Understanding the Carbohydrates in Baby Formula

There is a debate whether it’s needed to include sugar into the child’s diet and it surely does. Sugar is the type of carbohydrate the main function of which is to enrich the babies with energy. The contribution to the energy value of the diet is 55-58%. During the first 5 years of life, a child develops most rapidly. The brain grows very fast, lungs develop, bones form, and so on. All these processes require a lot of energy and nutrients. Energy consumption per kilogram of weight in infants is higher than in adults since part of it is spent on growth. During the first 4 months of life, about 27% of energy is spent on growth, and by the end of the first year of life, this percentage drops to 5.

The main source of baby feeding is surely breast milk, however, not all women can breastfeed, so bottle-feeding comes to the rescue. It is a good alternative for infant nutrition which has all essential vitamins and compounds including carbohydrates.

Carbohydrates in Baby Formula

The compound is responsible for one-third of calories entering the body. That’s why the European Commission requires european baby formula provides 50% of their calories segment from carbohydrates – lactose. It is the primary sugar contained in breast milk. However, except for lactose, maltodextrin, rarely corn syrup, and solids, sometimes sucrose can be used as carbohydrates while producing infant formula.


Almost all kids are born with the lactase enzyme that is responsible for lactose digestion. That’s why the best sugar for babies is lactose which is found in breast milk. For baby formula, the compound is derived from whey. This disaccharide was first isolated by the Italian Fabrizio Bertoletti in 1615. He evaporated the whey, and then cooled it, resulting in a slurry containing lactose. To this day, the production process of this substance has not changed much.


Maltodextrin can be used as a carbohydrate in infant formula in a combination with lactose. For those suffering from lactose intolerance, this compound is the only main source of carbohydrates. It is also used as a food thickener, which prevents it from being thrown from the stomach into the esophagus and oral cavity, which is regurgitation. For healthy babies, there is nothing critical in maltodextrin. Kids get more energy in a short time, and this does not adversely affect their health and does not lead to being overweight.

Corn Syrup/Syrup Solids

The reason why manufacturers use corn syrup in the production of baby feeding is its cheapness. Even though the research has shown that syrup solids are safe for infants there were no longitudinal studies about long-term effects on health. That is why the European Commission bans corn syrup solids in baby formula.


It is categorically not recommended to use formula where sucrose plays the role of carbohydrate. The point is, once entering the baby’s stomach, sucrose is turned into glucose and fructose. It means that fructose covers 50% of all carbohydrate sources, which is contraindicated for children from 1 to 3 years old. Luckily the EU regulated commission strictly forbid the use of sucrose in the designing formula. However, some US baby feeding can include sucrose.

The Bottom Line

Sugar provides the body with energy which is extremely needed for growing kids. Do not be afraid to find it in baby formula content such as HiPP formula stage 2. Sugar is a carbohydrate, which is why you can see it in the ingredients list. What’s even more, the composition is fully optimized and complies with regulatory documents on baby food standards.

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