Choosing the Right Formula for Your Baby
We know that choosing a formula for your baby can be stressful-- we’re here to make it easier.
Before we start, it’s important to remember that there is no “best” formula. What works for one baby may not work for others, and that’s completely fine! If your little one is fed, loved, and happy, then you’ve made the best choice for your baby.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here is our go-to formula (pun intended!) for choosing between the many products on the market:
Evaluate what is important to you + identify your baby’s unique needs = Decide and try
Let’s break it down!
What is important to you when buying a baby formula?
Our customers typically identify a few priorities as they’re considering formulas. These include:
A formula’s ingredients and its similarity to breast milk
Production quality, including organic certifications
Availability from a trusted source
Here’s the rundown:
Ingredients and similarity to breast milk - Although no formula can fully replicate the immune system-boosting properties of breast milk, the ingredients in European formulas are designed to approximate the nutritional goodness of nursing as much as possible. They do this in two ways:
European formulas mimic the complex blend of proteins, fats, carbs, vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients found in breastmilk, and they use the same carbohydrate source-- lactose. If you’re looking for a formula that is similar to breast milk, you’ll want to avoid those that contain sucrose or corn syrup (which are often found in commercially-produced American formulas).
European formulas are offered in stages that replicate the changing composition of breast milk over time. The later stages of European formulas (Stage 2 and Stage 3) are designed to complement the diets of babies who have begun eating solid foods, just as the nutritional profile of breast milk adapts to nourish older babies.
If you want a formula that is highly similar to breast milk, a European formula is the way to go.
Production quality and Organic Certifications - The treatment and diet of an animal affect the quality of the milk it produces. We are what we eat, and as such, we want to shield our infants from unnecessary additives, pesticides, and fillers. European formulas have the highest production quality you can get in a formula-- most of them are certified organic by the European Commission! If having the very highest quality formula available is important to you, we recommend Kendamil Organic, which is EU certified organic. Keeping the farms’ Jersey cows happy is one of Kendamil’s passions -- just ask their founder, Ross McMahon. As Ross will tell you, stressed animals mean the product tastes different. In his experience, free-range animals are stress-free and produce fresh milk rich in omega 3 with a delicious sweet taste.
Some of the other brands we suggest are Holle Bio PRE, which comes from cows on a Demeter Certified farm, or Lebenswert Stage 1 Organic, which is Bioland Certified. These organizations prioritize the very highest standards in processing and production. Demeter is the top certification for biodynamic farms, requiring annual renewal, biodiversity and ecosystem preservation, no GMOs, and more.
Availability and Sourcing - For some parents, being able to pop into the grocery store to grab formula when needed is hugely important. For others, the convenience of having formula delivered directly to their doorstep is paramount. As we have seen recently with the COVID19 pandemic, relying on local stores to have enough inventory can feel risky. Purchasing your formula from a trusted retailer that has an existing supply chain for exclusively online and bulk orders can both ensure availability and lower the price per ounce. We recommend Little Bundle for online ordering; shipping is always free with a purchase of $50 or more.
Cost - We know formula feeding is expensive, and many parents express concern about the price associated with European formulas. The chart below compares the cost of European formulas to regular and specialty American-produced formulas. As you can see, the cost per fluid ounce is similar (or less in some cases!), and at most amounts to an extra $3-$4/day. By buying in bulk through Little Bundle, this cost can be reduced even further.
Your Baby’s Unique Needs
Once you’ve decided on what’s important to you, it’s time to evaluate what your baby needs. Remember, every baby’s feeding journey is unique and what worked for your friend, neighbor, sister-in-law, or even your first baby may not work for this one! Here are our recommendations:
Holle formulas do not contain any prebiotics or probiotics. This is fine for babies who are also getting breast milk as it naturally contains prebiotics and probiotics.
All HiPP formulas contain prebiotics and most contain probiotics (with the exception of HiPP UK and HiPP Dutch Stage 3). HiPP formulas offer complete nutrition which is recommended for exclusively formula feeding.
Kendamil Organic is the first-ever European organic infant formula to contain Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) as a part of the prebiotic source. In addition, 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.
Does your baby have a cow’s milk sensitivity? Try Holle’s goat’s milk-based formulas.
Does your baby need a hypoallergenic formula? We recommend HiPP HA Hypoallergenic PRE, a hydrolyzed formula for babies with milk protein intolerance, which exclusively uses lactose and has no corn derived carbohydrates like its American equivalent.
Does your baby suffer from reflux? HiPP AR Anti-Reflux is a good choice as it is thickened with locust bean gum that’s designed to minimize the amount of milk that comes back up the esophagus as a symptom of reflux.
Does your baby have gas or digestive discomfort? Try HiPP Comfort. It is a hydrolyzed formula with reduced lactose.
Are you looking for a vegetarian-friendly formula option? Try Kendamil. Kendamil formulas are made without soy oil or palm oil and contain plant-based DHA derived from algal oil instead of fish oil. Along with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), algal oil also contains omega-9 fatty acids and by being plant-derived, Kendamil formulas are suitable for families on a vegetarian diet.
And finally, are you looking for a well-rounded formula with simple ingredients for a baby who doesn’t have any of these particular feeding needs? Try Lebenswert. It is gluten-free, Bioland Certified, and Stage 1 doesn’t include maltodextrin or starch.
If you’re not sure and want an in-depth look at each of these formulas, be sure to check out the Best Organic Formulas Buyer’s Guide before you continue!
Decide and Try
The best method for finding the right formula is to consider the questions above, make an informed decision, purchase a box or two and try it with your baby for fourteen days. Yes, it can take two whole weeks for your baby’s digestive system to adjust to a new formula! We suggest purchasing a small amount of formula to start in case your baby doesn’t take to it well.
While we hope you find the right formula for your baby the first time around, Little Bundle offers support if you need to make a switch! Our team of Product Specialists will personally work with you to select a new formula and issue a store credit for you to try it. Now that’s a Satisfaction Guarantee!
The first few months after a baby’s birth are incredible...but there is also a period of significant adjustment for both parents and infants. Babies are learning and experiencing countless new things and sometimes learning to eat can be challenging. Their digestive systems are new and have never been asked to process food this way! Remember that fussiness, colic, and gas are common among babies, especially those under three months. These symptoms do not necessarily mean you should change up the baby’s formula.
Often, it just means your baby is learning and adjusting to an entirely new way of feeding: by mouth!
Still don’t know which formula to choose?
Our team of Certified Infant Nutrition Technicians will work with you to determine the formula that best meets your baby’s needs. We love to talk with moms about the amazing products we offer. We’re moms and caregivers too! You can reach us on our live chat, contact us here or shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org . We can’t wait to help!