Not all moms are capable of breastfeeding. Some may have a medical condition that prevents them, or their busy schedules are limiting them in having nursing sessions. However, we know that you still want to provide the best nutrition for your baby. Breast milk is the gold standard, and that is why you would want your formula to be as close to it as possible.
And by close, you want the formula to provide the same nutrition for your baby’s health and development. But let’s say you’ve heard the horror stories of weird-looking formulas that have controversial ingredients and it’s preventing you from buying one. Don’t worry because we’ve gathered the best baby formulas that are similar to breast milk in different facets.
We also wrote a buyer’s guide to help you further in choosing the closest formula to breast milk. In there, you will find different factors that you can remember when comparing different products. So what are you waiting for? Scroll this page down, and let us help you provide your baby with nothing but the best!
Best Formula Closest to Breast Milk Comparison Table
|Enfamil Enspire||102.5||0 to 12||Lactoferrin, DHA, iron, and probiotics|
|Enfamil NeuroPro||31.4||0 to 12||MFGM, DHA, and probiotics|
|Similac Sensitive||34.9||0 to 12||DHA, lutein, and vitamin E|
|Earth's Best Organic||35||0 to 12||Iron, lutein, DHA, and probiotics|
|Gerber Good Start Gentle||32||0 to 12||Probiotics, DHA, iron, and easy-to-digest proteins|
|Happy Baby Organic||21||0 to 12||Prebiotics, DHA, iron, folic acid, choline, vitamin D, and calcium|
|Similac Pro-Advance||23.2||0 to 12||HMO, lutein, DHA, and vitamin E|
|Enfamil PREMIUM||22.2||0 to 3||DHA and prebiotics|
|Gerber Good Start Soothe||19.4||0 to 12||Probiotics, DHA, HMO, and easy-to-digest proteins|
|Baby's Only LactoRelief||12.7||12 and up||DHA, and organic low lactose dairy|
Read also: Best Organic Baby Formula
Best Formula Closest to Breast Milk Reviews
Enfamil Enspire – Editor’s Choice
Our first two formulas in this list happen to also make it to our recommendations if you have a gassy baby. However, they are under the Gentlease range of Enfamil, which the brand targets for consumption of babies with sensitive tummies. Now, what we have here is the Enfamil Enspire. And right from the packaging, you know that this is the formula closest to breast milk by Enfamil among their other products.
What is Lactoferrin?
So what separates Enfamil Enspire from other baby formulas? This is our top pick because it contains lactoferrin and MFGM. You’ve probably heard of lactose before, but lactoferrin is a protein and not a sugar. You can naturally find this protein in colostrum and breast milk.
We all know how healthy colostrum is and its importance for immunity, and this is also similar to the function of lactoferrin. It helps in immune system support and intestinal health and development. In fact, studies have shown its significant impact on the gut microbiome of babies, which is related to immunity and healthy digestive system.
MFGM for Digestive and Brain Health
MFGM, or milk fat globule membrane, on the other hand, is a fat-protein blend that is important for the healthy functioning of brain and gut. If you’re giving formula to your baby, you want to make sure it is supportive brain health and development. Having MFGM adds to improved gut health in combination with lactoferrin, but studies also showed its effects on learning and memory.
DHA + Choline
And other than MFGM, Enspire also has DHA and choline. We’re sure that you’re already familiar with DHA because of its relation to the brain and eye development. DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid, is one of the trends in the production of baby formulas, and this is due to its role in brain development. Manufacturers have thought of supplementing this fatty acid to formulas to make their product more breast milk-like in terms of neural support. Not to mention, DHA also affects visual acuity, which feels like an added bonus.
Choline, on the one hand, is a nutrient required by the Institute of Medicine in 1998. It is not a vitamin or mineral, but it has a significant impact on brain development just like DHA. It also affects liver function, muscle movement, and metabolism. It’s impact on the nervous system is due to the fact that the neurotransmitter, acetylcholine, requires this nutrient. Therefore, it is essential for healthy basic functions.
Probiotics for Immunity
So far, we’ve talked about the digestive and mental health and development benefits of the nutrients that make up Enfamil Enspire. However, this formula also has probiotics that also helps for immunity. It’s impressive how the digestive health also affects the immune system, especially in babies. And probiotics strengthen the gut barrier against infections that can lead to hypersensitivity and inflammation.
Non-GMO and Easy to Mix
You might also appreciate that Enfamil Enspire is a non-GMO baby formula. This means that the ingredients and the production of this formula don’t make use of any genetically altered components.
Enfamil NeuroPro – Best for Brain Health
While our previous formula from Enfamil has a combination of choline and DHA for brain health, Enfamil also has a formula specifically for a healthy nervous system. It also has a lot of similarities with Enspire, if you have loved that formula.
For Brain Health
We included NeuroPro on this list because it has MFGM and DHA. As we have discussed on our review in Enspire, you can remember that these two components are naturally found in breast milk. We all want our babies to have a proper cognitive development, so we’re always on the hunt for formulas that can provide nutrients for that safely.
The Importance of MFGM
It is also worth noting that there are studies that showed breastfed babies have a higher intake of MFGM. And since MFGM is significant for cognitive development, supplementation of MFGM can help in narrowing the gap between the difference between breastfed and formula-fed babies.
At the same time, we want the ingredients as close to breast milk as possible, and NeuroPro is capable of that. And other than MFGM and DHA, NeuroPro also has choline, which we have praised earlier on.
Gentle and Non-Gmo
Like the previous Enfamil product, NeuroPro is also non-GMO. We think that most parents appreciate this feature, especially those that want their baby’s formula as natural as possible.
And what’s great with this product is that it also has a Gentlease version. This formula itself is already gentle, but if your baby is prone to stomach sensitivity, we recommend checking the Gentlease version out. Nonetheless, we’re seeing a trend among parents where their babies are not prone to getting gassy or constipated when they switched to NeuroPro.
Similac Sensitive – Best for Babies with Gas
Our next product is also another gentle formula. This time, we’re taking a look at Similac Sensitive. It is similar to some organic formulas because the cows where they source their milk is not treated with artificial growth hormones. However, Similac Sensitive has a separate labeled non-GMO version of this product if you want to make sure that the formula you’re getting is free from other genetically-altered ingredients.
For Mild Lactose Sensitivity
You’ll immediately notice at its orange packaging that Similac recommends this specific formula for fussiness and gas due to lactose sensitivity. Some babies are not able to process lactose, which is a sugar found in milk. This resulting lactose intolerance causes symptoms such as gassiness, diarrhea, and abdominal cramps.
Now, if you look at the ingredient list of Similac Sensitive, you’ll notice that it has a lot of corn syrup. This is typical for any formula that aims to reduce the amount of lactose because corn syrup makes up for the carbohydrate content.
Another ingredient that has helped in making this formula lactose sensitive-friendly is milk protein isolate. This is basically milk, except that its lactose content is removed to make it easier to digest. However, even though these characteristics are enticing, note that Similac Sensitive is much better for mild lactose sensitivity only. We still recommend that you talk to your pediatrician, especially if your little one has worse symptoms of fussiness and gas.
The Similarity with Breast Milk
Besides being gentle for lactose sensitive babies, Similac Sensitive is also worthy of being in this review because it has a striking similarity with breast milk. Specifically, it has 2’-FL HMO (Human Milk Oligosaccharide), and this prebiotic is something that you’ll naturally find in breast milk. In fact, it goes after fat and carbohydrates if we talk about which are the most abundant ingredients in breast milk.
What 2’-FL HMO does is that it helps in strengthening your baby’s immune system because it feeds the good bacteria in the gut. Because the gut is where 70% of the immune system resides, making sure that it is healthy will also protect your babies against illnesses from a weak immune system.
You might have also noticed the OptiGro logo on the container of this formula. This is what Similac collectively calls their blend of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E. At this point, you’re already familiar with how the DHA and lutein have a significant impact on brain health. While the effect of vitamin E on babies comes from the fact that it protects cells from damage, and this is important for growth, considering a baby is still developing.
Earth’s Best Organic – Best Formula That Tastes Closest to Breast Milk
If you are someone who wants to keep everything organic, you might appreciate this formula from Earth’s Best. This vibrant red formula is surely one of the most popular ones if we’re talking about organic options. It’s also a genuine organic formula because it has a certification from USDA.
Almost any brand can claim that they’re organic, so to put you at ease, make sure to look for certifications like this to prove its authenticity as an organic product. And as you can assume from it being organic, this product is also non-GMO, but what makes it worthy of being on this list?
More Lactose, Less Corn Syrup
Right off the bat, this variant is what Earth’s Best called their closest formula to breast milk. And compared to our previous product, this one has less corn syrup content and has higher lactose content for its sugar source. Perhaps this is also what makes Earth’s Best our recommendation if you want a formula that tastes close to breast milk.
No Weird Taste and Smell
Transitioning your baby from breast milk to formula can be difficult because your baby can notice the taste and odor. This is why some babies reject formulas since the taste is unfamiliar. And while Earth’s Best has iron, we’re pleased that it has no weird smell or taste. It is also not too sweet, but not too bland, just like breast milk.
Fatty Acids for Brain and Eye Development
Earth’s best also has DHA and ARA fatty acids for brain and eye development. Again, these Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are natural components of breast milk. Therefore, having them in a formula helps the product in providing the same health benefits from feeding on breast milk.
With Lutein and Iron
Earth’s best also has iron, which is essential for a baby’s brain to develop normally. This is because the body needs iron to make hemoglobin, which carries oxygen through the blood to the cells. This formula even has lutein. We’ve mentioned earlier that DHA plays a role in eye development, but lutein is also another nutrient that can protect eye health.
Gerber Good Start Gentle – Best Easy to Digest Option
Next on our list also comes from another popular brand, and it is the Good Start Gentle from Gerber. This is our recommendation if you’re looking for a formula that is easy to digest. If your little one has other digestive conditions, giving him/her a head start with an easy-to-digest formula can relieve his/her discomfort.
Easy to Mix
If you remember the drawback in the previous Earth’s Best, we’re pleased to say that Gerber is the opposite. This powder dissolves easily, so you don’t have to worry about mixing it too much that can end up in a bubbly formula. This way, if you have a gassy baby, you don’t end up worsening his/her gassiness.
Gerber also has the so-called comfort proteins compared to the other protein content of most formulas. If you look at the ingredient list, you’ll see that Gerber uses hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate. And to make it easier for you to understand, they’ve used enzymes to process the protein.
Probiotics, Prebiotics, and DHA
Other than the hydrolyzed proteins, this formula also has probiotics and prebiotics. Both of these are natural compositions of breast milk. The former helps with digestion because they improve the gut flora. The latter, on the other hand, helps with immunity, as we have discussed on previous formulas with prebiotics.
Specifically, Gerber makes use of HMOs for its prebiotics just like Similac Sensitive. They have no direct benefit but instead acts as the food for the good bacteria. And with improved gut health, it will also lead to improved immune health. Gerber doesn’t even stray from the trend in this list because it has DHA.
Safe Locking Container
Lastly, Gerber Good Start comes in a container with a button latch lid. We appreciate this detail because it helps in the proper storage of the formula. This way, you know that it will not get contaminated or exposed to the environment. However, we think the scooper that it comes with should have a smaller opening, so that the contents fall easily when you pour them in the bottle.
Happy Baby Organic – Best Corn Syrup-Free Formula
We are halfway in our review, and what we have here is another organic baby formula. Just like Earth’s Best Organic, Happy Baby Organic also comes with the USDA certification that guarantees you about its authenticity of being an organic product. And as you can assume from it being an organic formula, Happy Baby is non-GMO as well.
Organic, Non-GMO, and Gluten-Free
If your little one is prone to allergies, you’ll be pleased to know that this product is gluten-free. This way, you don’t have to worry about any potential reaction that’s a risk when taking formulas with gluten.
No Corn Syrup Solids
Another feature that we like with Happy Baby is that compared to the previous products, this is the only one yet with no corn syrup solids or any other sweetener. Other than organic lactose, you can be assured that it is free from other sugars. Perhaps this is also the reason why Happy Baby boasts the term “modeled after breast milk” in bold in their packaging.
GOS AND FOS
The protein source of this formula is from organic whey protein concentrate. But besides this, it’s even going to be easier for your little to digest because this formula also has prebiotics. Specifically, Happy Baby has galactooligosaccharides (GOS) and fructooligosaccharides (FOS.)
You’re already familiar with how prebiotics help for easier digestion. Some other benefits shown in studies is that they help with calcium absorption and improved immunity. This means the population of pathogenic bacteria decreases, and the risk for allergy is lesser. At the same time, having these two prebiotic fibers is how this formula is able to mimic the prebiotic content of breast milk.
Non-GMO DHA and ARA
Some other nutrients that you can expect seeing in Happy Baby are the ever-popular Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids. However, according to Happy Baby, they sourced these two from non-GMO algae.
Lastly, some beneficial components that you and your baby can appreciate are vitamin C, vitamin D, folic acid, iron, zinc, calcium, phosphorus, and choline. We’ve already discussed how some of these nutrients all aid in growth and development. At the same time, vitamin C is excellent for immune-boosting, while folic acid is important for proper body functioning.
Similac Pro-Advance – Best for Reducing Spit-Ups
Our second Similac formula is the Pro-Advance. In contrast to the Similac Sensitive earlier, this product is what Similac markets as their “closest to breast milk.” Nonetheless, it still has a lot of similarities with Similac Sensitive.
Reduces Fussiness, Gassiness
First, Pro-Advance also helps in lowering the chances of fussiness and gassiness. We notice that a lot of parents recommend this formula because it helps relieve gassiness. It is also helpful in reducing spit-up, which is when babies tend to mildly vomit saliva or formula. While spit-ups are common in babies, it can still be uncomfortable for your baby.
Therefore, using a formula that doesn’t encourage this is always better. However, we think this powder is not as easy to dissolve as other formulas, so be careful not to leave any lumps in the solution.
Similar to Breast Milk In…
Second, Pro-Advance is similar to Similac Sensitive because it also has 2’-FL human milk oligosaccharides. Again, having this ingredient that’s naturally present in breast milk is important for immune health. This way, your baby’s body can manage any infections or inflammations more easily. At the same time, it also plays a role in the functioning of the cells for the brain and cognitive development.
And other than the variety of vitamins and minerals, Pro-Advance also has the familiar OptiGro nutrients. If you remember in the previous Similac Formula, OptiGro is the combination of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E.
Again, DHA is essential for the healthy growth and development of babies because of its role in brain and eye health. Lutein and vitamin E, on the other hand, are important for eye vision and proper body functions. Also, they help in developing cognitive abilities such as learning, memory, and reasoning.
Enfamil PREMIUM – Best for Newborns
Up next on our list is Enfamil Premium for newborn babies. This formula is meant for the consumption of babies from 0 to 3 months of age, and it’s also available in a ready-to-use form. However, you may even get the infant variant, which is suitable for up to 12 months. And if your baby has a more sensitive stomach, Enfamil Premium also has a Gentlease variant.
Enfamil Premium Newborn is a non-GMO formula. It uses whey protein concentrate that is easily digestible by newborns.
Other than the proteins appropriate for newborns, it is also worth noting that Enfamil Premium has prebiotics similar to Happy Baby Organic. It has galactooligosaccharides, which act as food for the good bacteria in your baby’s gut. We should mention that galactooligosaccharides are even used for treating constipation in infants. And because of their relation with the immune system, they are also related to preventing allergies.
Triple Health Guard
Enfamil Premium has a so-called Triple Health Guard. If Similac has OptiGro, Enfamil’s Triple Health Guard is the combination of 30 nutrients, prebiotics, and DHA. And according to the brand, this product has twice the amount of formula compared to other products.
DHA + Inositol
Another unique thing with Enfamil Premium is that it has another brain-helping nutrient called inositol. In breast milk, this is the third most abundant carbohydrate, so having this in a formula helps in making it more similar to breast milk. But more than that, inositol is a major component of cell membranes and influences blood sugar control because of its effect on insulin. In babies, inositol also plays a role in brain development. Therefore, having inositol and DHA can give babies advantages in relation to brain health.
Gerber Good Start Soothe – Best for Excessive Crying
Our next product comes from Gerber, and it is the Good Start Soothe variant. If you remember earlier on, we chose the Gerber Good Start Gentle as our recommendation for those who are in need of an easy to digest formula. Now, with Soothe, it is our pick if your baby is prone to excessive crying.
For Excessive Crying from Gas, Colic, and Fussiness
Excessive crying is mostly from discomfort. However, do note that there are a lot of possible reasons behind this discomfort. We recommend that you talk to your pediatrician to ease your worries. With Good Start Soothe, Gerber markets this formula for babies prone to excessive crying, especially from gas, colic, and fussiness.
Excessive crying can cause gassiness, which will lead to discomfort from a hard tummy. At the same time, this resulting discomfort cause fussiness, which also leads to excessive crying. Colic, on the other hand, is when your baby cries non-stop and is very hard to soothe.
And as you can assume, crying spells can cause your baby to suck more air, which eventually leads to gassiness. In conclusion, these three work in a cycle. And using a gentle, soothing formula like Gerber Good Start can relieve these common baby problems.
Comfort Proteins, Probiotics, and Prebiotics
Gerber Good Start Soothe uses hydrolyzed whey protein concentrate. This means your baby will have an easier time processing them because they are already kick-started by enzymes. And speaking of digestive health, Good Start Soothe also has probiotics and prebiotics to mimic the nutrition provided by breast milk.
30% Lactose Blend and DHA
In particular, Gerber uses L.reuteri and HMO. These components all help not just for the overall health of your baby, but also for relieving the conditions we mentioned earlier. It also helps that this formula uses a 30% lactose blend to make it more tolerable for sensitive tummies. And as for the other ingredients, Gerber also has DHA and a blend of vitamins and minerals at par with our previous formulas.
Baby’s Only LactoRelief – Best Toddler Formula Close to Breast Milk
Our last product is the only formula in this list for babies ages 12 months and up. First of all, this is an organic formula with a USDA certification to back it up. However, it has the edge over other organic products because the DHA and ARA components of this brand are not from algae. Yes, you heard that right; Baby’s Only uses DHA and ARA without the need for processing with hexane!
With any formula that is marketed close to breast milk, it must contain the same nutrients and benefits as the “superfood.” However, if the ingredients themselves are also processed as natural as possible, then it is an added bonus.
Low Lactose with No Glucose Syrup
We should also mention that it is called LactoRelief because it is consumable by babies with lactose sensitivity. The reason behind this is that Baby’s Only has low lactose content. This is also the same reason why organic brown rice syrup is first on its ingredient list. And as you are probably wondering, there is no corn or glucose syrup in this formula.
The advantage of organic brown rice syrup is that it doesn’t cause insulin spike compared to other sugars. And while there is also controversy with this sugar, Baby’s Only made sure that all their ingredients are safe for your baby. And other than the lack of glucose syrup, LactoRelief has no palm oil. Palm oil is typical in the majority of baby formulas, but as we will mention in the buyer’s guide below, palm oil sparks debate among parents.
Read also: Best Baby Food Maker
How Often Should You Give Formula?
The following are guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
If your baby is only getting formula, you can start with 1 to 2 ounces of infant formula every 2 to 3 hours. Remember that newborns still have tiny bellies, and as they grow, the amount of formula that they can consume will also be higher. We highly advise that you consult your pediatrician as well when you start your baby on formula.
First Weeks and Months
As your baby grows, the time in between feedings will also be longer. You might need to wake your baby up for every feeding session. Usually, most babies will feed every 3 to 4 hours. Note that your baby will have some shorter sessions since they’re aware when they feel that they’re full.
6 to 12 Months
It is around this time where parents can start introducing solid foods. And depending on your doctor’s notes, you can decrease the amount of formula that they are also taking. Just remember to feed your little one every time he/she shows signs of hunger. This can be as often as 5 to 6 times in 24 hours.
12 to 24 Months
Remember to ease your baby when transitioning him/her into cow’s milk. Nonetheless, a consultation with your pediatrician will give you the best tips and suggestions.
What to Consider if You’re Looking for a Formula Close to Breast Milk?
Form and Type of Formula
Similar to when choosing the best formula for a gassy baby, the first consideration that you must think of is the form of the product. You might have seen different forms of formula in the market, and each has advantages and disadvantages over each other.
Forms of Formula
For sure, this form of formula is the most common. It is affordable and easy to find, so it’s no question that this is the most popular. At the same time, because it is dry being in powdered form, you can store it in your cupboard for a long time. It is also easy to bring anywhere as long as you have clean water to mix it with. We recommend that you use hot water and sterilize all the products from mixing to feeding to avoid bacterial contamination.
A potential disadvantage with the powdered formula is that you have to follow the mixing instructions diligently. Doing so will make sure that your baby will get the nutrients that he/she will need. Otherwise, having too much or too less of water: formula or formula: water ratio might not provide the nutrients required by your baby.
At the same time, mixing the formula with hot water will make it easier to mix and dissolve. A lumpy formula will also result in not getting the proper mixture for the nutrient requirements. You’ll also be wasting products or mixing the solution more, which will turn the formula bubbly. Consequently, a bubbly solution might make your baby gassy.
As you can assume, a prepared form of formula is ready to use. This makes it convenient for busy parents. You also don’t have to worry about ratio and proportion, as well as the quality of water that you’ll need. However, this form costs more than the powdered formula, and is not as easy to store because it’s in liquid form. And while the lack of preparation in a ready-to-use formula is more hygienic, you have to remember that it has a shorter shelf life. Typically, it must be consumed within 48 hours.
Types of Formula
Another consideration other than the form of the formula is the type of the product itself. Of course, you’re seeking for the product that is close to breast milk, so this will be dictated by the source of the formula. For example:
Cow’s Milk Formula
The most common source of formula is from cow’s milk. The cow’s milk undergoes processing, so it will be easier to digest. The manufacturers also add other nutrients, so that it can become as close to breast milk as possible. You can also look for cow’s milk formulas with lower lactose content if your baby has a sensitive tummy.
If a baby is unable to process lactose or is allergic to dairy products, pediatricians would sometimes recommend formula from a plant-based source. More often, it is from soy and is also an excellent option for a vegan diet. The manufacturers also modify the soy protein, so that it will be easy to process by babies. However, do note that soy-based formulas are not recommended for babies that are born underweight.
From the name itself, this type of formula is tailored to specific baby needs. Some children may require specific components in their diet, or they may have special health conditions that they can’t feed on typical formulas.
Specialized formulas include those that are lactose-free. These products usually replace this milk sugar with corn syrup to make up for the lack of carbohydrates. There are also hypoallergenic formulas where the proteins are pre-digested. This characteristic is what makes them much more suitable for babies prone to allergies or those with sensitive stomachs.
As you can see in the market, different brands have formulas where they target specific developments. Some may say that they are perfect for neuro health because of their DHA and ARA content. Some may be iron-fortified or have pre- and probiotics for immunity and digestion.
Nowadays, parents seek to go as natural as possible. That is why, in our list, we included some organic formulas. Organic formulas have certifications from the USDA that ensures consumers that they have passed the standards for an organic product. Being USDA organic-certified can give you a peace of mind that the product is indeed free from anything synthetic. This means that the cow’s aren’t treated with hormones and antibiotics, and the grasses that they feed on are free from pesticides. The organic formulas are also non-GMO, meaning the ingredients the formula has are not genetically modified.
Since you’re looking for the formula that is closest to breast milk then it means that it should meet the FDA guidelines. According to the Infant Formula Act, all formulas must have at least 29 ingredients composed of carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, and minerals. To give you a better idea, 8-12% of the calories should be from the protein content, fats should be at 43 to 49%, and carbohydrates at 41 to 43%.
The ingredients and nutrients in the best formula close to breast milk, should, of course, have striking similarities with the contents of breast milk. What ingredients should you be looking for? Well, other than the 5 components that we’ve mentioned earlier, prebiotics and probiotics are microbiota and human milk oligosaccharides naturally found in breast milk. Some formulas add them, and they help with digestion and immunity. You might also find iron, choline, and nucleotides, which are all important for growth and development.
What about DHA and ARA?
We’re sure that you’ve been seeing the abundance of these ingredients in the products sold in the market. DHA, or docosahexaenoic acid and ARA, or arachidonic acids are fatty acids. Breast milk naturally contains essential fatty acids, and they promote healthy eye and brain development.
However, there is a controversy with the addition of DHA and ARA. The way they are sourced may sometimes make use of hexane. There are no studies that can conclude the harm of hexane-sourced DHA and ARA. But for your peace of mind, some manufacturers use egg phospholipids for a more organic approach in sourcing these fatty acids.
Are Sugars Okay to Find in Breast Milk?
A formula differs in taste from breast milk, so to make it more baby-approved, manufacturers add sugar. Breast milk is naturally sweet, and the closest breast milk sugar that manufacturers add in formulas is lactose. However, this is expensive, which is why some brands use plant-based sweeteners. This is also much suitable for babies with lactose intolerance. However, be careful with certain sweeteners.
Some sweeteners that should not be in formulas is sucrose. Except for babies with allergies, the European Union banned this sweetener in 2009 for formulas. The reason is that it raises concerns about obesity. However, the FDA doesn’t have any regulation for the sugars that manufacturers can use in formula.
The better plant-based sweetener that is also very common is maltodextrin from rice, corn, or potatoes. You can also find glucose syrup solids and organic brown rice syrup in the ingredient list of some brands. However, it is still best to consult your pediatrician if you have concerns regarding sweeteners.
What are the Acceptable Synthetic Nutrients?
As we have mentioned earlier, we want the formula as natural as possible. Because if it has a lot of synthetic ingredients then it contradicts the fact that it is close to breast milk, isn’t it? However, some synthetic nutrients are acceptable, like lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, and taurine. These are added to formulas in order for the product to meet the FDA nutrition requirements.
Which Ingredients to Avoid?
Let’s start first with the packaging. Your formula’s container may be made from plastic. And as a parent we all know one significant chemical that we have to be careful with, especially on plastic products. BPA, or Bisphenol A can seep into the formula and poses risks in the brain and prostate health of children. But don’t worry because the FDA has successfully banned BPA in formula products. Rest assured, the linings of your formula’s container is free of this dangerous chemical.
Palm oil is a controversial ingredient commonly found in breast milk. There is still a lack of scientific evidence to consider this a very dangerous product, but it’s not easily absorbed by babies. There are also studies that showed the effect of palm oil on bone density. Since breast milk is high in palmitic acid, manufacturers make up for this nutrient by using palm oil. However, we recommend that you consult your pediatrician with regards to ingredients like this.
Another additive is this stabilizer called carrageenan. This is derived from seaweed, and liquid formulas usually have this as a stabilizer. The European Union has banned this ingredient because of its relation to intestinal inflammation and colon tumors.
Read also: Best Blender for Baby Food
There are a lot of products in the market, and finding which baby formula is closest to breast milk can take a lot of time. We still recommend that you talk to your pediatrician so that you can make sure that you’re providing all the nutrients that your baby needs. At the same time, apply the factors we discussed in our buyer’s guide to help you cull your options.
Our top pick is Enfamil Enspire. It is non-GMO, and it comes in a Gentlease version for babies with much more sensitive stomachs. At the same time, Enspire has MFGM and lactoferrin along with a blend of nutrients like DHA and choline. Having these components make it similar to breast milk, so you know that your little one is getting the right nutrition.
Do you have any questions? Leave them below and we’ll be happy to help!