Enfamil vs. Similac: Which is the Best Baby Formula?

by Adrina Palmer |

Wouldn’t it be nice if babies could tell you what they needed or wanted? Like formula, for example. A simple Amazon search will get you over 10,000 results! So which do you buy? Does baby need the advanced or the spit-up version? Should you buy a name-brand or a generic brand? Even the two most popular brands in the country, Enfamil and Similac, have 5 or more versions each!

Even if baby can’t tell you what to pick, we can. We have the scoop on which powder you should scoop into your babies bottle. We have extensively studied the most popular Enfamil and Similac baby formulas and compared them to save you hours and hours of research.

Our Recommendation

Based on our research, Enfamil wins most of the time when compared to a similar Similac formula. They seem to put more focus on nutrition and brain-boosters while leaving out the sugars.

Ultimately, the choice will come down to your budget, your personal preferences (do GMOs matter, are you concerned about sugar intake, is immune boosting more important than brain boosting, etc.), and your baby’s taste buds. No matter how healthy a formula is, it will not do your baby any good if they won’t drink it!

The best choices would be Enfamil Neuro Pro or Similac 2′ -FL HMO Pro Advance for overall nutrition because of the added ingredients usually only found in breastmilk. If your child has a cow’s milk aversion or is extra colicky, they’ll need a different option. Keep reading to see which formulas come out on top!

Image of the Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Formula - Brain Building Nutrition Inspired by Breast Milk - Reusable Powder Tub, 20.7 oz (Pack of 6)

Image of the Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron, with 2'-FL HMO, for Immune Support, Baby Formula, Powder, 23.2 ounces (Single Tub)

Enfamil vs Similac Formula

While it is hard to extrapolate across entire brands since they offer a variety of products with different ingredients:

Enfamil often contains 50% more DHA and AHA oils for neural and eye development than Similac although Similac incorporates Lutein, more fully avoids GMO’s, is slightly higher in sugars and generally offers more tastey products.

Enfamil Gentlease vs Similac Sensitive 

Image of the Enfamil Gentlease Infant Formula - Clinically Proven to reduce fussiness, gas, crying in 24 hours - Powder Can, 20.9 oz (Pack of 4)

Image of the Similac Sensitive Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron, For Fussiness and Gas, Baby Formula, Powder, 1.41 lb (Pack of 6)

If your baby tends to be gassy, fussy, or spit up a lot, you may want to switch to a formula geared toward sensitive tummies. But which formula should you choose? Enfamil offers Gentlease while Similac offers Sensitive, both created with tummy troubles in mind.

Enfamil’s Gentlease has been shown to reduce gas, crying, and fussiness in one day, while still providing complete nutrition for health in the first year. Similac’s Sensitive formula also promises to prevent mild spit-up, gas, and fussiness. The formulas are quite different between the two, but let’s first look at what the two formulas have in common.

Read this article if you are not sure whether you need Enfamil Gentlease or Enfamil AR.

Similarities 

  • Enfamil and Similac offer similar amounts of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and water.
  • Both use corn syrup solids to help baby digest cow’s milk easier.
  • Both brands offer a non-GMO version of their sensitive formulas.

Differences

  • Enfamil uses partially hydrolyzed nonfat milk and whey protein concentrate solids from soy to further assist small tummies ability to digest cow’s milk.
  • Similac contains more Linoleic Acid.
  • Similac contains added sugars. Sugar can be found in breastmilk, but as the 2′ -FL HMO sugar that serves as a powerful prebiotic. Normal sugar can be difficult for babies to digest.
  • Similac uses milk protein isolate as one of their easy-to-digest ingredients, which can trigger allergies or indigestion in many people.

Bottom Line

Enfamil’s Gentlease wins over Similac’s Sensitive formula because Enfamil’s ingredients are gentler on tiny tummies, without the added sugars. Similac’s second ingredient can actually cause further stomach upset. If your baby does not tolerate the taste of Enfamil’s Gentlease, then you may want to attempt Similac as a backup.

For your reference, we’ve also compared Gentlease to Gerber Good Start Gentle and Gentlease to Gerber Soothe.

Enfamil A.R. vs Similac Spit-Up

Image of the Enfamil A.R. Infant Formula for Spit Up, Powder, 118.1 Ounce

Image of the Similac for Spit-Up Baby Formula - Powder - 23.2 oz - 6 pk

Enfamil’s A.R. formula and Similac’s Spit-Up formula were both created especially for babies who tend to spit-up regularly. Similac does not go into a lot of detail about their formula, saying only that it is intended to reduce spit-up. Enfamil, however, gives a long list of what makes their formula special for babies who regurgitate. Here is our full comparison of Spit Up vs Enfamil AR.

Enfamil’s A.R. formula has been clinically proven to reduce spit-up by over a whopping 50%! Mom’s will rejoice as formula usually stains and the smell creeps into fabrics. This formula also comes equipped with two prebiotics for digestive health. The secret is a thicker formula that still eases through a bottle’s nipple.

Similarities 

  • Both formulas are loaded with sugars to help fussy tummies settle, but Similac’s has two different sugar sources to only one in Enfamil’s.
  • Both use rice starch to thicken their formulas.
  • Both have extremely similar mixtures of vitamins and minerals.

Differences

  • Enfamil’s main ingredients are nonfat milk, vegetable oils, rice starch, lactose, and maltodextrin.
  • Enfamil A.R. has two prebiotics instead of their other brands that only contain one prebiotic.
  • Similac’s main ingredients are corn syrup, modified rice starch, milk protein isolate, vegetable oils and one prebiotic. Their mixture does not contain as many milk products, which could help many babies with their spit-up.
  • Similac’s formula does not contain GMOs.

Bottom Line

Enfamil wins again with less sugar and more prebiotics for overall gut health. Neither is perfect, but Similac seems to lean heavily on sugars, presumably for taste (most adults are unwilling to taste either based on smell alone). Each formula is different enough that if one does not work for your baby, then you may want to try the other. Try Enfamil first. Before long, your baby will be a toddler and eating plenty of sugar, so, for now, let them focus on nutrition.

Enfamil Nutramigen vs Similac Alimentum

Image of the Enfamil Nutramigen with Enflora LGG Infant Formula, Powder, 19.8 Ounce Can

Image of the Similac Expert Care Alimentum Hypoallergenic Infant Formula with Iron, 19.8 Ounce

Go here to read our full article comparing Nutramigen to Alimentum. Both Enfamil and Similac offer special formulas for babies who are allergic to cow milk and have colicky symptoms from cow’s milk formulas. Cow’s milk has proteins that are more difficult to digest than human breastmilk. 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. Let’s take a closer look at the two formulas and what they offer.

Enfamil’s Nutramigen with Enflora LGG Hypoallergenic Formula for Cow’s Milk Allergy (often shortened to Nutramigen because no one wants to say that sentence more than once) has been clinically proven to reduce colic caused by an allergy to cow’s milk in about two days. Not only does Nutramigen promise to reduce colic, but it also claims to reduce future incidences of cow’s milk allergies while still providing overall health for your infant.  What does that mean in layman’s terms? 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.

Similac’s Alimentum is also for colic due to a sensitivity to cow’s milk protein. They claim their formula can reduce colic symptoms in as little as one day because of their easy-to-digest formula, which also promotes overall health. Their formula says it is lactose-free, which is somewhat true, but not totally true. Products from milk are still in their formula, just not actual lactose, which is harder to break down than the hydrolyzed casein they use. Take a closer look at the difference between the two:

Similarities 

  • Both brands contain casein hydrolysate (milk), which is a fancy way of saying smaller, more digestible proteins made from larger cow’s milk proteins.
  • Both use sugars to aid in digestion. Enfamil uses corn syrup, while Similac uses corn maltodextrin. Both are glucose, which breaks down differently than lactose. Babies naturally make a lactase enzyme to break down sugars, but not corn syrup or corn maltodextrin.

Differences

  • Enfamil uses modified corn starch to thicken the formula and increase the digestibility of the formula. Because the starch is modified though, there could be some babies who do not tolerate this ingredient well.
  • Similac adds sugar on top of the corn maltodextrin.
  • Similac has a higher amount of Linoleic Acid.

Bottom Line

Enfamil’s Nutramigen formula wins. Their marketing tells the whole story- there are milk products in both formulas, but they are easier to digest, which can help your baby in the future to tolerate milk. Enfamil also does not add sugar on top of corn syrup.

Read here to see how Nutramigen comares to Elecare, another leading product.

Enfamil Infant vs Similac Advance

Image of the Enfamil Infant Formula - Milk-based Baby Formula with Iron, Powder Can, 21.1 oz (Pack of 4)

Image of the Similac Advance Complete Nutrition Infant Formula with Iron - 1.45 lb

Enfamil Infant formula is the basic formula needed to nourish your infant for the first year of their life. Similac offers the Advance formula that is their basic recipe to provide necessary fats and nutrients to help a baby thrive. Both of these products are more base models. Let’s compare the two.

Similarities 

  • Both are milk-based, including nonfat milk, lactose, whey protein, and a mixture of high oleic safflower oil, soy oil, and coconut oil.
  • Neither brand added extra sugars.
  • Both come with DHA (a fatty acid), Choline (a necessary nutrient grouped with vitamin B),  and Vitamin K as their key ingredients.
  • Both contain a prebiotic.

Differences

  • Enfamil also has Palm Olein oil, which is a fatty acid similar to breastmilk. Caution: it can be tough on tiny tummies.
  • Similac has Lutein for vision.

Bottom Line

Similac Advance Formula stands out slightly over Enfamil’s Infant Formula because of the added Lutein and the lack of Palm Olein Oil. Both are reasonable choices and the deciding factor will likely be your baby’s taste preferences.

Enfamil NeuroPro vs Similac 2′ -FL HMO Pro Advance

Image of the Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Formula - Brain Building Nutrition Inspired by Breast Milk - Reusable Powder Tub, 20.7 oz (Pack of 6)  Image of the Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron, with 2'-FL HMO, for Immune Support, Baby Formula, Powder, 23.2 ounces (Single Tub)

Enfamil NeuroPro Infant formula was made for babies from birth to twelve months and was designed to improve overall infant health. Enfamil is the only brand to introduce MFGM, a fat-protein coupled with DHA, which was previously only found in breastmilk. Similac has their own brain-boosting ingredient – 2′ -FL Human Milk Oligosaccharide or HMO, which is a fancy name for an immune-boosting prebiotic previously only found in breastmilk. As the goal of baby formula is to mimic breastmilk, both companies get a thumbs up for attempting to create baby food as similar to breastmilk as possible. But which ingredient is better? Let’s take a closer look at the two and see if either is more important than the other.

  • MFGM stands for Milk Fat Globule Membrane, a fatty substance that supports cognitive development. This ingredient surrounds fat droplets in breastmilk and helps brain structure to form in infants. Brain function is most definitely an important factor in feeding an infant. Breastmilk contains about 55% fat. Fat is necessary for brain growth and energy.
  • 2′ -FL Human Milk Oligosaccharide supports the immune system. Prebiotics help to nourish healthy bacteria so it can thrive in the GI tract. HMO is one of the many ingredients in breastmilk that makes up the perfect milk for babies.

In a perfect world, the perfect formula would offer both ingredients, as both are in breastmilk. Comparison really isn’t fair, since both ingredients are natural to breastmilk and help to support the overall health of infants. If you have to choose, MFGM would be the choice for babies with a normal immune system as most formulas – including both of these – have less fat content than breastmilk. For babies with immune concerns – that is, susceptible to infection and illness – 2” -FL HMO may be the better option.

Similarities

  • Both come enhanced with DHA boosted, easy-to-digest formulas.
  • Both offer similar amounts of fat (about 5 grams per serving), protein, carbohydrates, and water. They’re so close that the difference is negligible.
  • Both offer the same vitamins and minerals in extremely similar amounts.
  • Neither formula has added or artificial sugars.
  • Both use nonfat milk, lactose (which helps absorb calcium), a mixture of high oleic safflower oil, soy oil, and coconut oil to create the base of their formulas.

Differences 

  • Enfamil NeuroPro touts brain building, while Similac Pro Advanced supports immunity.
  • Enfamil also has Palm Olein oil, which is a fatty acid similar to breastmilk but can be tough on tiny tummies.
  • Similac has a significantly higher amount of omega fatty acids in the form of Linoleic Acid .
  • Similac is touted as reducing colic symptoms in as little as one feeding.
  • Similac claims to avoid artificial growth hormones and GMOs in their formula.
  • Similac added Lutein for eye health.

Bottom Line 

No drumroll necessary for this reveal as both formula’s offer a high-quality alternative to breastmilk. The only real difference is the main ingredient and whether you want to focus on the brain or the immune system. If you have a premature baby or a baby who tends to be ill often, you may want to try Similac 2′ -FL HMO Pro Advance first. If you focus more on brain-boosting, then Enfamil’s Neuro-Pro formula may be your choice. With both, your babies personal taste preferences may be the deciding factor.

Enfamil ProSobee vs. Similac Soy Isomil

Image of the Enfamil ProSobee Soy-Based Infant Formula - Lactose Free for Sensitive Tummies - Powder Can, 22 oz

Image of the Similac Sensitive Isomil Soy Powder, 23.2 Ounce

Both Enfamil and Similac offer a complete milk-free formula for those babies who are incapable of digesting cow’s milk proteins. For those babies, soy-based formula’s are a natural and gentle alternative for delicate tummies sensitive to milk. Enfamil’s ProSobee formula and Similac’s Soy Isomil formula are both lactose-free and easy to digest for fussy, gassy babies.

If you can, I would suggest trying the Enfamil’s Nutramigen or Similac’s Alimentum before switching to soy, unless you prefer avoiding milk-based products in general. Many people are against animal products and cannot breastfeed, which is another valid reason to choose a soy-based baby formula. Let’s compare the two powders.

Similarities 

  • Both brands use corn syrup as the first ingredient.
  • Both use soy protein isolate, completely avoiding milk-based products.
  • Both offer the complete nutrition necessary for a baby to thrive, including vitamins, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water.

Differences

  • Enfamil has soy protein as the third ingredient, after corn syrup and vegetable oils.
  • Similac uses soy protein as the second ingredient followed by oils.
  • Similac adds sugar to their soy formula
  • Similac has a higher Linoleic Acid amount.

Bottom Line

As with the other formulas, Enfamil’s ProSobee recipe uses fewer sugars, making it the optimal choice if the price is within your budget. Again, sugar can be difficult for infants to digest and can lead to a sweet tooth. They’ll get their sweet tooth soon enough once they try out fruits and other sweets on a solid food diet. Breastmilk naturally contains sugar, so do not overlook Similac’s Soy Isomil formula based on the sugar content. If your baby does not like the flavor of ProSobee and you still need a soy-based or non-milk-based formula, you could try the Soy Isomil.

Questions about Formula

I still don’t know which formula to pick. Now what?

If you still need help picking a formula you can try Enfamil’s Formula Finder and/or Similac’s Formula Finder to figure out which one makes more sense for your baby.

Should I be concerned about corn syrup in formulas?

Just as many moms avoid added corn syrups for our older children (such as juices and foods with high fructose corn syrup), moms should question whether this ingredient is necessary for formula. The most common ingredient in breastmilk is lactose – a sugar and carbohydrate that provides energy. Formulas are trying to mimic breastmilk so they need some sugar. Many of them use lactose from cow’s milk, others use corn syrup for babies who have a difficult time digesting cow products. What you should be concerned about is multiple forms of sugar, not if sugar is present.

Should I give my baby water in between bottles?

Infants under the age of six months should get all of their nutrients and liquids from breastmilk or formula. After six months, when a baby starts solid foods, you can start introducing water. Be careful how much water you give, as babies have tiny bellies that fill quickly. If they are too full for their meal of breastmilk or formula, they will not eat all the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.

How will I know if my baby does not like a formula?

If a baby does not like a formula they will not drink it. It’s that simple. If a baby is very hungry, they may take just enough formula to end the hunger feeling but not finish the bottle. If a baby is willing to drink the bottle, but ends up fussy, then you may need to switch to a sensitive tummy formula.

What are the signs that I need to try a different formula?

If your baby is spitting up a lot, or becomes very gassy, fussy, or cries too much, then you may need to switch to a sensitive tummy formula. If your baby develops a rash, that could be another symptom you need to change to a different formula and possibly one without cow’s milk products.

Do I need to buy non-GMO or organic?

Some moms are extremely concerned about Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs. That is a food that has been modified at a genetic level, usually in an attempt to make a stronger and less resistant to pests. Some of these spliced plants, like corn, add bacteria to the food to prevent pests from eating the food. The plant then learns to grow with the new modification. The problem with GMOs is they have not been tested long enough to know if they are safe. Non-GMOs are a known constant, whereas GMOs are not.

Organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides or modifiers. Organic may not be necessary, but it can guarantee the quality of ingredients and is very important to many mothers for good reason. Read our list of best organic baby formulas here.

Can I add other ingredients to the formula?

You should never add ingredients to formula. Adding more water than necessary or adding cereal can fill the baby up faster before they have had a chance to consume all of the nutrients necessary to thrive.

Can I make my own formula?

Before the 1920’s, mothers used cow’s milk and Caro Syrup to supplement as formula’s for babies who did not have access to breastmilk. Those babies were able to stay alive, but the homemade formula lacked many ingredients needed for a human baby. Formula companies have spent years trying to replicate breastmilk and provide all the nutrients necessary for a thriving baby. Even now, formula only contains a portion of the ingredients in breastmilk, but it’s much closer than cow’s milk and Caro Syrup. Store-bought formula is the best alternative to breastfeeding, as the companies have science-backed recipes.

Can I buy a generic brand?

Generic brands are always an option. Try to look for a brand that uses quality ingredients by reading the ingredient list. As with the concern of using a formula where the first ingredient is corn syrup, check for added sugars in generic brands. Unless spit-up is an issue, try to avoid powders thickened with starches, as they fill babies faster. Look for a quality list of vitamins and if possible some prebiotics.

Can I feed my baby straight cow’s milk?

No. Cow’s milk is made for a baby cow, not a baby human. Infants do not eat food and can only gain their nutrition from milk or formula. Formula is modified to include the nutrients human babies need.

Enfamil vs Gerber

To see how Enfamil matches up with the second leading baby formula competitor see Enfamil vs Gerber.

Final Thoughts

Enfamil tends to create formulas without added sugars, which is fantastic from a nutritional standpoint, but one has to wonder if the taste is compromised without any sweetness. Overall, Enfamil tends to use quality ingredients first and ingredients that make sense for each type of formula. Their formulas would be our first choice. They are often the more expensive choice, especially for a product used several times a day. Of course, we are talking about your baby’s health, but the price is a factor and both brands do have advantages and disadvantages.

Similac, in general, tends to lean towards sugar-based formula, but the purpose behind their preference could be taste and ease of digestion. The sugar could be lower on the ingredient list though. When corn syrup is listed first, it’s because there is more corn syrup than any other ingredient. Similac does add a few nutrients not found in Enfamil powders, such as Lutein. Their brand tends to avoid GMOs, which is fantastic, because a large portion of their powders start with corn syrup and corn is one of the food sources most likely to be genetically modified. Finally, Similac adds more Linoleic Acid – an omega fatty acid – for overall brain growth, but the amount in comparison is inconsequential.

Related
Adrina Palmer
Christian and Mom Blogger
Adrina Palmer is a stay-at-home-mom to three wonderful children and a wife to an amazing husband. She has a bachelors degree in Religion from Liberty University and works as a blogger, copywriter, and reviewer. Adrina is a Christian hoping to help other stay-at-home moms find the joy and simplicity as a mother and wife. In her free time she enjoys many crafts, writing, spending time with family, and reading. She would love to hear from you!

Comments 2

  1. Hello, this is a great blog to have both options Enfamil and Similac; updated to October 2018 your final comparison at the end, which I loved! Thank you!!!! 🙌🏼🙏🏼🙌🏼🙌🏼 Now I am in the market for the Enfamil Enspire (closest to breast milk) What is your take on that one and your Similac version? Thank you and anything helps!

    1. Adrina Palmer Post
      Author

      Thank you for the comment! We love to help and definitely want to answer your question. The Enfamil Enspire is a beautiful product as far as formula goes. I would pick the Enspire over the Similac Pro-Advance – which is their version closest to breast-milk – mainly because the Enspire offers two special ingredients found in breast-milk. One of those ingredients is found in the very nourishing colostrum. The Similac Pro-Advance only has one ingredient found in breast-milk. It does not have corn syrup, which is a definite win but Enspire wins overall. Please feel free to contact us with more questions.

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