What you choose to feed your baby is one of the most important decisions you’re going to make about their health and development.
That’s a big task which is why you want to make sure you’re giving your baby the best formula you can. When you go down the aisle, you’re bombarded with so many different types of formulas that it becomes instantly overwhelming.
That’s why we’re here to sort it all out for you and let you know what you should look for as you search for the best infant formula. First, let’s take a look at what exactly is in the baby formula.
If you’re new to the parenting world, you may not be aware of what it contains.
In this article
- Short On Time? Here Are Our Top 3 Choices
- What’s In A Baby Formula?
- What Type Of Formula Should I Look For?
- Ready-Made vs. Powder Formulas
- 10 Best Formulas For Newborns and Infants
- 1. Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron
- 2. Enfamil NeuroPro Baby Formula Milk Powder
- 3. Baby’s Only Dairy with DHA & ARA Toddler Formula
- 4. Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula Milk Based Powder with Iron
- 5. Earth’s Best Organic Dairy Infant Powder Formula with Iron
- 6. Enfamil Gentlease Easy- to-Digest Baby Formula
- 7. Enfamil Enspire Baby Formula with Lactoferrin Milk Based Powder
- 8. Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Baby Formula From Enfamil Lactose & Milk Free Powder
- 9. Gerber Good Start GentlePro (HMO) Non-GMO Powder Infant Formula
- 10. Nestle Nan 1 Pro Infant Formula Powder
- The Bottom Line
Short On Time? Here Are Our Top 3 Choices
|Top||Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron||Prime||Buy Now|
|Enfamil NeuroPro Baby Formula Milk Powder||Prime||Buy Now|
|Baby's Only Dairy with DHA & ARA Toddler Formula||Prime||Buy Now|
What’s In A Baby Formula?
Baby formula is made to emulate breast milk as much as it can. While it will never be an exact replica, it does contain many valuable and essential nutrients for your baby.
We all know carbohydrates are an important part of everyone’s diet. When it comes to breast milk, lactose is the most prevalent carbohydrate.
This is a milk-sugar and carb that cows also make. Lactose helps to absorb calcium and feeds good bacteria into the gut. This is why you should look for a formula that contains lactose versus other carbohydrates like corn syrup or other sugars.
You don’t want to give your baby products with too much sugar because it can cause their blood sugar levels to increase and can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Protein is another major ingredient to look for when you’re buying formula. It’s important to know that milk proteins come in two groups, casein or whey. Whey goes through the system faster while casein is more reactive when digested.
Breast milk is 60% whey and 40% casein. When you’re looking for the best formula for newborns, look for products with added whey.
Babies also need fat in their formula. Most formulas contain the same amount of fat calories as breast milk.
You’ll see that baby formulas use a blend of different oils to achieve the fat composition that’s needed. These can include palm olein, soy, coconut, and MCT oil among others.
While none of those oils are found in breast milk, they are easy enough for babies to digest without having any issues.
Two other fats that are important for a baby to have in their formula are DHA and ARA. These are more commonly known as fatty acids. These help with brain and eye development.
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Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are important parts of all of our diets. These are just some of the vitamins and minerals you’ll find in baby formula:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Folic Acid
It’s important to note that most formulas contain more iron than is necessary. If your baby gets an upset stomach or becomes constipated, this could be the culprit.
Discuss it with your doctor to determine the best solution for your baby.
If you’ve heard of probiotics, prebiotics is pretty similar. Prebiotics are good bacteria to help the gut and digestion. They are indigestible fibers that let good bacteria grow in the intestines. Prebiotics are found in breast milk and some formulas.
It’s time to go back to your high school science class. Nucleotides are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. They’re in breast milk as well as in formula.
What Type Of Formula Should I Look For?
While cow’s milk is the best choice after breast milk, not all babies can have it. This means other options like soy products and non-lactose varieties may be necessary.
Sometimes you may need to look for a gentle formula or one that’s made to treat a specific problem. It’s best to explain your child’s issues to the pediatrician so that they can help you find the best formula for your baby.
Ready-Made vs. Powder Formulas
As you’re looking for the best infant formula, you may notice that some formula is already pre-mixed and comes in ready-to-use bottles. There’s no difference except for the fact that the ready-to-use formula doesn’t need to be mixed.
It is very convenient if you’re on-the-go and don’t want to fuss with mixing. You can just open the bottle and feed your baby. As you can expect, this convenience does come with a price tag. This type of formula does cost more than the powder variety.
Some parents buy small amounts of the ready-to-use formula to take with them and save the powdered version for a home where mixing is either. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
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10 Best Formulas For Newborns and Infants
Now that you have a pretty good idea of what to look for in the best formula for infants, here are our picks for the top ten products out there.
- Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron
- Enfamil NeuroPro Baby Formula Milk Powder
- Baby’s Only Dairy with DHA & ARA Toddler Formula
- Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula Milk Based Powder with Iron
- Earth’s Best Organic Dairy Infant Powder Formula with Iron
- Enfamil Gentlease Easy- to-Digest Baby Formula
- Enfamil Enspire Baby Formula with Lactoferrin Milk Based Powder
- Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Baby Formula From Enfamil Lactose & Milk Free Powder
- Gerber Good Start GentlePro (HMO) Non-GMO Powder Infant Formula
- Nestle Nan 1 Pro Infant Formula Powder
Similac Pro-Advance is our top choice for the best infant formula because it is one of the closest you’ll find to breast milk.
It the first infant formula with 2’-FL human milk oligosaccharide. HMOs feed good bacteria to the gut. This is beneficial because it’s where 70% o the immune system exists.
There are no artificial growth hormones so you don’t have to worry about any harmful ingredients. All of the dairy ingredients come from cows that have not been treated with any artificial growth hormones.
It also contains lutein, Vitamin E, and DHA to support babies’ development, eye health, and developing cells. This is one of the most popular formulas because of its similarity to breast milk.
While it’s not a special formula aimed to help babies with digestive problems, it is gentle on the stomach.
- Contains human milk oligosaccharide
- No artificial growth hormones
- Close to breast milk
- Not a special formula
This formula from Enfamil is another great choice when you’re looking for the best formula for newborns. It’s the only baby formula that has a fat protein blend of MFGM and Omega-3 DHA. This is previously only found in breast milk.
There is evidence to show that the protein blend supports cognitive development, similar to the benefits found in breast milk.
It also contains choline which is another nutrient that’s important for brain support while making it easy to digest. It also contains the prebiotics we mentioned above which is good for digestion.
This Neuropro with iron is a gentle milk powder formula that is made with non-GMO ingredients with no genetically-modified ingredients.
Although it doesn’t have any genetically modified ingredients, there may be trace amounts of genetically engineered materials from manufacturing environments and process sources.
- No genetically modified ingredients
- Contains fat protein blend previously only found in breast milk
- Contains prebiotics for digestion
- May contain trace amounts of genetically engineered materials from manufacturing environments and process sources
If organic products are most important to you when it comes to baby formula, then this one from Baby’s Only could be a good choice for you.
It’s the first and only formula using organic certified DHA and ARA derived from organic egg phospholipids. This helps to support brain and eye development.
It has no hormones and does not contain GMOs, corn syrup, or palm oil. You don’t have to worry about any ingredients coming from cows that were around harmful pesticides or fertilizer because the product is organic.
This formula is priced a little higher than some other products. But, if organic products are important to you then this could be a solid choice no matter the cost.
- First and only formula using Organic Certified DHA & ARA derived from organic egg phosphlipids
- Does not contain corn syrup or other harmful ingredients
- Supports brain and eye development
- Priced slightly higher
Here’s another good choice if you’re looking for organic infant formula. This one by Happy Baby is made to model breast milk. It’s made with organic lactose which is the key carbohydrate found in breast milk.
You’ll also find important vitamins and minerals that are naturally found in breast milk. DHA, iron, folic acid, choline, vitamin D, and calcium are all part of this blend.
Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula also has the prebiotics GOS and FOS that mimic those that are found in breast milk.
There are no real drawbacks to this formula. Just be sure your baby can tolerate the iron that’s in the formula because some babies’ stomachs are sensitive.
- Organic blend
- Contains vitamins and minerals that mimic breast milk
- Contains prebiotics for digestion
- No corn syrups
- Be sure baby can tolerate iron because some babies have sensitive stomachs
Earth’s Best also makes an organic formula if that’s an important quality you’re looking for as you shop for the best infant formula.
Besides being organic, it contains many of the vitamins that babies need to help in their development. It is lactose milk-based with no added corn syrups.
It’s made to mimic breast milk and contains omega fatty acids that support brain and eye development as well as iron for overall development.
There are no artificial growth hormones in this formula. You’ll also find no artificial growth hormones. This formula is made without prohibited synthetic pesticides and fertilizers.
This formula is packed full of vitamins that are good for your baby’s development. But, this one is a little more expensive than some other brands.
- Contains vitamins and minerals important for the development
- No added corn syrups
- No artificial growth hormones
- Contains omega fatty acids
- Slightly more expensive
If you’re looking for an infant formula that is gentler on your baby’s stomach, this one from Enfamil could be the one for you.
The Gentlease formula is clinically shown to ease fussiness, gas, and crying in 24 hours. It has easy-to-digest proteins that have been partially broken down, making it easier on tiny tummies.
Just because it’s a gentle formula doesn’t mean it doesn’t contain all of the important vitamins and minerals as other formulas.
This one contains DHA and Choline which are important nutrients that are found in breast milk to help support cognitive brain development.
There is also an exclusive blend of two prebiotics to help your baby’s immune system. This is important if your baby has a sensitive stomach. There are no artificial flavors, sweeteners, or colors.
This formula is more expensive than some others. But, it is a gentle formula so if that’s important for your baby and helps them digest, you won’t mind spending some extra money.
- Clinically proven to ease fussiness, gas, and crying
- Contains DHA and Choline
- Has easy-to-digest proteins
- More expensive than some other formulas
Enfamil Enspire makes our list of the best formula for newborns because it is the first and only baby formula that contains the ingredients Lactoferrin and MFGM. This makes it a close second to breast milk.
Lactoferrin is a protein that is found in colostrum and breast milk. It helps to support the immune system and intestinal development.
MFGM has been shown to help with mental development. Both are important ingredients when it comes to baby formula. This one also includes Omega-3, DHA, and Choline to support brain development.
They are also important nutrients found in breast milk. There is also a blend of probiotics that are clinically proven to promote digestive health.
- Only baby formula that contains the ingredients Lactoferrin and MFGM
- Contains vitamins and minerals important for baby’s development
- Contains probiotics to help with digestive health
- More expensive than other formulas
If your baby is lactose intolerant this formula could be a good choice for you. The Nutramigen formula advertises that it manages colic due to cow’s milk allergy as early as the first feeding.
Ninety-percent of infants improves within 48 hours. It is lactose-free and sucrose-free so it’s good for your baby. There are also no artificial growth hormones.
It also helps babies’ immune systems and aids in brain development. It contains DHA and ARA which are nutrients found in breast milk that help with development.
The Nutramigen baby formula has contains the probiotic LGG. This helps with allergy management and supports digestive health.
As with many of the other special blend formulas, you’ll find that this one is more expensive than your average formula.
Here’s another good choice if you’re looking for a basic formula. Gerber has many easy to digest comfort proteins and prebiotics.
These are all important components to breast milk that are mimicked with the formula. Gerber is a household name when it comes to baby food, so many parents choose to start their babies with Gerber formula.
Like many other formulas, there’s DHA to support brain and eye development. While it doesn’t contain many of the other special ingredients that some of the other formulas have, it is a solid choice for a basic formula.
If your baby doesn’t need formula made to help them digest better, you may want to consider this one as you search for the best baby formula for infants.
- Contains easy-to-digest proteins and prebiotics
- Contains DHA for brain and eye development
- Does not contain any special ingredients
The Nestle Nan 1 Pro Infant Formula rounds out our list of the best formula for newborns. It features a probiotic that supports digestive health.
It also has DHA, iron, vitamins, and minerals that are essential for your baby’s health and development. If your baby is allergic to apples, this formula is also apple-free.
It’s also moderately priced with many of the other leading brands of regular formula. This blend contains no special ingredients to make it mimic breast milk more closely.
It’s important to check out the ingredients, especially if you’re looking for something special if your baby has digestive problems.
- Reasonably priced
- Contains probiotics to help with digestion
- Contains essential vitamins and nutrients for the development
- Does not contain special ingredients
The Bottom Line
When it comes to the best formulas for newborns, we chose Similac Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron as our top choice.
It contains many of the vitamins, nutrients, and many of the ingredients you’ll find in breastmilk. These ingredients, such as DHA, are known to support babies’ health and development.
It’s also the first infant formula with 2’-FL human milk oligosaccharide. HMOs are known to feed good bacteria to the gut which helps with digestion. Since there are no artificial growth hormones, you don’t have to worry.
When it comes down to finding the best baby formula, sometimes it’s a case of trial and error. You can see how your baby reacts and can then determine if the formula is a good fit.
Unfortunately, many parents go through several different types of formulas before finding the right one. If your baby has trouble digesting it or has other sensitivities, it can be more difficult.
If you fall into that category, it’s best to ask your pediatrician which formula you should try. Otherwise, you can choose the one that contains most of the ingredients that you want your baby to have for their development.