Best Infant Formula 2023: A Comprehensive Guide
Luckily there are really good alternatives for breastfeeding to ensure adequate nutrition of your child.
One of the healthiest and safe alternatives to breastfeeding is formula feeding your baby. Choosing the healthiest formula means giving your child gets all of the essential nutrients in the right amounts.
This article is an in-depth and medically-reviewed guide for parents who are willing to formula feed their babies. The article features how to choose an organic infant formula, what ingredients to avoid, and some of the best-selling organic infant formulas for your child.
What Is Baby Formula and Why Does Your Baby Need It?
Baby formulas are an ideal nutrition substitute for breastfeeding because they’re fortified with essential nutrients (essential fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals) that replicate the nutrients found in breast milk.
There are many organic infant formulas that are manufactured exclusively for babies with sensitive tummies. For instance, your baby may not digest cow’s milk formula or is intolerant to lactose. In this case, the pediatricians may recommend goat’s milk formula.
American vs. European Baby Formula
Did you know that more people are preferring European baby formula brands than American ones? What makes European formulas so good? The European Commission has stricter guidelines and regulations about using ingredients in baby formulas compared to the FDA. The following are some major differences you can find in European baby formulas:
1. European Infant Formulas Excel At Using Cleaner Ingredients
European infant formula manufacturers follow stricter regulations regarding their nutrient composition, usage, and nutrients, compared to American formulas. The ingredients used are usually cleaner and higher quality.
The European Commission has set guidelines about the nutritional composition of baby formulas. For example, European formula brands do not use corn syrup and syrup solids, which are often added in American baby formulas as the primary source of carbohydrates. Additionally, the following standards are more strictly regulated in Europe:
- No synthetic ingredients sourced from chemical solvents
- At least 30% calories from lactose are required
- No sugar or syrup solids
2. European Formulas Are Organic Certified
Unlike US formulas that contain only 70% organic ingredients, European formulas use 95% organic ingredients and nearly all European organic formulas are certified organic. All formulas certified as “organic” should not use milk that contains GMOs, pesticides, hormones, and steroids. Certified organic means following stricter regulations with no residuals of toxic substances.
Some European formulas have achieved designations that are “beyond Organic.” For example, Holle formulas are Demeter-certified (organic ++), which means milk is coming from self-sustained biodynamic farms. This is what makes biodynamic farming 100% organic.
Lebenswert formulas are certified organic to Bioland standards, meaning that the ingredients are sourced from 100% organic farms. The formulas produced on Bioland farms are sustainable and gentle on the environment.
Types Of Baby Formulas
If you’re researching to find the best infant formula in the world, make sure you choose the right type of baby formula. This section includes four different types of infant formulas:
1. Cow’s Milk Formula
About 80% of the European baby formulas use cow’s milk in their infant recipes. Baby formulas mix casein to cow’s milk to mirror the composition of breast milk. This modification is also important because proteins in cow’s milk are too large for the baby’s digestive system to digest. Cow’s milk is good for babies because it is rich in calcium, protein, and iron vital for the development of bones, muscles, and teeth. Cow’s milk in infant formulas also provides better immunity, a healthy heart, and improved bone health.
2. Goat’s Milk Formula
Goat’s milk formulas are used by different organic formula brands for babies with sensitive tummies. If your baby is lactose intolerant or is sensitive to cow’s milk protein, goat’s milk is a good substitute. It is much easier to digest and safe for little ones because the goat milk’s protein forms a light and soft curd in the stomach. On the other hand, cow’s milk proteins are heavier and more complex which often tends to form a firm and heavy curd. Goat’s milk formulas contain slightly less protein than cow’s milk formulas.
3. Hypoallergenic Formula
The hypoallergenic formula is ideal for babies who have severe food allergies, resulting in colic, constipation, or gas. Hypoallergenic formulas are formulated with hydrolyzed proteins, which have been broken down in smaller sizes. Hydrolyzed proteins are easy on the stomach, reduce the allergic response, and soothe constipation.
How To Choose The Best Infant Formula
Since there is a wider range of infant baby formulas aimed at meeting the unique needs of the baby, let’s take a deeper look at choosing the best infant formula based on:
The European Commission strictly regulates the ingredients used in organic baby formulas. All formulas have to meet certain criteria in terms of the percentage of ingredients, including carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. Various organic formulas also use additional ingredients like DHA, ARA, prebiotics, and probiotics. The European Commission also recommends adding vitamin D, vitamin B, iron, folic acid, calcium, and choline to infant formulas to ensure adequate growth and nutrition of the baby.
Common protein sources used in infant formulas include whey and casein. Frequently used carbohydrates include lactose and maltodextrin. Lactose is a naturally occurring sweetener found in breast milk that makes formulas taste better and avoid added sugar.
The nutritional needs of a child can help you decide which formula you should choose. For example, you can choose a goat milk formula if your child is sensitive or allergic to cow’s milk protein. You should also speak with a pediatrician about your baby’s nutritional needs.
2. Prebiotics & Probiotics
Most US-based infant formulas do not add probiotics and prebiotics. European formulas do include probiotics and prebiotics as they can help improve the gut microbiome of your formula-fed baby. For example, almost all HiPP formulas contain the natural probiotics L. fermentum hereditum®.
3. DHA and ARA
These two long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids are naturally present in breast milk. Studies have reported that your child’s cognitive outcomes and early neurodevelopment can be highly improved with DHA and ARA. Every European formula must contain added DHA & ARA which is not commonly found in US based formulas.
Ingredients To Avoid In An Infant Formula
The following are some ingredients that are banned in the European Union and shouldn’t be used in organic infant formula:
In US-based infant formulas, carrageenan is added as a stabilizing agent in ready-to-feed formulas. But it is not allowed by the EU to be added in organic formulas because it causes intestinal inflammation.
2. Unnatural Sugars
Unnatural or processed refined sugars, such as sucrose, or corn syrup solids, are commonly added in traditional US formulas because they’re cheaper than lactose (which should be added in all formulas).
3. Synthetic Nutrients
Synthetic nutrients can be present in American formulas, which can be harmful to your baby because they’re filled with harmful chemicals called carcinogens. It has been found that infants given formulas with synthetic fillers are more likely to develop chronic diseases as they grow up.
Best Infant Formula Recommendations
Once you’ve decided to choose a European formula, the hard part is choosing which one. This is where Organic Life Start comes in! We are featuring the three most popular and best-selling European formula brands that strive to excel with their organic nutrients having organic value.
✓ No GMOs and synthetic fillers
✓ Soy-free, added sugar free
✓ Contains prebiotics & probiotics
✓ Contains DHA & ARA
✓ It comes in an airtight and easy-to-dispense containerCheck Price
HiPP Dutch is one of our nutritionally complete and best-selling European formulas with organic certifications. The formula contains a whey to casein ratio that mirrors the ratio found in breast milk.
✓ Demeter certified (Organic++)
✓ Rich in calcium
✓ Prevents constipation and colic
✓ Soy-free, added sugar free
✓ Rich in calciumCheck Price
✓ Demeter certified (Organic ++)
✓ A2 cow protein for easier digestion
✓ Prevents constipation and colic
✓ Soy-free, added sugar free
✓ Rich in calciumCheck Price
Holle cow A2 formula is manufactured from specially selected cows that only produce A2 protein. A strict DNA test is performed to select specific A2 cows. Holle A2 formula is available as stage 1, stage 2, and stage 3 and contains high-quality cow’s milk in its natural form. A2 milk has been designed to be easier to digest and healthier than other cow's milk on the market.
✓ Nutritionally complete formula for babies with reflux issues
✓ Organic Locust Bean Gum makes this creamier and easier for babies with reflux / spit up
✓ It contains DHA, prebiotics, probioticsCheck Price
HiPP Anti-Reflux formula is the best and safe option for babies experiencing excessive spit-up, regurgitation, and reflux. The formula is gentle on your infant’s digestive system with its reflux-reducing agents.
✓ Hydrolyzed protein for babies with digestive/allergy issues
✓ Contains DHA
✓ It contains prebiotics and probiotics
✓ Free of any ingredients harmful to baby’s digestive systemCheck Price
HiPP Hypoallergenic formula is a great option for sensitive stomachs because it contains protein hydrolysates. Protein is broken into smaller peaces for easier digestion.
✓ Gentle and complete formula with wholesome nutrients
✓ Has Bioland certification
✓ No GMOs, added sugars, starch, and soy.Check Price
Lebenswert is a safe and nutritionally-complete option for parents looking for clean and organic ingredients from Bioland certified farms. Lebenswert is a clean and simple formula that is nutritionally complete.
✓ Wholesome and ethically sourced ingredients
✓ Allergy-friendly (no soy, gluten, wheat, or nuts)
✓ Contains Omega 3 & 6 LCPs (DHA & ALA)
✓ Great for babies who suffer from stomach trouble caused by cow milk sensitivity.Check Price
Kabrita is one of the most well-liked goat milk formulas in Europe. It is intentionally made to closely resemble actual breast milk. Kabrita uses healthy agricultural methods to produce a nutritious goat milk formula based on skimmed goat milk from the Netherlands.
✓ High in essential vitamins and minerals
✓ Starch-free and maltodextrin-free
✓ Contains prebiotics and probiotics
✓ Made from 100% full-cream premium New Zealand goat milkCheck Price
Nannycare is a top choice for baby formula due to its commitment to providing high-quality, nutritious products made with natural, goat milk-based ingredients. It’s known to be gentle on sensitive tummies and rich in essential nutrients, making it an excellent option for supporting your baby's growth and development.
✓ Enriched with proteins, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, and minerals
✓ Scientifically developed based on extensive research and expertise
✓ Gentle on baby's stomach
✓ Non-GMO formula with no artificial flavors or colors.Check Price
Aptamil is carefully crafted to provide a balanced and complete source of nutrients, ensuring your baby receives the best start to life with optimal growth and development. Aptamil's commitment to scientific research and stringent quality standards makes it a reliable and trusted option for your little one's nourishment.
10. Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula
✓ Produced from organic cow’s milk
✓ Contains Omega-3 DHA and Omega-6 ARA fatty acids
✓ Iron fortified for healthy development
Earth's Best infant formula is crafted using milk sourced from cows nourished with certified organic feed, ensuring that no artificial growth hormones or antibiotics are used. With Earth's Best organic infant formula with iron, you can be confident in providing your little one with a premium, nutrient-rich option that supports their growth and development.
Most similar to Earth's Best infant formula: HiPP Dutch
What is the Best Infant Formula
If you’re still confused and can’t decide which formula to choose, reach out to our customer service team for more information.
Determining the best infant formula is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Each baby has unique nutritional needs and preferences, making it essential to consider various factors when making this important decision. Whether you opt for a traditional cow's milk-based formula, a goat-based alternative, or an organic infant formula, the key is to prioritize your baby's health and well-being.
Always consult with pediatricians, read labels diligently, and be open to trying different options until you find the best infant formula that suits your little one perfectly.