This guide is intended as an introduction to baby formula. We started our research by building a list of all infant formulas made by the four major companies that manufacture it for sale in the US: Mead Johnson Enfamil ; Abbott Nutrition Similac ; Nestle Gerber ; and Perrigo Nutritionals , which makes generic formulas sold in many grocery and pharmacy chains and by other brands, including The Honest Company and Plum Organics.
Each of these companies makes a half dozen or more types of formula, and we ended up with a list of 45 formulas. For this guide, we focused on powdered formulas, because they are the most commonly used PDF , most economical, and come in the most varieties. Enfamil, Similac, and Gerber offer some of their formulas in liquid concentrate which must be diluted and ready-to-feed versions. Ready-to-feed formula, some of which comes in 2-ounce or 8-ounce preportioned bottles, is the most convenient and foolproof option because it requires no mixing or dilution. Porto and Thomas told us they recommend soy-based formulas only if the baby has a medical need for it, or parents want their baby to follow a vegetarian diet; this is also the guidance of the AAP.
Porto, Thomas, and Young stated that most babies do well on traditional formula. Partially hydrolyzed: The milk proteins have been partly broken down, which makes them closer to the size of the proteins in breast milk. Extensively hydrolyzed and amino acid: The proteins have been fully broken down into peptides or amino acids. For this guide, we only considered intact traditional , intact organic, and partially hydrolyzed gentle formulas. Finally, in addition to the FDA-mandated 29 vitamins and nutrients that all infant formulas must include, we found that many formulas have added nutrients and ingredients designed to make them more similar to or to confer benefits associated with breast milk and breastfeeding.
Based on our research and conversations with experts, there were only a few criteria we used to narrow the list:. Traditional and organic formulas should have lactose as the sole carbohydrate.
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Gentle formulas should contain only partially hydrolyzed proteins. We excluded gentle formulas that include any intact proteins because, according to Young , the presence of some intact proteins will negate any benefits the partially broken down proteins could offer. Finally, we considered cost. We found that many cheaper formulas have most or all of the same extra nutrients as more expensive formulas.
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We did not look at European formulas like HiPP and Holle because they are some of the most expensive options and are not sold in US stores. Kirkland Signature Non-GMO Infant Formula is the least expensive traditional formula we found, yet it is just as safe and nutritious as formulas that cost much more.
Pediatricians Thomas and Porto both told us that parents should feel comfortable using store-brand or generic infant formulas such as Kirkland Signature Non-GMO, because they contain all the same FDA-required nutrients and ingredients as formulas made by Enfamil, Similac, and Gerber, which can cost two to three times as much. Some user reviews have complained that Kirkland Signature Non-GMO Infant Formula is foamy when mixed we found this complaint in regard to other formulas as well, including name brands.
If you want to buy smaller quantities of formula at a time, try our Also great picks. This formula is manufactured by Perrigo Nutritionals, which makes generic formulas sold in many grocery, discount, and pharmacy chains. Like our main pick, and like other more expensive formulas, it has lactose as its sole carbohydrate and has extra nutrients, including DHA and ARA, lutein, l-carnitine, nucleotides, and a prebiotic galactooligosaccharides. Unlike our main pick, these formulas are available in smaller Organic formulas use ingredients extracted from USDA-certified organic milk and other food products but may contain synthetic ingredients that are not approved by the National Organic Standards Board.
Both are manufactured by Perrigo Nutritionals. Like all partially hydrolyzed formulas we looked at, it has an additional sweetener maltodextrin along with lactose. Like our picks, all traditional Enfamil formulas have DHA and ARA, taurine, l-carnitine, and nucleotides, and galactooligosaccharides prebiotic. Infant : lactose; polydextrose prebiotic.
NeuroPro Infant : lactose; polydextrose, milk fat globule membrane. Premium Newborn and Premium Infant : lactose; polydextrose. Enspire : lactose; nucleotides, polydextrose, lactoferrin, milk fat globule membrane. But they cost more. NeuroPro Gentlease : corn syrup solids instead of lactose; milk fat globule membrane. Premium Gentlease : corn syrup solids and lactose. Reguline : corn syrup solids; polydextrose.
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Similac traditional formulas cost more than our picks, and some use other sugars instead of lactose, which our experts preferred since it best models breast milk. Advance : lactose; lycopene, galactooligosaccharides. Organic : sucrose, maltodextrin and lactose; lycopene, fructooligosaccharides. Pure Bliss : lactose; galactooligosaccharides; formula is made from milk from grass-fed cows. Sensitive : corn syrup solids instead of lactose; lycopene, galactooligosaccharides. Again, they cost more than our picks. Since both formulas are the same price, we opted for the Advantage version.
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