The American Academy of Pediatrics emphasizes that “breast is best” for the first 6 months of your baby’s life, but sometimes breastfeeding just isn’t an option. Maybe you have to return to work right away and find it difficult to maintain your supply, even though federal laws mandate that breastfeeding mothers can pump milk in privacy at their place of employment. Perhaps medical reasons - either your own or your little one’s - affected your ability to nurse your baby. There’s even the possibility that you just don’t want to breastfeed - and hey, we aren’t here to judge.
Here’s the deal:
It’s nobody’s business if you decide to feed your baby formula, whether your tiny tot receives bottles filled with formula during every feeding or you use it occasionally to supplement breast milk. 1 in 5 mothers skip breastfeeding their kiddos from day one, and nearly 82% of breastfeeding moms admit they supplement breastmilk with formula or other food sources by the time their babies turn 6 months old.
It gets better:
The Week columnist Elissa Strauss credits formula feeding as the reason her husband is a good father who helps split parenting duties. Huffington Post blogger David Valdes Greenwood happily reports that his formula-fed daughter has evolved into an intelligent, energetic preteen. Not only that, but discover other benefits of bottle feeding your babes in this articles posted by The Stay at Home Mommy. We love that it references how moms get a well-deserved break with formula feeding because other family members can help out.
You might be wondering:
Which formula is best for my baby? Do those fancy-schmancy formula labels live up to their promises?
At Faveable, we understand that choosing the perfect formula for your little one involves thorough research - which we’ve happily done for you! We spent hours upon hours testing products, evaluating information from medical professionals, and talking to parents just like you. We focused specifically a few important factors to help you decide which baby formula to buy, including type, ingredients, ease of use, and price.
What’s the bottom line?
Every baby is different. The product your neighbor or BFF swears is the best baby formula might not be the right choice for your little one, which is why we’ve worked hard to give you accurate, detailed info on several different formula options below. We’re confident you’ll find one that your baby loves.
Okay, let’s dive right in and discuss the best baby formulas!
BPA-free bottles and non-GMO ingredients limit your little one’s exposure to unwanted chemicals and potential toxins. Compact, lightweight bottles fit easily into purses, diaper bags, or backpacks.
Parents complain that the formula smells terrible (although their kiddos don’t seem to mind). These bottles typically cost more than powdered versions of the same formula.
Type: Similac Advance Non-GMO infant formula comes in powdered form and bottles, but we’re focusing on the bottles for our “Best Formula for Newborns” award. Ready-made bottles are a game-changer for sleep-deprived parents who want to feed their newborn as quickly and easily as possible.
Ingredients: Similac Advance Non-GMO formula is a dairy-based baby formula, so it contains nonfat milk, lactose, and whey protein concentrate. Additionally, all of the ingredients in this formula are gluten free. Parents praise the special OptiGRO blend, which includes DHA and other ingredients traditionally found in breast milk.
Ease of Use: This is hands-down the easiest baby formula option on our list. We at Faveable have first-hand experience with how convenient these premade bottles are and we love how easy it is to toss them in your diaper bag or purse. They’re also great if you want to make life easier on a babysitter or grandparent who watches your child for a few hours.
Price: It costs around $40 for 48 of these 2-ounce bottles, which is definitely pricier than some of the other options on our list. However, you don’t have to buy separate bottles, water filters, or jugs of water to prepare a meal for your baby since this Similac newborn formula comes in ready-to-use containers.
A doctor-recommended, clinically acclaimed formula that helps ease the misery associated with colic caused by a dairy intolerance. Can be used from birth to 12 months, so you don’t have to deal with switching your baby to a different formula until toddlerhood.
This pricey formula is not organic and may contain GMOs. Some parents say it also has a funky odor.
Type: Nutramigen is available as a powder or liquid. The powder comes in a resealable canister with a pop-off lid.
Ingredients: Like most baby formulas, Nutramigen gets a hint of sweetness from corn syrup solids. We love that the formula contains hypoallergenic proteins that are easily digested by sensitive tummies, as well as the probiotic LGG. Unfortunately, the ingredients aren’t organic, but they do get the job done if you’re looking for a formula that provides colic relief.
Ease of Use: Like most formulas, it’s super simple to prepare a bottle of Nutramigen Enflora LGG. You can use the scoop inside of the container to measure out serving sizes, but you might want to try a digital scale instead so you can make sure you’re creating the perfect water-powder ratio for your colicky little one.
Price: At $1.84 per ounce, this is the priciest baby formula on our list. In fact, it costs more than twice as much as Earth’s Best formula. Luckily, parents say the high price is justified - and we agree. Especially since this formula may qualify for insurance reimbursement or a tax writeoff if you get a note from your baby's pediatrician.
Gerber is a trusted brand that has been part of the baby industry for nearly 100 years (remember the Gerber baby?). Gerber Good Start Soothe formula lives up to its name, relieving the aching bellies and fussy dispositions of colicky little ones.
A small number of parents (less than 5%) say this formula causes constipation and/or makes their babies spit up more than other brands.
Type: Gerber Good Start Soothe comes in a container similar to the ones used by Similac and Enfamil. The 22.2-ounce size has a resealable lid that does not pop off like the canisters used for Earth’s Best and Baby’s Only formula. Personally, we at Faveable prefer the lid used for Gerber Good Start Soothe because it’s harder for curious toddlers to open (but don't get too excited - they can still do it).
Ingredients: We love the combination of gentle non-GMO ingredients in Gerber Good Start Soothe because they’re backed by clinical evidence. This dairy-milk formula contains L. reuteri, a probiotic clinically shown to reduce a colicky baby’s crying time by as much as 50%. We’re definitely on board with that.
Ease of Use: The prep process for this formula is pretty standard: Add water to the powder, shake or mix it gently, and give it to your baby.
Price: For around $23, you can get 22.2 ounces of Gerber Good Start Soothe. That averages out to around $1.04 per ounce, which is higher than Earth’s Best formula but still cheaper than popular varieties of Similac and Enfamil formula.
Baby’s Only organic soy formula is one of the only baby formulas available in the United States that does not contain corn syrup solids. The company sweetens the formula with brown rice syrup instead, which is generally considered a healthier carbohydrate than corn syrup or maltodextrin.
The company markets the formula for children ages 12 months and older because it believes moms should breastfeed exclusively for the first year, but the product still meets the FDA formula standards required for younger babies.
Type: Baby’s Only organic soy formula is a powdered substance that comes in a resealable container with a plastic lid.
Ingredients: We almost gave this formula the “Best Organic Formula” award instead of dubbing it the “Best Allergy-Friendly Baby Formula.” All but 5% of its ingredients are organic, and this is pretty much the only baby formula we found that doesn’t contain corn. Rather than lactose or nonfat milk, organic soy protein is one of the primary ingredients in this allergy-friendly, non-gmo blend.
Ease of Use: Like other powdered formulas on this list, Baby’s Only organic soy formula comes with a scoop for easy measuring. However, some parents say that they prefer to measure the formula with a scale rather than relying on the scoop.
Price: A 12.7-ounce container costs around $10, which breaks down to about $0.75 per ounce. Making this formula one of the cheapest options on our list!
Numerous moms and dads rave that Earth’s Best organic baby formula mimics the nutrients found in breastmilk. Formula is produced using ingredients that are free of antibiotics, pesticides, and growth hormones.
A few parents warn that the iron in the formula causes constipation in babies who already have trouble pooping.
Type: Earth’s Best organic formula with iron comes in powdered form. The powder is in a resealable canister with a pop-off lid.
Ingredients: Earth’s Best uses organic, non-GMO ingredients that aren’t contaminated by scary substances like pesticides or steroids. This kosher formula boasts a whey/casein ratio that’s nearly identical to breastmilk, and it has twice as much DHA (a nutrient that helps the brain develop) as other organic baby formulas from different brands.
Ease of Use: This formula comes with a handy scoop, which is great news for parents who don’t want to fumble around looking for measuring cups or spoons during feedings. If you’re prepping formula in advance or have multiple mouths to feed, combine 32 ounces of water with 16 scoops of powder to make one quart of formula.
Price: You can buy 23.2 ounces of Earth’s Best organic baby formula with iron for around $24, which works out to approximately $1.04 per ounce. Not too shabby!
A basic formula that works well for various ages and dietary needs. Contains simple ingredients that are gentle on your little one’s digestive tract. What more could you ask for?
May contain genetically modified ingredients. Not an organic formula.
Type: This Enfamil formula comes in powder-filled canisters, ready-to-eat bottles, and concentrated liquid blends that require water. We decided to focus on these refill pouches because they’re cheaper than all of Enfamil’s other options for this variety. However, it’s nice to have options, so we’re psyched that Enfamil offers so many different types of the same formula.
Ingredients: Enfamil is phasing out genetically modified ingredients in many of its formulas, but at the moment, this regular infant formula may still contain GMOs. Aside from that, we’re a fan of the ingredients - in particular, the innovative Neuro Complete blend that helps strengthen your tiny tot’s cognitive skills with a brain-friendly combo of DHA and choline.
Ease of Use: We’re not going to lie to you: these refillable pouches are slightly messier than the regular canisters of Enfamil. We recommend transferring each pouch to an empty Enfamil canister (which is what the pouches are designed for) or some sort of similar container to prevent powder from getting all over your counter when you make a bottle. The refill package does include a scoop, so don’t panic if you tossed one in the recycle bin with an empty canister.
Price: At $1.11 per ounce, these refill pouches fall in the middle of the price range for the infant formulas on our list. Remember, refill pouches are typically cheaper than regular canisters of Enfamil, so save your empty containers and stock up on refills. To make live easier, you can stick one pouch in an empty canister you may have lying around at home and keep the other in your diaper bag or at daycare - we at Faveable can give you some first-hand advice that this is a good way to save from shelling out money for a brand new canister.