Similac has become synonymous with baby formula. Is this powder one of the best?
Similac Advance Infant Formula with Iron, Powder is one of the most popular baby formulas on the market. They say they’ve mastered the expert care of feeding babies. This particular type of formula is meant to mimic the caloric density of breastmilk, in addition to their exclusive OptiGRO. But just because the ingredient list is great doesn’t mean that it sits well with baby. Gas and vomiting are still possible, along with difficulty getting the powder to mix properly and terrible laundry stains.
Gotta Get the OptiGRO
Similac created their Advance formula with their OptiGRO blend of nutrients. This is what promotes this brand to rock star status. It has so much good stuff that even hospitals use this to feed their tiniest patients.
Just like breastmilk. Science has long confirmed that breastmilk is the healthiest thing for a baby to eat. But for a myriad of reasons, breastfeeding just doesn’t work out for some babies. So Similac decided that they’d make a formula that’s as close to breastmilk as a powdered infant formula could possibly get. That’s when they created OptiGRO. Here’s what they added to all of their improved formulas with OptiGRO to achieve this end:
- DHA. You probably remember this from your prenatal vitamins. It’s what gives them that fishy taste. The reason that it continues to be so important once baby is born is because it’s an essential nutrient for baby’s brain development. And since your newborn can’t exactly eat salmon to get DHA, they get it from their formula instead.
- Lutein. Naturally found in fruits and veggies, this carotenoid vitamin is important for proper eye development and growth. Baby’s eyesight will continue to develop rapidly during the first year and even beyond, so making sure they get plenty of lutein is a great idea.
- Vitamin E. I like Vitamin E because it keeps this tired mommy’s skin looking fresh, but for baby it serves a much more important purpose. It’s an important part of every cell in the body, and it’s an antioxidant that’s essential to proper body function. Definitely make sure baby gets enough, since babies, and especially small babies, are at a higher risk of Vitamin E deficiency.
- Nucleotides. These bad boys are the building blocks for DNA. That automatically makes them important. In this formula, they serve the purpose of helping to build healthy cells. They are particularly important for building up baby’s immune system.
- Antioxidants. We touched on this just a second ago, but antioxidants get rid of bad things in the body so that all of the organs can work optimally. Similac Advance has Vitamins C, E, and selenium to help with this.
- Prebiotics. These nutrients make for a happy tummy, and a happy tummy makes for a happy baby. These are added to aid in digestion and fight gas, constipation, and other tummy troubles.
What else is in there? The OptiGRO is the most important selling factor of the Similac Advance formula, but there’s other stuff in there that you should definitely be excited about. This formula contains iron. Nobody wants baby to become anemic and weak, because that could delay growth.
That’s one area where breastmilk can’t compete with formula– formula has lots of good healthy iron for baby to use. This infant formula also has great amounts of calories, fats, and proteins, which are again designed to mimic the makeup of breastmilk. Finally, the formula doesn’t lack in the vitamin and mineral department. This powder contains over 27 different nutrients for your healthy, growing baby.
What They Leave Out
Just like regular food, it’s important to know exactly what’s in your baby’s formula powder. But it’s also really important to know what isn’t in there. Similac made some great choices when it came to ingredients to exclude.
Sans sugar. I’m not going to lie, it would be great if it was considered healthy for babies to have sugar in their formula. Think of how easy each feeding would be! They’d love the taste and you’d never have to fight them to eat. But that’s just not a good idea. Babies get the blood sugars they need by breaking down the carbohydrates in the formula, so there is no nutritional need for added sugar. Plus, who wants to increase baby’s risk of disease and obesity in the future? That’s why I’m sticking with a formula with no added sugar.
GMOs? Genetically Modified Organisms, or GMOs, are kind of like global warming. Some people are concerned about it, while some people don’t think it’s a big deal. I personally think that erring on the side of safety is a smart choice, so choosing foods without GMOs might be a good idea. This is really true for babies. Since we don’t exactly know what the long, long-term effects of GMOs in the human body could be, exposing baby to them on day 1 might not be wise. This formula contains soy ingredients, which are notorious for being GMO these days. The Similac Advance Infant Formula with Iron, Powder comes in a non-GMO version that has no artificially engineered ingredients. I think it’s worth a couple of extra dollars to give baby something that’s most definitely safe.
Mastering the Mixing
Okay, so we’ve covered the science portion of this topic. Sorry if you are a little bored, but that stuff is important! Now I want to talk about another important aspect of baby formula: mixing and feeding that powdered gold to your sweet baby.
How to mix properly. A common complaint of nearly every baby formula is that it just doesn’t mix well. This formula is no exception. I personally didn’t have this problem with this formula, but one of my friends did. Whenever she made a bottle, it always seemed to have a little grit left at the bottom. Here’s how to mix formula properly and hopefully avoid that:
- Make sure you measure it right. If you have too much formula or too little water, it just won’t dissolve right.
- Shake it like crazy. A gentle little toss won’t get it dissolved. Shake it in the bottle until it’s bubbly and dissolved, then take off the lid for a second to let some gas dissipate before feeding.
- Don’t premix. This is so tempting because it’s convenient. But technically you aren’t supposed to do this because it messes with the integrity of the formula and it might not be dissolved properly when you go to use it.
Caution: Some Side Effects
Choosing a baby formula is difficult because each baby has different tastes. What works for one may not work for another. So in the spirit of full disclosure and providing a thorough review, let’s talk about the possible downsides of this formula.
Gas and tummy aches. This formula could cause gas and tummy aches. It has those prebiotics to help prevent this, but it might not work on every baby. My son had gas with pretty much every single formula (including this one) and even with breastmilk. Some kids have all the luck.
Diaper rash. This is a strange symptom, but it is one that can happen. My niece had a horrible diaper rash after starting this formula. They tried changing diapers, wipes, and diaper cream to try to remedy the situation, but nothing worked. Their pediatrician suggested changing to a different, sensitive blend formula. Then the rash cleared! Apparently the rash was my niece’s way of saying that something in the formula didn’t agree with her. So look out for this crazy but not as common side effect.
Taste and smell. Your baby might not like the taste or smell of the formula. I personally didn’t like the smell, but I think that all formulas are kind of stinky. My son didn’t seem to have problems with it because he ate it just fine. But be aware that your baby might refuse this because they just don’t think it’s yummy or because they are repulsed by the smell.
Stains. This happens with every baby formula. Just ask any parent of a formula fed kid. This one seemed to be pretty bad though. Even my trusty laundry stain fighter just couldn’t get some of those white onesies clean. I think this is no reason to quit using this formula, though. Just invest in some cute bibs that you don’t mind getting little cream colored stains on them.
- 4.8 stars, 861 reviews- Walmart
- 4.9 stars, 844 reviews- Target
- 4.6 stars, 503 reviews- Babies R Us
- 4.7 stars, 807 reviews- Walgreens
Side note: you won’t find this option in our Best Baby Formula article, but you can compare baby formula choices that are even better!
- Has OptiGRO to keep baby healthy
- Designed to mimic breastmilk
- No added sugar
- Full of essential nutrients, like iron and protein
- Contains GMOs
- Hard to mix properly
- May cause gas and tummy troubles
- Stains clothes
FAQ’s About Similac Advance Infant Formula
Is Similac better than Enfamil?
Probably this question is oversimplified, as the answer will depend upon your baby’s specific formula needs. There are many Similac and Enfamil formulas as well as many other formulas, and each is a little different.
Experienced Mommy has observed, however, that “Enfamil wins most of the time when compared to a similar Similac formula,” but in the case of Enfamil Infant vs. Similac Advance, Similac Advance “stands out slightly due to its addition of lutein (for vision) and lack of palm olein oil (a fatty acid which, though similar to breast milk may be upsetting to more sensitive digestive systems).
Does Similac Advance have added sugar?
No, though some Similac formulas include added sugar, Similac Advance does not.
Why is there sugar in baby formula?
All baby formulas contain sugar. Milk contains lactose, one form of sugar. Sugars are the building blocks of carbohydrates, which are necessary to babies’ health and growth. Sugars are easier to digest than more complex carbohydrates, and that is why they appear even in formulas that contain no milk products.
Of the sugars included in formulas, lactose has the least effect on blood sugar. Next comes sucrose, and then the other sugar sources, followed last by maltodextrin. Unfortunately, of these, sucrose has the sweetest taste and therefore may accustom your baby to sweetness. In addition to the necessity that baby formulas contain carbohydrates (which may account for processed sugars in non-dairy formulas), sugar may be added for taste.
The process and ingredients used to create a healthy baby formula are not always so delicious, so the sugar may make the formula, quite literally, a little easier to swallow.
Which formula is closest to breast milk?
Numerous brands have formulations said to be similar to breast milk. For a bottle-fed baby, Enfamil’s formula closest to breast milk is Enfamil Neuro Pro and Similac’s is Similac 2’ -FL HMO Pro Advance, each of which is supplemented with ingredients generally found only in breastmilk.
For breast milk supplementation, ExperiencedMommy recommends Similac for Supplementation Gentle Non-GMO Infant Formula for Breastfed Babies.
Is Similac Advance cow’s-milk based?
Yes, Similac Advance is said to be made with dairy products from cows that have not been treated with artificial growth hormones.
For what age baby is Similac Advance Formula appropriate?
Similac Advance, like most infant formula, provides nutrition for your baby’s first year, by which time he or she should most likely be taking solid food and perhaps switch to full-fat dairy milk or (if baby exhibits lactose intolerance) a suitable non-dairy alternative.
I think that Similac Advance Infant Formula with Iron, Powder is one of the best conventional formula choices out there. Similac’s OptiGRO is a good way to get your baby all of the benefits of breastmilk without actually breastfeeding. It’s loaded with nutrients that will help your baby grow up happy and healthy and it doesn’t have any added sugar. Mixing it right can be tough and it can cause some gas or stomach upset, plus it might stain clothes. But if you want to give your child a good meal, give this formula a shot and see if it agrees with them. As an added bonus, upgrade to the non-GMO version for an undoubtedly great infant formula powder.