Wouldn’t it be nice if babies could tell you what they needed or wanted? For example, which infant formula should you choose? A simple Amazon search will produce over 10,000 results! So which should you buy? Does baby need the advanced or the spit-up version? Should you buy a name-brand or a generic formula? Even the two most popular brands in the country, Enfamil and Similac, each have 5 or more formula options!
Even though your baby can’t help you choose, we can. Here’s the scoop on which powdered formula you should scoop into your baby’s bottle. We have extensively studied the most popular Enfamil and Similac baby formulas, and compared them to save you hours and hours of research.
Based on our research, Enfamil wins most of the time when compared to the equivalent Similac formulas. The Enfamil products seem to prioritize nutrition and “brain-boosting” without adding as much sugar.
Ultimately, the choice will come down to your budget, your baby’s taste buds, and your personal preferences (do GMOs matter, are you concerned about sugar intake, is immunity more important than brain health, etc.). Any infant formula may have great ingredients, but this will not matter if your baby won’t drink it. All infant formulas must meet strict international standards of nutritional quality and safety. The manufacturers, however, have still found ways to distinguish their products from others (source).
The best choices are Enfamil Neuro Pro or Similac 2′ -FL HMO Pro Advance for overall nutrition and inclusion of ingredients that mimic those found in breastmilk. If your infant has a cow’s milk protein allergy or other medical condition, they’ll need a different type of formula. Your baby’s pediatrician can recommend the best option. Keep reading to see which formulas we feel come out on top!
To see which one made our Best Baby Formula list, click and read!
Enfamil vs Similac Formula
Enfamil contains 50% more DHA and AHA for nerve, brain, and eye development (source). It also has partially hydrolyzed nonfat milk which the manufacturer claims may reduce the risk of future allergies (source). Similac is non-GMO and incorporates Lutein, important for eye health (source). It, however, contains a potentially more allergenic milk protein isolate, and adds more sugar for a tastier formula.
Keep in mind that it is difficult to generalize across entire brands since they offer a variety of product types and ingredients.
Enfamil Gentlease vs Similac Sensitive
If your baby tends to be gassy, fussy, or spit up a lot, some parents prefer 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 claims to “reduce gas, crying, and fussiness in one day” while still providing the nutrition that is important for an infant’s health. Similac’s Sensitive formula also promises to prevent mild spit-up, gas, and fussiness. There are differences between these two formulas, but let’s first look at what they have in common.
Read this article if you are not sure whether you need Enfamil Gentlease or Enfamil AR.
- Similac and Enfamil have similar levels of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and water.
- Both use corn syrup solids for added sugar
- Both formula brands offer a non-GMO version of their sensitive formulas.
- Enfamil uses partially hydrolyzed nonfat milk and whey protein concentrate solids to help small tummies to digest cow’s milk.
- Similac contains more Linoleic Acid and added sugars. It also has 2′ -FL HMO that serves as a powerful prebiotic. Sugars other than lactose can be difficult for babies to digest.
- Similac uses a milk protein isolate as one of its “easy-to-digest ingredients,” but it can actually be more difficult to digest (source).
Enfamil’s Gentlease wins over Similac’s Sensitive formula because the 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 Similac’s version would be acceptable as a second choice.
Enfamil A.R. vs Similac Spit-Up
Enfamil’s A.R. formula and Similac’s Spit-Up formula were both created especially for babies who tend to spit-up regularly. Enfamil, however, gives a long list of what makes their formula special for babies with reflux. Here is our full comparison of Spit Up vs Enfamil AR.
Note: Discuss with your pediatrician whether or not this type of formula is necessary for your baby. It is normal for infants to have some amount of “spit ups” due to the immaturity of the muscle between the esophagus and stomach (source). This muscle tightens between ages six to 12 months, resolving this issue.
Enfamil’s A.R. formula has been clinically proven to reduce spit-up by over a whopping 50% of the time! Parents will rejoice at the thought of no more formula stains or smells. This formula also includes two prebiotics for digestive health. The secret is a rice starch thickener. Despite this, the formula can still flow easily through a bottle’s nipple.
- Similac and Enfamil use rice starch to thicken their formulas.
- Both formulas are loaded with sugars to improve the taste. Similac’s contains corn syrup, but Enfamil’s has lactose.
- Both have extremely similar mixtures of vitamins and minerals as required by the international guidelines.
- Enfamil’s main ingredients are nonfat milk, vegetable oils, rice starch, lactose, and maltodextrin.
- Enfamil A.R. has two prebiotics while their other versions only contain one.
- Similac’s main ingredients are corn syrup, modified rice starch, milk protein isolate, vegetable oils and one prebiotic. Their composition has more sugar than milk products.
- Similac’s formula does not contain GMOs.
Enfamil wins again with less sugar, and more prebiotics for overall gut health. Neither is perfect, but Similac seems to lean heavily on non-lactose sugars, presumably for taste (most adults are unwilling to taste infant formula based on its smell alone). However, every formula on the market is different enough that, if one does not work for your baby, there are plenty of other options. Try this Enfamil version first. As a toddler, he or she will be exposed to plenty of sugar. For now, focus on nutrition.
Enfamil Nutramigen vs Similac Alimentum
Go here to read our full article comparing Nutramigen to Alimentum. Most babies tolerate cow’s milk without too many issues. Both Similac and Enfamil offer specialty formulas for babies who are allergic to or unable to consume cow’s milk formulas. Cow’s milk consists of casein and whey proteins which are more difficult to digest than those in human breastmilk. Infants who are allergic to these proteins can be irritable, do not feed well, lose weight, and have streaks of blood in their stools (source). These formulas are better tolerated because the milk proteins are broken down with enzymes, making them less likely to cause symptoms. Let’s take a closer look at the two formulas, and what they provide.
Enfamil’s Nutramigen with Enflora LGG Hypoallergenic Formula for Cow’s Milk Allergy (often shortened to Nutramigen because no one wants to say that name more than once) has been “clinically proven” to reduce colic caused by an allergy to cow’s milk in about two days. Along with reducing discomfort, there are additional claims of promoting tolerance of cow’s milk protein within six months, and prevention of future allergies. The idea behind this is that, limiting exposure during infancy prevents the immune system from becoming primed to react to milk in the future. Nutramigen is a hypoallergenic, “easy to digest” remedy for babies with cow’s milk protein allergy.
Similac’s Alimentum is also available for infants with a cow’s milk protein allergy. Its manufacturer claims that their formula can reduce symptoms in as little as one day because of the “easy to digest” ingredients. In addition, this formula has no added lactose, although the majority of babies are not lactose intolerant (source). Take a closer look at the difference between the two:
- Both Similac and Enfamil contain casein hydrolysate (milk protein broken down by enzymes) which is a fancy way of saying smaller, more digestible proteins.
- Both use sugars to aid in palatability. Enfamil adds corn syrup, while Similac uses corn maltodextrin. Both are sugars that break down differently than lactose. The intestines of babies naturally make a lactase enzyme to digest lactose, not corn syrup or corn maltodextrin.
- Enfamil uses modified corn starch to thicken the formula, and to attempt to make it easier to digest. Because the starch is highly processed, some babies will not tolerate this ingredient.
- Similac adds sugar in addition to the corn maltodextrin.
- Similac has a higher level of Linoleic Acid which may not be as beneficial to brain development as is claimed (source).
Enfamil’s Nutramigen formula excels. Their marketing tells the whole story; milk casein is in both formulas, but it is broken down to reduce symptoms of allergy. Enfamil also contains corn syrup.
Read here to see how Nutramigen compares to Elecare, another leading product. Elecare and Neocate are recommended for infants with severe milk protein allergy or food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome who do not tolerate Alimentum or Nutramigen (source).
Enfamil Infant vs Similac Advance
Enfamil Infant formula is the basic version in this family of Enfamil products. It is no longer available on the company website, but may be found at other retailers. Similac also has Advance formula, their basic recipe of required fats, carbohydrates, protein, and nutrients to help a baby thrive. Let’s compare the two.
- Both are cow’s milk-based formula options, and include nonfat milk, lactose, whey protein, and a mixture of high oleic safflower oil, soy oil, and coconut oil.
- Neither brand adds extra sugars.
- Both are fortified with DHA (a fatty acid), Choline (a necessary nutrient grouped with vitamin B), and Vitamin K as their key ingredients.
- Both contain a prebiotic.
- Enfamil formula has Palm Olein oil, which is a fatty acid similar to breast milk. Caution: it can be tough on tiny tummies, and it blocks calcium absorption.
- Similac has Lutein for vision.
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
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 complex which was previously only found in breastmilk (source). Similac has an immunity-boosting ingredient – 2′ -FL Human Milk Oligosaccharide or HMO, a fancy name for a prebiotic previously only found in breastmilk (source). The goal of baby formula is to mimic breastmilk, so both companies get a “thumbs up” for attempting to create a product that is as similar to breast milk as possible. But, which ingredient is better? Let’s take a closer look at the two brands, and see if either ingredient 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. This aspect is definitely an important factor in infant nutrition. Breastmilk contains about 55% fat (source). This fat is necessary for brain growth and energy. Some studies have shown that MFGM can also help boost immunity, and protect against infectious diseases (source).
- 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 it the perfect milk for babies (source).
In a perfect world, the perfect formula would include both ingredients since they are both components of breastmilk. Comparison really isn’t fair, since both ingredients help to support the overall health of infants. If you have to choose, MFGM would probably be the best choice since it contributes to both brain development and immunity.
- Both come enhanced with DHA for brain health.
- 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 per the international guidelines.
- Neither formula has added or artificial sugars.
- Both use nonfat milk, lactose, a mixture of oils as the base of their formulas.
- Enfamil NeuroPro touts brain building, while Similac Pro Advanced supports immunity.
- Enfamil also has Palm Olein oil, a fatty acid thought to mimic fat in breast milk. However, it can be tough on tiny tummies and block calcium absorption into bones.
- Similac has a significantly higher amount of omega fatty acids in the form of Linoleic Acid .
- Similac claims to reduce colic symptoms in as little as one feeding.
- Similac is free of artificial growth hormones and GMOs in their formula.
- Similac added Lutein for eye health.
No drumroll necessary for this reveal… both formulas offer a high-quality alternative to breastmilk. The only real difference is the type of fortifier. If you have a baby who tends to become ill very often, you may want to try Similac 2′ -FL HMO Pro Advance first. If brain development with a smaller immunity boost is more important for you, then Enfamil’s Neuro-Pro formula may be the best decision. As with any formula, your baby’s personal taste preferences may be the deciding factor.
What About Enfamil Enspire?
Some parents would argue that Enfamil Enspire is a better comparison to Similac formulas with 2′ -FL HMO. Enspire vs Similac Pro Advance with 2′-FL HMO are the closest to actual breastmilk.
Enfamil Enspire is very, very similar to the Enfamil NeruoPro, but it also has lactoferrin. This is a protein that is found in breastmilk and colostrum. Lactoferrin has antibacterial and antiviral capabilities, so it promotes protection against infections (source). This formula also contains prebiotics, DHA, choline, and MFGM, all beneficial for the brain and the immune system. Enspire is even available as a non-GMO powder. It still has palm olein oil, however, which isn’t the best choice for growing bones.
Enfamil ProSobee vs. Similac Soy Isomil
Both Enfamil and Similac offer a complete soy-based, milk-free formula for infants of families who follow plant-based diets. Soy-based formulas are helpful for infants with temporary lactose intolerance due to an intestinal infection, those born with galactosemia, and rare cases of congenital lactose intolerance (source). Enfamil’s ProSobee formula and Similac’s Soy Isomil formula are both lactose-free. To make them easier to digest, a soy protein isolate is used.
Soy formulas are not recommended for infants with cow’s milk protein allergy because such babies are often allergic to soy as well. If you feel that your baby may have an allergy to cow’s milk, discuss this with your pediatrician. Enfamil’s Nutramigen or Similac’s Alimentum will likely be recommended instead of a soy formula. For moms who follow a plant-based diet and cannot breastfeed, a soy-based baby formula is a good alternative.
Let’s compare the two powders.
- Both formula brands use corn syrup as the first ingredient.
- Both use soy protein isolate, completely avoiding cow’s milk-derived ingredients.
- Both offer the complete nutrition necessary for a baby to thrive, including vitamins, proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and water.
- Enfamil has soy protein as the third ingredient, after corn syrup and vegetable oils.
- Similac has soy protein as the second ingredient followed by oils.
- Similac adds sugar in addition to corn syrup to their soy formula.
- Similac has a higher Linoleic Acid levels.
As with the other Enfamil formulas, Enfamil’s ProSobee recipe uses fewer sugars, making it the optimal choice if the price is within your budget. However, non-lactose sugars can be difficult for infants to digest, and can lead to a preference for sweet tastes (source). They’ll develop their “sweet tooth” when fruits and other sweet foods are introduced into their diets. However, if your baby does not like the flavor of ProSobee, and you cannot find another non-dairy alternative, it is reasonable to try Isomil.
Questions about Formula
I still don’t know which formula to pick. Now what?
Should I be concerned about corn syrup in formulas?
Just as many parents avoid corn syrup in the diets of older children (such as juices and foods with high fructose corn syrup), many parents should question whether this ingredient is necessary for formula. Breastmilk is 7% lactose, a sugar and carbohydrate that provides energy (source). Lactose also promotes the absorption of calcium and minerals. Because formulas are designed to mimic breastmilk, they do need some amount of sugar. Many contained added lactose from cow’s milk, while others choose to add corn syrup. What you should be concerned about is whether or not multiple forms of sugar are used, and if it is one of the first few ingredients.
Should I give my baby water in between bottles?
Infants under the age of six months should obtain all of their nutrients and fluid from breastmilk or formula. After six months, when a baby begins solid foods, water can be offered. Be careful not to give more than four to eight ounces of water per day to prevent a reduction in breastmilk or formula feedings (source). If they are too full, they can become deficient in 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. This commonly occurs in breastfed infants who are being weaned, and have become accustomed to the taste of breastmilk. If very hungry, babies may take just enough formula to curb their hunger, but not finish the bottle. If a baby, however, becomes fussy after formula feedings, talk to your pediatrician about whether or not a formula change is necessary.
What are the signs that I need to try a different formula?
If your baby is spitting up a lot, cries despite regular and frequent feedings, or develops streaks of blood in the stools, you may need to switch to a different formula. If your baby develops a rash that worsens with each feeding, or becomes lethargic, you should consult a doctor immediately. This could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction that requires a change to a different formula, possibly one without cow’s milk products.
Do I need to buy non-GMO or organic?
Many parents are extremely concerned about Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs. This means that a food has been modified at the genetic level, usually in an attempt to make a stronger product that is less resistant to pests. Some of these spliced plants, for example corn, have added bacterial genes to prevent pests from eating them. The plant then “learns” to grow with the new genetic modification. Newer techniques have been developed that are used current GMO foods on the market. The problem with GMOs is that research their safety is ongoing, and there is concern that genetic modification may make the food more allergenic (source). Non-GMOs are a known entity, whereas GMOs are not.
In the United States, organic foods are grown without the use of pesticides, hormones, or modifiers. Organic may not be necessary, but it can help guarantee the quality of ingredients., something that is very important to many mothers. 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 reduces the nutrient level of the formula. It also lowers the electrolyte content which can cause seizures (source). Adding cereal can be a choking hazard, and lead to obesity (source).
Can I make my own formula?
No. Making and feeding your baby homemade formula is not safe. Before the 1920’s, parents used cow’s milk and Caro Syrup as a supplement for babies who did not have access to breastmilk. Some of those babies were able to stay alive, but they suffered from nutritional deficiencies.
Formula companies have spent years researching how to create formulas that provide every nutrient necessary for a thriving baby (source). Although current infant formulas only contain a fraction of the ingredients in breastmilk, they are more nutritionally equivalent than any formula you could make yourself.
Store-bought formula is the best alternative to breastfeeding as the companies have science and international guidelines to support it (source).
Can I buy a generic brand?
Generic brands are always an option, and they cost less. Their manufacturers are required to provide products with the same standards as brandname formulas (source).
Our advice is to look for one that uses quality ingredients, and read the label. Similar to the concern about corn syrup, check for added sugars in generic formula brands. Unless spit-up is an issue, try to avoid versions that are thickened with starches. 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. Cow’s milk has too much phosphorous and potassium for infant kidneys to be able to process (source). Formula is manufactured to include the right proportion of ingredients, electrolytes and vitamins that human babies need.
Which is the best formula for babies?
There are a number of excellent cow’s milk formulas. Your baby’s doctor is a great place to get advice, especially if your baby may have special dietary needs. Experienced Mommy’s top recommendation is Happy Baby Formula; it’s organic and non-GMO. For those for whom organic is not a high priority, however, we recommend Enfamil NeuroPro Infant Formula. Both formulas provide superior nourishment for your baby. It’s all up to you, but you might want choose one of these formulas.
Does WIC cover Enfamil enspire?
Covered formulas vary by state, so, to be sure, you’ll need to check an up-to-date list. WIC in many states does not provide that particular Enfamil product, probably because it costs considerably more than the other Enfamil formulas. In addition, WIC requires a form to be completed by a doctor in order to dispense any of the specialty formula on their list.
Is ready-made formula better than powder?
It depends on what you mean by better. The ready-made formula is easier, more convenient, and more expensive. The powder is more economical, and can be stored longer.
Many parents claim that the ready-to-feed formula is better for babies with tummy troubles like gas or colic. If you choose the powdered version, let it settle in the bottle after mixing. This will reduce the air bubbles and foam that may cause gassiness.
Can babies drink two different formulas?
The simple answer: yes. A healthy baby can drink one formula, and then another, and then still another. First, though, you should check with your baby’s doctor to get their advice. Most doctors prefer consistency in feeding, and feel that multiple formula changes are unnecessary.
What is the closest formula to breast milk?
There’s definitely not a clear favorite. Each formula brand has multiple options, one of which is claimed to be their “closest to breast milk” version. For supplementing breastfed babies, ExperiencedMommy recommends Similac For Supplementation Non-GMO Instant Formula with Iron. Remember though, breast milk is far superior to any infant formula.
Is Enfamil Enspire good for gassy babies?
Yes, Enfamil Enspire should be a good choice. Some other choices for gassy babies are Similac Sensitive, Enfamil Gentlease, Nutramigen with Enflora LGG, and Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula with Iron. Although a few studies have shown slight improvement with the use of partially hydrolyzed infant formulas, most health authorities feel that any reduction in gassiness or fussiness is placebo effect (source).
Enfamil vs Gerber
To see how Enfamil matches up with the second leading baby formula competitor see Enfamil vs Gerber.
The Enfamil brand tends to include formulas with fewer added sugars which is fantastic from a nutritional standpoint. One has to wonder, however, if taste is compromised. Overall, Enfamil tends to use quality ingredients, and ones that make sense for each version of their formula. Their formulas would be our first choice. However, they are often more expensive, especially for a product that must be used several times a day. Of course, we are talking about your baby’s health, but the price may be an issue for some families.
Similac, in general, tends to lean toward a high sugar content for better palatability. Its manufacturer also claims easier digestion. Honestly, sugar should be lower on the ingredient list. When corn syrup is listed first, this means that it much of the formula is sugar. Similac does, however, add a few nutrients not found in Enfamil powders, such as lutein. Their brand tends to avoid GMOs, which is fantastic because of the large amount of corn syrup in their formula (one of the food sources most likely to be genetically modified). Finally, Similac adds more Linoleic Acid. Data on the long-term benefits of this omega fatty acid on overall brain health is inconsistent.