icon-arrow-down icon icon-arrow-fill-down icon icon-arrow-next icon icon-arrow-prev icon icon-tag-close icon
Infants' Bottles: Formula, breast milk, whole milk, or corn syrup?
Q: I am an Early Childhood Educator in an Infant Room. We have a child that is 6 months old and has ½ oz. of corn syrup added to all of his bottles. This child is also on whole milk. The mum states that the corn syrup helps with constipation, but my co-workers and I feel that the whole milk is what's causing the stomach problems and that the corn syrup is not healthy for the baby. Please send me any information you can on this subject.
A: I applaud you for your concern about the health and well-being of the children you care for in child care. I’m sure that parents are comforted to know that early childhood educators and child care providers are so attentive to the health of their children.

You are right in noting that it is highly unusual to give a 6-month-old baby whole milk and corn syrup. Experts recommend that infants be given breast milk or formula for the first year of life—cow’s milk shouldn’t be started until 12 months of age. Since infants’ digestive systems are still immature, starting cow’s milk too early can lead to digestive problems and milk allergies. Some families give their infants corn syrup because they think it helps keep their bowel movements regular. But corn syrup is not necessary and can even be harmful for babies—it can cause stomach cramping and diarrhea; and it has even rarely led to botulism poisoning, paralysis and death.

Your child care program should have a policy that helps you deal with unusual nutritional or health requests from parents. Talk with the parents about your need to clarify the recommendations for the baby’s feedings with the child’s pediatrician. Ask the parents need to sign a Release of Information for you to communicate with the pediatrician about the child’s medical care. Talk with the pediatrician—express your concerns about the child’s symptoms and ask the doctor for written recommendations for the child’s feeding. In all, try your best to work with the pediatrician and the family to come to a consensus about what’s healthiest for the baby.
Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician