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What Are The Best Baby Formulas and Why Some of Them Are Disappearing?

What is worse than the hassles of the noisy city side? It’s waking up as a mother to find out that your baby’s formula is gone from the shelves. With the current news of the withdrawal of certain brands of formula milk, what is the way forward?

Contents:

What Is a Baby Formula and Why Do You Need It?

baby's formula

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Formula Milk, common among mothers as infant formula, usually comes from cow milk. However, there are other sources, which include soya beans, goat’s milk, and protein hydrolysate. The milk undergoes treatment to make it appropriate for babies to consume.

They are nutritional products that are specifically formulated for babies to help supply all their nutritional needs. The purpose of every formula milk today is to imitate breast milk as close as possible. Formula milk will help provide all the necessary nutrients your baby needs especially if you are not breastfeeding exclusively.

According to Whitney Casper M.D., (A pediatrician practicing in Oregon), when moms need alternatives to breast milk, baby formula is the only appropriate alternative that offers complete nutrition during a baby’s first year of life.

The best baby formula milk available on the market is similar to natural breast milk. They contain the right amount of nutrients essential for your baby. In case you are wondering if you can substitute formula milk with cow milk, that’s not proper. What you might not know is that cow’s milk can be difficult for your baby to digest.

Again, cow milk does not contain all the essential nutrients you find in a formula. Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises mothers to always use a formula and not cow milk.

Baby Formula Shortage: What is the Cause?

baby formula

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Are you finding it difficult to get your favorite formula milk in stores today? There is a good and bad reason why you’re experiencing this shortage. There is currently an ongoing recall of infant formula brands and an investigation by the FDA.

For more information on this topic, see the FDA investigation of Cronobacter Infections: Powdered Infant Formula.

However, the good news is that only a few brands are currently under investigation. Therefore, the shortage in your brand may be a result of people switching to new brands for feeding their babies. The brands that are under the torchlight of the FDA include Alimentum, Similac (some lots), and EleCare.

There are recent complaints about bacterial infection in four babies after the consumption of formula powder manufactured in Michigan by Abbot Nutrition’s Facility in Sturgis. The four affected patients were hospitalized. Doctors also suspect the same bacterial as the cause of death in two other patients. Follow the link to find a full list of all the brands affected by the recall.

The FDA provides a simple guideline for parents to check if their formula is part of the affected ones. The guidelines include:

  1. Check the first two digits of the code to see if they begin with 22 to 37.
  2. Check the container to see if the codes begin with K8, SH or Z2.
  3. Check to see if the expiry date on the container is APRIL 2022 or later.

If your Alimentum, Similac, or EleCare falls within the above guidelines, discontinue the use immediately. In addition to the above brands, Abbot Nutrition Facility has also recalled the following Similac:

  1. Similac PM 60/40 with a lot code of 27032K80 (can) / 27032K800 (case).

The company’s website also provides a link to help you check if your product lot is recalled. You have to ensure that your baby’s formula is safe. Therefore, do all it takes to keep your baby healthy.

Types and Forms of Baby Formula

organic baby formula

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It is essential to understand that not all formulas are the same. While they are all designed to provide the same nutrient and satisfaction as breast milk, they come from different sources. Undoubtedly, the basis of all formulas is similar, but the ingredients they contain vary.

Types

The Intact or Milk-based Formula

The major ingredient for this type of formula is cow’s milk. The milk undergoes treatment to make it suitable and easy to digest by infants. Around 80% of the total formulas on sale in the market today are made from cow’s milk according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). The intact formula is also suitable for your newborns.

Hydrolyzed or Hypoallergenic Formula

As the name implies, hydrolyzed formula milk contains broken-down proteins that are easy to digest. They can be either partially or exclusively hydrolyzed. They usually carry the designation gentle or calm and are suitable for babies that are intolerant to cow and soy-based formula milk. It is also suitable for babies that are allergic to protein.

Soy-Based Formula Milk

The soy-based formula milk consists of soya milk and carbohydrate. If you’re vegan and don’t like animal products in your baby’s diet, soy formula can be a good option. It is also a good alternative if your baby is allergic to lactose.

Specialized Formula

Pediatricians usually prescribe this type of formula for babies with special medical needs. Premature babies and those that are at high risk of allergies are examples of babies that may need a specialized formula.

Forms

Today, there are different formula brands available over the counter and in supermarkets. Formula milk usually come in either dry powder form or ready-to-use liquid form. Many mothers prefer the ready-to-use liquid because of its convenience. However, it tends to cost more and you need to use content quickly once you open it.

The three forms in which you can get formula milk are:

  1. Powder formula: use by mixing with water.
  2. Ready-to-use formula: you don’t need to add water to this type of formula. The formula comes premixed in a bottle and must be consumed fast once you open the bottle.
  3. The Concentrated liquid formula: similar to the powder formula.

Before you buy any formula, check the label to ensure that you’re buying the right formula for your baby.

How to Choose the Best Baby Formula?

infant formula

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Before going for formula milk, it is always essential to talk to your pediatrician. The pediatrician will help you decide what formula is best for your baby. The most suitable formula for your baby is the one your baby accepts and your doctor decides.

The good thing about formula milk is that they fall under the regulation of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For a formula to be approved for use, it must meet certain specifications and dietary requirements.

There are certain factors to consider before settling for a suitable formula for an infant or toddler.

Availability

As parents, it is always best to go for readily available formulas. There are certain types of formulas that are difficult to find especially when you travel. It is best to avoid this kind of formula to save yourself unnecessary stress. It is also unnecessary to keep stressing over whether a formula is organic, name brand, or store formula.

Suitability and Cost

Ensure that the formula you settle for fits into your budget and is easy to store. Among all the types of formulas, the powder formula is the most cost-efficient and easy to store. The ready-to-use can be very expensive in terms of price and waste very easily. However, in terms of convenience of use, it is the best.

Avoid all the marketing brouhaha and focus more on scientific claims

Many product brands will use different marketing strategies to lure you to buy a product. Many of these claims only offer indirect evidence of the benefit of the product. Instead, rely on scientific claims when buying your product.

Be consistent with your brand

If you find a suitable formula for your baby and your budget, stay with it. Changing formulas may have some negative implications for your baby. Don’t forget to always make time to speak to your pediatrician in case you need to switch formulas.

The Best Baby Formula

when was baby formula invented

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We desire that you get the best when it comes to formula for your baby. So, we took the following steps in compiling this list of the best formulas for you.

  1. Several hours of research of many popular brands. Therefore, we spent several hours researching some of the popular products to help you pick the best. We relied on professional formula guidelines from CDC and AAP for guidance on the research.
  2. One-on-one interviews with pediatricians and professionals. Another necessary step in this research is a one-on-one interview with some leading pediatricians and other professionals. We aimed to get first-hand information on how and what to look out for when evaluating a formula.
  3. Interview different parents about their personal experiences with different brands. There is no better way to know what formulas work best than to interview parents who use them. They are in a better position to say which formula works well both at home and on the go.

Without further ado, below are the best formula brands available in the market today.

#1. Similac Pro-Advance| Best Overall

Type: Milk-based formula 

what is the best baby formula?

Health professionals most likely recommend this product for use with babies. When it comes to formula milk, Similac pro-Advanced is one of the most popular. It also ranks as the best formula for a baby among experts and pediatricians. It is usually the first brand they recommend for mothers. The brand contains all the essential nutrients your baby needs to live healthily.

There is a variety of options available from Similac ranging from organic formulas to those for babies with special needs. In 2021, Similac was at the top of the list of best formula brands. One of the things mothers like about this brand is that it is an organic formula that contains all the basic ingredients for brain and eye development.

If you are a first-time mother and have yet to pick a brand, most hospitals will introduce you to Similac first. Many of them even provide little quantities for mothers to test before making a decision.

For families who prefer the ready-to-use formula, Similac also comes in this form. If you’re having difficulties getting the brand, it’s because there is currently a shortage in the brand. The brand is among the ones recently recalled according to FDA directives.

Pros

  • available in powder or ready-to-use forms;
  • it is very reliable and does not contain palm olein oil;
  • comes in a variety of options.

Cons

  • can be a little difficult to find in stores lately.

Buy on walmart.com for $36.96.

#2. Enfamil NeuroPro Formula| Best Formula for Brain Development

Type: Milk-based Formula 

hypoallergenic baby formula

Enfamil offers an extensive variety of formulas. For many families, Enfamil is the brand to rely on in any condition, especially the Enfamil NeuroPro. The formula boost DHA is essential for healthy brain development. If you are looking for a GMO-free brand, Enfamil is also a great option.

It is easy for babies to digest this milk formula due to its structure. However, the brand also provides specific product lines to address babies with special needs. To top the icing, the brand also comes in dishwasher-safe containers that you can reuse. You can save costs by buying refill packs and simply storing them in your former container.

What many mothers love most about the brand is the friendly customer service. They provide general assistance and even provide you with formula coupons where necessary.

Pros

  • offers excellent customer service;
  • comes in ready-to-use and powder types;
  • dishwasher-friendly container for easy reuse.

Cons

  • the design of the container and scoop are not as friendly as the customer service.

Buy on walmart.com for $37.98.

#3. Earth’s Best Organic Dairy Formula| Best Organic Baby Formula

Type: Milk-based formula 

best formula for newborns

If you are one of the parents who prefer organic formulas, consider Earth’s Best Organic Formula. It contains all the essential nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop. It is also very friendly in terms of price.

The milk for the production of this formula comes from special types of cows that feed on only certified organic hay and grains. Earth’s Best Organic Dairy contains ARA and DHA which are essential for proper brain and eye development. It also ranks as a brand that is closely similar to breast milk.

Many breastfeeding mothers are also satisfied with the brand packaging. It comes with an easy-to-pull seal. The product comes in two varieties—sensitive and gentle, in case your baby has a specific requirement.

Pros

  • it has a better smell when you compare it to the other brands;
  • more price-friendly than many organic brands;
  • easy to use packaging.

Cons

  • comes in only powder form.

Buy on walmart.com for $40.98.

#4. Kirkland Signature ProCare| Best Cost-Friendly Brand

Type: Milk-based formula 

vegan baby formula

Since all the formula brands in the United States adhere to the same FDA rules, spending so much on formula is not necessary. Costco’s Kirkland Signature ProCare formula is a favorable generic alternative among breastfeeding mothers.

Besides its affordability, this brand also contains all the essential ingredients that you can find in name brands. The ingredients include DHA and lutein. Also, it does not have any traces of artificial growth hormones.

There are also other great options when it comes to affordable pricing. Products like Member’s Mark from Sam’s Club and Target’s Up & Up formula are part of this group. Many parents also love these brands.

Pros

  • very affordable in terms of price;
  • contains all essential nutrients for baby development;
  • does not contain artificial growth hormones.

Cons

  • hard to find now.

Buy on ebay.com for $100.30 (4 pack).

#5. Garber Good Start SoothePro Formula Powder | Best for Constipating Babies

Type: Milk-based formula 

best water for baby formula

Sometimes, it is not always easy to find a formula that goes well with your baby. If you have a constipating baby, ask your pediatrician about Garber Good Start Soothe Pro. There is a good reason why many mothers who do not breastfeed their babies rely on this formula. The brand comes in different options for different baby conditions.

Like other popular brands, Garber Good Start also contains DHA. It is also free from artificial growth hormones and comes in only powder form. Keep in mind that when you feed your baby with formula, the baby is more likely to have firmer bowel structures. They will also experience fewer bowel movements as opposed to breastfed babies.

Buy on walmart.com for $18.78.

Therefore, before buying a brand for constipation, ensure that you first confirm with your pediatrician. There may be other factors why your baby has a firm stool and not necessarily constipation.

FAQ

best baby formula

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Q. What is the best water for baby formula?

AAP recommends the use of safe tap water at room temperature to mix your formula powder. If you are unsure of the quality of your tap water, it is best to use bottled water. You can also boil your tap water to a rolling boil for not more than one minute. Allow the boiled water to cool for 30 minutes at room temperature before use.

Q. How to make baby formula?

Simply mix your baby power with clean room temperature water. In case of ready-to-feed formula, shake properly and start feeding your baby.

Q. When was baby formula invented?

The earliest form of baby formula was invented in 1867. The formula contained cow’s milk, wheat flour, malt flour, and potassium bicarbonate.

Q. Is baby formula FDA approved?

Yes. All baby formulas in the United States are FDA approved and manufactured in line with set down FDA standards.

Q. How long is baby formula good for?

You can continue using formula until your baby turns one. Then you can move to whole milk in a sippy cup or bottle.

Q. How to introduce formula to breastfed babies?

In case a mother who breastfeeds her baby decides to switch to a formula it is best to start slowly. Introduce a little amount of formula alongside the breast milk. You start with 25% formula and 75% breast milk and increase the quantity slowly as your baby becomes more used to the formula. Transitioning from breastfeeding to a formula is often easier if your baby is already familiar with feeding on a bottle.

Q. How to switch baby formula?

It is always in the best interest to stick to one formula. If your baby is experiencing problems like colic, gas, and spitting up, it is always best to see a pediatrician before considering switching to other brands. Some of these common problems can be a result of the immature abdominal tract and not necessarily diet.

Q. How much formula should I feed my baby?

AAP recommends an average of 21/2 ounces per body weight of formula every day. The quantity will continue to increase afterward as your child ages.

Never fall into the temptation of attempting to feed your baby with homemade formulas. They can be toxic to your baby and lead to severe complications.

Bottom Line

how to make baby formula

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While it may seem tasking to find the right formula, there are essential ingredients that your baby’s formula should contain. Seeking the advice of your pediatrician before buying formula milk can help you make the right choice.

As the shortage of baby milk continues to loom, finding alternative brands is the best option. Many alternative brands can also serve if you know what to look for in a formula.

If you consider the information in this article helpful, share it on your social media. You don’t know how many lives you will touch by doing so!

The picture on the front page: Olena Chukhil/Shutterstock.com

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