If you are a formula using parent, you’ll quickly notice the huge variety of choices on the market. Chances are you are confused about the best choice. If your doctor doesn’t have a recommendation or a preference for you to try, you could spend hours in the formula aisle, reading labels.
The labels say things like “whole milk” “soy” “hypo-allergenic” “iron-fortified” and other things that you might not understand or know if are necessary. If your baby is lactose intolerance, you will need a different formula than your mom friend. Some babies need higher calories and nutrients for proper growth. Your baby is individual, so your formula choice won’t be the same as your friends.
Different Preparation of Formula
Before we dive into the best baby formula brands, a brief outline of the types of formula will be helpful to make your choice. Baby formulas come in three different types: ready-to-use, powder, and liquid concentrate.
- Ready-to-Use Formula: If you are after convenience, ready-to-use formula is ideal. You never have to worry about mixing, shaking or measuring out the powder. All you have to do is open up the bottle and go. Chances are your hospital will offer ready-to-use formula bottles because they are hygienic and very easy to use. If water safety is a concern for you, you might want to give this type a try. One negative is that it has a short shelf life. Once opened, you have to use it within 48 hours.
- Powdered Formula: The most common choice is a powdered formula. It is economical and takes up the smallest amount of your space. However, the major downfall is the time it takes to prepare. You have to be careful to prepare according to directions to ensure your child gets the proper nutrition.
- Liquid Concentrate: Liquid concentrate requires that you mix equal parts formula and water. Price wise, it is in between ready-to-use and powdered formula. You have to prepare properly, but it does make ensuring your child gets the right amount a bit easier.
Types of Baby Formula
You’ll quickly notice, aside from different concentrates and preparation, that there are multiple types of baby formula.
- Cow’s Milk-Based: Most formula contains cow’s milk as the main ingredient. Don’t worry; companies change the protein so that your child can digest it easier.
- Soy-Based: Some brands change the plant protein to make it easier for your child to digest. If you are vegan or your child has trouble digesting cow’s milk protein, soy could be the best choice.
- Lactose-Free: Lactose intolerance is not a common condition, but it does happen at times. Your pediatrician will help you pick a formula that doesn’t contain lactose.
- Extensively Hydrolyzed: Not a common choice for most parents in which the protein is broken down into smaller parts, making it easier to digest. This type of formula is used for babies who have trouble absorbing nutrients or with multiple allergies.
- Metabolic Formula: The last type of formula is for babies who are sick and require very specific nutrition requirements. Your pediatrician will need to recommend this type of formula.
The Best Baby Formulas
Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula
Similac is the top choice for most hospitals throughout the United States. Pro-Advance contains all of the vital nutrients needed by your child for his first year of life. The best thing about the Pro-Advance is that it contains non-GMO ingredients.
- Contains a lactose carbohydrate.
- Powdered formula that mixes well with water.
Earth’s Best Organic Premium Dairy
If organic is a priority for you, Earth’s Best is a top choice amongst parents. It is a kosher-certified formula that contains cow’s milk protein. The cows are fed a wholesome grain and hay without any artificial flavors, growth hormones and preservatives. It is a formula with high-quality protein, mineral, and vitamins. Earth’s Best meets all of the FDA requirements so that you can trust it.
- Contains lutein for eye development.
- Powdered formula
- Fatty acids increase mental growth.
- Contains DHA and ARA, a nutrient that is naturally found in breastmilk.
Baby’s Only Organic Dairy with DHA & ARA Formula
Here is another fantastic organic formula for parents! It is perfect for babies with allergies. The formula contains no gluten, corn syrup or any GMO ingredients. Baby’s Only also has DHA and ARA lipids, which created a natural fatty acid profile. There are no artificially growth hormone, antibiotics, and steroids that could damage your child’s system.
- Organic, dairy-based blend made with brown rice syrup and sunflower oil
Similac Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula
Similac is always a solid choice for parents, and it is one of the top baby formula brands in the United States. Similac Advance is close to the Pro-Advance, and it contains no GMO ingredients. Advance contains no corn or soy derivatives. Their OptiGRO supports your child’s brain and eye development. OptiGRO is a blend of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E, all typically found in breastmilk.
- Features prebiotics to ease your child’s digestive system.
- Comes in a variety of preparations, from powder to liquid concentrate.
Gerber Good Start Soothe
Is your baby frequently fussy? Does your baby frequently spit up other brands of formula? Gerber Good Start Soothe could be the best choice. It is ideal for these babies! Start Soothe is a hypoallergenic blend that contains probiotics. The formula helps to reduce colic and gas, making your child happier! The blend contains small, easy-to-digest proteins that reduce your child’s crying bouts in half.
- Doesn’t stay foamy for long.
- Reduces acid reflux and colic
Some babies have delicate stomachs, and they require a different formula to ensure they are comfortable. Similac Sensitive is created to relieve fussiness and gas. You don’t have to worry that your baby will spit-up his entire bottle with Similac Sensitive.
- Supports brain and eye development
- Great for bone growth
- Available in powdered and liquid concentrate.
Enfamil Premium Non-GMO Infant Formula
Enfamil is a leading formula brand in the United States, and it is trusted by all pediatricians. Many pediatricians recommend Enfamil to their patients. Enfamil created their formula directly to mimic breast milk. The ingredients help your child develop his cognitive, motor, social and communication skills. The prebiotics supports a healthy digestive system as your child grows older. Prebiotics also supports your child’s natural defenses against viruses.
- Contains DHA and choline which promote healthy brain development.
- Designed for the first 12 months of life.
Gerber Good Start Gentle
Gerber is a trustworthy brand for parents. Gerber Good Start Gentle contains comfort proteins that are easy on your child’s digestive system. Colic is common amongst babies. Start Gentle helps to prevent constipation and makes the transition from breastmilk to formula a lot easier. The smaller proteins promote soft stools, decreasing the discomfort associated with formula. Gerber also created the formula to taste as close to breastmilk as possible.
- Includes iron supplements
- Perfect for colicky babies
- Stays fresh for one month
- Fatty acids encourage eye development.
Enfamil Nutramigen Enflora LGG Infant Formula
Babies who suffer from gas, colic and sleeping trouble require a different type of formula. You might be surprised how much of a difference Nutramigen could make for your child. Nutramigen with Enflora LGG helps colic due to cow’s milk within 48 hours! It is available to help build a tolerance to cow milk over time.
- It contains hypoallergenic protein, perfect for sensitive babies.
- Contains all nutrients required for your baby during his first year of life.
- Nutramigen comes in a ready-to-go preparation, as well as powdered formula.
Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula
You probably know Happy Baby; they make a lot of baby products! Happy Baby Organic is great for naturally minded parents who can’t afford to spend a bundle on formula. The taste is delicious and designed to mimic breast milk. Happy Baby included essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for proper growth and development.
- BPA-free container
- Affordable and organic
- Could cause constipation
Enfamil Reguline Milk-Based Powder
Here is another choice for the best baby formula that is designed with your baby’s digestive system in mind. If your child suffers from hard, uncomfortable stools, Reguline is the way to go. Studies show that Enfamil Reguline help to soften stools within a week of introducing the new formula. Enfamil designed their formula with easy to digest protein, relaxing your baby’s tummy.
- Blend of two probiotics, such as carbs that feed the good bacteria in your digestive system.
- Provides all of the nutrition needed for your child’s first year of life.
Plum Organics Grow Well Organic Infant Formula
Plum is a new name on the market, so you might be hesitant to give it a try. However, Plum gains popularity amongst those who pick organic parents. It does have a unique formula because it uses organic lactose as the only carbohydrate. There is no corn or glucose syrup solids. Plum Organics spent years developing their unique formula. Lactose is found largely in mother’s breast milk, so the Grow Well Formula closely mirrors breast milk.
- Includes whey protein.
- Contains DHA & ARA
- USDA-certified organic ingredients such as plant-based oils and non-fat milk.
If for whatever reason, you have to switch to formula from breastmilk, you need a formula that your baby’s stomach can handle. Enfamil Enspire is meant to mimic closely to breastmilk. It is made with milk fat globule membrane and lactoferrin, two nutrients that are naturally found in breastmilk. The addition of MFGM makes it one of the closest formulas to breastmilk on the market, so it is ideal for supplementation. Your child will be able to switch with comfort.
- Gentle on your child’s stomach
- Does make a lot of foam
- Subtle Scent
Enfagrow Premium Toddler Next Step Formula
Sometimes, your toddler will continue to need formula after the first year of life. That isn’t a bad thing! Formula provides all of the necessary nutrients for a toddler’s busy life. It fills in the gaps created by a toddler’s notorious pickiness. Enfagrow is designed for ages 1 to 3 years old. It contains 22 vital nutrients that are crucial for proper growth. The prebiotics included support a child’s digestive health. Your toddler will benefit from this formula.
- Vitamin D and calcium promote strong teeth and bones.
- Comes in two flavors – natural and vanilla milk
EleCare Baby Formula
EleCare is a specialized formula for babies that are unable to tolerate hydrolyzed protein. It is a hypoallergenic, amino-acid formula. EleCare helps infants with different disorders such as mal-digestion, short bowel syndrome, severe food allergies, and other conditions that could cause an infant to need an amino acid diet. EleCare is a solid choice for a baby formula, but you wait for your doctor to suggest it.
- Eliminates any possibility of an allergic reaction.
- Your doctor should recommend EleCare before you use it.
There are dozens of baby formula choices on the market. The first thing that you should remember is that speaking to your pediatrician is a good first step. Most doctors have a suggestion for a good formula. You might want to stick with the formula you start within the hospital if your baby tolerates it well. If not, your first step is to talk to your doctor. Babies with colic, reflux, lactose intolerance, or other issues could require different baby formulas.
Most baby formulas come in different preparations. Almost every brand creates their formula in ready-to-go, powdered and liquid concentrates. There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to preparation. You just have to decide what makes sense for your family! If convenience is more of a factor than price, the ready-to-go formula is the easiest. However, the powdered formula makes the most economical sense. Pick the one that works for your family.
What baby formula does your child love?