10 Best Baby Formulas to Provide Proper Nutrition and Development of a Healthy Baby
The first year with your precious little bundle of joy can be challenging. Maybe you are struggling with breastfeeding and want to supplement with baby formula; perhaps breastfeeding is not possible for various reasons. Do not feel guilty because there are so many different baby formulas on the market to meet all the baby needs. No wonder choosing the right baby formula causes so much pressure and anxiety.
What is important, every baby formula must be certified by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) so it is safe for human consumption. Remember, every child is unique, so it is essential to consult your pediatrician when choosing the best baby formula for your little one.
Baby formula is basically food that substitutes breast milk when a mother cannot breastfeed her baby. They are designed to satisfy all the nutritional needs of an infant fully.
Ingredients Found in Most Baby Formulas
As far as baby formula ingredients are concerned, manufacturers of baby formulas succeeded in mimicking only ¼ th of the ingredients found in mother’s milk. FDA requires a minimum of 29 ingredients in baby formulas. Most of the formulas contain:
- Altered cow’s or goat’s milk proteins,
- Fatty acids,
- Vitamins like vitamin C, B, A, D, E, K, etc.
- Minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, zinc, iodine, selenium, chloride, manganese, and others.
- Some additional substances can be found in baby formulas, like probiotics (help ease gasses and colic and boost immune system), prebiotics (food for probiotics), omega 3 and 6 fats (help with brain development), and corn starch (help with reflux to keep the formula down). But these additional ingredients are optional.
How to Choose the Best Baby Formula?
When it comes to a selection of the best baby formula:
- the first thing you need to do is to pay a visit to your pediatrician. It is crucial because some babies can develop specific health problems, like milk allergies, lactose intolerance, reflux, galactosemia, and severe constipation. So, you do not need to choose on your own
- Another vital thing to remember is to read the label in order to inform what kind of ingredients are present in the formula.
- And when we talk about budget, there are brand-name infant formulas like Enfamil, Similac, Earth’s Best, Gerber, Happy Baby, Else, and many others. They can be a slightly expensive option. And on the other hand, we have store-brand infant formulas, like Up&Up (Target), Parent’s Choice (Wal-Mart), CVS brand (CVS), Member’s Mark (Sam’s Club), and many others. They appear more affordable. Whichever formula you choose, be aware that every formula must have a standardized nutritional content.
Types of Baby Formulas
When we talk about types of baby formulas, there are 3 different types of infant formulas:
- Animals’ milk formulas are made of modified cow’s or goat’s milk proteins to make them easily digestible for babies. About 80% of all formulas use cow’s milk as a base and work well with most healthy babies.
- Soy’s milk formulas use processed soybeans as a base with minerals and vitamins added. It is a vegan option recommended by pediatricians in rare cases, such as when your infant has a milk allergy. They are not suitable for premature babies because they do not contain enough nutrients for healthy bone development, like calcium and phosphorus.
- Specialized formulas are made for babies born premature, with low birth weight, or with a high risk of developing allergies. For preemies, formulas contain a higher amount of calories. For babies prone to allergies, these formulas are often “predigested,”- which means proteins are mostly or entirely broken down (hydrolyzed). Babies with lactose intolerance are fed with formulas that use corn syrup instead of lactose as a protein source.
As far as preparing formulas is concerned, they are sold in 3 forms:
- Powder concentrate is the most common form of baby formula, the least expensive, and the most convenient, especially if you want to order formula online. You can buy it in large quantities; it often comes with a convenient scoop for mixing it with clean water according to the manufacturer’s directions.
- Liquid concentrate is a form of a formula that also dilutes with water according to the instructions. It is a slightly more expensive option than the powder, but you still need to mix it.
- Ready-to-feed comes in liquid form, and you only need to pour it in a feeding bottle. It is the most expensive option, but parents say that it is time-saving when you need to travel.
10 Best Baby Formulas
There is no perfect formula. Look at the top-rated baby formulas in 10 different categories to help you choose according to your baby’s needs.
1. Best Overall Baby Formula– Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron ($ 29.99)
Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron is the #1 brand chosen by hospitals. It is designed to be the closest to breast milk, with 2′-FL HMO (Human Milk Oligosaccharide). This substance feeds good bacteria in a baby’s intestinal tract. It also helps strengthen the immune system. A unique blend of DHA, Vitamin E, and Lutein supports a baby’s health, growth, and proper eye and brain development.
Some moms say their babies are less fussy and gassy after switching to this formula; that is a big plus.
2. Best for Breastfed Babies – Enfamil Enspire Infant Formula ($ 27.98)
It is the only formula that contains the MFGM, which stands for Milk Fat Globule Membrane and is present in breastmilk. MFGM is a protein/lipid layer that helps cognitive development. Enfamil Enspire Infant Formula is presented as the closest replica of colostrum and breast milk by this brand; it makes it the best formula for breastfed babies. It contains Lactoferrin, protein helpful for the better immune system, Choline, and DHA for proper brain development, iron, probiotics, and prebiotics. Enfamil is voted best baby formula 2019 and the #1 brand recommended by pediatricians.
3. Best Hypoallergenic Formula – Similac Alimentum Hypoallergenic Infant Formula ($ 27.99)
This formula is made for babies with protein sensitivity and allergies. Proteins are broken down (hydrolyzed) so babies can easily digest the formula. Similac Alimentum Hypoallergenic Infant Formula also contains DHA and ARA, which are found in breast milk and are good for the eyes and the brain. But some parents say that hydrolyzed formulas often taste bitter and do not smell very nice.
4. Best Organic Baby Formula– Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula ($ 29.99)
Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula is made of milk from cows raised on organic farms without herbicides, pesticides, growth hormones, or antibiotics. Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula provides critical vitamins and minerals found naturally in mother’s milk. It has 4 times more Probiotics and Prebiotics than other organic baby formulas. It is also non-GMO and corn syrup-free.
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5. Best Formula for Premature Babies – Similac Neosure for Babies Born Prematurely ($ 110 for the pack of 6)
Babies born prematurely have different dietary needs. It is essential to provide them enough energy, proteins, and other nutrients because they need to catch up with their term-born friends. Similac Neosure for Babies Born Prematurely ensures steady weight gain but can sometimes cause constipation and gasses, as some parents’ reviews say. It does not contain any artificial growth hormones. Yes, it is a bit pricey, but if you order multiple cans at once or do not mind collecting coupons, you may save a lot.
6. Best Formula for Gassy Babies – Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease Baby Formula ($ 33.36)
New parents know how it can be stressful handling a gassy and fussy baby! Enfamil NeuroPro Gentlease Baby Formula reduces fussiness, gas, and discomfort with crying in 24 hours thanks to proteins partially broken down and plenty of probiotics included. It is also lower in lactose than other standard formulas. It contains Choline, omega 3, and DHA to provide proper brain development. It is gentle for sensitive tummies and helps ease digestion issues. Most reviews from parents are positive because less gas means a happier baby. And more satisfied parents, too.
7. Best Vegan Baby Formula– Else Plant-Based Complete Nutrition for Toddlers ($ 36)
If your lifestyle is plant-based or avoiding soy or dairy, this is the best formula for your toddler. Although there is a limitation for an alternative to dairy and soy, this Else Plant–Based Complete Nutrition for Toddlers offers 92% of whole plant Ingredients like almonds, buckwheat, and tapioca. This formula is also gluten-free and non-GMO. Some moms add it to smoothies and pancakes and note that it has a pleasant smell, better than regular formulas. And the taste is fantastic too – something like almonds, so babies and adults like it also.
8. Best Formula for Constipation – Enfamil Reguline Infant Formula ($ 27.37)
Your baby’s soft stool can make your life so much easier. Constipation in babies can be painful, and you will do whatever it takes to ease that pain. Enfamil Reguline Infant Formula contains a unique patented blend of Triple Health Guard, which contains DHA for brain development, 30 nutrients for steady growth, and prebiotics with vitamins for immune health. Many babies found relief after only one bottle of this formula.
9. Best Store Brand Baby Formula – Love and Care Advantage Infant Formula ($ 23.09)
We already said that no brand of formula is better than another because all of them must meet the FDA requirements. Love and Care Advantage Infant Formula contains complete nourishment for your baby’s first year. IT contains DHA for brain development, Lutein for eye development, Vitamins E, A, C, and Zink to boost the immune system.
10. Best Toddler Formula – Earth’s Best Organic Toddler Milk Drink ($ 27.98)
Earth’s Best Organic Toddler Milk Drink is an organic milk-based drink for your fast-growing toddlers. Sometimes parents think their child’s diet is not sufficient. They are in agony when they need to feed their toddler because he or she refuses solid food. They may want to continue with supplementation after the first year, so this drink is the perfect choice for that situation to ensure steady nutrients intake. This drink contains 2 fatty acids, DHA and ARA, then Lutein for eye development and prebiotics for the immune system. It is also non-GMO and free of corn syrup. Some moms say that it is the best smelling formula there is.