It’s no secret that breastmilk is the perfect first food for your wee one. But, we also know that despite best efforts, not every mama is able to nurse their baby, and may need to find a healthy, nourishing formula they can trust in and rely on. We understand the challenge, and have put together a list to help you find the best baby formula for your baby’s needs.
Because advancements have been made over the years, and experts have gained a clearer understanding of what makes breast milk unique, more brands have been able to develop formulas that mimic breast milk closely. This is important because we know that not every mom can breastfeed, and the closer we can get to breastmilk in formula composition, the better. We also recognize this is a hot topic for many mamas, and our goal is always to support moms in their Mothering journeys, however best we can.
Below is some information on baby formula, including a shortlist of some of our recommendations. These are products that we think are worth looking into when you are shopping for baby formula. Just keep in mind that it might take some trial and error to figure out which formula your baby will love, so don’t get discouraged if you try one and it doesn’t work out, as you have plenty of other options to choose from.
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How to Select the Best Baby Formula for Your Little One
A complete, high-quality baby formula will contain calories and a wide range of nutrients so your child can get the complete nutrition that he or she needs. Here are some tips that you can use as you shop for the ideal product:
- Most of the formulas that are available for babies are made using milk from cows. However, there are also formulas that are made from soy or goat milk and those may be especially helpful if you discover that your little one is allergic to milk or has an intolerance to lactose. Talk to your doctor to be sure about which route to take when it comes to choosing between milk and soy-based formulas.
- Hydrolyzed baby formulas are also designed to be gentler on your baby’s stomach because they are made to be easier to digest. Therefore, these might be another good option if your baby has allergies or digestive issues.
- Formulas that contain probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that are naturally found in your gut, are available because they are capable of providing your baby with the helpful bacteria that would normally be provided by breast milk. This may be a smart step towards keeping your infant’s digestive tract healthy.
- As you browse the options available, you will also notice that many formulas contain prebiotics. What’s this about? Put simply, prebiotics help support the balance of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) in the gut.
- Baby formulas that are fortified with iron are a good choice for babies too, as this mineral can help ensure your child doesn’t become anemic.
No matter what, be sure to read a product’s label carefully to get to know the benefits that it can provide. It’s also wise to check the ingredients, determine if the formula is organic or non-GMO, and other details. And don’t forget to confirm that the formula is appropriate for your baby, based on his or her age. Some formulas, as you will see below, are for infants from 0 to 12 months, while others are for toddlers who are 1 year and older.
Not sure about where to begin? Well, you could always ask your doctor for some recommendations that are personalized to you and your baby. He or she might be able to give you some helpful pointers that you can use while you shop, or you might be directed to a specific product that would be most appropriate for your unique bundle of joy.
Other Shopping Tips That Can Help You Select the Right Baby Formula
As you shop for baby formula, you will find a variety of products, but experts recommend sticking with those that are produced by well-known brands that have done research into how their formulas affect babies. So, while you might come across some generic formulas, it’s better to go with brand name options, even if they cost a bit more.
Also, there are different types of formulas that you can choose from. For example, there are formulas that come in the form of a powder. A powdered product is typically the most affordable, and all you have to do is mix it with some water before giving it to your baby. Then, there are formulas that are ready to use, without any mixing required. These tend to be more expensive, but they can be super convenient. Plus, there are also liquid formulas that are concentrated and will need to be mixed with some water as well.
No matter what type of formula you select, always read the directions carefully so you know how to prepare it and store it properly. Don’t assume that every formula will have the same instructions and requirements. Read the label carefully to be sure you prepare the formula correctly before feeding it to your child, and also be sure to read through the information regarding how soon the formula needs to be used, whether it can be refrigerated, how to warm it up, etc.
Our Top 5 Picks for the Best Baby Formula
Are you ready to learn about some of the best baby formulas that are available? We’ve compiled a short list of five that we think are worth your consideration. Remember, if you aren’t sure about what path to take when it comes to how to feed your infant, it’s always best to get some advice from your doctor to be sure you make the right choice for your infant or toddler.
HappyBaby Organic is modeled after breast milk (as best it can be) and all the ingredients are carefully sourced. It’s made with organic lactose and provides key vitamins and minerals naturally found in breast milk.
It also boasts 4 times more prebiotics than most other organic infant formulas, and they mimic the function of prebiotics found naturally in breast milk. These are the some of the important facets to promoting a healthy microbiome in your baby. There’s absolutely NO corn syrup solid nor is there any carrageenan.
Happy Baby takes an “Enlightened Nutrition” approach that goes beyond USDA organic standards. They know that giving baby the best formula you can doesn’t happen just because a formula uses organic ingredients. They pay attention to what your little one is fueled by in the early years, and they’re parents too–so they hold themselves to strict standards that help them to grow healthy and strong.
Kabrita USA is a division of Ausnutria, which is a Dutch company known for its dairy expertise that goes back over 100 years. Kabrita’s Goat Milk formula is a great option for mamas who need a formula that is naturally easier to digest than a cow milk based formula. Kabrita USA is 100% woman-run and led by moms, and their mission is to empower parents to feed and nourish their children with confidence. They hold community education platforms, communication and give-back programs for moms.
Kabrita’s Goat Milk formula is made to rigorous EU standards, and the casein-protein composition is closer to breast milk than a traditional formula. It has high levels of gut-supportive oligosaccharide prebiotics and it’s enriched with vitamins and minerals. The smaller and softer curd of goat milk protein in the stomach may be more tolerable and cause fewer tummy aches for your little one.
And, while it IS a toddler formula, it meets every standard for infant formula (much like Baby’s Only below) and many, many mothers use it as infant-to-toddlerhood formula for their children with no issues and instead, happy, healthy babies.
Yet another option to consider is Baby’s Only Dairy with DHA & ARA Toddler Formula. This product is formulated to provide your baby with the right amount of essential fats and protein, along with carbohydrates and vitamins, to support healthy growth and development. It is made especially for babies who are 1 year of age and older.
Featuring the USDA Certified Organic seal, this formula contains non-GMO ingredients, and the Clean Label Project rated it “Best in Class” for Superior Nutrition and Purity. It’s also kosher and gluten-free, as well as iron-fortified, and it does not contain any palm oil, hexane processed DHA, or corn/glucose syrup. So, it can be a good choice if you are searching specifically for an organic formula for your little one.
Another nice feature: this product claims to be the first and only formula that has organic DHA and ARA from organic eggs to support the development of a baby’s eyes and brain. And the ingredients that are dairy-based are USDA organic too, which means the cows were not treated with antibiotics or hormones. Plus, this product contains naturally occurring choline, and the packaging is BPA free as well.
Another organic and gentle infant formula that is worth checking out is Earth’s Best Organic Gentle Infant Powder Formula, which is intended to be fed to babies in their first 12 months. In addition to boasting the USDA organic seal, this formula, which meets the FDA requirements for infant nutrition, is non-GMO. And it is made using milk that comes from cows that are fed grass and grain.
If your baby has a sensitive stomach, has trouble digesting proteins, or is experiencing tolerance issues, such as lactose intolerance, with other formulas, it might be worth making the switch to this product to see if it can deliver some much-needed relief. This formula contains proteins that are easy to digest, such as partially hydrolyzed whey, so it might help if your baby is crying, fussy, or gassy.
Also, this formula features DHA and ARA to support eye and brain development. Plus, because it is fortified with iron, it can also support red blood cell development. And there are prebiotics to help support immunity, as well as lutein that can provide even more support for healthy eyes.
It’s about time that the ‘big’ formula companies learn that natural-minded parents are looking for the best for their baby, and organic ingredients are at the top of the list. This organic formula from Similac is unique in that it is the first and only USDA-organic formula that is made with A2 milk protein. A2 beta-casein milk protein is different than A1 beta-casein. A2 beta-casein is more and more becoming the milk protein to search for, as research shows better developed immune systems and glutathione production when given the protein.
Similac’s Organic doesn’t have any palm olein oil, so your baby’s stools won’t be hard as some conventional formulas may promote, and the exclusive blend of DHA, lutein and Vitamin E mimics the nutritional content found in breast milk for better brain and eye development.
The Ideal Formula for Your Baby Is Easy to Find
We know that while it would be optimal, many mothers simply cannot nurse and need to find formulas that are good for their babies. It’s tough to do, sometimes, as the formula industry itself is large and heavy in lobby dollars, which means that their money talks. When that happens, sometimes finding the best baby formula is not as easy because the companies that make nourishing, organic formulas often get drowned out.
But there are many baby formulas out there that will nourish and feed your baby. We always believe that fed is best, and knowing where to look is half the battle is knowing where to start. Feeding our children the best we can is number one on our list, and these formulas are sure to be alternatives to breast milk you can trust and rely on.
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