Ask AF: Staying on Formula

If you suspect your child was malnourished before adoption, it may be okay to keep them on formula a bit longer than normal.

Q: We’ve been feeding our 13-month-old daughter formula enriched with DHA and ARA since her arrival home three months ago. Recently, we’ve been mixing it with whole milk, so that we can switch her entirely to milk, as our pediatrician suggested. We’re concerned that she was malnourished before adoption — is this a reason to continue formula beyond the usual one-year mark?


A: You’re right to be concerned if your daughter was underweight or otherwise malnourished before adoption. I typically advise parents to keep a newly adopted child on formula until she’s been home at least four or five months, or until she demonstrates excellent catch-up growth. So, no, you should not feel pressed to switch your daughter to milk immediately.

Continuing formula beyond a child’s first birthday is a good way to give her the calories, minerals, and vitamins she needs while introducing other foods.

Additionally, if your daughter is one of the many children from institutions who come home with an aversion to solid food, the extra nutrients in formula will give her the nourishment she needs while you introduce her to new foods at a comfortable pace.

Copyright © 1999-2024 Adoptive Families Magazine®. All rights reserved. For personal use only. Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.

More articles like this

Elizabeth Curry with some of her children featured in May M. Tchao's documentary Hayden and Her Family.