Let's Talk About The Best Baby Formulas, Because People Have A Lot Of Opinions (Nobody Is Wrong, FYI)

by Jenny Altman
Originally Published: 
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Few things in life are as thought-consuming and agonizing for new parents as choosing the right baby formula. This is one of those decisions you didn’t give a crap about pre-baby, and now, it’s everything. Just like choosing from the best diapers and safest foldable cribs, these now monumental decisions can overwhelm any first-time parent as much as parents entering baby-land for a 2nd, 3rd, or 4th (you get it) time.

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We spoke to pediatrician, Alice Merkrebs, M.D. (aka, Dr. Alice) about all the brands and all the confusion. She reassured us that, “there is not much that you can do to harm a child if you use common sense.” Deep breath. (We didn’t get the baby-guide at the hospital either.)

There seem to be two camps when it comes to deciphering this baby formula thing. Most moms (Camp A), look to buy formula that’s reputable and easily available. There are the usual brands like Similac and Enfamil, plus newer, organic brands like Earth’s Best and Happy Baby. These moms study the packaging and match all of the key features to fit their BB’s needs. Over in Camp B, however, are a newer generation of moms who spend time in mommy chat-rooms, listening to all the latest talk about impressive European brands. These brands are in high demand right now being that we see them as meeting a higher standard (more clean, less ingredients, etc). The problem is that these are pricey and hard to find. This leaves many moms routinely shipping formula over from Europe (sometimes on the black market). That said, there is a brand-new formula option called Bobbie that’s European-style but made in the US (see below).

It’s a lot to digest (or drink) so we’ve put together a list of our favorite, mom-approved formulas that you can feel good about. There’s a lot of choices, and you may have to try a few brands/formulations to find the best match for your baby—but you’ll get there.

Best Formula for Breastfed Babies:

Dr. Alice doesn’t get caught up in the hype when it comes to choosing a brand to supplement/replace breastmilk. She says, “I don’t think there is a definitive answer to best formula to replicate breast milk. Breast milk is breast milk. Each mom makes her own brand.” When it comes to choosing formula, “One company may tweak something in their formula and market it with a headline closest to breast milk or excellent for brain function. The formulas really are the same.”

Best Organic Baby Formula:

Dr. Alice says choosing organic vs non-organic is an entirely “personal choice.” She says we should, “take into consideration the increased cost for these formulas. Baby formula and baby foods have strong guidelines and specifications for what can or cannot be used in them.” That speaks to non-organic as much as organic.

Best Baby Formula for Gas, Constipation & Sensitivity Issues:

Dr. Alice says finding the best formula can be “trial and error” when it comes to gas and constipation. She points out that “how one holds a bottle/the baby during feeding is important.” Knowing the “proper technique for feeding helps, as well as frequent burping.”

Best European Brand Baby Formula:

Dr. Alice reminds us that although she knows Germany’s brand seems to be the forerunner at the moment, “we have many different specialty formulas here (you can now get a goat’s milk in powder form here at home).” When asked if the Euro brands are better, she said, “The thing is—do we hear (or truly investigate) past the hype?” Hmmm….valid point.

Best Formula For Toddlers

We get it: Sometimes toddlers need a boost, too. Maybe they’re finicky eaters or food allergies or sensitivities prevent them from eating a fully balanced diet. For that, you’ll want a toddler-specific formula to round things out.


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