Two big brands battle for the bottle, but which gentle formula wins?
It’s a no-brainer that you don’t want your formula fed baby to have tummy troubles. Gas, constipation, and just overall fussiness are pretty common among babies who take a bottle. Buying them a gentle formula, where the proteins and other ingredients are already somewhat broken down, helps get rid of the tummy troubles. But when it comes to Gerber vs Enfamil, I think the Gerber Good Start Gentle wins by a long shot. It has a way better ingredient list, more helpful additives, and just seems to work better for most babies. The Enfamil Premium Non-GMO Gentlease is a good choice and does have one unique additive (inositol), but I just feel like the corn syrup solids are not so good for my baby and it’s not as gentle on the tummy.
Gerber Good Start Gentle
This gentle and non-GMO formula is designed to help your baby grow during the first year.
The ingredient list of this formula is fantastic. Unlike a lot of the other major brands out there, it has whey protein, hydrolyzed from milk, as its first ingredient. Many of the other brands have either a corn syrup solid or some kind of other plant-based protein as the first ingredient.
Also, many of the other major brands have a lot of sugar in them. This formula doesn’t have as much sugar in it. Lactose, which is natural milk sugar, is the fourth ingredient, which means there is some sugar in it, but not much. The end result of the ingredient list is 2.2 g of protein, 5.1 grams of fat, and 11.6 grams of carbohydrates per 5-ounce serving. That’s a very good mix for baby. It gives them the fuel they need to learn and grow without giving them a lot of extra sugar, which can lead to excess weight gain in those early months before baby begins to move around and burn off that sugar.
One of the perks of breast milk is that it contains a lot of essential fatty acids, which are necessary for your child’s brain growth. This formula tries to mimic that by including DHA and ARA. Both of these fatty acids are thought to be really important for helping the brain and eyes grow. Besides this, the formula features 15 added vitamins and 12 added minerals, including iron. Suffice it to say that everything your baby needs to grow up healthy is found in this formula.
Another additive that Gerber uses in their Good Start Gentle is a prebiotic source for milk called galacto oligosaccharides. These help your child to break down the milk proteins in their tummy. This is what accounts for less gas, less spitting up, and not as much constipation. Since iron is a main ingredients in powdered formula, constipation can be a big deal. This probiotic is probably your best tool in fighting that constipation. It’s even better than juices or prune puree for solving constipation problems.
Recipe and Use
The big appeal of this product is in how they’ve actually made the formula. It has what Gerber call Comfort proteins, which are small and easy-to-digest proteins. This, along with the prebiotics, is what makes this so gentle on a baby’s tummy. These Comfort proteins also promote a soft stool. I love this aspect of this formula, because it means that this formula won’t completely rock your baby’s still-developing digestive system.
If you have a baby that’s had breast milk in the past and is transitioning to formula, this formula is particularly good for that. Since it’s so close to breast milk in substance and ease of digestion, your baby won’t get really upset while transitioning. They’ll have fewer gas bubbles, less constipation, and a happier tummy overall. And since we parents know that this means better and longer sleeps, and happier play times, this formula is a winner.
Why this might be a small consideration for some, I love the fact that this formula is completely non-GMO. Corn, palm, and even soy ingredients found in this formula are some of the biggest culprits for being genetically modified. Until they can prove once and for all that genetically modified organisms are 100% completely safe for consumption multiple times a day over an extended period of time, I think I’ll stick with the safer option of non-GMO.
There are however two drawbacks to this formula for me. The first is that it doesn’t dissolve as well as some of the other brands. I think it’s probably because of the type and consistency of protein that they use, combined with the fact that it does have a lot of vegetable oils in it. This makes it harder for the big comes to dissolve. I did find that taking a spoon to the bottle to help stir those clumps solved that problem for the most part. Another solution is to simply make the bottle, stop feeding halfway, burp your baby and give the bottle a really good shake again, then continue feeding. This helps get rid of a lot of the clumps that were left at the very end of the feeding.
My other complaint is that this formula does give your baby very stinky diapers. Formula-fed babies are notorious for having not-good-smelling bowel movements. This formula seems to be particularly stinky when the kid digests it. I’m thinking that this is yet again from those prebiotics, but in any case, it was a little weird. The longer the baby is on the formula, the less the poop seems to be as potent.
Enfamil Premium Non-GMO Gentlease
The premium version of Gentlease is a tummy-tamer for babies from 0 to 12 months and is also non-GMO.
Corn syrup solids are the main ingredient in this gentle formula. This is going to be the main source of energy for the baby, as it provides the sugar/carbohydrates that baby needs for energy. The second ingredient is protein, which is a whey protein that’s hydrolyzed from milk and also comes from soy sources. Next is vegetable oils, including palm, soy, coconut, and high-oleic sunflower oil.
This ingredient list is pretty typical for any gentle formula from a major brand. Compared to the Gerber, it has basically the same amounts of protein, and fat. It has one gram less of carbs, which is interesting, as syrup solids are the main ingredient. It’s thought that your baby breaks down the corn syrup solids the same way that it breaks down lactose or other sugars. So in the end, it may not matter entirely what the source of the sugar/carbohydrates is.
Enfamil Premium Gentlease Non-GMO contains two additives that are found in breast milk. The first is inositol. This is one of the naturally occurring carbohydrates that’s found in breast milk. It’s used in the brain as a building block for healthy cells. The FDA has even said that adding this to formula is a good idea to ensure against a deficiency of inositol during the brain developing years. Also, according to Enfamil, studies have shown that babies who had proper amounts of inositol, whether from formula or breast milk, showed to be more intelligent by age 2.
This inositol, combined with the second additive, which is omega 3 DHA, ensure that your baby is getting the proper fatty acids and carbohydrates that their sweet little brain needs to grow up smart. An extra perk is that these additives are put in the formula in the same percentages that they are found in breast milk. So, this really is as close to breast milk as a formula can get when it comes to these additives.
This formula also includes all of the nutritional building blocks your baby needs. It includes 30 vitamins and minerals to support your baby’s healthy growth. Not only do these additives help with normal growth and development, but they also help to support your baby’s immune system, says Enfamil. This rounds out this formula and really gives it all of the ingredients that one would hope to see on the label. This formula contains good amounts of iron, which is a must-have if you are formula feeding a baby.
Recipe and Use
This formula is called Gentlease because it’s meant to be gentle on your baby’s tummy. The corn syrup solids and whey proteins that are included as the main ingredients of this formula are easy for your baby’s tummy to break down. That’s because these ingredients have been partially broken down for your baby. This results in less gas, less fussiness, less spitting up, and softer stools that are easier to pass. Enfamil claims that this formula will begin helping to ease these common tummy troubles within 24 hours. This definitely seems to hold true. However, I think that any gentle formula will show an improvement over regular formula within 24 hours.
Baby can drink this formula from birth up to 12 months to help reduce these issues. This formula seems to work especially well for babies who have reflux. I think that’s because of the oils in the ingredients. These really seem to help stick to baby’s tummy so that they’re not spitting up as much.
I’ve already talked a little bit about why being non-GMO is good when I was going over the Gerber formula, so I won’t go into a lot of detail here. This formula also is non-GMO, so it wins a gold star from me.
The first drawback about this formula that I don’t like is the smell. While formulas kind of have a stinky, iron sort of smell, this formula seems to be particularly bad. I think that that translates to not as good of a taste for baby (corn syrups aside!). If your baby has only ever tried infant formula with iron added, then they probably won’t notice anything. However, a breastfed baby is going to notice a difference in taste and flavor. Depending on how picky your baby is, they might reject this if they’ve been breast-fed.
The second drawback with this formula is the way it dissolves. Now don’t get me wrong, I like that this powder actually dissolves all the way in water. What I don’t like is all the foam that it leaves. You’re supposed to mix this up and let it sit for a while to let the foam dissipate, but let’s be honest, no mom actually has time to do that. I wish I was on top of my game enough to do that, but it probably will never happen. The result is that I feel like baby does get a little bit of extra air when taking the bottle.
The other thing I don’t like is the residue that’s left behind in the bottle. All of the vegetable and other oils in the ingredient list are great, but they do leave kind of a strange, slick residue in the bottle. This means that you really have to clean the bottles well or else they get greasy and start to stink.
Enfamil vs Similac
Read our comprehensive formula comparison article to see how the two biggest manufacturers compare one product at a time.