Choosing a baby formula can be a daunting task with all of the options available and all of the confusing words and blends. Should you pick organic? Is non-GMO necessary? Every baby is different and every mother has different preferences for her baby but this list should help to guide you to find the right choice.
If you want to know our top choice, it’s Plum Organics Sensitive baby formula. Why this formula? Because it’s organic, non-GMO, and has the best ingredients formulated by parents with babies best interest.
Not every mother is concerned about organic. Some doctors have said that organic formula is not necessary. In that case, we recommend Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Formula for quality ingredients.
The 15 Best Baby Formulas
1. Plum Organics Infant Formula
Best Organic Baby Formula
Many experts suggest organic formulas are not worth the money but many moms will gain peace of mind knowing they are feeding their baby the very best ingredients. Those moms should buy Plum Organics Infant Formula with Iron. Sure, Earth’s Best Organic formula is a great option and a hair more affordable, but Plum brand takes organic formula to new heights.
Not all mothers can breastfeed but they still want the best for their baby and Plum Organics has a bit more brain-nourishing fat. The main ingredients in both are very similar and of course, from organic sources. Take a look at the ingredients:
All of the ingredients are in the right order to help your baby grown and thrive as best as possible. Lactose is the first ingredient instead of corn syrup and is a great start for babies with no tummy troubles. Even better, this formula is NON-GMO, offers DHA and ARA for brain and eye development, is kosher, and gluten-free.
Finally, for mom’s who find confidence in the quality of organic ingredients this formula will appeal to your desire to feed your baby well and appeal to your baby’s desire for a full belly! Lastly, You can expect this powder to mix well. Also, the scoop has a designated spot.
Babies with milk allergies or a sensitive tummy may find the lactose and whey protein concentrate difficult to swallow or have issues with constipation. If you switch from a new formula your infant may experience constipation from a change in food for a week or so and this should not be too alarming. Sadly, even this organic formula uses soy oils but finding a formula without soy is a difficult task.
This formula does tend to be a bit frothy, fine on a beer but on a formula, it can be frustrating and increase gas. Every baby is different and while this may the best most delicious bottle for one baby, another might snub her nose at it and scream for something different. Finally, the formula may out of price range for some.
For more information on organic formula, check out this article on How To Pick The Right Organic Formula.
2. Similac For Supplementation Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron
Best Formula for Supplementing Breast Milk
If breastfeeding alone is not working out for your family and you need to supplement, you may want to try Similac For Supplementation Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron. No matter the reason you wish to supplement, this formula will care for your infant’s dietary needs. The list of ingredients is very similar to many other formula’s, although, unlike most of the Similac formula’s which tend to use corn syrup as one of the main ingredients. As a matter of fact, this formula is outstanding in regards to its maker.
First, this formula is free of corn syrup which is a bit astonishing but necessary for breastfeeding moms who do not want sharp sugars to draw their babies taste buds away from breast milk. Even more surprising is the lack of maltodextrin a potentially nefarious ingredient that causes blood sugar spikes and inhibits the function of probiotics. Also, the omega fatty acid Linoleic Acid is in abundance in this supplementing formula.
All of the rest of the vitamins and minerals are comparable to other formula’s on the market including organic versions. Next, you can expect this formula to be a suitable formula to introduce formula into your baby’s diet with great benefits such as DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E.
Finally, the unique combo of nonfat milk, lactose, and whey protein in that order, should be more settling for your tot’s tummy from infancy through to six-months, seven-months, or up to the first year. Finally, this blend is Non-GMO, bonus!
Do be sure to check the expiration date as this has been an issue for some customers. Of course, with all formula’s babies will have an adjustment period that may cause a bit of stomach trouble. Overall, this blend is rather decent. Babies may snub their little nose at the smell compared to breast milk, their normal drink. The change can be a bit of a jolt but if offered to a hungry baby, but she will eventually eat.
3. Baby’s Only Organic Non-GMO Soy Formula
Best Vegan Formula
Baby’s Only Organic Non-GMO Soy Toddler Formula is a fabulous vegan baby formula. Now do not fret too much over a formula marked for toddlers instead of infants. The blend is quite sufficient for infants but as is always recommended, feel free to check with your family physician. I emailed the company and they were nice enough to send me a few documents supporting the use of this and their other formulas for babies but for regulations purposes are required to label the packaging as a toddler formula. Speaking of ingredients, take a look.
If you have the option, you may want to pick a lactose based formula to more closely mimic breast milk, but that is not always the right choice especially for babies with lactose intolerance or parents who prefer to avoid animal byproducts and cannot nurse. Take a look at the pros and cons of this blend.
Have you ever seen Brown Rice Syrup as the first ingredient of baby formula? Me neither. Mind you, this is a sweetener meant to serve as a complex carb for your infant. With this as the main ingredient, soy takes a slightly lower spot which may be great for your babies health and all the while with organic ingredients and no GMOs.
Still listening? The minor problem with the brown rice syrup is a sweetener is still a type of sugar to entice your baby into a love of sweet foods. But with vegan as a limitation, lactose is not an option and soy alone can cause stomach problems. At least this brand has found an option other than syrup from a corn base to easy tummy troubles when breast milk and milk are not an option.
This formula while vegan does not offer any prebiotics and lutein. Also, as with all formula’s, this one also has soybean oil and this one is coupled with the other soy proteins as well as soy lecithin. You can expect some babies will not tolerate the combination offered and may react with constipation or other stomach issues but for a lactose-free option, you will not find better. While the rice syrup may be a better option than corn syrup, it’s still a sugar carb that can spike blood sugar levels. Finally, with organic vanilla added for flavor, you and your baby may find the smell to be on the strong side.
4. Enfamil Enspire Infant Formula
Best Non-GMO Formula
Enfamil’s Enspire Infant Formula is not just non-GMO but Enfamil’s formula closet to breast milk. What makes this blend unique is lactoferrin, MFGM, and DHA paired with Choline.
Beyond these ingredients, this blend offers a host of wholesome goodness to nourish your baby for the first year of their life. Even better, the formula offers prebiotics and ARA. Take a closer look at the ingredients and then we can discuss the importance of the ones found in this cognitive and immunity formula.
Above I mentioned lactoferrin, MFGM, DHA with Choline. The first, lactoferrin is a protein that supports the immune system and is found in breast milk. MFGM is a lipid (fat)found in breast milk and it supports mental development and the same is true for DHA and Choline. These particular ingredients are not found in other formulas expect the DHA. Look below and you will see another Enfamil blend with a few of these ingredients.
Any ingredients that help formula more closely mimic breast milk is a win in the formula book. Other ingredients increase the beneficial nature of this blend. First, the milk and lactose are first, much like in breast milk. Also, this blend offers whey protein in two forms for more brain healthy fats. Finally, you will see two prebiotics to help keep healthy bacteria in your baby’s belly.
The above fabulous ingredients do increase the cost of the formula. One of the prebiotics, polydextrose, is a bit controversial as it is a sugar substitute but with less than one percent this is not nearly as concerning as maltodextrin or corn syrups, neither of which are in this formula.
The added whey and lack of corn syrup, however, can be too harsh for some babies tummies and they may experience some tummy troubles like constipation, gas, a rash, or reflux. Again, as with all formula’s, there is a variety because no two babies are the same. This one is definitely worth a try as it tries so hard to be like breast milk.
5. Similac NeoSure Infant Formula with Iron
Best Formula for Premature Babies
Similac NeoSure Infant Formula with Iron is designed especially for premature babies. What’s different about this formula than all of the others on the market? MCT oil. You know the stuff you add to your coffee for potential weight loss? Well, it’s proven that this fatty acid will improve the weight of premature babies. Yes, actual studies show significant improvement in the weight of infants born a bit early.
This is a game changer my friends and why you should consider making this the formula for your baby born early. Also, you can use this formula for the entire first year of your baby’s life to keep the growth going. However, you may want to switch once your baby reaches the correct weight.
Let’s take a look at the ingredients:
First off, this formula touts DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E all wonderful ingredients as previously discussed. You will want those ingredients along with the MCT for your preemie. Also, non-GMO is an added bonus as we don’t want the tiniest bellies to deal with GMOs. The first ingredient is milk for the win.
After corn syrup you see lactose and then all the fats followed by the vitamins. Notice the lack of maltodextrin. This formula also packs in a little extra protein and fat for brain health and a decent amount of linoleic acid, a healthy plant-based fat. All of these ingredients add up to a healthier weight, length, and head circumference.
Unfortunately, the second ingredient is corn syrup solids. Don’t worry too much though, a quick call to Similac confirmed this is just corn syrup and not High Fructose Corn Syrup sure to raise your preemie’s sugar levels. You will notice this list focuses more on formula’s without corn syrup but for preemies, corn syrup was unavoidable.
The syrup can help sensitive tummies more easily digest cow proteins but too much sugar can lead to life long issues. No reason to start at birth unless you need to. This is why you may wish to switch to a new formula once your baby is up to weight. The remaining worry is will your baby switch to a non-corn syrup formula after a couple of months with the added sweetness? Each baby is different but it’s worth a try.
If you need more information on the best formula for preemies read this article.
6. Enfamil Premium Newborn Non-GMO Infant Formula
Best Newborn Formula
The Enfamil PREMIUM Newborn Non-GMO Infant Formula is not just a decent newborn formula but also they feel compelled to tell us the tub is reusable. Cut a hole in the top and turn it into a bank because this formula is a little bit cheaper than some of Enfamil’s other blends.
This blend also promises to be closer to breast milk with important ingredients like DHA and two prebiotics. Honestly though, the only difference between this formula and the Enfamil Enspire, which claims to be their closest to breast milk, is a few amounts of vitamins and probiotics. Take a look at the ingredients:
Enfamil’s newborn formula offers all the good stuff you expect from their brand and an improved formula continually working towards the breast milk. Most parents seem to like this formula because it has omega fatty DHA than other brands but with a nice price tag. Finally, don’t forget the tub is reusable. Forget using old butter tubs to store leftover spaghetti!
This formula exchanges lactoferrin for polydextrose. As stated earlier, polydextrose serves as a prebiotic but can increase sugar levels. Lactoferrin – found in Enfamil’s Enspire – is like thieves oil but all natural to the body. This protein is an iron-binding, antibacterial, antiviral, antifungal superhero that even protects against cancer.
As with all things it does have the downside of stomach troubles in some people which is probably why it wasn’t put in the newborn formula. Either way, a little gas seems better than a sugar spike especially with less than one percent of a formula. That’s it, no other complaints about this formula but honestly, the Enspire might be a better choice overall unless your baby has a delicate tummy.
7. Go & Grow by Similac Non-GMO
Best Formula for 12+ Months
Now that your baby is a toddler you may want to continue giving formula. Try Go & Grow by Similac Non-GMO Toddler Milk-Based Drink with 2’-FL HMO for Immune Support. The first thing you will notice is the non-GMO boldly printed at the top. Score one for Similac with this toddler formula.
The next benefit of this toddler milk-based drink is Similac’s signature breast milk replica ingredient 2′-FL HMO Human Milk Oligosaccharide. Finally, this formula touts brain and eye development and immune support up to the age of three. Tell me a two-year-old who eats all of his vitamins and couldn’t stand for a little extra nutrition? Most two-year-olds skip the spinach and kale. Take a peek at the ingredients:
First things first, this drink offers two times more calcium than yogurt, thirty times more iron than milk, and three times more vitamin E than broccoli. That’s a whole lot of good nutrition not found in chicken nuggets, Cheerios, and a juice alone. Most toddler diets are limited at best to the previously mentioned food, Goldfish, and mac’n’cheese.
Also, this formula offers something few toddlers get – a powerful prebiotic sugar called 2′ -FL HMO. We haven’t even mentioned calcium, omega fatty acids, vitamin D, and a whole host of other vitamins and minerals toddlers need. Lastly, this formula is sans corn syrup unlike the toddler drinks by Enfamil.
With no whey protein, this formula is low on protein. Most toddlers are willing to scarf down a few chicken nuggets or some ham to fulfill this need. Fats are a little low but trust me, toddlers eat enough fat in their diet and what fat this does offer is good fat to supplement.
Finally, while the drink does not have corn syrup, most toddler foods and beverages probably taste much better than this and the corn syrup might possibly encourage them to keep drink. Of course, if you were giving them formula all along as an infant without corn syrup they may be willing to continue drinking a cup of this a day. Every toddler will make a different choice.
8. Earth’s Best Organic Infant Powder Formula
Best Earth’s Best Baby Formula
Earth’s Best Organic Infant Powder Formula with Iron, Omega-3 DHA & Omega-6 ARA is their original formula and it’s packed full of wholesome organic goodness. The brand offers five different formulas, a gentle, a sensitive, a non-DHA and ARA formula, and a soy blend. This original powder is just right for babies without stomach issues. The amount of fats, carbs, protein, water, vitamins, and minerals is consistent with most formula’s on the market. Earth’s Best is so committed to excellence, even their packaging is made from recycled materials. Here are the ingredients:
Earth’s Best designed their original formula to be more like breast milk. To do so they added DHA and ARA for brain and eye health along with lutein for the eyes. Next, like most blends available today this blend includes prebiotic fiber and is iron fortified. Some worry that organic brands are not as scrutinized will be pleased to know this blend meets all the FDA’s infant nutrition requirements all without GMOs. Even better, this blend avoided corn syrup and maltodextrin. The sensitivity blend by Earth’s Best does have corn syrup which is why it was not the first choice although, the corn syrups intended purpose – as with all formulas – is to assist tiny tummies in digesting cow proteins.
The recyclable packaging may be better for the environment but seems to be damaged easily in shipping. The formula may have a bit of a tendency to be foamy when mixed but this is true of many formulas and is the nature of powders in general. Finally, a few babies did not find this formula to be sensitive enough for their tummies, as this is not a sensitive formula this is not surprising information.
9. Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula
Similac’s Best Baby Formula
More and more, baby formula companies are searching for ways to make a formula like breast milk and include added ingredients more closely resembling human milk. Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron, with 2’-FL HMO, for Immune Support, Baby Formula is Similac’s blend closest to breast milk because of the added 2′-FL HMO or human milk oligosaccharide a prebiotic found in human milk.
Even better, this brand avoids GMOs. The company does need to – like all other formula companies – find a way to make baby formula without corn syrups and maltodextrin. This particular blend avoids both of these ingredients which is why it made the cut. Take a look at the ingredients:
Similac Advance is another good option if you would like more information.
Similac’s Pro-Advance is a bit higher in fat and linoleic acid which is great for your babies brain health. All of the other ingredients are comparable to other Similac formulas and other brands. Nonfat Milk and Lactose are the first ingredients. When you see the word lactose the first thing you think is probably that lactose is a sugar and you are correct something I have admonished formulas for but human breast milk’s first ingredient is lactose, just the human variety.
Sugar is a fat meant to improve growth but lactose is far preferable, even that of a cow instead of from corn. Even better, the second ingredient in breast milk is…drumroll, please… human milk oligosaccharide! It helps to nourish healthy bacteria so it can thrive in the GI tract. Score for Similac! Also, beyond the above ingredients, you can expect decent amounts of lutein, DHA, and Vitamin E for eye and brain development. This blend also claims to be palm olein oil-free fat for better calcium absorption. Lastly, the price is quite nice for most budgets.
As with all formula, the fats, proteins, and carbs are first and this one is no exception. Unlike some of the others though, the whey protein concentrate is before the oils which makes it even more concentrated and could cause stomach issues in babies with sensitive tummies but the brand does claim to reduce fussiness in one day but each baby is different. Like most other formulas, the packaging does not fare well in transport. Other customers received the tub with the seal broken make sure you buy from the Similac seller to avoid this issue or so you can return the damaged item.
10. Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Formula
Enfamil’s Best Baby Formula
Enfamil is also trying their hand at creating a formula closer to breast milk and their closet is Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Formula. Unlike Similac, Enfamil’s prized ingredient is MFGM or Milk Fat Globule Membrane, a fatty substance that supports cognitive development. This ingredient surrounds fat droplets in breast milk and helps brain structure to form in infants.
Brain function is an important factor in feeding an infant. Breast milk contains about 55% fat and of course, fat is necessary for brain growth and energy. Which is better is the question and the answer is neither. Both MFGM and 2′-FL HMO are found in breast milk. Seeing both of these ingredients in a formula blend would be optimal. Take a look at the back of the label:
MFGM is meant to increase brain building. This blend is non-GMO, which is no surprise as most formula’s are heading in this direction for better nutrition. Like Similac’s Pro-Advance, the Neuro Pro also avoids corn syrups and maltodextrin. This blend is also a bit higher in carbs than the Similac version but lower in linoleic acid. NeuroPro touts a larger amount of inositol – or vitamin B8 – great for mental health. This is one of the reasons for the neuro name in this formula.
Most formulas have between 4.9 and 6 mg of inositol but this formula has 24 mg a significant improvement. All of the other vitamins and minerals in this blend are comparable to other formulas. Let’s not forget my favorite’s – this formula is thankfully lacking maltodextrin and corn syrup as the main ingredients focusing on milk first followed by lactose, oils and then the whey proteins.
The only real complaint, and it’s mild, with this formula is the polydextrose which is discussed in more detail above. It would be nice to see the lactose first in the ingredient list as that is the highest quantity ingredient in breast milk and this formula claims to be the closest, but we are dealing with cows milk here and not human milk and this layout may be more beneficial to a babies tummy for the added new ingredients not found in other formulas.
11. Gerber Good Start Gentle for Supplementing Powder Infant Formula
Gerber’s Best Baby Formula
The reason this is the only Gerber formula on the list is because they are well-known name brand, not because their formulas are top quality. Gerber® Good Start® Gentle for Supplementing Powder Infant Formula is the better of the options from their choices. They lost me at maltodextrin. Not just a little, but one of the main ingredients in every single one of their formula’s even in their organic versions.
This is the only formula on this list to include maltodextrin which is why I wish it was not on here. Why is this seemingly innocuous ingredient so bothersome? As mentioned above this fake sugar causes sugar spikes, gut problems, and inhibits probiotics effectiveness.
On a positive note, Gerber seems to strongly dislike corn syrup as not one of their formulas has a drop on the ingredient list. Either way, the corn maltodextrin is usually sourced from GMO despite Gerber saying their products are non-GMO. The ingredient list clearly says corn maltodextrin take a look:
Gerber does have another formula, Gerber® Good Start® Gentle 2 (HMO) Powder Infant Formula, similar to this one in ingredients but is for ages 6 to 12 months and not all year like this supplementing formula.
The good news is this formula’s first ingredient is whey partially hydrolyzed protein, which makes the formula easier for babies to digest. This is a win. Next comes the oils, then the lactose, we will get back to the fourth ingredient maltodextrin below, and then the vitamins. The portions of vitamins and minerals are all quite similar to other brand formulas.
I know I sound like a broken record but there is no legitimate reason to put such a sketchy ingredient as corn maltodextrin as the very first ingredient. Nor should it be one of the first ingredients. At least Gerber is consistent. The fat content in this formula is lower than other brands which is frustrating as babies need fat to grow and none of the formula’s keep up with the fat content in breast milk.
The carbs are higher than others, closer to Similac brand. A good chunk of babies seemed to reject the smell and flavor, not that any formula really tastes good but both are necessary components. Many babies had an upset tummy from the formula as well, if they were new to the formula that could be the reason or they could have a very sensitive tummy.
Finally, the formula tends to clump quite a bit which is frustrating, especially in the middle of the night. Sadly, the formula isn’t even more affordable for the lack of quality.
12. Earth’s Best Organic Soy Infant Formula with Iron
Best Soy Formula
If you must give your baby soy formula than you will want to try Earth’s Best Organic Soy Infant Formula with Iron first. Especially with all the issues with chemicals, additives, and synthetic ingredients, baby formula can be a dark rabbit hole searching one ingredient will lead to searching another and on the list goes. But with Earth’s Best, you know you have organic ingredients and the worse thing on this list is corn syrup.
Every soy formula available has corn syrup as the first ingredient because soy can be harsh for little tummies. The only exception is Gerber, which of course starts with corn maltodextrin and even add table sugar. That’s no bueno. Take a look at the ingredients in Earth’s Best Soy:
Beyond being organic, this formula has many benefits the most obvious being its lactose-free for babies who cannot tolerate milk or mother who is against animal by-products. Even better this is the only brand I have seen who claims to have a formula made free of prohibited pesticides and synthetic fertilizers a major concern for mom’s wary of chemical-laden food.
You can expect the now normal DHA and ARA but Earth’s best claims to have 2X the amount of DHA than leading organic formula. Also, you will find healthy amounts of linoleic acid, lutein, and prebiotics all for a decent price.
Soy should not be the first option as it does not a sufficient amount of the amino acid, methionine, it does, however, contain all 9 essential amino acids. This will have to be supplemented as L-methionine which it is in this formula. This is more a bad for soy formula’s in general than directed at this formula specifically but necessary to share.
Another concern of soy and why it should be tried only if milk-based options do not work for your baby is soy is the phytoestrogen found in soy that acts like the hormone estrogen and binds estrogen receptors which is not good for boys or girls.
Next, Soy needs to be more processed to sustain life than milk-based formulas because it is a plant-based instead of an animal-based protein. Also, soy proteins are bigger and harder to digest than breast milk and should be hydrolyzed for proper digestion in a baby. Because of the soy, this formula is supplemented with corn syrup, added sugars for taste and to aid in digestion.
The only other formula on this list with corn syrup is the one for preemies. Finally, the taste is apparently quite bad but most soy formula’s tastes less than desirable.
13. Plum Organics Gentle Organic Infant Formula
Best Formula for Sensitive Tummies
Not only is Plum Organics Gentle Organic Infant Formula gentle on baby’s belly but it’s made with lactose instead of corn syrup to assuage sensitive tummies. Instead, Plum organics uses hydrolyzed milk proteins. This formula is specially designed for fussiness and gas but may also treat colic and reflux.
Plum Organics is a relatively new company founded in 2007 by a group of concerned parents to re-imagine baby food and formula. They were acquired by Campbell Soup Company back in 2013 which gave the company more attention. A company started by parents is the best you can hope for! They have babies in mind and will bring the best of the best to the table! Look at the ingredients and then we will discuss the pros and cons.
Plum Organics has so many benefits. First no gluten and no GMOs. The first ingredient is organic lactose. As the name suggests the formula is in fact organic. The second ingredient is what’s special about this formula, that is organic partially hydrolyzed whey protein.
Partially hydrolyzed proteins aren’t near as crazy as they sound, the phrase just means partially broken down so your baby’s stomach doesn’t have to do as much work. As cow milk is used for formulas, and babies are not 85 pounds at birth like a calf, they proteins need to be restructured for human consumption (this is also one reason why we have 2% and skim milk- because almost no one wants to weigh as much as a cow).
To reiterate, this formula is gentle without corn syrup. A huge win for formula and babies! The vitamins and minerals are comparable to other brands and include DHA, ARA, prebiotics, and linoleic acid. Even better, moms will love that it does not clump and mixes well.
Lots of babies experience gas with formula, check out this article for picking the best formula for gassy babies or look at Enfamil A.R or for sensitive formulas you can also peruse this article about Similac Sensitive or Total Comfort here.
The only thing I cannot find in this formula that could make it better are a few specialty ingredients such as lutein (eye health) and the special ingredients like MFGM and 2′-FL HMO. Some mothers found their babies became constipated when they switched to this formula. As with all foods and drinks, babies bellies are tiny and you must expect an adjustment period.
Like most powders, this formula can be foamy. You may want to plan ahead. Mix a few minutes before you give it to your baby to allow the foam to settle. All babies will react differently you need to find what works for your baby. Lastly, Plum Organic’s is one of the slightly more expensive brands. Like a lot of formulas, the smell could stand some improvement.
14. Enfamil’s Reguline Infant Formula
Best Formula for Constipation
Enfamil’s Reguline Infant Formula – Designed for Soft, Comfortable Stools is designed to help promote soft and comfortable poops in one week. It almost did not make the list because it does contain corn syrup solids but the syrup is not one of the first ingredients and the other ingredients are fairly impressive. Even more, this formula made the cut because of the overwhelmingly good reviews. Reguline does seem to regulate babies and life is definitely better when pooping comes easily! Some babies may need this formula to prevent constipation issues. Time to look at the ingredients:
Beyond helping babies with number two, this formula has DHA and prebiotics along with all the normal vitamins and minerals. The ingredients start out similarly to the Plum Organic Sensitive formula above. First, partially hydrolized nonfat milk and whey protein for easy digestion. Followed by oils for fat, then the corn syrup for added digestion ease and lactose before the vitamins and minerals. The Plum Organics is still preferable because the lactose is first but at least the first ingredient here is milk based and not syrup.
This formula does not have a whole lot of bad. First, this formula may cause diarrhea in some babies but not in all as each belly is different. Second, one of the prebiotics mentioned is polydextrose which we discussed above. As with all formula, some babies will get gas as formula is made with cows milk which is intended for baby cows and not necessarily baby humans. Of course, even breastfed babies get gas as do pretty much all humans. Normal amounts of gas show the digestive systems are working correctly.
15. Enfamil Nutramigen Infant Formula
Best Formula for Milk Allergy
Enfamil Nutramigen Infant Formula – Hypoallergenic & Lactose-Free Formula with Enflora LGG is the best choice for babies with milk allergies. The name is shorted to Nutramigen because the name is far too long! Either way, the formula has been clinically proven to reduce colic caused by an allergy to cow’s milk in two days.
Not only does Nutramigen promise to reduce colic, but it also to reduce future incidences of cow’s milk allergies while still providing overall health for your infant. In layman’s terms, this means many babies who have trouble digesting milk proteins will continue having problems even when they are preschoolers or older.
This formula claims to help those allergy symptoms now and continue helping in the future to consume milk proteins without allergies. Nutramigen is considered hypoallergenic and easy-to-digest to help quickly remedy milk protein allergies. Basically, this formula serves sort of an allergy shot against milk allergies in the future. A little dose now to get the body used to lactose. This formula may be a last resort but a decent one for babies with severe issues. Let’s look at the ingredients:
Cow’s milk has proteins that are more difficult to digest than human breast milk. Most babies tolerate cow’s milk without too many issues, but other babies do not tolerate it well. Some babies just have a mild aversion to milk and others cannot digest the proteins at all. Nutramigen contains casein hydrolysate (milk), which is a fancy way of saying smaller, more digestible proteins made from larger cow’s milk proteins. This formula still contains all the necessary vitamins and minerals including DHA and ARA. Nutramigen also increases the inositol for mental health and balance out the sugars.
Nutramigen, unfortunately, uses sugars to aid in digestion not only that but it’s the first ingredient but choices are limited for parents who hope to prevent a life long milk limitation for their baby. Also, Enfamil uses modified corn starch to thicken the formula and increase the digestibility of the formula. Because the starch is modified though, some babies will hate the bitter taste. Finally, the price is very high for a formula.
- For babies allergic to milk and soy try Neocate Infant With DHA and Ara
- A toddler formula with dairy to try is Baby’s Only Organic Non-GMO Dairy with DHA & ARA Toddler Formula
- An organic Similac version is Pure Bliss by Similac Infant Formula
- We did research The Honest Co. Organic Non-GMO Premium Infant Formula, and it had decent specs, but lower reviews.
- The Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula was a decent option, but we felt the fat levels were a bit too low.
How We Chose the Best Formula
The main concern of formula is to provide proper nutrition to help a baby thrive and live a long life. Many baby formula brands use less than desirable ingredients in an attempt to recreate a modified version of breast milk. Corn syrup, maltodextrin, and soybean oils are a few of the worse ingredients for your baby and sadly found in many formulas, even in the most popular brands. We’ve done our best in this list to reduce these ingredients and find blends with the best options for your baby.
Cow’s milk is the next best option to breast milk but not all babies can tolerate cows milk so then moms need to look to soy-based options or other non-lactose varieties which are hard to find and can often be expensive. To help you we compiled a list of the best options for organic, for supplementing, vegan, non-GMO, preemies, newborns, and toddlers.
Also, we give you the best option by each of the most well-known brands including Enfamil, Similac, Earth’s Best (often confused with Natures Best), and Gerber. Next, we offer the best formula for issues such as soy, sensitive tummies, gas and reflux, and finally milk allergy. Lastly, you will find some important information to understand the makeup of formula and our final thoughts.
What’s In Baby Formula
Baby Formula is made up of several different components to replicate breast milk. Most of which are a mystery to many people. We hope to enlighten you on the different elements of formula here. Hopefully gaining a better understanding of the elements in your baby’s diet will make you feel more comfortable deciding which formula you want to use to help your baby thrive and grow over the course of her first year of life. Let’s first take a look at breast milk and then move on to formula components. Do remember, ingredients in the formula are listed with the most used ingredient first and the last ingredient is the least amount used.
The list of ingredients in breast milk is almost endless! Human milk contains a whole host of water, carbs, proteins, non-protein nitrogens, fats, vitamins, minerals, metal, peptides, hormones, enzymes, antiproteases, and antimicrobial factors. So far, baby formula brands have only been able to keep up with about a fourth of the ingredients in breast milk but don’t worry, babies thrive on formula no matter the reason mom’s give a baby formula. Let’s look now at the main ingredients taken from breast milk to re-create breast milk for mothers who cannot or prefer not to breastfeed.
The most prevalent carbohydrate in breast milk is lactose, a carb cows also make and is usually, and preferably, the first ingredient in baby formula. Carbohydrates are complex proteins or sugars, starches, and fibers that help babies to obtain energy or calories to grow properly. They contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen. Like breast milk, formula gets roughly 4o percent of the calories from carbohydrates.
Lactose is not the only carbohydrate in formula. Other less desirable options include: corn syrups or corn syrup solids, maltodextrin or corn maltodextrin, glucose or glucose syrup (this is fruit sugar), sucrose (table sugar), and more rarely brown rice syrup. These other carbs may be easier for babies to break down in their tiny tummies than lactose which is milk sugar.
Finally, lactose is preferable because it helps to aid in the absorption of calcium and feed good bacteria in the gut and the other sugars do not help with either. Lastly, too much sugar can cause spikes in blood sugar levels and lead to type 2 diabetes. Not to mention they can give babies a sweet tooth. We do not want to make children less likely to try savory foods like vegetables.
Proteins are next in the makeup of formula. Milk proteins come in two groups, either casein or whey. Casein tends to be more reactive and whey empties the stomach faster. Cows casein and whey are different than breast milk but cow’s proteins are still preferable to other protein sources. Cows milk breaks down into 2o percent whey and 80 percent casein. Meanwhile, breast milk is 60 percent whey and 40 percent casein.
Finding formulas with added whey is always beneficial for this reason. Partially hydrolyzed proteins are easier to digest as they are basically chopped up to be easier to process. They might also help against allergy, diabetes, and illness in babies. Because cow’s milk proteins are bigger than breast milk proteins the hydrolyzed proteins make cow’s milk easier for baby bellies to consume.
Wouldn’t it be great if we moms could suck the fat out of our bodies and give it to our babies? After all, babies need to eat a high-fat diet. Around fifty percent of their calories are from creamy fatty goodness. Sadly, giving them our fat is a fantasy. Most baby formulas provide about the same amount of fat calories as breast milk, definitely a good sign.
Baby formulas use a blend of different oils to fulfill the fat composition of formula. The most common oils used are palm olein, soy, coconut, high oleic sunflower, high oleic safflower, and MCT oil. None of these are in breast milk. Either way, most fatty oils are easy enough for babies to digest and not normally the cause of any issues.
Palm olein is the most prevalent in most formulas as it’s a fatty acid similar to one found in breast milk. It comes with some controversy because of the way it’s added into formula. The method may be more difficult to absorb than breast milk. This can lead to intestinal issues in some babies or bind calcium. This is not dangerous but more uncomfortable. Finally, babies can easily digest coconut oils (including MCT oil). MCT oil only seems to show up in newborn or preemie formula, though.
The last two fats to be very important are DHA and ARA. The majority of the formulas listed above contain this ingredient. While not essential, breast milk has them they and help with brain and eye development. You probably have heard of these more commonly as fatty acids. Lastly, Enfamil has a formula with MFGM which is also a fat perfect for boosting the baby brain.
Vitamins & Minerals
Most people know what vitamins and minerals are, except for the babies, they have no clue. They just want food in their belly. Less than two percent of most formula is the vitamins and minerals. This seems kind of low considering how much our moms spouted on and on that, we needed to eat our veggies to get vitamins. Now we have the FDA mothering our vitamin count and they keep track of the minimum amounts of 27 different vitamins. Some brands add in extra’s like lutein which is a good thing. Note, soy-based formula can inhibit absorption of minerals like.
Most formulas contain more iron than necessary as a way of overcompensating for a past lack of iron. Most blends contain 1.8 mg of iron and can be the reason why most babies get upset stomach and constipation. Finally, here is a list of the main vitamins and minerals you will find in most formulas formula:
Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12. Niacin, Folic Acid (Folacin), Pantothenic Acid, Biotin, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Choline, Inositol, Calcium. Plus, Phosphorus, Magnesium, Iron, Zinc, Manganese, Copper, Iodine, Selenium, Sodium, Potassium, Chloride.
Prebiotics are similar to probiotics that is, they are good bacteria meant to keep the gut happy. Probiotics are live bacteria not often found in formula and will have to be supplemented if you want to add this to your baby’s diet. Prebiotics are practically becoming standard in formula now.
They are indigestible fibers that allow good bacteria to grow in the intestines so basically, probiotics eat prebiotics. Both of these are in breast milk and named oligosaccharides (found in Similac Formula). Oligosaccharides protect babies from infection and boost the immune system.
Two common prebiotics found in formulas today are galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Another prebiotic is polydextrose. As previously mentioned is sugar based and not the most preferable prebiotic. Try to avoid this prebiotic for the more nourishing options if possible.
Nucleotides are the other super long complicated words you see in the list of formula ingredients. They show up as Adenosine 5’-Monophosphate, Cytidine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5’-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5’-Monophosphate. They do have the decency of announcing themselves as nucleotide, how nice. But what are these strange tide thingies? They are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. Breast milk, of course, contains this in abundance so it stands to reason they show up in formula too.
Final Thoughts- Which Should You Choose?
Now that you have a fuller understanding of the makeup of formula and a long list of best formula options you have a choice to make. At least now you have enough information to make a well-informed decision.
Overall, our recommendation is still Plum Organics Gentle Organic Infant Formula. With the hydrolyzed whey protein (which are a good and gentle option for all babies, even those who do not seem to be sensitive to any ingredients) and all organic ingredients, you cannot go wrong. Not to mention, the company was founded by parents annoyed with the ingredients in other formula brands.
Enfamil and Similac do have more research behind their brands. We’ve already put them head-to-head, so check out this article comparing and contrasting Enfamil and Similac. Gerber is not impressive and I would avoid their brand completely- even their organic versions- because of the excessive use of maltodextrin.
If you are brand loyal to Similac, pick a blend without corn syrup. Nobody needs a diet with corn sugar as the main ingredient. The best Similac option is Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula because of the added prebiotics.
For those brand loyal to Enfamil we highly recommend the Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Formula for their brain-boosting MFGM.
Go forth and find the best formula for your baby.