much cheaper than formula and breastmilk is effectively free,” said Dr Gardiner.

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