Types Of Baby Formula
Baby formula contains a variety of fats, carbohydrates, sodium, vitamins, minerals, water and other nutrients similar to those found in breast milk. All baby formulas marketed in the U.S. must meet strict nutrition guidelines from the Food and Drug Administration .
While the foundations are usually roughly the same, there are a handful of different types of baby formula to choose from:
When shopping for baby formula, you’ll also notice that it’s sold in different forms. Powdered formula, which you measure and mix yourself, tends to be the most affordable liquid concentrate formulas require you to just add water ready-to-feed formulas are, true to name, the most convenient option, but also usually the most expensive.
Our Pick: Kirkland Signature Procare Non
At about 50¢ per ounce , Kirkland Signature ProCare Non-GMO Infant Formula is among the least expensive traditional formulas we found. Yet it is just as safe and nutritious as formulas that cost much more. It uses lactose as the sole carbohydrate, and it has added whey protein to make the protein ratio more similar to breast milk . It also includes the extra nutrients DHA and ARA, lutein, taurine, L-carnitine, nucleotides, and two prebiotics . This formula uses safflower oil, rather than palm oil, which may be a benefit if you are concerned about constipation .
Kirkland Signature ProCare Non-GMO Infant Formula is a generic formula available only at Costco. The Costco representative we corresponded with said its policy is to not disclose the company that manufactures its formula, but Perrigo Nutrition lists the Kirkland formula on its website. Kirkland Signature ProCare Non-GMO has a similar ingredients list to the name-brand Similac Pro-Advance, which costs more than $1 per ounce.
We previously recommended Kirkland Signature Non-GMO, which Costco discontinued in late 2019 and replaced with Kirkland Signature ProCare Non-GMO. The old and new versions of Kirklands formula are virtually identical, with minor differences in the amounts and concentrations of certain ingredients.
What Is Baby Formula
The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act defines infant formula as:
A food which purports to be or is represented for special dietary use solely as a food for infants by reason of its simulation of human milk or its suitability as a complete or partial substitute for human milk.
Baby formula is the primary food option for infants in the first 12 months of life who arent nursing or otherwise consuming human milk.
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What Is The Formula For Premature Babies
Sorry if youre perplexed. I know its not an easy choice! But its one of the most crucial choices youll ever make. If youre still unsure which type of formula for premature babies is best for you, I recommend comparing the characteristics and functionalities of the formula for premature babies listed above. Each has advantages and disadvantages.
What Should You Avoid In Formula
Ingredients to Avoid in Baby Formula Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, and other added sugars, as these may contribute unnecessary sweeteners to your babys diet. Added DHA and ARA, as these are commonly processed using hexane solvents, a neurotoxin, and are not necessarily beneficial in this scenario.
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When Was Baby Formula Invented
The use of animals milk for infant feeding dates back as far back as 2000 BC, and it remained the most common non-breast milk source of infant nutrition up until the end of the 19th century. In 1865, chemist Justus von Liebig developed, patented and marketed the first official liquid infant food , subsequently creating a powdered form with a longer shelf life. His formulas ingredient list included cows milk, wheat and malt flour, and potassium bicarbonate.
Best Baby Formula For Your Childs Needs
For most healthy babies, whatever formula in the baby-care package that your hospital sends you home with will probably suit just fine, says Sandra Arévalo, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. These are typically made with cows-milk protein plus whey protein concentrate, so the protein ratio more closely resembles breast milk . But there are certainly times you may want to try something different.
The fact is, there is no single option thats the best formula for all babies. So how do you know what the best baby formula for your child will be? Start with your pediatrician. Youll be able to talk about any allergies or dietary issues you might have, along with any nutritional concerns or worries about allergies for baby. From there, your pediatrician can give you guidance to help you choose the best formula for your little one.
Ultimately, choosing the best formula for baby is about paying close attention to how your childs body responds to the formula you try. Its also essential that you purchase your baby formula safely: Make sure that its not expired and that its sealed correctly and the packaging is in good condition. If you try a formula and baby doesnt seem to be reacting well, contact your pediatrician to discuss what to do.
Here are a few common situations where baby may have specific needsand how to choose the best baby formula to meet them.
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Best Baby Formula For Newborns
Breast milk is especially important for brand-new babies. As Steven Abrams, MD, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition and professor of pediatrics at University of Texas Dell Medical School in Austin, explains, breast milk ingredients are dynamic: They constantly change to fulfill a growing infants needs, from bolstering their developing immune system to building muscle strength.
Given that baby formula is a set formulation, its hard for it to be truly complete. Still, in a pinch, most standard formulas will work for healthy newborns, Arévalo says. The exception is very premature babies , who would receive specific feeding recommendations from the NICU that could potentially include donor breast milk if the mom cant supply it. Once baby arrives home, the doctor will recommend the appropriate feeding regimen. For older preemies or underweight term babies, the baby formula options open up more. Below are some of the best baby formulas for babies born prematurely or at a low birth weight.
Baby formulas to try:
Similac NeoSure provides more protein, vitamins, minerals and calories than typical formulas, plus DHA and ARA , which may be helpful for newborns.
Buy it: Similac NeoSure Formula for Premature Babies, $20 for a 13.1 oz can, Walmart.com
Buy it: Enfamil NeuroPro EnfaCare, $19 for a 12.8 oz can, Enfamil.com
Why Babies Need Formula Rather Than Cows Milk
Also, babies cant digest cows milk as completely or easily as breastmilk or formula. The protein level in cows milk is too high for babies, so some is taken out for infant formula.
For these reasons, you shouldnt give cows milk to your baby as the main milk drink until your baby is over 12 months old.
Babies under 12 months of age should not have:
- normal cows milk as a main drink
- skim, evaporated, powdered or sweetened condensed milk
- dairy alternatives like soy, rice, almond or coconut milk.
For most healthy full-term babies, breastmilk or cows milk-based baby formulas are recommended until 12 months of age. If youre thinking of feeding your baby something other than breastmilk or cows milk-based formula, talk to your paediatrician, GP or child and family health nurse first.
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Burts Bees Baby Organic Infant Milk Formula With Iron
Why its great: Burts Bees makes all kinds of healthy, organic alternatives to baby products, such as soaps, lotions, and shampoos. Theyve recently started producing all organic baby formula to give parents a high-quality, organic option. This formula was modeled after breast milk and was researched to make sure that your child would get all the nutrients needed to support their growth and development. This option includes prebiotics, which help support the immune system, keeping your baby healthy and strong.
Keep in mind: Their formula hasnt been around for very long, so it doesnt have as many reviews. However, Burts Bees is a trusted brand and all the reviews have been positive so far.
Good for: Parents that want a formula with prebiotics to help boost their babys immune system.
Ially Hydrolyzed Protein Formula
Partially hydrolyzed protein is smaller. Hydrolyzed literally means broken apart. The proteins in partially hydrolyzed formulas are broken down to be smaller in size, closer to the size of breast milk proteins. If these proteins were a car, theyd be a Honda Civic.
On the list of ingredients, you will see the words partially hydrolyzed in front of the protein. For example, Enfamil Gentlease is a partially hydrolyzed formula, and the list of ingredients includes partially hydrolyzed nonfat milk.
The only real way to know if a formula is partially hydrolyzed is to look for those words on the ingredients list. For instance, Gerber Good Start Soy formula is a partially hydrolyzed protein, which is different than the full-size soy protein in Enfamil ProSobee and Similac Soy Isomil.
Because partially hydrolyzed proteins take less digestion to be absorbed, they may be a good choice for some newborn infants or infants who are experiencing discomfort digesting the full-size proteins, or who have a history of digestive issues.
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Also Great: Up & Up Advantage Infant Formula
*At the time of publishing, the price was $20.
Though slightly more expensive than Kirkland Signature ProCare and Members Mark Infant, Targets Up & Up Advantage Infant Formula is still one of the least expensive formulas we found, yet it contains many of the same beneficial ingredients as much more expensive formulas. Like Kirkland Signature ProCare , Up & Up Advantage uses lactose as the sole carbohydrate, has added whey protein , and includes the extra nutrients DHA and ARA, lutein, taurine, L-carnitine, nucleotides, and two prebiotics . Unlike Kirklands formula and Sams Clubs Members Mark formula, Up & Up Advantage does contain palm oil, though it shouldnt be a problem for the majority of babies.
Like ProCare and Members Mark, this formula is manufactured by Perrigo Nutrition it is also sold as CVS Advantage, Sams Club Advantage, Walgreens Advantage, Aldis Little Journey Advantage, and Amazon Brand Mama Bear Advantage, among others. Up & Up Advantage are available in smaller, 12.4-ounce and 23.2-ounce sizes, as well as in a 35-ounce size.
When Do Babies Stop Drinking Formula
You should make the switch from formula to whole cows milk around your cuties first birthday, but not before. Avoid serving cows milk to babies under 1. It doesnt contain all the nutrients infants need and the proteins can be hard for their sensitive stomachs to digest.
Cows milk isnt as sweet as formula , so the taste might be different than what your newly minted toddler is used to. If hes a little wary, try making the transition gradually.
Mix cows milk into formula, slowly increasing the ratio of milk to formula until your child has adjusted to all milk. At that point, aim to offer 2 to 3 cups of cows milk daily.
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The Best Gentle Formula: Parents Choice Tender Infant Formula
Gentle or tender formulas use partially hydrolyzed milk proteins, which are partly broken down and may be easier for some babies to digest. If you or your pediatrician thinks your baby might do well with a partially hydrolyzed formula, we suggest Parents Choice Tender Infant Formula, which is also manufactured by Perrigo Nutrition. Its the cheapest partially hydrolyzed formula we found, costing about two-thirds the price of partially hydrolyzed formulas by Enfamil, Similac, and Gerber. Parents Choice Tender uses only partially hydrolyzed milk protein, and it contains no intact proteins, as some formulas labeled gentle or tender do.
Like all partially hydrolyzed formulas currently available in the US, Parents Choice Tender has an additional sweetener . But its also one of the few partially hydrolyzed formulas that contain some lactose, which experts recommend. This formulas protein is 100% whey, with no casein. It also contains several potentially beneficial extra ingredients, including DHA and ARA, taurine, L-carnitine, nucleotides, and a prebiotic .
Babys Only Organic Sensitive Lactorelief With Dha & Ara Toddler Formula
Why its great: Babys Only is another brand that offers a few different variations of formula. They are all certified organic and contain all the ingredients to support your childs growing body. This particular formula was made for babies with lactose sensitivity. It is still milk-based, but the lactose has been reduced with a special enzyme process, so its much gentler and easier on your babys stomach. This formula gets its DHA from egg yolks, rather than algae like most of the other brands, making it a safer, healthier choice.
Keep in mind: This formula is also recommended for 12 months and up, but it has been approved by the FDA as an infant formula.
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Trying To Decide On A Formula Here Are 6 Top Picks
Worried about giving formula to your newborn? Dont be. All formula has the added vitamins, minerals and fats that a baby needs. And every baby formula available to purchase in Australia has to meet strict Australian standards.
But as comforting as that is, it doesnt make it any easier to choose when youre tired and trying to choose the best baby formula for your baby.
So which product is right for you? To help you figure that out, the Tell Me Baby community has rated the best formula for newborns theyve tried, and theyve shared their opinions on what has, or hasnt, worked for them.
You can also take a look at our baby formula comparisons to find out the most rated products.
Why You Should Trust Us
To learn about current research and recommendations for baby formula, we spoke with American Academy of Pediatrics spokesperson Dr. Anthony Porto, a pediatric gastroenterologist and professor at Yale School of Medicine, and co-author of The Pediatricians Guide to Feeding Babies and Toddlers. We also spoke with Dr. Jenny Thomas, a pediatrician in Franklin, Wisconsin, and a breastfeeding medicine specialist.
We also interviewed Bridget Young, PhD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, who also runs an informational website on baby formula . And we spoke with Lars Bode, PhD, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California San Diego Medical School and director of a research lab that studies human milk.
We read more than a dozen scientific studies, journal articles, reports, and advances regarding baby formula in order to understand its ingredients, nutrients, and other components. We looked at information from the FDA and CDC to learn how formula is regulated and tested in the US. Finally, we analyzed the nutrition and ingredients labels of some 50 formulas to understand the differences and similarities among them.
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