There’s long been debate about whether or not to use baby formula. If a new mama can establish a breastfeeding relationship that works for her and her sweetie, wonderful! But if that’s not the case, it’s necessary to nourish your baby with formula, whether you’re supplementing breastfeeding or replacing it altogether.
While it’s the norm in some cultures to reach for cow’s milk to feed a new baby, there are a lot of essential nutrients in breast milk that cow’s milk doesn’t contain — ones that are crucial for your growing baby. The proteins in breast milk, as well as calcium, iron, and other fats, are easier for babies to digest compared to those in cow’s milk, and many companies are finding ways to mimic the nutrients found in breast milk in their baby formulas.
If you’re deciding to go the formula route, you’re not alone — millions are making the same choice. It turns out, millennial moms are choosing formula over breastfeeding as it is more convenient for them when working outside of the home and allows parents to share the feeding responsibility. No matter your reason for choosing to feed your baby formula, there are plenty of options out there.
Best Baby Formulas
- Best Newborn Formula: Gerber Good Start Soothe Non-GMO Formula
- Best First Year Powder: Similac Advance Non-GMO Baby Formula
- Best Organic Formula: Earth’s Best Organic Baby Powder Formula
- Best Non-Dairy Formula: Enfamil Soy Baby Formula
- Best Toddler Formula: Happy Tot Grow and Shine Toddler Formula
- Best Innovative Formula: Enfamil Enspire Baby Formula
- Best Supplementing Formula: Similac for Supplementation Formula
- Best CMPA Formula: Gerber Extensive HA Hypoallergenic Powder
- Best Ready-to-Use Formula: Enfamil Neuropro Gentlease Ready To Feed Baby Formula
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN FORMULA
Of course, you’ll choose a formula depending on your baby’s age and specific needs, but there are a few things to know first. Typically, new parents choose a milk-based powder formula to either feed their little one full-time or supplement breastfeeding. It’s worth noting that it’s common for baby formula to contain corn and soy derivatives, and more than 90% of those crops in America are grown from genetically altered seeds — meaning they contain GMOs. While there are variations of milk-based powder formulas, the majority of our top picks here are non-GMO. Plus, our top picks include treated formulas, so the proteins are extra easy to digest for your little one.
No matter the route you want to go, it’s always important to chat with your pediatrician or WIC counselorto determine the best plan for your baby.
TYPES OF FORMULA
To help you decide on the best route to take in terms of baby formula, we put together a guide of the best formula options. Full of feel-good ingredients, and now closer to breast milk than ever before, you’ll be confident feeding your baby any of these infant and toddler formulas.
Best Newborn Formula
Created to mimic the nutritious benefits of mom’s breastmilk, the Gerber Good Start Soothe keeps colic and gas pains at bay for your little one’s sensitive tummy. The pre- and probiotics encourage good bacteria in your sweetie’s belly for painless poops. This hypoallergenic blend contains small, easy-to-digest proteins and probiotics that promise to cut your baby’s excessive crying bouts in half by reducing colic and gas, symptoms that could be causing your baby physical distress. Plus, all Gerber Good Start formulas are now non-GMO as well.
Best First-Year Powder
Similac Advance is the top baby formula brand in the United States, and last year, it became the first to market a non-GMO version of its best-selling infant formula! The powder is packed with OptiGRO, a blend of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E to support your healthy, growing baby.
Best Organic formula
This infant powder is a perfect pick for the first year. It includes ingredients for brain and eye health, plus overall growth and immunity support. Aside from its organic formula, it’s also offered as an organic formula specifically for babies with low lactose sensitivities.
Best Nondairy Formula
Some babies are born with a dairy allergy. If you have a baby who is happier staying away from milk-based formula, give this soy-based formula by Enfamil a go. While you won’t find any lactose in this formula, you will find an abundance of nutrition that’ll nourish your baby’s brain and body. It contains plant-based protein, so it’s the perfect formula to bring home for kosher families, too.
Best Toddler Formula
This non-GMO formula, specifically created for growing toddlers, is packed with nutrition to support growth and development. It’s also loaded with elements that protect and strengthen your little one’s immune system. Plus, the DHA and ARA will fully support healthy development of your child’s brain.
Best Innovative Formula
It’s not a perfect match, but the addition of milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) and lactoferrin — two nutrients naturally found in breast milk that support brain development, gut health, and the immune system — help make Enspire the closest formula to breast milk. That means that infants on Enspire will pretty much reap the same nutritional benefits as breastfed babies.
Best for Breastfed Babies
This gentle, non-GMO formula by Similac is ideal for the babies who get the majority of their nourishment from mama, but could benefit from a little supplementation between feedings. It contains vitamins and minerals essential for your baby’s healthy growth, including an extra dose of macros like protein, carbs, and fat.
You’ll also appreciate the probiotics in this formula, which will keep your little one’s diapers looking consistent when switching between mama’s liquid gold and formula. With this formula on hand, moms can pump and dump without worries if it isn’t convenient to store the breast milk that can’t be directly fed to baby.
Best for CMPA Babies
If your little sunshine is allergic to cow’s milk, hunting around for a trusted formula can be frustrating. Make things easier and order this hypoallergenic powder from Gerber. It’s the perfect pick for babies with CMPA (cow’s milk protein allergy). The formula is made with whey, but babies can easily tolerate it and enjoy it. Plus, the formula includes ingredients that support your baby’s gut flora.
Best Ready-to-Use Formula
This formula includes partially broken-down proteins, which means your baby’s tummy will have to do less work. It’s perfect for on-the-go use when your little one is under the stress of traveling or sleeping in a new environment! It’s so easy to toss one (or two!) of these in the diaper bag on the way out of the house, too.