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You have probably heard about a thousand times over, how BREAST is best. But for some mother breastfeeding might not be an option. Here are the 8 best organic baby formulas you can choose from if you decide to formula feed.
If I experience breastfeeding setbacks and I am unable to exclusively pump for my future babies, I will probably end up making homemade baby formula instead of choosing a commercialized store-bought option.
With that being said, if homemade baby formula doesn’t seem doable for you, you don’t feel comfortable making it yourself, or you quite frankly don’t want to bother with, there are some organic baby formula options out there that are better than others.
- Don’t feel guilty for giving “regular” formula to your baby
- Learn the ingredients AND then decide
- Which baby formula ingredients do I need to understand?
- Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
- Processed sugars and sweeteners
- Synthetic nutrients
- Synthetic DHA/RHA
- The 8 Best Organic Baby Formulas
- How do I know which organic baby formula is best for my baby?
Don’t feel guilty for giving “regular” formula to your baby
If for whatever reason, you can’t breastfeed, don’t beat yourself up about it!
While some mothers enjoy breastfeeding and don’t encounter supply issues, latching troubles, or sore, blistered nipples, other moms may be burdened with all kinds of roadblocks in their breastfeeding journey.
Breastfeeding isn’t only physically taxing but it also can be emotionally and mentally draining.
I know for me, after I was unsuccessful at breastfeeding, I switched to exclusively pumping. Pumping became by life for about 5 or 6 months and it definitely was a very challenging part of motherhood.
As I approached an unpleasant surgery, I decided I couldn’t physically and mentally handle recovery along with the stresses of pumping.
I then switched my baby over to formula for the following 6 months. Even though I wish I had made better choices regarding which formula I fed to my baby, I did the best I knew at the time.
To be completely honest with you, sometimes it is hard to want to question the ingredients of baby products when they are recommended by doctors and sold at the store.
Surely, they would tell us if there was anything bad infant formula, right? Well, sadly not necessarily. Sometimes we have to do our own digging and deciding.
Learn the ingredients AND then decide
These 8 organic baby formulas aren’t perfect by any means, but they are MUCH better options to your popular brands such as Similac, Enfamil, Gerber, and so on.
The best advice I can give you is to learn about formula ingredients, become familiar with them and then read that ingredient list.
Once you understand what each ingredient actually is, you will then be able to make a better decision for your baby regarding formula.
It is so surprising to me that many mothers are quick to grab any can off of the shelf because they read the claims on the front. Not a single look at the ingredients before purchasing or feeding to their baby.
The ingredient list is the first thing you should look at and be reading intently. Some of those front packaging claims can make the worst formula sound like the best choice.
I am not trying to make anyone or yourself for that matter feel bad if you have fallen into that category, because I did it too! And even after switching over to formula, I didn’t choose the best option I could have. There is always hindsight, right?!
But here I am to tell you about the ingredients that you need to learn about and understand so you don’t make the mistakes I did. Life is all about learning, so learn from my mistakes instead of your own. Although, you’ll probably learn from those too 😉
Which baby formula ingredients do I need to understand?
First things first, if you have ever glanced at an ingredient list on the back of a formula can you will probably notice that is is about a mile long of a list of lots of hard to pronounce and surprising ingredients.
Sadly, the US doesn’t have very strict infant formula guidelines and even some of the best organic baby formula options contain ingredients that will make your eyes pop out.
The FDA mandates certain nutrients that are created synthetically and genetically modified, even in those organic options.
It is important to note, that just because a formula is certified organic, this does NOT mean it is free of harmful ingredients.
One interesting point to notice is that many of the problematic synthetic nutrients found in almost all US formulas are not even LEGAL in European countries. Think about that one for a second.
Below I am going to list out some of the ingredients to be aware of when reading through the ingredient list.
Partially hydrogenated vegetable oils
Palm olein oil, high oleic sunflower oil, coconut oil, and high oleic safflower oil are to name a few.
I don’t know if it is just me but that all seems to scream fast food in my ears. These fats have to be partially hydrogenated because otherwise they would spoil and not be shelf-stable for months or even years. Yes, your baby needs fats, and a couple of those fats are good if expeller pressed. But partially hydrogenated is a big no.
Palm oil can act as a “soap” and once in your baby’s intestines can wreak all sorts of havoc, gas, bloating, and colic.
Processed sugars and sweeteners
Corn maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, glucose syrup solids, brown rice syrup.
Any of the above are something that should NOT be in infant formula and now when I see it often as the first ingredient, it just makes me cringe.
If you have ever tasted breastmilk, you know that it is quite naturally sweet. Formula’s tend to contain added sugars to mimic breastmilk.
The closet sweetener is lactose, which is a sugar found in cow’s milk, but is also pricey. Due to expense or the need to create a “sensitive” formula, lactose is usually replaced with those nasty processed sugars and sweeteners.
Now to understand one of the big problems with these sweeteners is that they are made from rice, corn, and potatoes and rice products are very high in arsenic which is a terrible toxin.
Lactose is the sweetener that should be in formula, but you will notice that any formula labeled “sensitive” or “gentle” or for colic, will always have a processed sugar or sweetener as the first ingredient.
I would choose a formula that does NOT have any of those nasty sugars first on the list (or even at all) but maltodextrin is probably better than brown rice syrup or corn syrup solids if I HAD to choose.
A lot of formulas are packed full of synthetic nutrients. Anything synthetic really should be avoided if possible.
These nutrients include lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, l-carnitine and l-methionine. Now all of these are BANNED in Europe but are allowed in the US.
That right raises a concern for me. Unfortunately, the US organic baby formulas I will share further down do contain these in order to meet the FDA organic requirements.
This is one of the reasons I would recommend making your own formula or choosing a European option. But we will get to all of that later!
Gimmethegoodstuff has a really good explanation of each synthetic nutrient:
- lutein – is hexane-extracted from marigolds.
- lycopene – is produced with toluene, a neurotoxic benzene derivative.
- nucleotides – are produced from chemically-treated yeast.
- taurine – is processed with carcinogenic sulfuric acid.
- l-carnitine – was banned by the National Organic Standards Board because of concerns over carcinogenic properties.”
Ascorbic palmitate and beta carotene are found in almost every formula, even organic ones. They are added to help preserve the oils within the formula from spoiling. These are not good for your baby.
A lot of the formulas on the market now will boast the addition of essential fatty acids such as DHA and RHA. These two fatty acids are naturally found in breastmilk.
Now here is the problem with them in baby formula, they are synthetic and extracted from algae and fungus often using hexane which is a neurotoxin petroleum-based solvent.
Thankfully there are a couple of organic baby formula options that have these fatty acids but extract them from egg yolks instead.
I would personally avoid anything that has soy in it especially formulas that are soy-based. Those are probably the wort options, even if they are organic.
Soy-based formulas contain highly processed soybeans that have basically been chemically altered to no longer resemble a whole food.
They also tend to higher levels of aluminum and high levels of plant-derived estrogens.
Soy is a problem for all kinds of reasons, it is almost always genetically modified, it is extremely high in anti-nutrients that can interfere with enzymes that help your baby break down proteins.
It also contains high levels of phytoestrogens that mimic the hormone estrogen that could affect a baby’s developing reproductive system.
At all costs, I would avoid a soy-based formula. A lot of organic baby formulas do contain soy oil or lecithin but that is better than purely soy-based.
Ok, now we understand the ingredients let’s talk about what are the best organic baby formulas out there.
Obviously, it is sometimes choosing the lesser of two evils as you will probably find some non-ideal ingredients in most any formula (except homemade) but hopefully, as you read through the good and bad you can feel comfortable choosing a suitable option for your baby.
The 8 Best Organic Baby Formulas
- Baby’s Only
- Happy Baby
- Earths Best
HiPP would probably be at the top of my list or at least tie with one of the other European options. It contains both prebiotics and probiotics, is free from maltodextrin and other processed sugars, and is packed full of synthetic ingredients. It is also soy-free and non-GMO.
The good definitely outweighs the bad, but it does contain palm oil and other vegetable oils, and the milk is not full fat whole milk. Apart from those things, I would consider this a good organic baby formula and is definitely top of the line.
As it is imported from Europe, it can be a little more pricey than some other organic baby formulas on the market.
Holle formula is another great organic option. It is free from artificial preservatives, chemicals, and colors and also doesn’t contain corn syrup solids.
It comes in a few different varieties including a goat milk-based option for babies who could be more sensitive to cows milk.
Unfortunately, Holle doesn’t contain any pre or probiotics so if you choose this formula I would suggest adding an infant probiotic to your baby’s diet. It also contains maltodextrin and a few other not so great ingredients.
The thing I love about Loulouka is that the milk is organic WHOLE milk not skim milk. Babies need a good source of fat so I really like that ingredient that is first on the list. Having whole milk also means fewer vegetable oils, so it really is a win-win!
The whey proteins found in this formula are less likely to trigger any allergies and Loulouka doesn’t add sweetness, colors, or preservatives and is soy-free.
Again, this formula doesn’t contain any probiotics so I would recommend adding that into your baby’s daily diet. Also, stage 2 of this formula does contain maltodextrin which is a bummer but in my opinion that is slightly better than corn syrup solids, so it could be worse!
Lebenswert is another good organic baby formula as it is soy-free, doesn’t contain corn syrup, and is free from artificial nutrients or preservatives.
The not so good is that you will need to add a probiotic since this formula doesn’t contain any, and stage 2 of this formula also contains maltodextrin along with palm oil.
If your child is sensitive to cows milk, Kabrita could be a great option for your little one.
Kabrita is a non-GMO goat milk-based formula that is super easy to digest. This formula contains gut supporting prebiotics and leaves out any processed sugars such as maltodextrin or corn syrup solids.
Unfortunately, Kabrita is 100% organic and does also contain soybean oil.
It is lacking a probiotic and is also labeled as a toddler formula. Many mothers use it as an infant formula since it DOES meet all of the requirements. You can consult with your pediatrician if you are concerned about this.
6. Baby’s Only
If you don’t decide to go with one of the European options, Baby’s Only would be my top pick for a US organic baby formula.
It doesn’t contain any palm oil and the DHA that is in the formula isn’t extracted using the hexane method which is great news. It is corn syrup free and pretty easy to find in the US.
Now the not so good…. it does contain some synthetic ingredients, and also is NOT soy-free.
Baby’s Only comes in a few different varieties and some of them do sadly have brown rice syrup as a first ingredient! I would definitely choose one that does not contain any syrups.
This formula is also labeled as a toddler formula like Kabrita, but it also meets all the requirements for an infant formula so I wouldn’t let that be a deal-breaker.
7. Happy Baby
Happy Baby is another good US organic baby formula option. It is pretty easy to find and is corn syrup, maltodextrin, and taurine free.
Sadly, it does contain some soy ingredients, along with algae-derived DHA, and also isn’t free from vegetable oils.
Earth’s Best has a few different organic baby formula options, they are very easy to find in the stores and are maltodextrin free. They contain prebiotics and the regular version doesn’t contain corn syrup solids.
The not so good is that Earth’s Best is NOT soy-free or free from vegetable oils. If you choose the “sensitive” option, the first ingredient is corn syrup solids! Also, the DHA and ARA are extracted from the hexane method and there are synthetic nutrients such as taurine.
How do I know which organic baby formula is best for my baby?
These 8 options are the best commercial formulas you can find and even though they are not all perfect, they are going to be the best options to choose from.
As you can see, the European formulas do offer much better ingredients and often leave out most of the super nasty ones. It also seems that Europe has a higher organic standard they have to maintain which produces a better product.
With that being said, there are a few US options that are pretty easy to find in stores. Even though in my opinion, they are not as good as the European ones, I would say they are a MUCH better choice than your typical commercial formulas, such as Similac, Gerber, or Enfamil.
Way up the good and the bad and then choose what you think is best for your baby. I know it sounds silly, but honestly listen to that mommy gut and do what feels most right.
And yes, there are probably millions of babies out there that drink Gerber or Similac and do ok, but who knows what lasting health effects they are being exposed to such as allergies, skin issues, stomach problems and the list goes on.
Now you know about these better options, why not choose something that will be so much better for your baby in the end?!
If you can learn about the ingredients and understand why it is best to avoid some of them, you then can give your baby the best possible nourishment.
Remember your baby relies on you! You are the one making decisions for your baby, not anyone else. So, arm yourself with knowledge and understanding and I can promise the outcome will be a million times better.
What organic formula brands are most familiar with? Have you ever heard of the ones I spoke about?