11 Best Baby Formula Brands (2024 Guide)

11 Best Baby Formula Brands (2024 Guide)

This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure.

Look no further for the complete list of the 11 best baby formula brands! With a high-quality and nutritious option for every baby, this guide covers it all from the best European & American formulas to the best vegan and goat milk formulas. In this comprehensive guide, I will lead you through the list of the best formulas on the market today, the differences between American and European brands, answer common questions about baby formula, and more! Let’s get started!

Not only can the decision to move to formula be a hard one, but the process of actually choosing the right baby formula can be just as challenging, if not more! One walk down the baby formula aisle and you may be overwhelmed by all of the different options – what nutrients and style does my baby need and which actually is the healthiest baby formula?

When I made the transition from breastfeeding to formula with my daughter, I encountered the same overwhelm and confusion. Being determined to find which baby’s formula option was the most healthy and nutritious for her, I embarked on a journey to learn as much about baby formula as possible. I interviewed doctors and pediatricians, pediatric dietitians, scoured baby formula ingredient lists, read scientific articles on formula ingredients, and more. 

A great byproduct of all of this research is that I can now share all that I’ve learned, saving you the time and effort of doing so yourself! This list is a summary of the best formulas on the market – it is a collection of tried and true formulas as well as newer brands. All are sources of complete nutrition, made with the highest quality ingredients, and are options you can feel great about feeding to your little one. 

A Note On Breastfeeding Vs. Formula

As you may have heard, breast milk is considered to be the gold standard for infant nutrition (source). Unfortunately, however, as many of us have experienced – breastfeeding is hard. It isn’t common to have milk supply or latching issues, overwhelming exhaustion, employers or work schedules that don’t support it, and more. Additionally, for non-birthing parents or adoptive parents, breastfeeding simply just isn’t an option. 

If you are frustrated or disappointed that you aren’t able to breastfeed or need to wean earlier than planned, remember that the most important thing is the love and care you give your baby. Breast isn’t best; FED is best. Thankfully, there are now so many high-quality formula options available for formula-fed infants that you can feel – not just guilt-free – but great about what you choose to give your baby.

But First, A Disclaimer

As a board certified health coach and certified nutritionist, I support products and ingredients that are rooted in science and are evidence-based. Using my background in nutrition, along with extensive research (see below for details), consultations with experts, and my own personal experience giving my two kids formula, I was able to arrive at this list of the best baby formula brands in this guide.

My baby formula reviews and recommendations are based on:

  • Over 150 hours of in-depth research
  • Speaking with thousands of parents about what formulas have worked for them (along with personal experience of formula-feeding with my own two kids)
  • Reviewing the manufacturer’s claims and ingredients list, stages, and varieties of over 65 different formula brands
  • Speaking with doctors, pediatricians, and dietitians
  • Reviewing countless articles and peer-reviewed studies

Though I may receive a commission (at no extra expense to you) if you purchase through some of the affiliate links provided, I only recommend products I’ve researched, evaluated, consulted experts on, and would feel comfortable giving to my own two children. 

As always, I only share products that are the highest quality and that can help you and your family the most. By purchasing any of these products from the links below, you help keep this blog running, so thanks for your support!

Keep in mind that every baby & situation is different, so when it comes to choosing a baby formula, please consult with your child’s pediatrician first before starting or switching to a new formula. My recommendations are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Baby formula being prepared in a bottle.

At A Glance: The Best Baby Formulas

Before we get into the specifics of which formulas are the best for each category, here is a list of our quick pics! 

Best Overall American Baby Formula

Bobbie Organic Infant Formula

Can of Bobbie organic infant formula.

Why I Love It: In January 2022, a new US-based, healthy baby formula entered the market! Bobbie Organic Infant Formula is by far, the best baby formula made in the US today. It is fantastic for quite a few reasons: this organic formula is made with a European recipe but is made in the United States and is FDA-approved. It also meets the European Union’s nutritional standards and is made with only pasture-raised organic milk from Organic Valley, making it one of the best organic options available today.

A big part of what makes Bobbie the best overall is what it doesn’t contain: there is no corn syrup, sugar solids, palm oil, hexane-derived DHA, GMOs, gluten, or maltodextrin; just only wholesome and natural good-for-your-baby ingredients! It certainly is one of the best baby formulas around, not to mention one of the best American formulas without corn syrup.

Bobbie is formulated for infants aged 0-12 months of age and is not intended for premature babies. It has a whey-to-casein ratio of 60:40 which matches that of mature breast milk, making it gentle on digestion. There is more DHA in this formula than in most American-manufactured formulas, too – it comes in at 20mg/100kcal, the highest percentage in the US market that also meets EU standards. 

There are a few drawbacks of this formula: it does not contain probiotics or prebiotics so you will likely want to supplement with those. It is also made with nonfat milk so an increased amount of vegetable fats need to be added to the formula to reach the macro blend needed to be a complete source of infant nutrition. The formula also only has one stage, which many other American formulas also have. Many European brands have 3 to 4 stages to account for the changes in their formulations which mimic the changes in breast milk as the baby matures. 

Not only is Bobbie available for purchase in Target, but they also have a very convenient and flexible subscription model. To try out the formula before you subscribe, just grab their starter bundle, which offers two cans for the price of one! 

Where To Purchase: Target & Company Website 

Cost: $26 for a 400g (14.1 oz) can, which makes about 105 fl. oz of formula (or $.25/fl oz.).

Only US-based formula that is made with a European recipe

USDA Organic Certified and non-GMO

Meets EU formula nutrition requirements

Whey-to-casein ratio that is identical to that of breast milk (60:40 ratio)

No corn syrup, syrup solids, sugar, or maltodextrin

Formulated specifically for infants aged 0-12 months

Made with pasture-raised milk

Lactose is the only carbohydrate

Contains naturally extracted DHA & ARA

No prebiotics or probiotics

Does contain soy oil, but soy oil does not have the estrogenic components of soy protein so is less problematic

Only one stage of the formula

Not good for premature babies

Buy Now

Best Overall European Baby Formula

HiPP Dutch

Can of HiPP Dutch Stage 1 organic baby formula.

Why I Love It: If you are looking for the best European-style formula that is made in the EU, HiPP Dutch is for you! This EU-brand makes some of the best baby formula in the world. It is organic and non-GMO, certified to European standards, made without sugar, starch maltodextrin, or soy, and it contains probiotics, prebiotics, DHA, and other omega-3s necessary for immune health and cognitive development (source, source). 

Though it does not contain any sugar or starch, the formula is lower in lactose than some other brands of formula, making it gentle on developing little digestive systems. HiPP is also known to not cause colic, constipation, gas, or bloating.

The high quality of this formula combined with their unique formulations for specific ages makes HiPP a fantastic option for parents who want complete nutrition tailored to their baby’s age and developmental needs. The formula comes in 4 different stages, two of which are specifically formulated for your baby’s first year of life. For example, Stage 1 is formulated for babies under 6 months old; I consider it to be the best formula milk for newborns and babies 0-6 months old. Stage 2 is for babies 6-12 months old, making it a great option for older babies who have started to add solids to their diet. 

Where To Purchase: TheMilkyBox.com

Cost: $48.99 for an 800g can, which makes about 210 fl oz of formula(or $.23/fl oz).

Offers different stages of formula starting from birth

Contains probiotics and prebiotics

Non hexane-extracted DHA & ARA

Whey-to-casein ratio is identical to that of breast milk (60:40 ratio)

Lactose is the only carbohydrate

Lower lactose for gentle digestion

No corn syrup, sugar solids, starch, or maltodextrin

Does contain palm oil, but is organically and sustainably farmed

Buy Now

Best Organic Baby Formula

ByHeart Whole Nutrition Infant Formula

Can of ByHeart Whole Nutrition Infant Formula on a pink background.

Why I Love It: ByHeart Whole Nutrition Infant Formula is another new formula in the American baby formula market. Though some parents may be hesitant to try a newer company, this new brand ran one of the largest clinical trials by a new baby formula brand in 25 years. They tested it on 311 healthy babies over 6 months and even compared their formula to breast milk. No other formula companies have done that, proving how trustworthy the company is and how safe and healthy the formula is. Furthermore, ByHeart has received the Project Purity Clean Label award, certifying that each batch of formula has been tested for over 400 contaminants – including heavy metals, pesticides, dangerous microorganisms, and more. 

If you are looking for the best formula for newborns, ByHeart is one of the best organic options. This brand is FDA-approved and made with organic grass-fed whole milk, not skim milk, meaning that they don’t have to augment the milk with as many additional vegetable oils. Other aspects that set this brand apart are that it is iron-fortified formula and includes two proteins, lactoferrin, and alpha-lactalbumin, that are in breast milk but not in many formulas, making its protein profile the most similar to human milk. Finally, you won’t find any corn syrup or sugar in ByHeart, making it a great infant formula without corn syrup.

The most significant drawback of ByHeart is that it does not contain probiotics and the whey-to-casein ratio is 80:20 (instead of 60:40, as is mature breast milk). Some parents have also reported the formula can be foamy when mixed up, but the company reports that mixing it with warm water can reduce this. 

Currently, you can only purchase ByHeart on their company website. They do offer discounts for setting up a subscription service through their site, however.

Where To Purchase: Company Website

Cost: $42 for a 680g (24 oz) can, which makes about 168 fl oz of formula (or $.25/fl oz). Subscribe and save for as low as $39/can (or $.23/fl oz).

Clean Label Project Certified

Made with organic grass-fed whole milk (that is not treated with artificial growth hormones)

No corn syrup, sugar solids, or maltodextrin

Non hexane-extracted DHA & ARA

Lactose is the only carbohydrate

Contains lactoferrin and alpha-lactalbumin, two proteins that are also found in breast milk

Does not contain probiotics

Whey-to-casein ratio is 80:20 (not identical to breast milk)

Only available for purchase on the company website

Only one stage of the formula

Some parents report that the formula can be foamy

Buy Now

Best Baby Formula For Breastfed Babies


A can kendamil organic baby formula on a white background.

Why I Love It: Kendamil is a family-owned company based in the Lake District of the United Kingdom. Though they offer a standard and organic version of their formula, their standard formula is made with whole milk from Red Tractor-certified farms, or farms that produce their dairy according to high humane and quality standards, making it safe, traceable, and as nutritious as possible. 

Kendamil’s Organic First Baby milk is made with 100% organic whole cow’s milk. Because both types of formula are made with whole milk, minimal added vegetable oils are needed to supplement the formulas to make them safe for formula feeding. This also makes this milk’s fat profile more natural and similar to the composition of breast milk. 

Otherwise, both Kendamil traditional and organic are vegetarian-friendly, made with non-hexane-extracted DHA, have lactose as their only carbohydrate, and contain at least all of the minimum amounts of necessary vitamins and minerals – such as Vitamin E, Vitamin D, Iron, and Folic acid. They do not contain palm oil and are made without corn syrup or any other syrup or sugar solids, making it another great pick if you are looking for a corn syrup-free formula. 

Where To Purchase: TheMilkyBox.com & Target 

Cost Of Kendamil Organic: $53.99 for an 800g (28 oz) can, which makes about 215 fl oz of formula (or $.25/fl oz). Buy in bulk on TheMilkybox.com for as low as $47.99/800g can ($.22/fl oz).

Cost Of Kendamil Classic: $43.99 for an 800g (28 oz) can, which makes about 215 fl oz of formula (or $.20/fl oz). Buy in bulk on TheMilkybox.com for as low as $37.99/800g can ($.18/fl oz).

Red Tractor-Certified or Organic (depending on the version)

Whey-to-casein ratio is identical to that of breast milk (60:40 ratio)

Non hexane-extracted DHA & ARA

Offers different stages of formula starting from birth

No corn syrup or sugar solids

No starch or maltodextrin

Lactose is the only carbohydrate

Does not contain probiotics

Buy Now

Best Gentle Baby Formula

Bobbie Organic Gentle

Can of Bobbie Organic Gentle Infant Formula

Why I Love It: There’s good news if you are in the market for a gentle infant formula: Bobbie now makes and offers an Organic Gentle Formula! This cow’s milk-based formula is organic, non-GMO, meets European certifications, and is the first gentle formula to be made with only lactose as its only carbohydrate. 

The main difference between the gentle formulation and Bobbie’s classic organic formulation is that the gentle is made with partially hydrolyzed proteins that are broken down into smaller segments called peptides. Such peptides, since they are less molecularly complex, are known to better support gentle digestion in little ones and be easier on sensitive stomachs

Bobbie Organic Gentle is not suitable for babies who have a cow’s milk allergy, as the blend still contains cow’s milk proteins. Discuss hypoallergenic or elemental formulas with your doctor if your baby has such an allergy. This gentle formula is also not made for premature babies and it doesn’t contain prebiotics or probiotics, either. It is, however, made without palm oil, soy oil, corn syrup, and non hexane- extracted DHA and ARA, making it one of the best gentle formulas available in America.

Where To Purchase: Company Website

Cost: $28 for a 400g (14.1 oz) can, which makes about 106 fl oz of formula (or $.26/fl oz). Subscribe and save for 10% off your first month of formula.

Made with hydrolyzed proteins to support easy digestion

Whey-to-casein ratio is identical to that of breast milk (60:40 ratio)

Clean Label Project Certified

Non hexane-extracted DHA & ARA

Lactose is the only carbohydrate

No corn syrup or sugar solids

No starch or maltodextrin

Not suitable for babies with cow’s milk allergies

Does not contain probiotics

Does not contain prebiotics

Only one stage of the formula

Not suitable for premature babies

Buy Now

Best Hypoallergenic Baby Formula

Similac Alimentum RTF

similac alimentum formula on a white background.

Why I Love It: Similac Alimentum RTF is a liquid ready-to-feed formula that is specifically formulated for hypoallergenic infants or infants who have other food allergies, colic, or lactose sensitivity. Alimentum RTF is  is more hypoallergenic than many European hypoallergenic options and can easily be purchased on Amazon and at many major retailers. 

This hypoallergenic formula is made with hydrolyzed protein that is derived from milk but does not contain any milk protein. It also contains prebiotics, does not contain palm oil or maltodextrin, and has added DHA for brain and eye health. 

I recommend the liquid ready-to-feed formula above the powdered formula, as it has less sugar. Unfortunately, it contains carrageenan which is known to cause intestinal inflammation (source), but otherwise is a solid option.  Overall, both offerings are good choices when it comes to cow’s milk protein allergy-safe formulas; the form that you choose is ultimately a matter of personal preference, as the liquid is also slightly more expensive. 

If you would rather go for a European hypoallergenic formula, HiPP HA is a great choice. It is non-GMO, made without any added sugar, and is maltodextrin-free. Furthermore, it contains probiotics, prebiotics, and DHA, and is certified to European standards. Because HiPP HA is made with hydrolyzed protein it isn’t as broken down as Alimentum RTF, making it not always the best option for infants with true cow’s milk protein allergy. If in doubt, consult your healthcare provider when choosing the best allergy-friendly option for your child. 

Where To Purchase: Amazon and Target

Cost: $13.29 for a 32 fl oz, or $.41/fl oz, at Target. A pack of 48, 2-ounce bottles (or 96 fl oz of formula) is also available for purchase on Amazon.  Subscribe and save on Amazon for up to 15% off. 

Hypoallergenic-safe; contains no cow’s milk proteins

Suitable for cow’s milk allergy, colic, food allergies, and lactose sensitivity

Ready-to-feed options available

Does not contain probiotics

Buy Now

Best Baby Formula For Acid Reflux And Colic

Enfamil AR

A can of enfamil AR formula on a white background.

Why I Love It:  Made with added rice to prevent excess spitting-up associated with acid reflux and colic, Enfamil AR features a slightly thicker consistency which is clinically proven to reduce your baby’s spit-ups by over 50% in one week. 

This formula meets the American Academy of Pediatrics’ reflux reduction guidelines and contains DHA, ARA, prebiotics, and probiotics. Though it does contain palm oil and maltodextrin, it is free of corn syrup, and sugar solids, and the only main carbohydrate other than lactose comes from rice. 

An added benefit of Enfamil AR is that it is also sustainably minded: purchase the tub once and then refill it with more affordable cardboard boxes of the formula for easy recycling and reduced plastic usage. 

Like with the Similac Alimentum, a good European alternative to this product is HiPP HA. This formula is made with hydrolyzed milk protein, prebiotics, and probiotics, to support gentle digestion while being made with all other organic ingredients. It contains non hexane-extracted DHA & ARA and is free of maltodextrin and corn syrup. 

Where To Purchase: Amazon and Target

Cost: $56.99 for an 862g (30.4 oz) box, which makes about 212 fl oz of formula (or $.27/fl oz). 

Clinically proven to reduce spit-up by over 50% in 1 week

More affordable for a specialty formula

Buy Now

Best Affordable Organic Baby Formula

Aussie Bubs Organic Grass-Fed Formula

Can of Aussie Bubs Cow Milk Infant Formula on a white background.

Why I Love It: Though Aussie Bubs Organic Grass-Fed formula is Australian-made, it was approved by the FDA for sale in the United States during the 2022 formula shortage and has been available for purchase ever since! This is an exceptional product, especially for the low price of just $.22 per fluid ounce – the lowest of all organic formula prices!

There is so much more than just the price tag to love about Bubs, however. Their grass-fed variety is organic, non-GMO, and a Clean Label Project Purity award winner, meaning that it is tested for hundreds of contaminants, Furthermore, Bubs does not contain palm oil, corn syrup, maltodextrin, or hexane-extracted DHA. 

Reach for Bubs if you want a high-quality formula that has lactose as the only carbohydrate, probiotics, prebiotics, naturally extracted DHA, more natural fats from a whole milk base, and two stages of formula to progress through as your baby grows. 

Want to read more about this brand? Check out my complete Aussie Bubs Review

Where To Purchase: Amazon and Target

Cost: $39.47 for an 800g (28.2oz) can, which makes about 180 fl oz of formula (or $.22/fl oz).

Certified to Australia’s stricter infant formula standards

Clean Label Project Certified

Whey-to-casein ratio is identical to that of breast milk (60:40 ratio)

Made with organic grass-fed whole milk

No corn syrup, syrup solids, sugar, or maltodextrin

Offers 2 different stages of the formula starting from birth

Lactose is the only carbohydrate

Contains naturally extracted DHA & ARA

Buy Now

Best Goat Milk Baby Formula


jovie goat milk a2 formula on a wooden table.

Why I Love It: Goat milk baby formula can be another great option for babies who need a gentle digestion option or aren’t tolerating cow’s milk formula well. Whereas most cow’s milk formulas are made with A1 milk protein, goat milk has a different type of milk protein, A2 beta-casein milk protein. Also known as A2 milk protein, this is the same protein that exists in breast milk, making it generally easier for babies to transition to and tolerate (source).

With main ingredients of organic whole goat milk powder and organic lactose, you can feel great about feeding Jovie to your baby. The formula also contains prebiotics, non hexane-extracted DHA & ARA, and is made without palm oil, corn syrup, or maltodextrin. Though Jovie now also manufactures formula in the United States, it is a Dutch brand and is certified to European standards. 

Purchase the stage of formula to best support your baby’s nutritional needs: Stage 1 for 0-6 months and Stage 2 for 6-12 months. Jovie also makes a Stage 3, a toddler formula for babies 12 months+.

Where To Purchase: TheMilkyBox.com

Cost: $63.99 for an 800g (28.2 oz) can, which makes about 182 fl oz of formula (or $.35/fl oz). Buy in bulk for as low as $56.99/can.

RELATED: The Best Goat Milk Formula

Certified to European standards

Made to encourage gentle digestion

Made with full cream goat milk

Lactose is the only carbohydrate

Contains non hexane-extracted DHA and ARA

Offers 3 stages of the formula starting from birth

No corn syrup, syrup solids, or sugar

No starch or maltodextrin

Does not contain probiotics

Buy Now

Best Sustainable Baby Formula

Holle Bio

Box of Holle BIO Stage 1 organic baby formula.

Why I Love It: Give your baby some of the best in nutrition while being earth-conscious by choosing Holle Bio. Not only is Holle organic and non-GMO, but it is also Demeter certified. This certification is the highest organic certification in Europe, meaning that the farms the milk is sourced from are all chemical-free and only employ practices that promote animal welfare and environmental sustainability (source).  The formula also comes in a cardboard box, making it easier to recycle or reuse. 

This high-quality formula is made with lactose as its only carbohydrate, is vegetarian-friendly, and contains only naturally extracted DHA and ARA. The main drawbacks of it are that it contains palm oil and lacks probiotics and prebiotics. 

Where To Purchase: TheMilkyBox.com

Cost: $28.99 for a 400g (14.1 oz) box, which makes about 100 fl oz of formula (or $.29/fl oz). 

Organic, Demeter-certified, and non-GMO

Certified to European standards

Lactose is the only carbohydrate

Non hexane-extracted DHA & ARA

No corn syrup, syrup solids, or sugar

Offers 4 stages of the formula starting from birth

Does not contain prebiotics

Does not contain probiotics

Buy Now

Best Plant-Based Formula

Bébé M

Can of Bebe M formula - French rice based european vegan baby formula.

Why I Love It: Not only is Bébé M plant-based and dairy-free, but it is also 100% vegan. Due to Vitamin D3 being hard and expensive to source from animal sources, many plant-based formulas do contain D3 derived from lanolin, or the wax-like substance found on sheep’s wool. The Vitamin D3 in Bébé M, however, is 100% vegan, making this one of the few only truly vegan formulas currently available. 

Bébé M is manufactured in France, meaning that it is certified to European standards. It can be purchased in the United States through online retailers and is available in three different stages of formula to support every stage of your baby’s development. Every stage is made without palm oil and contains naturally extracted DHA. Though the formula does have ALA, an omega-3 fatty acid, it does not contain ARA, prebiotics, or probiotics.

Because this organic formula does not contain dairy, lactose, nuts, or gluten, it is a great allergy-friendly option for babies who have milk intolerances or allergies. It is important to note, however, that this product is labeled as “Foods for special medical purposes (FSMPs)” and should be only given under medical supervision. Always consult your pediatrician before introducing the formula to your baby.

Where To Purchase: OrganicsBestShop.Com

Cost: $64.99 for a 600g (21.2 oz) can.

Certified organic and non-GMO

Certified to European standards

Made with 100% vegan vitamin D3

Offers 3 stages of the formula starting at birth

Contains naturally extracted DHA

Does not contain probiotics

Does not contain prebiotics

Buy Now

What To Look For When Choosing Baby Formula

Shopping for a baby formula can be overwhelming! Formula marketing and product labeling highlight the selling points of their products, but what really matters when you are choosing a baby milk formula for your baby? 

Here’s a quick list of what to keep your eye out for: 

  • Lactose As The Main Carbohydrate: Just as lactose is the main carbohydrate in breast milk, you want to choose a formula that has lactose as the number one carbohydrate in formula. Ideally, the formula will only have lactose, but if it has other forms like rice, lactose will be first on the ingredient list. 
  • Complete Nutrition: Choose a formula that meets the nutritional standards set by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States or the European Commission in the EU. By doing so you can know that the formula contains all of the essential nutrients your baby needs for healthy growth and development.
  • USDA Organic: When buying formula for your baby look for one that is certified USDA organic. This means that it was produced without pesticides, GMOs, or hormones and that it should not have any artificial ingredients, ensuring that it is as natural and nutritious as possible. 
  • Whey-To-Casein Ratio: To encourage gentle digestion, you want to find a formula that has a whey-to-casein ratio of 60 whey protein to 40 casein protein, or that which is the ratio of mature breast milk. 
  • Added DHA & ARA: DHA (or, docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (or, arachidonic acid) are fatty acids that should be added to the formula, as they are both present in human breast milk. Both of the acids have been determined to help with eye and brain development and immune system responses, making them essential criteria ingredients in the best infant formula (source). 
  • No Added Sugars, Corn Syrup, Or Syrup Solids: If it isn’t in breast milk, why add these processed ingredients to baby formula? If shopping for a goat or cow’s milk based formula, the best choice is always one that contains lactose as the primary carbohydrate, not corn syrup or other sugars. If shopping for a hypoallergenic or plant-based formula, look for its main ingredients to be natural and non-sugar-based, such as rice, soy, or pea protein.
  • Probiotics: Since breast milk contains probiotics, it is best to also look for a formula that contains them. Probiotics help to build healthy gut flora for your baby, bolstering their immune system and more (source). If a formula you choose overwise looks like a great pick but doesn’t contain probiotics, consider supplementing the formula with an infant probiotic
  • Prebiotics: These are the food ingredients that probiotics feed off of. HMO prebiotics, also known as human milk oligosaccharides, are present in human milk and are known to bolster the baby’s immune and digestive system (source). If possible, choose a formula that has these added.

What To Avoid When Choosing Baby Formula

  • Added Sugars: Look for a formula that doesn’t contain added sugars in the form of syrups or syrup solids. Some to look out for are corn syrup, maltodextrin, sugar, or brown rice syrup, corn sugars, and syrup solids.
  • Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs): It is important to avoid GMOs when shopping for baby formula because they are known to be toxic to young children, are correlated with developing food allergies, can alter the nutritional value of food, and more (source).
  • Hexane-Derived DHA And ARA: The DHA and ARA added to formulas can be extracted from algae and fungus naturally using water or chemically by using hexane. a neurotoxic petroleum-based solvent. While hexane is undetectable in the formula after processing, finding a formula that has naturally derived DHA is usually the best option.
  • Synthetic Preservatives Or Stabilizers: The more natural the formula, the closer it can potentially be to breast milk. Some preservatives and stabilizers to watch out for beta carotene, ascorbyl palmitate, and carrageenan (source 1, source 2).
  • Soy Or Soy-Based Formulas: Too much soy in infancy or otherwise has been linked to early menstruation and other health issues, making soy formulas a category to avoid if possible.
  • Palm Oil: Some infant formula brands add palm oil to their formulas to create a fatty acid composition similar to that of human milk. This is problematic because researchers have discovered that palm oil inhibits the absorption of DHA, fat, and calcium as well as causing digestive issues (source), making an ingredient to avoid whenever possible.
Feeding bottles with baby formula, pacifier, toys and towels on light grey table indoors.

What Are The Differences Between American & European Baby Formula? 

Unfortunately, many baby formulas made in the US contain at least one of the problematic ingredients listed above. There are newer American-made organic baby formulas, such as Bobbie and ByHeart, that have much better ingredient profiles, but European baby formulas can also be a great option for new parents to consider. 

Here are the main differences between American and European Formulas:

  • Regulating Body: U.S. formulas are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or the FDA, whereas European formulas are regulated by the European Commission. The European Commission sets much stricter standards for their formula, as outlined in the following bullet points. 
  • Carbohydrates From Lactose: The European Commission requires that at least 30% of the carbohydrates in the formula come from lactose. Furthermore, they do not allow sucrose or corn syrup in baby formula (source). The FDA does not currently have a set carbohydrate standard and does allow the use of corn syrup in formula milk.
  • Organic & Non-GMO: European formulas are required to be organic and non-GMO whereas the FDA does not currently require American formulas to be either. 
  • Omega 3 Fatty Acids: Formula sold in the EU is required to contain DHA. American formula brands are not required to add it (source 1, source 2 ).
  • Vitamin D: An important supplement for babies who are recommended to avoid sun exposure, vitamin D aids in calcium and phosphorous absorption (source). American formulas are required to deliver 20 IU of vitamin D per 100 calories, whereas European formulas must contain at least 40 IU per 100 calories (source). 
  • Synthetic Chemicals And Preservatives: Formulas made in the EU are not allowed to contain any synthetic ingredients. U.S. formulas, on the other hand, are allowed to contain some (source). 
  • Iron: The minimum amount of iron required to be in European baby formula (1.3 mg/100kcal)  is lower than that which is required to be in American formulas (1.8 mg/100kcal; source). 
  • Stages: Many European formula brands make different stages of formula for different ages of babies, replicating the changes in the profile of breast milk as babies get older (source). Almost all American formulas, on the other hand, only sell one stage of infant formula.


What Are The Different Types Of Baby Formula?

When you are shopping you will likely see that there are many types of infant formulas to choose from. Here’s a rundown of the different categories: 

  • Cow’s Milk Formula: Most formulas fall into the category of cow’s milk-based formula. To make this type of formula, cow’s milk is altered and enhanced to resemble breast milk so that it is more easily digestible while being a complete source of nutrition for babies. 
  • Hypoallergenic Formula: These formulas are for babies who have allergies or other serious health problems related to digesting cow’s milk formula. There are several types of hypoallergenic formulas including partially hydrolyzed, extensively hydrolyzed, and free amino acid-based to choose from.
  • Goat Milk Formula: This formula is made with goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk. You may want to consider this option for a baby who has a cow’s milk sensitivity. Note: if they have a diagnosed cow’s milk protein allergy, your child’s doctor will likely recommend a hypoallergenic formula for them. 
  • Plant-Based FormulaIf you are looking for a formula that is made with predominantly vegan or plant-based ingredients, plant-based, dairy-free, or vegan formulas are for you! Instead of being made with milk, they are made with rice, pea protein, or soy proteins. Vegan formulas are made with all plant-based ingredients as well as plant-derived vitamin D3. Plant-based formulas are made with primarily vegan products, except for ingredients such as animal-derived vitamin D3. Dairy-free formulas are made without milk-based products.

Different Forms Of Formula

Each of the above types of formula can come in a selection of different forms. They are: 

  • Powder: The most common form of formula is powder formula. It often comes in a canister or plastic container with a scoop and is mixed with water for easy reconstitution. Powdered formula is popular because it travels well, has a decently long shelf life, and tends to be more affordable and available for purchase.
  • Liquid Concentrate: This form of formula is a concentrated liquid. These liquid formulas are mixed one-to-one with water. Because of their convenience, they tend to be more expensive than powdered formulas. Furthermore, parents need to be sure to not add too much water when reconstituting the formula for feeding. 
  • Ready-To-Feed: For utmost convenience, choose a ready-to-feed formula. As the name implies, this formula is sold in small containers which contain formula that just needs to be poured into a bottle to feed. This form is the most expensive and also can be prone to error if formula preparers accidentally add additional water to it before feeding.
Baby drinking best palm oil free baby formula - Bobbie formula out of a bottle.


What is the closest formula to breast milk?

Baby formulas are intended to be a substitute or a supplement for breast milk, you might assume most formulas would then be designed to closely resemble breast milk in their ingredients. However, many formulas on the market contain synthetic ingredients. Lactose is the main carbohydrate source in breast milk. The other main components of breast milk are proteins and fats. Finding a formula that features lactose as the main carbohydrate, whey as the protein, and a fat blend that doesn’t contain palm oil is the way to go when looking for a formula that most closely resembles breast milk.

Which formula do breastfed babies prefer?

If you are looking to supplement breastfed babies with formula or transition them to formula altogether, the best formula for infants is one that has a whey-to-casein ratio of 60:40 (the same as that of mature breast milk), has a smooth and creamy texture similar to human milk, and that does not cause indigestion, spit-up, or allergy issues. A few formula brands that fit this criterion are Bobbie, HiPP, Aussie Bubs, ByHeart, Holle, and Kendamil.

Are baby formulas FDA-regulated?

Yes, all formula brands that want to go to market in the United States need to meet FDA regulations before hitting store shelves. The FDA sets safety standards, such as a minimum number of nutrients, the safety of the formula ingredients, and the accuracy of product labeling, and more that need to be met before being approved (source).

This regulation standard applies to both American-made and select European-made formulas that are available for purchase in American stores, as select European brands have been approved by the FDA for sale in the U.S. in response to the 2022 formula shortage.

What is actually the best baby formula?

There are currently many different great brands of healthy and quality baby formulas available for sale. The best formula for babies is the one that your baby likes, is made without corn syrup, has lactose as the only carbohydrate, is made with as many natural ingredients as possible, and fits your family’s budget. Some of my top recommendations for baby formula are Bobbie, ByHeart, HiPP, Kendamil, and Aussie Bubs.

Is organic formula better than conventional?

From a health perspective, organic formula is better than conventional formula because it is free from pesticide residue. It is also made under stricter regulations, ensuring a higher quality of product. Because of this, organic formulas are often more expensive and can therefore be cost-prohibitive for families. 

If an organic formula is out of your family’s budget, consider a non-GMO formula, as it will at least not contain any genetically modified ingredients or herbicide residues, which are thought to be detrimental to babies and young children (source). For a more affordable organic brand, consider Aussie Bubs. It is one of the most budget-friendly organic formulas available, coming in at $.22/fl oz.

Can I switch baby formulas?

Though it is generally safe to switch baby formulas, it is often wisest to do so after speaking with your baby’s pediatrician. All formulas approved for sale are tested to be safe and complete sources of nutrition, but some will have protein profiles and flavors that make it easier to transition between.

So, if you decide to make the switch after consulting your doctor, it is recommended to find a formula that has a whey-to-casein ratio similar to that of the original formula.

Furthermore, make the switch to the new formula gradually, mixing the old and new formulas for a few days before slowly increasing the amount of the new formula and decreasing the amount of the old formula until the transition has been made to entirely the new formula. Note that some burping or light indigestion is normal when switching brands; if it continues beyond a few days, however, contact your doctor.

How do I know if my baby cannot tolerate baby formula? 

Signs of baby formula intolerance are: 
* Unusual fussiness or crying 
* Resists sleeping and eating
* Cries more often than usual
* Diarrhea 
* Blood in the stools 
* Vomiting
* Is in pain: wiggles, squirms, tenses muscles, or pulls legs up to their belly 
* Makes uncomfortable faces such as squeezing eyes closed or frowning
* Slow weight gain 

If your baby shows any of these signs after starting a new formula, consult your pediatrician immediately (source).

When do babies stop drinking formula?

Babies can start the process of transitioning off of formula after 1 year. At this time, the American Academy of Pediatrics (or AAP), recommends transitioning babies to whole cow’s milk.

For the most success, make this transition gradually as you would if you were switching formulas (see “Can I switch baby formulas?” above for reference). Also, don’t ever transition babies off of formula or breast milk before 1 year, as the rapid rate of growth and development that babies experience from 0-12 months old requires additional nutrition that formula or breast milk has but whole milk does not.

What should I do if I can’t find my baby’s formula?

If you are ever in a position where you cannot find your baby’s formula in stores or online through reputable trusted retailers, reach out to your baby’s pediatrician. They may have extra cans of formula or be able to reach out directly to a manufacturer to procure formula for you. If they do not have the formula or cannot otherwise source it for you they can also make recommendations for other brands to switch to.

Though some experts say that you do not need to reach out to your healthcare provider if you run out of formula, since many brands of American formula are very similar (source), you will certainly want to do so if your child is on a hypoallergenic, anti-gas or colic, or sensitive formula. 

Final Thoughts

I hope this list of the best formula brands helped you in your decision-making process. There is no perfect formula, but all of the options on this list are the best of their kind. Always discuss your formula choice with your doctor. For any additional medical-related questions, you will also want to consult them.

If you have tried any of these formulas or have discovered any other fantastic brands, please share them in the comments section below – I love reading your comments and respond to every note I get! 

More Baby Formula Guides!

Originally published in pickyeaterblog.com