Are you looking for a breastfeeding alternative or trying to merge your breastfeeding habits with an additional source of nutrition for your baby? Baby formulas, also known as infant formulas, are an excellent breastfeeding alternative designed to nurture infants up to 12 months old and provide them with nutrients they require to grow up strong and healthy. There are many such solutions in today’s market, and you want to be sure that your baby will eat nothing but the best. For that reason, we’ve prepared the ultimate buying guide that will help you identify the best baby formula for your child’s needs.
Your hunt for the right baby formula ends here! First of all, we would like to introduce to you Enfamil PREMIUM Infant Powder Formula, a DHA-enhanced, non-GMO, development-promoting product designed for convenient baby feeding experience. To suit any specific needs you might have, we have also prepared several runner-ups and plenty of features to consider before buying baby formula.
This affordable yet highly nutritious milk-based and iron-enhanced baby formula offers all essential nutrients that your baby needs to grow big. It consists of 30 growth-promoting ingredients, 2 prebiotics for immune health, and DHA for healthy brain development.
Top 5 Baby Formulas
|Name||Net Weight (Ounces)||Type||Price|
|Enfamil PREMIUM||121.8 (Pack of 4)||Powder||Check Price|
|Similac Ready-to-Feed||96 (Pack of 6)||Ready-to-feed||Check Price|
|Happy Baby Organic||21 (Pack of 1)||Powder||Check Price|
|Gerber Good Start||202.8 (Pack of 24)||Ready-to-feed||Check Price|
|Kirkland Signature Non-GMO||34 (Pack of 1)||Powder||Check Price|
1. Best Overall Baby Formula
Enfamil PREMIUM Infant Powder Formula
This infant formula by Enfamil contains ingredients that are similar to those of breast milk. It has 0.32 percent DHA, an important fatty acid that nurtures a child’s learning ability. This non-GMO infant formula also contains inositol, a nutrient that is also a building block of the brain.
Breast milk contains lactose that makes it easy to digest, and this formula uses it as a sweetener, which is definitely a huge plus.
In addition, this formula has a dual prebiotic blend that promotes healthy digestion. Its other ingredients also help babies tolerate this formula better than other products as it was created with healthy levels of minerals, vitamins, and proteins similar to what’s found in breast milk.
But like with any other products on the market, there are also downsides to this formula. It contains palm olein oil as an added fat which reduces fat absorption and the rate of calcium in babies.
Another controversial thing is the chemical hexane used in the extraction of ARA and DHA. Although the trace amount of hexane in formulas is too little to harm babies, it is still vital to be aware of what’s being used for little ones.
Pros and Cons
- Improves digestion with a dual prebiotic blend
- It uses lactose as sweetener
- A healthy ratio between protein, carbs, and fat
- DHA and inositol components
- Chemical hexane was used to extract ingredients
- It uses palm olein oil for added fat
2. Best Ready-to-Feed Infant Formula
Similac Ready-to-Feed Infant Formula Bottles
Breastfeeding moms who want to introduce formula to their babies may give the Ready-to-Feed infant formula by Similac a try. It contains high-quality prebiotics that help soften baby’s poop.
Some parents mentioned that this formula is useful in cases of digestive issues, including diarrhea. Thanks to the soothing formula, babies’ digestive systems are always at rest.
Mimicking the components of breast milk, this non-GMO formula contains an exclusive blend of essential ingredients: vitamin E, Lutein, and DHA. These nutrients protect your baby’s digestive system from unwanted toxins and other substances, allowing your little one to retain food. It also helps improve the visual and brain activities in newborns.
Another great thing about this gluten-free formula is that it’s ready to feed so there is no need to add water. This reduces the time needed to prepare your baby’s nutritious meal, giving you more free time for playing with your little one.
Ideal for short walks to the park, traveling, or visiting families, the convenient 2-oz bottles make the formula ready for on-the-go.
Pros and Cons
- It contains DHA, vitamin E, and Lutein
- Prevents and treats digestive problems such as constipation and diarrhea
- Improves vision and enhances brain power
- Convenient size bottles
- Gluten-free and non-GMO
- Some parents have reported that they received expired items
- Some moms said that this formula made their babies fussy
3. Best Formula for Newborns
Happy Baby Organic Infant Powder Formula
When breastfeeding is not possible, or when parents need to provide supplements to their little ones, this infant formula by Happy Baby modeled after breastmilk can help. To nourish your newborn’s first year of life, this product is made with premium ingredients, including DHA, ARA, prebiotics, calcium zinc, choline, organic lactose, and more.
Made with key vitamins and minerals, this formula also contains lactose, which is the main carbohydrate in breast milk. Its lactose content is derived from cows raised on organic farms to support newborn’s energy levels without the use of synthetic sweeteners.
To help improve your baby’s eye and brain development, this formula also contains DHA and ARA, essential fatty acids found in mothers’ milk. The prebiotics in this product, which mimic the functions of prebiotics in breastmilk, promote digestive health. In addition, the formula contains proteins that help babies build strong muscles, organs, and bones.
It comes in a 21-oz. tub that yields around 150 fluid ounces of formula, making it a long-lasting solution. Reviewers also mentioned that the formula doesn’t produce gas and it is the ideal option for infants prone to colic. However, sensitive babies may develop allergic reactions after consuming this.
Pros and Cons
- Gluten-free and non-GMO
- It uses lactose and doesn’t contain synthetic sweeteners
- Good for babies prone to colic
- Includes DHA and ARA
- Protein, including casein and whey, is derived from nonfat milk
- Palm oil included in the ingredients
- May cause allergies in sensitive newborns
4. Best Ready-to-Feed Formula for Comfortable Digestion
Gerber Good Start Ready-to-Feed Infant Formula
Modeled after the gentleness and complete nutrition of breastmilk, the Gerber Good Start Gentle formula has a blend of probiotics, prebiotics, and DHA to support eye and brain development. This non-GMO formula contains Comfort proteins, which are small proteins that are easier for small tummies to digest.
The comfort proteins of this product are obtained from 100% whey protein and are broken down further for better digestion. In addition to promoting soft stools, formula’s probiotics maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria in babies’ guts which is essential for their immune system.
This formula also consists of corn maltodextrin and lactose as a sweetener, making it gentle on the stomach and suitable for little ones with lactose intolerance.
Designed to provide comfort for tummies while offering balanced and complete nutrition, it comes in 24-pack 8.45 fluid oz. container, making 50 4 fluid oz. bottles. Its convenience and portability also make it ideal for traveling, going to parks, and more.
Pros and Cons
- Includes DHA to support brain and eye development
- Smaller proteins make it easier for babies to digest the formula
- Uses lactose and corn maltodextrin as a sweetener
- Ready to feed & Non-GMO
- Has probiotics that promote digestive and immune health
- Vomiting and gas may occur
5. Best Iron-Enriched Baby Formula
Kirkland Signature Non-GMO Baby Formula with Iron
One of the most popular baby formulas available on the market, the Kirkland Signature baby formula, mimics the caloric density of breast milk. To make this powdered formula as nutritious as possible, it features an exclusive blend of essential nutrients that encourage growth and immune system health.
This product offers 34 ounces of high-quality formula free of GMO. The substances found in the Kirkland formula can promote eye health and encourage sound brain development.
Kirkland non-GMO formula is appropriate not only for infants but also for newborn babies who are in need of healthy nutrition the most. The formula is easy to prepare and contains all vitamins and minerals that your little one needs for proper development.
This baby formula suitable for a newborn is also enriched with iron, a vital baby formula supplement that prevents the baby from becoming weak and anemic. Babies who experience these issues may have troubles growing up healthily.
Additionally, this gentle formula contains ingredients that promote easy digestion and reduce the risks of digestive problems such as gas and constipation.
Pros and Cons
- 100% non-GMO
- An exclusive blend of vitamins and minerals
- Easy to digest
- Promotes eye health and brain development
- Rich in iron
- Might be too foamy
What is Baby Formula?
Baby formula or infant formula is a product manufactured with the intent to feed babies below 12 months of age. Baby formulas are available in various types and can usually be prepared by mixing the solution with water in a baby bottle. Some formulas are also made ready-to-feed for additional convenience.
According to Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, baby formula is defined as “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.”
While the ingredients vary from product to product, most formulas include purified cow’s milk or soybean as a source of protein, several vitamins and minerals, a blend of various vegetable oils as a source of fats, and lactose as a source of carbohydrates.
The Many Benefits of Formula Feeding!
Baby formulas offer a nutritious alternative to breast milk and are perfectly safe for consumption. Besides the valuable nutrients found in breast milk, infant formulas also include several vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, and sugars that are combined into baby formula under sterile conditions.
While these commercial solutions are safe for babies, one should not attempt to create baby formula on their own. This could lead to manufacturing a product that would put baby’s health at risk.
If you’re not yet sure that formula feeding is the right approach for your baby, check out the many benefits it offers below:
- Formula feeding allows either parent to feed the baby alone at any time of the day. This can reduce the feeding duties of mothers and help them share the responsibilities with their partners.
- For some women breastfeeding may feel difficult and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you experience discomfort during the feeding, switching to formula feeding might ease your worries.
- Independent of diet and medications. Some medications may prevent mothers to breastfeed their children. Additionally, formula feeding allows you to drink and eat whatever you want without risking the health of your baby.
- With a formula bottle by your side, you can nurse your baby anywhere you want, public places included. You also won’t be required to adjust your schedule according to the feeding needs of your baby because you will be able to do the feeding from anywhere.
- Formula-fed babies typically require less eating than breastfed infants due to formula being less digestible than breast milk.
- By feeding formula to the baby, you can know exactly how much they eat. This can help you ensure they receive the optimal amount of all required nutrients.
Are there any challenges?
As with either of the feeding methods, there are also some challenges associated with formula feeding that you should be aware of.
For one, formula feeding can be quite expensive, especially if you have multiple babies. On average, this method will cost you around $100 per month or more if you opt for a high-end product.
Additionally, baby formulas can’t compete with the complexity of natural breast milk and lack antibodies that are found in breast milk.
Formula feeding may also increase the chances of constipation and excessive gas production.
How About Breastfeeding?
Breastfeeding is also not short of benefits for the baby. Due to the high count of antibodies found in breast milk, breastfed babies are less prone to infections and typically have a stronger immune system.
On top of that, breastfeeding is entirely free. This means you don’t have to pay for the formula, bottles, nipples, or any other supplies that formula feeding might require.
Just like formula feeding, breastfeeding is also convenient in its own sense. Breast milk is naturally available at all times, and you don’t have to worry about running out of your formula supplies. Since you don’t require any equipment, you can also be sure that you can feed your baby anywhere you go.
Formula Feeding Vs. Breastfeeding
The decision on how to feed a baby is typically one of the hardest ones that new and expectant parents have to make. As previously mentioned, both breastfeeding and formula feeding have their own advantages and disadvantages. For that reason, making the final call and deciding what to feed your child is no easy job.
Fortunately, you don’t have to give up on either technique. These two methods can be merged into the same routine and go together quite well. For example, if you’re busy in the mornings, the baby can be fed solely by formula during that time. Then, you can breastfeed them when you arrive home in the afternoon.
Many health experts still believe that breast milk is the best option when it comes to providing nutrition that the baby needs. Even so, infant formulas are developing progressively and now offer multiple valuable nutrients, some of which even breast milk doesn’t provide.
For that reason, it is best to decide on whether to breastfeed, formula feed, or do both based on the following factors:
- Your lifestyle
- Available time
- Comfort level
- Specific medical situations
Keep in mind that both breastfeeding and using baby formulas are perfectly healthy solutions. By choosing formula feeding over breast milk, your baby will still get all the nutrients they need to thrive and grow big.
Additionally, don’t worry about missing out on a special bond between you and your child if you decide to say no to breastfeeding. A loving parent, whether breastfeeding or not, can always create special bonds with their child regardless of the feeding technique.
Baby Formula Formats
When choosing baby formula, there are three main types to consider. Infant formulas are usually available in powdered or ready-to-feed form but may also be found in the form of a concentrate.
Here are the PROs of each baby formula type:
- Powdered: This type comes with a satisfactory shelf life and is ideal for those who want to merge breastfeeding with formula feeding. Powdered formulas are also the most environmentally-friendly and budget-friendly type.
- Ready-to-feed: These formulas are certainly most convenient and hygienic. All you have to do is open the bottle and feed the solution to your baby.
- Concentrate: Less expensive alternative than ready-to-feed formulas that is easy to prepare and requires little storage space.
And here are their CONs:
- Powdered: Takes most time and effort to prepare, especially if you are on-the-go. It is also mandatory that parents follow mixing directions accurately and stay mindful of the quality of water.
- Ready-to-feed: Least environmentally-friendly solution as it comes with a lot of packaging. It is also most expensive and requires loads of storage space.
- Concentrate: It is crucial to follow mixing directions precisely and stay mindful of the quality of water used. This method is also not very convenient.
What You Should Keep in Mind When Choosing Baby Formula
Finding the right baby formula for your infant will help your little one develop properly. To make sure you buy what your baby needs, there are several factors to keep in mind when shopping for baby formula.
Besides different formats of baby formula, there are also several types that you might hear of when choosing the right product for your baby. Some of the most common ones include:
- Cow’s Milk-based. This type of formula is most common and is based on treated cow’s milk protein.
- Soy-based. If you want your family to be truly vegan or if you prefer soy over cow’s milk for other reasons, you can opt for soy-based baby formulas.
- Lactose-free. Babies with lactose intolerance should be fed lactose-free formula to prevent digestive problems.
- Hydrolyzed formulas. These are more costly but usually required for babies who are at higher risk of developing allergies. They include predigested proteins which can be easily digested by babies.
- Specialized formulas. Specialized solutions are designed for babies with specific diseases and are usually very expensive and may only be available on prescription.
Weight / Number of Uses
Higher weight doesn’t necessarily mean more uses. Since ready-to-feed formulas are prepared in advance, you can’t compare their weight to the weight of a powder formula, for example.
Make sure you compare the actual number of uses that the product offers when comparing the price.
Non-GMO and Organic
As doctors suggest, it is better if baby formulas are GMO-free, meaning that they don’t contain genetically modified organisms.
Many parents also swear by organic when it comes to feeding themselves as well as their babies. Organic takes things a step further by ensuring that the product complies with federal regulations and is produced with conservation and healthy practices in mind.
While all organic formulas have to be non-GMO, not all non-GMO formulas are also organic.
Pediatricians suggest investing in baby formulas fortified with iron unless otherwise instructed. It is important for babies to secure sufficient iron intake to avoid iron deficiency.
Many formulas are enhanced with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), an additive that may be beneficial when it comes to brain and eye health development of your baby. While lots of research is still underway, many experts believe that babies can only benefit from DHA found in baby formulas.
General Handling Tips
Here are a few general tips that will help you get started with formula feeding:
- Sterilize feeding equipment after use.
- Follow product instructions carefully.
- Don’t use expired formulas.
- Don’t reuse any unused formula because the contact with saliva spoils it in time.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before preparing the solution.
- Don’t microwave baby formulas.
- Don’t place any additional foods such as cereals in the feeding bottle.
Don’t allow your baby to fall asleep with a bottle nipple in their mouth.
Having a reliable baby formula at your disposal can help you reduce the need for breastfeeding while encouraging proper mental and physical development of your child. Since there are hundreds of different products on the market, however, it is no easy job picking a formula that is not only highly nutritious but also baby-friendly.
To help you out with this daunting task, we have assessed several features you should consider before investing in infant formula and presented top five products on the market. While the Enfamil PREMIUM Infant Powder Formula made it to the top of our list due to high nutrient content and affordable price, all of the formulas introduced in this guide are bound to keep your infant full and vigorous. Now that you have a better idea of what to look for, it’s time to pick the best baby formula and feed your little one!