Best Organic Baby Formula: 2021 Buyers Guide
All parents want their babies to be happy, healthy, and well-fed.
A mother’s choice to breastfeed is extremely personal and can be affected by several factors. What’s most important is a happy, well-fed baby. Exclusively formula feeding or combining breastfeeding with formula feeding can often be hugely beneficial for both mothers and babies.
If you’re considering trying an organic baby formula, this buyer's guide will give you everything you need to know to help you find the right organic formula for your little one.
Table of Contents
- What is Organic Baby Formula
- Benefits of Organic Baby Formula
- American vs European Formula
- Types of Organic Formula
- How to Compare Organic Formula
- Top Organic Formulas
What is Organic Baby Formula?
Organic baby formula is exactly what it sounds like: formula made with the best quality organic ingredients. This means:
- No synthetic preservatives
- No artificial colors
- No pesticide residue
- No growth hormones
- No genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
- No potentially toxic substances
In order for a formula to be certified organic, at least 95% of all ingredients and processing aids also have to be organic. In the US, products that carry the USDA Organic Seal must not contain anything excluded by the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances.
Like the requirements for USDA organic certification, the EU organic certification requires that 95% (or more) of the ingredients be organic as well. However, the regulations set by the EU for organic certification are more comprehensive. There is more transparency on products. For example, if the product comes from a farm, the farm location must be indicated on the product. Furthermore, the EU has much stricter regulations on all infant formula, organic or not, in terms of there not being detectable levels of certain toxic substances.
Some European baby formulas go the extra mile by having certifications such as “Demeter” or “Bioland.” For example, Holle is the only European formula milk to be Demeter certified. Demeter is a certificate issued for biodynamic agriculture. The program was established in 1928 as the first ecological label for organic food. Demeter-certified milk, like that used in Holle cow formula, comes from cows that are raised in an exceptionally humane and caring environment. Demeter farming is dedicated to the preservation of the ecosystem by focusing on soil fertility management, crop protection, and promoting biological diversity. These practices, particularly when referencing cow’s milk, results in a wholesome and tasty milk, and of course is extremely beneficial for the environment.
Another certification you will see on some European formulas, like Lebenswert, is Bioland. Bioland is a type of certification whose standards exceeds that of the minimum regular EU organic requirements. For example, for a product to be Bioland certified it must come from a farm that solely produces organic products whereas with a regular organic certification, the product can come from a farm that also produces nonorganic products. Furthermore, the threshold amount of pesticides, like copper pesticide, that can be used for a product that is Bioland certified is two times smaller than a regular EU organic certification. Bioland regulations are more strict than regular organic, but not as strict as Demeter. You can learn more about the differences between Bioland organic and regular organic here.
Lastly, all formulas approved by the European Commission must be produced from animal milk that contains no hormones, no detectable levels of pesticide residues, and no GMOs.
Benefits of Organic Baby Formula
At Little Bundle, we strongly believe that one of the best things you can do for your baby is to provide a healthy, nutritious diet -- regardless of whether that comes from nursing at breast or expressing breast milk for baby , formula, or combination feeding.
- The best organic formulas “go the extra mile” by closely mimicking the nutritional profile of breast milk. This includes the use of organic lactose as the primary source of carbohydrates and an organic vegetable oil blend that features many of the fatty acids found in breast milk.
- Many organic formulas contain additional whey. This makes the protein ratio more similar to the proportions of whey and casein in breast milk.
- Prebiotics and probiotics are often added to replicate the immunity-boosting properties of breast milk. Prebiotics such as galacto-oligosaccharides are very similar to human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs), while probiotics like Lactobacillus are commonly found in breast milk, along with other types of lactic acid bacteria. We also carry Kendamil Organic, the only European formula with naturally occurring HMOs (probiotic). HMOs in breast milk play a large part in the development of a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn has been shown to reduce the risk of infection and allergy as well as support brain development.
- Organic formula provides essential nutrients while also ensuring that no traces of harmful substances make it into your baby’s bottle. This means eliminating pesticide residue, toxic processing agents, chemicals, and GMO ingredients. Organic formulas avoid unhealthy and potentially harmful ingredients such as carrageenan; highly processed sweeteners like corn syrup, glucose syrup, and brown rice syrup; and artificial preservatives.
US Brand Formula vs. European Brand Formula
Not all organic products are created equal.
There are other significant differences between US formula brands and European formula brands as the standards for what can be included in baby formula are stricter in Europe than in the United States.
- EU standards prohibit the inclusion of sucrose (table sugar) in infant formula, except in small quantities in specialty formulas for premature infants or babies with allergies.
- All European formulas are required to have at least 30% of calories from lactose, which is not a requirement for U.S. formulas.
- Many Holle and Lebenswert formulas carry Demeter or Bioland certifications that go beyond the EU’s minimum organic standards. For example, the Demeter certification emphasizes a deep commitment to animal welfare, sustainability, and ecosystem preservation.
With the exception of the specialty formulas HiPP Hypoallergenic, HiPP Comfort, and HiPP Anti-Reflux, all of the formulas stocked by Little Bundle carry the European Union’s organic seal. This means they are made without synthetic or chemical sprays, genetic engineering, artificial flavors, enhancers, colors, or preservatives.
Types of Organic Formula
Cow’s Milk Formula
Cow’s milk is by far the most common base for organic formula.
Most organic cow’s milk formulas are made with skimmed milk that has been supplemented with a blend of organic vegetable oils to achieve a fatty acid profile similar to breast milk. Holle PRE and Kendamil Organic use whole milk recipes. Whole milk recipes are exceptional because with using the full cream of the milk, it contains naturally occurring MFGM (Milk Fat Globule Membrane) – a critical component within breast milk linked to improved cognitive development in infants. Vitamins and minerals are also added in quantities that correspond to the correct stage of infant development.
One of the major differences between cow’s milk and breast milk is the proportion of whey and casein proteins. Although mature breast milk contains about 60% whey proteins and 40% casein proteins, cow’s milk contains 20% whey and 80% casein. Since casein proteins circle and take longer to metabolize, this can lead to digestive difficulties such as bloating and gas, especially for young babies. Many formula manufacturers compensate for this by adding additional whey to their cow’s milk formulas. Some of our popular European formula brands such as Kendamil Organic have a whey/casein ratio of 60/40 in Stage 1 and 40/60 in Stage 2. This gradual change is designed to reflect the natural changes in breast milk and helps prepare your little one for weaning.
Goat’s Milk Formula
A growing number of well-known formulas are made with organic goat’s milk, such as Holle Goat, Kendamil, Kabrita USA, and Nannycare.
These formulas provide the same nutrients as cow’s milk formulas, but they may be more suitable for babies who have trouble digesting cow’s milk formula or who display symptoms of milk protein intolerance, such as eczema or skin rashes. Goat’s milk formulas are also becoming increasingly popular as an attractive formula option for any baby, not just those with cow’s milk sensitivity.
Many babies with cow’s milk protein sensitivity have had success with organic goat’s milk formula. Goat’s milk is naturally homogenized, has smaller fat globules and a smaller, lighter curd, more similar to breast milk curds, and is generally easier to digest than cow’s milk.
However, it’s important to remember that cow’s milk and goat’s milk are quite similar in many ways. Babies with a diagnosed milk protein allergy would probably have symptoms after being fed goat’s milk formula, and would most likely require an extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid-based formula to fully eliminate the potential for an allergic response.
The main reason to use a soy-based formula is for infants who are lactose intolerant, have severe dairy allergies, or who must be fed a specific diet for other health reasons. Although soy-based formulas provide sufficient nutrition for babies and may appeal to parents who want a vegan option, they are far from ideal. In the United States, most sources of corn and soy have been genetically modified in some way, so finding a truly “GMO-free” soy-based formula may not be possible.Studies have shown that some soy formulas have high levels of the heavy metal aluminum (American Academy of Pediatrics, Committee on Nutrition. Aluminum toxicity in infants and children.Pediatrics.1996: 97 (3):413–416). Soy also contains the compound phytic acid, which blocks the absorption of minerals such as calcium, magnesium, and iron.
Since they are entirely plant-based, soy formulas are highly processed and are much less similar to breast milk than cow’s milk or goat’s milk formulas are. Due to the presence of ingredients such as synthetic l-methionine, there are no European soy-based formulas that have been certified organic. USoy-based formulas are not usually recommended unless there are overriding religious, cultural, or health reasons for their use.
Since soy-based formulas cannot contain lactose, they must utilize other carbohydrate sources, such as corn syrup or glucose syrup. Baby’s Only is one of the few U.S. formula brands that offers an organic, non-GMO, plant-based formula for babies who are lactose intolerant or who are fed a vegan diet. As a carbohydrate source, Baby’s Only Soy contains organic brown rice syrup, which is preferable to corn syrup but not as ideal as lactose.
Several studies have suggested that consuming significant amounts of soy at a young age could have negative effects on the female reproductive system later in life, causing severe menstrual cramps, for example.
The overall impact of consuming significant amounts of soy in infancy remains unknown.
Specialty FormulaFeeding difficulties are common among young infants, whose immature digestive systems may need some help breaking down the nutrients in formula.
There is a wide range of specialty formulas that have been developed to help ease some of the most common feeding and digestive issues, such as:
- Spit up
- Acid reflux
For example, HiPP Comfort has hydrolyzed proteins, reduced lactose content, and several different carbohydrate sources, which make it easier to digest. HiPP Anti-Reflux contains locust bean gum, which makes the formula creamier and thicker so that babies have fewer issues with spit-up.
Cow’s milk protein allergy affects an estimated 7% of infants. While infants with a severe allergy are likely to require a special amino acid-based formula, infants with cow’s milk protein sensitivity or a more mild form of intolerance may benefit from a hydrolyzed formula such as HiPP HA Hypoallergenic, in which the milk proteins have been broken down into more manageable sizes.
Although the vast majority of HiPP formula ingredients are organic, HiPP Comfort, HiPP HA, and HiPP AR cannot be officially certified as organic because the hydrolyzed milk protein is not available in an organic form.
How to Compare Organic Formula
In the United States, most baby formula is not sold in stages, which means that the nutrient levels have to be appropriate for babies of all ages. That’s not to say that these formulas aren’t safe for infants, but they don’t meet the specific developmental nutrient requirements as precisely as their European counterparts.
Organic formulas, particularly those from Europe, are typically sold in “stages,” which correspond to different points in a baby’s development.
- Stage 1: 0 to 6 months -The nutritional profile of Stage 1 formula corresponds to the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that newborns and infants need. All Stage 1 formulas (sometimes called “first infant milk”) are suitable as a complete source of nutrition, or as a supplement to breast milk.
- Stage PRE: From birth - In most ways, Stage PRE formulas are very similar to Stage 1 and are suitable from birth onwards. Despite the name, they are not related to premature babies (“preemies”). The main difference is that Stage PRE formulas do not contain any starch, which can sometimes be difficult for newborns to digest. In addition, Holle Bio Stage PRE contains additional lactose, rather than the maltodextrin found in Holle Bio Stage 1.
- Stage 2: 6 months and older - Also known as “follow-on formula,” Stage 2 formula is designed for babies from six months to a year (or, in some cases, 10 months), and has slightly higher amounts of protein and certain other nutrients, to correspond to a growing baby’s needs. The most notable difference in Stage 2 formulas is that Stage 2 formulas contain more iron. By the time your infant reaches 6 months of age, their iron requirements will dramatically increase. Hence why many pediatricians encourage parents to feed iron fortified foods like baby cereal or other naturally iron rich foods. Stage 2 is a good choice if you don't want to feel pressured to make sure your baby is eating those kinds of foods and is suitable for use alongside solid foods.
- Stage 3: One year and older - When a baby turns one year old, he or she may begin drinking whole cow’s milk (or whole goat’s milk). Alternatively, he or she may transition to a Stage 3 formula, which is a nutritionally complete option for older babies and toddlers who are likely to be eating plenty of solid food at this age. Also known as “growing-up milk” or “toddler milk,” Stage 3 formula is intended for use after the age of 10 months or one year, depending on the manufacturer: for products sold in Germany, Stage 3 is labeled for 10 months and older whereas in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands Stage 3 is labeled for 1 year. For Stage 3 HiPP and Holle products are sold in both these countries as their ingredients and nutrition are identical – the age discrepancy is because of the respective country's regulations.
HiPP, Holle, Kendamil, and Lebenswert are undoubtedly the most popular organic formula brands from Europe. These manufacturers are extremely well regarded, with decades of experience in the organic food industry, and pride themselves on never including sucrose, corn syrup, or synthetic ingredients in their formulas.
HiPP is one of the leading brands of organic European formula. Headquartered in Germany, HiPP is well known across Europe, since manufacturers in the Netherlands, the UK, and Germany each market slightly different versions of HiPP’s nutritionally-complete formulas. HiPP is also famous for its specialty formulas, designed for babies with feeding conditions such as reflux, constipation, gassiness, and colic.
HiPP also manufactures hydrolyzed formulas for babies who struggle with milk protein intolerance. With the exception of these specialty products, most HiPP formulas feature only lactose as the main carbohydrate source, just as in breast milk. All HiPP formulas contain prebiotics in the form of galacto-oligosaccharides, and most contain probiotics in the form of lactobacillus fermentum (the same as found in breast milk!), with the exception of HiPP UK formulas and HiPP Dutch Stage 3.
Some U.S. brands that are slightly similar to HiPP and Holle brand such as:
- Baby’s Only Organic Dairy -- Manufactured by Nature’s One, this USDA Organic toddler formula is free from corn syrup and GMO ingredients, although it does contain brown rice syrup and soy oil.
- Happy Baby Organic -- This is another popular organic formula made with organic nonfat milk, lactose, whey, prebiotics, and DHA/ARA. It doesn’t contain corn syrup solids or synthetic nutrients like l-carnitine and l-methionine, and it’s available in stages, just like European formula.
- Earth’s Best -- Made with organic lactose, prebiotics, lutein, DHA, and ARA, Earth’s Best baby formula is corn-syrup free and USDA Organic.
- Plum Organics -- Although it contains a few questionable ingredients, such as hexane-extracted DHA and synthetic nutrients, Plum Organics formula is free from corn syrup solids, and uses organic lactose instead
- Kabrita USA -- This goat’s milk toddler formula includes many of the same great ingredients as European formulas, such as lactose, prebiotics, and DHA.
Founded in Switzerland in 1933, Holle has been an industry leader in organic infant products for over 80 years and is best known for emphasizing clean ingredients such as biodynamic milk, as well as for having a popular goat’s milk formula. You’ll notice the Demeter label on many Holle formulas. Demeter is one of the highest certifications for organic, sustainable agriculture in Europe. It’s essentially “organic plus,” in that not only are Demeter farms free from GM technology, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, and toxic manufacturing processes, but they also have to meet strict criteria for ecosystem preservation and animal welfare.
Kendamil Organic Formula
Kendamil Organic is one of the most trusted and wholesome European formulas on the market. This British family company is incredibly passionate about the quality and care of their formulas, all the way to getting milk from happy cows! Kendamil works directly with farmers week to week and day to day taking all seasons and factors into account regarding the raw milk they use. Their products use the full cream of the milk and provide a more natural fat source of Milk Fat Globule Membrane (or MFGM), as identified in breast milk, which has shown to improve infants’ cognitive development. As EU Certified Organic, Kendamil contains plant-based DHA derived from algal oil, which is suitable for vegetarian diets. Kendamil also contains prebiotic and is the first-ever European organic infant formula to contain Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) as a part of the prebiotic source. HMOs in breast milk play a large part in the development of a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn has been shown to reduce the risk of infection and allergy as well as support brain development.
Also manufactured by Holle, Lebenswert is similar to Holle’s cow’s milk formula in many ways. Lebenswert formulas have all earned Bioland certification, another top award for biodynamic farming. Most Holle and Lebenswert formulas feature organic lactose and organic maltodextrin (and sometimes organic starch) as the main carbohydrate sources, providing babies with longer-lasting sources of available energy. Holle and Lebenswert formulas do not contain prebiotics or probiotics, although as of spring 2020, they do contain omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, including DHA.
Although infant formula can never replicate all of the components of breast milk, such as antibodies, hormones, and other bioactive molecules, the best organic formulas contain ingredients that approximate breast milk to the highest possible degree.
Ingredients to look for in organic formula
- Organic cow’s milk or goat’s milk
- Organic lactose
- Organic whey
- Organic vegetable oils
- Naturally-derived omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids (DHA, ALA, ARA)
- Prebiotics (galacto-oligosaccharides)
- Probiotics (lactic acid cultures)
- Vitamins and minerals
Ingredients to avoid in organic formula
- Corn syrup, corn syrup solids, glucose syrup
- GMO ingredients
- Carrageenan (a thickener and emulsifier that can cause inflammation)
- Soy (oil or lecithin)
- Artificial preservatives
Organic milk - The milk in organic formula comes from cows and goats who are treated with high welfare standards, fed a diet of grass and organic grain, and kept on sustainably-run farms. This makes their milk as pure as possible, improving the overall taste and nutrient content. The cow’s milk used in Holle Bio meets the Demeter standard, while Lebenswert milk meets the Bioland standard. Both of these certifications go beyond the European Union’s basic standards for organic farming.
Lactose - The main carbohydrate in breast milk is lactose (“milk sugar”), which is also found in cow’s milk and goat’s milk, although in smaller quantities. Thus, in addition to a base of organic cow’s milk or goat’s milk, the best organic formulas often contain additional lactose, in order to approximate the high carbohydrate content of breast milk. Lactose is the predominant carbohydrate source in HiPP & Kendamil formulas.
Maltodextrin - Although maltodextrin is not a component of breast milk, it can be a beneficial formula ingredient when incorporated in small quantities. Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate with repeating glucose units that can be easily broken down for a long-lasting source of energy. Most Holle and Lebenswert formulas (except for Holle Bio PRE and Lebenswert Stage 1) contain some maltodextrin, and sometimes starch.
Whey protein - Because cow’s milk has a different protein composition than breast milk, the protein in organic formula is often altered to more closely resemble the whey:casein ratio of breast milk. For example, both Holle Bio Stage 1 and HiPP UK Stage 1 have a whey:casein ratio of 60:40, which is the same as mature breast milk, as opposed to 20:80 in whole cow’s milk. At the same time, the overall protein content in formula is lowered to be closer to breast milk, since cow’s milk typically contains at least twice the amount of protein as breast milk.
Organic vegetable oils - The fat in organic European formula comes from a blend of organic vegetable oils, most commonly palm oil, rapeseed oil, and sunflower oil. Less commonly, some formulas also contain coconut oil. These vegetable oils are added to a base of organic skim milk to provide the correct quantities of the fatty acids that infants need, such as palmitic acid, oleic acid, stearic acid, and linoleic acid.
Vitamins and minerals - All organic baby formulas contain a wide variety of vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin K, iron, potassium, and calcium.
DHA - As of Spring 2020, all European formulas for babies under one-year-old must contain DHA (omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid) which contributes to cognitive development and healthy brain function in babies. Organic formulas typically contain additional omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid (LA), arachidonic acid (ARA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Prebiotics and probiotics - To mimic the immunity-boosting properties of breast milk, many organic formulas also contain prebiotic fibers and probiotics (such as Lactobacillus), which also promote a healthy digestive system, among other benefits. All HiPP and Kendamil formulas contain prebiotics, and most contain probiotics, as well. Holle and Lebenswert formulas do not contain prebiotics or probiotics, allowing parents the flexibility to give their baby a simple formula, or to add their own probiotic drops when desired.
Although organic formulas tend to be somewhat pricier than conventional formulas, the price tag on the best organic European formulas is fairly comparable to U.S. organic brands like Happy Baby Organic.
It’s also important to pay close attention to the unit cost of the formula, since organic formulas from Europe come in packages of different sizes, ranging from 400g to 800g.
Although prices can fluctuate somewhat, HiPP UK tends to be the most affordable organic European formula, and is among Little Bundle’s best value products.
Buying in bulk is another way to minimize costs by as much as 12%. Parents who order formula in bulk from Little Bundle never need to be concerned about their formula expiring, since all Little Bundle formulas are guaranteed to be delivered at least six months before the expiration date. Bulk orders are an especially good idea for parents who are purchasing formula together with friends or relatives.
Our Top Recommendations for the Best Organic Formulas
Holle Bio Stage PRE
Age: 0-6 months
Newborns with sensitive tummies
Many parents choose Holle Bio Stage PRE because the simple, high-quality ingredients list makes it one of the closest formulas to breast milk, in terms of nutritional composition as well as taste. This makes it just as ideal for supplementing as for exclusive formula feeding. Babies who start off on Stage PRE typically transition easily to Holle Bio Stage 2 around the age of six months. Unlike most Holle formulas, Stage PRE does not contain any maltodextrin or starch but instead includes organic lactose in addition to its base of organic milk powder. This may make it easier for young babies with immature digestive systems to enjoy.
In keeping with Holle’s focus on simple yet nutritious ingredients, there are no prebiotics or probiotics in this formula. Holle Bio Stage PRE is soy-free, and completely without GMO ingredients, chemicals, synthetic nutrients, or synthetic preservatives. Instead, organic lactose is the primary carbohydrate. The other ingredients include organic whole milk, organic whey powder, organic vegetable oils, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Holle Bio Stage PRE also features a higher percentage of Demeter-certified milk fat than many other formulas, which makes it creamier and even more similar to breast milk.
- Lack of starch makes it easy for newborns to digest
- High percentage of Demeter milk fat
- The only Holle formula without maltodextrin
- More expensive than Holle Bio Stage 1
- Doesn’t have prebiotics or probiotics
Holle Bio Stage 1
Age: 0-6 months
A simple, high-quality formula with no unnecessary extras
Made in Germany, Holle Bio Stage 1 is regarded as one of the world’s best organic formulas for babies from birth to six months. It’s a cow’s milk formula with a simple list of carefully-selected ingredients, without any unnecessary additives. The main ingredients are biodynamic skim milk, organic whey powder, organic maltodextrin, organic lactose, organic vegetable oils, and essential vitamins and minerals. Holle Bio Stage 1 features omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, including DHA and ALA, which promote the healthy development of the eyes, brain, and nervous system. Some parents prefer that unlike many infant formulas, Holle Bio does not contain any prebiotics or probiotics.
Many families use Holle Bio Stage 1 as a substitute for breast milk, although it’s also an ideal choice for supplementing. Holle’s cow’s milk formulas are renowned for meeting the Demeter standard for organic, biodynamic farming, which surpasses the European Union’s minimum requirements for organic products. All of the ingredients in Holle Bio Stage 1 are entirely GMO-free, and no chemicals, artificial preservatives, colorings, or flavors are used in its manufacture. It does not contain any sucrose or corn syrup.
- Biodynamic cow’s milk from Demeter farms
- Simple list of ingredients
- No unnecessary additives
- Contains some maltodextrin
- Only available in a relatively small 400g container
Holle Bio Stage 2
Age: 6-12 months
Transitioning from breast milk to formula for the first time
Many babies who have been fed Holle Bio Stage 1 or Stage PRE transition seamlessly to Holle Bio Stage 2. This organic cow’s milk formula is made with the same wonderful ingredients, yet the nutrient amounts are specifically tailored for babies six months and older. With its simple list of ingredients, Holle’s follow-on formula is a fantastic option for babies transitioning from breast milk to formula, or who are supplementing for the first time. It’s also a great choice for babies who are beginning to incorporate solid foods, and it can be followed up after the age of 10 months with Holle Bio Stage 3.
Holle Bio Stage 2 is made with a base of Demeter-certified biodynamic organic skim milk. It also includes organic maltodextrin, starch, whey powder, lactose, palm, rapeseed, and sunflower oils, vitamins, minerals, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, including DHA. Holle Bio Stage 2 is free from corn syrup and sucrose, and synthetic pesticides or chemicals are not used at any point in its manufacture. There are no artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors, and it’s entirely soy-free.
- Excellent for supplementing
- Made with Demeter skimmed milk
- Less expensive than other Holle formulas
- Includes some starch and maltodextrin
- Does not have any additional lactose
HiPP Dutch Stage 1
Age: 0-6 months
Providing complete, well-rounded nutrition from birth
HiPP Dutch Stage 1 has long been one of the best known European formulas, and it’s something of a “gold standard” for organic, nutritionally-complete infant formula. HiPP Dutch is known for its great taste and easy-to-digest recipe, which makes it an excellent substitute or supplement for breast milk. It’s equally popular with exclusively formula-fed babies and those who are combination fed. Babies fed with HiPP Dutch Stage 1 often find it easy to transition to HiPP Dutch Stage 2, starting at the age of six months, and then HiPP Dutch Stage 3 after their first birthday.
The ingredients in HiPP Dutch are entirely GMO-free, meeting the European Union’s strict standards for organic agriculture. It’s also free from artificial preservatives. HiPP Dutch Stage 1 is free from gluten and soy, and does not contain any corn syrup, sucrose, maltodextrin, or starch.
Instead, the main ingredients are organic skim milk, organic lactose, organic whey, and organic vegetable oils. HiPP Dutch Stage 1 also contains a wide range of vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as DHA.
- Available in a large quantity (800g)
- Contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- Complete breast milk substitute
- Packaged in a tin that dents fairly easily
HiPP Dutch Stage 2
Age: 6-12 months
Supplementing breast milk with formula
For babies who started out on HiPP Dutch Stage 1, the natural progression after the age of six months is HiPP Dutch Stage 2. This great-tasting GMO-free formula is also an excellent choice for older babies who are transitioning to formula for the first time, or who are supplementing with formula. HiPP Dutch Stage 2 is free from corn syrup, sucrose, maltodextrin, and starch. It’s also free from soy, gluten and any form of synthetic ingredient.
HiPP Dutch Stage 2 is similar to the Stage 1 formula, but with age-adjusted quantities of essential nutrients, making it an ideal complement for babies who have started eating solid foods. This formula is made with a base of organic skim milk, organic lactose, organic vegetable oils, and organic whey. In addition to essential vitamins and minerals, HiPP Dutch Stage 2 contains the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and ALA and the omega-6 fatty acid ARA, so that older babies can stay on track with the development of a healthy brain and nervous system. Prebiotics and probiotics round out the ingredients list and promote a healthy digestive tract and immune system.
- Has both prebiotics (galacto-oligosaccharides) and probiotics (Lactobacillus)
- Organic lactose is the main carbohydrate source
- More expensive than HiPP UK Stage 2
Kendamil Organic Stage 1
Age: 0-6 months
Kendamil Organic Stage 1 formula is one of the most trusted and wholesome European formulas on the market. It is appropriate from birth onwards and uses a whole-milk-based recipe, which is scientifically proven to be superior for infants’ gut comfort and stool consistency.
This British family company is incredibly passionate about the quality and care of their formulas, all the way to getting milk from happy cows! Kendamil works directly with farmers week to week and day to day taking all seasons and factors into account regarding the raw milk they use. And by using the full cream of the milk, Kendamil Stage 1 provides a more natural fat source of Milk Fat Globule Membrane (or MFGM), as identified in breast milk and shown to improve infants’ cognitive development. An added plus is that Stage 1 has a whey/casein ratio of 60/40.
As EU Certified Organic, Kendamil Stage 1 is packed full of essential vitamins and minerals. It contains all the necessary fatty acids - ALA, LA, ARA, and plant-based DHA, which are needed for growth and especially brain/eye development. Kendamil also contains prebiotic and is the first-ever European organic infant formula to contain Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) as a part of the prebiotic source. HMOs in breast milk play a large part in the development of a healthy gut microbiome, which in turn has been shown to reduce the risk of infection and allergy as well as support brain development. Additionally, this unique formula uses marine algae instead of fish oil, which makes it suitable for families on a vegetarian diet and is GMO-free.
- Available in a large quantity (800g)
- Uses the full cream of the milk
- Free of palm oil
- Contains HMOs
- Vegetarian friendly
- More expensive than Holle PRE.
Kendamil Organic Stage 2
Age: 6-12 months
Kendamil Organic Stage 2 provides the same nutrient-dense ingredients of Kendamil Organic Stage 1 and Stage 3.
This formula also uses the full cream of the milk from happy cows, providing the same Milk Fat Globule Membrane (or MFGM) that is found in breast milk. Just like Stage 1, Stage 2 is made without palm oil or soy, and contains plant-based DHA and HMOs to continue to build up your little one’s immune system. Additionally, this unique formula uses marine algae instead of fish oil, which makes it suitable for families on a vegetarian diet and includes all the essentials such as vitamins C, A, D, and nutrients like zinc in addition to prebiotics, ARA, and plant-based DHA.
The main difference between Stage 1 and Stage 2 is the whey/casein ratio, which changes from 60/40 to 40/60. This gradual change is designed to reflect the natural changes in breast milk and helps prepare your little one for weaning. Stage 2 milk also contains higher lactose and less fat. There is also coconut oil added, which helps make pooping easier for babies.
- Available in a large quantity (800g)
- Uses the full cream of the milk
- Free of palm oil
- Contains HMOs
- Vegetarian friendly
- More expensive than HiPP Stage 2.
Holle Goat Stage 1
Age: 0-6 months
Minimally-processed alternative to cow’s milk formula
Holle Goat Stage 1 is an increasingly popular choice for babies up to six months of age, especially those who have difficulty tolerating cow’s milk formula. Rather than resorting to a heavily processed formula, Holle Goat offers an alternative made with natural ingredients such as whole organic goat’s milk, organic lactose, organic maltodextrin, and a blend of organic vegetable oils. Notably, the latest recipe for Holle Goat is entirely free from palm oil. It’s also one of the few baby formulas to be vegetarian friendly, even with the recent addition of DHA. Although the DHA in Holle’s cow’s milk formula is derived from fish oil, the DHA in Holle Goat comes from algae oil.
Babies benefit from the fact that goat’s milk is easier to digest than cow’s milk, and does not contain the A1 beta-casein protein, which is responsible for many adverse reactions to cow’s milk. Babies who enjoy Holle Goat Stage 1 frequently continue to benefit from the goodness of goat’s milk by transitioning to the Stage 2 formula after six months and the Stage 3 formula after ten months.
For babies with a cow’s milk protein allergy (not just sensitivity), a hypoallergenic formula such as HiPP HA Stage 1 may be less likely to result in an allergic reaction. In all cases when you suspect that your baby has a feeding issue, it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician before switching formulas.
- One of the few entirely vegetarian formulas
- Starch and palm oil free
- May be less allergenic than cow’s milk formula
- Has a small amount of maltodextrin
- No Bioland or Demeter certification
Holle Goat Stage 2
Age: 6-12 months
Babies who experience constipation and gas caused by cow’s milk formula
Holle Goat Stage 2 is a fantastic option for older babies who have shown symptoms of cow’s milk protein sensitivity. With its high-quality, sustainably-sourced ingredients, it’s also a great formula for any baby over the age of six months. Holle Goat Stage 2 works great on its own or in combination with breast milk.
Holle Goat Stage 2 is made with whole organic goat’s milk, as well as organic lactose, starch, maltodextrin, and a blend of organic vegetable oils. Like all Holle formulas, Holle Goat Stage 2 is entirely organic, without any GMO ingredients, corn syrup, sucrose, soy, gluten, chemicals, or synthetic additives. And just like Stage 1, this formula is palm oil-free and entirely vegetarian, since the DHA in Holle Goat Stage 2 is derived from algae oil.
For babies with a cow’s milk protein allergy (not just sensitivity), a hypoallergenic formula such as HiPP HA Stage 2 may be less likely to result in an allergic reaction. In all cases when you suspect that your baby has a feeding issue, it’s a good idea to consult with your pediatrician before switching formulas.
- One of the few Holle formulas with lactose, starch, and maltodextrin
- DHA comes from a vegan source
- Does not contain palm oil
- More expensive than cow’s milk formulas
- Goat’s milk isn’t Demeter certified
HiPP UK Stage 1
Age: 0-6 months
Affordability while still offering complete nutrition
HiPP UK Stage 1 is one of the best value organic formulas from Europe. It contains the same fantastic ingredients as HiPP Dutch Stage 1, with the sole exception of probiotics. HiPP UK Stage 1 is ideal for infants from birth to six months, either as a sole source of nutrition or in combination with breast milk.
HiPP UK Stage 1 is made with organic skim milk, organic whey powder, and organic vegetable oils, providing all of the essential nutrients for a baby’s earliest months. It’s also full of vitamins, minerals, DHA, ARA, and prebiotics in the form of galacto-oligosaccharides, to boost the immune system and strengthen the gut microbiome. Like all HiPP formulas, HiPP UK is GMO free, and you won’t find corn syrup, soy, starch, refined sugar, and preservatives in the formula.
- Best value organic European formula
- Has prebiotic fibers (galacto-oligosaccharides)
- Starch, gluten and soy free
- Lacks probiotics
HiPP UK Stage 2
Age: 6-12 months
Babies who have started experimenting with solid foods
HiPP UK Stage 2 is an ideal next step for babies six months and older who previously enjoyed HiPP UK Stage 1. It’s also a great formula for babies transitioning from breast milk for the first time, as it contains delicious organic ingredients such as organic skim milk, organic lactose, and organic whey.
HiPP UK Stage 2 is a great choice for parents looking for a soy-free formula. It doesn’t contain maltodextrin or starch, just organic lactose. Packed with essential vitamins, minerals, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and prebiotics, it’s an excellent source of nutrition for older babies, including those whose diets now include some solid foods. It’s simple to transition to HiPP UK Stage 3 from this formula, after babies celebrate their first birthday.
- Similar recipe to HiPP Dutch Stage 2 but less expensive
- Great complement to a baby’s growing solid food diet
- Doesn’t contain probiotics
HiPP HA Germany Hypoallergenic Stage 1
Age: 0-6 months
Newborns and infants with symptoms of milk protein sensitivity
HiPP HA Stage 1 is a specialty formula for babies who display symptoms of sensitivity to the proteins in cow’s milk formula. In HiPP HA, the proteins have been broken down into smaller portions, so they are significantly easier for babies to digest. The proteins are all whey proteins, no casein is present. These two combined features can potentially alleviate symptoms such as skin rash, eczema, bloating, constipation, and gassiness. Although hypoallergenic formulas are not the nicest in terms of taste, parents agree that babies transition to HiPP HA relatively easily and many actually enjoy the taste, which has been formulated to resemble breast milk as much as possible.
HiPP HA Stage 1 features organic starch to help thicken the hydrolyzed formula, as well as organic lactose, an organic vegetable oil blend, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and both prebiotics and probiotics. You’ll find essential vitamins and minerals, but never any soy, corn syrup, gluten, or synthetic nutrients or preservatives. HiPP HA is also available in a starch-free form, HiPP HA Stage PRE, which may be easier for some babies to digest.
HiPP HA Stage 1 is not a medical treatment, so if your baby is demonstrating symptoms of milk protein allergy, we recommend seeing your pediatrician before switching formulas.
- Hydrolyzed proteins
- Contains exclusively whey (no casein)
- Thickened with organic starch
- More heavily processed than other HiPP formulas
- Tastes less like breast milk than formulas with intact proteins
HiPP HA Germany Hypoallergenic Stage 2
Age: 6-12 months
Older babies who need easy-to-digest milk proteins
Made with the same wonderful ingredients as HiPP HA Stage 1, the follow-on formula is designed for babies six months and older who display symptoms of milk protein sensitivity. HiPP HA Stage 2 contains organic skim milk, organic lactose, organic vegetable oils, and whey protein hydrolysate for easier digestion.
To help boost the immune system and gut microbiome, both prebiotics and probiotics are included, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. It’s free from soy, corn syrup, GMO ingredients, and synthetic nutrients and preservatives. HiPP HA Stage 2 does contain some organic starch, to help thicken the formula and make it more similar to breast milk.
HiPP HA Stage 2 is not a medical treatment, so if your baby is demonstrating symptoms of milk protein allergy, we recommend seeing your pediatrician before switching formulas.
- Easy transition for babies fed with HiPP HA Stage 1
- Contains prebiotics and probiotics
- Can’t be certified organic due to hydrolyzed proteins
Hopefully, this guide has given you some food for thought about what sets organic formula, particularly organic formula from Europe, apart from conventional formula. As you know, the best thing you can do as a parent is to keep your little one fed, happy, and healthy. We have some useful recommendations on our blog section for choosing the right formula for your baby ages 0-6 months and 6-12 months. We also share about making the decision on whether to give Stage 3 formula for your children 12+ months instead of milk.
Although there is no “perfect” formula, there are certain formulas that can help set your baby up for the best possible start in life. Clean, nutritious, and organic formulas like HiPP, Holle, and Lebenswert have been enjoyed by countless babies in Europe, the United States, and around the world, and have helped them to grow up happy, healthy, and thriving.
Still unsure of which formula to try?
Have a chat with one of Little Bundle’s Infant Nutrition Technicians. Every member of Little Bundle’s customer success team has earned a certification in infant nutrition and will be happy to help you choose the organic formula that best meets your baby’s needs. Send a live chat or message, it’s their top priority to help you provide the best nutrition for your little one.