Choosing an infant formula is a very personal choice. And if you’ve never done the research on infant formulas, it can be pretty overwhelming: do you go with the most affordable option you can find, choose the organic brand or just go with what your BFF or mom tells you is the best? This article will attempt to take away some of the mystery and give you the info you need to choose the best formula for your baby.
Types of Infant Formula
Although there are three types of formula—ready-to-use, liquid and powder—this article will deal exclusively with powder formulas, as they are the most affordable and the most environmentally friendly (less packaging and waste). Powder formulas are combined with water and shaken up before being fed to baby; the exact measurements and instructions will be found on your particular can of formula.
Most formulas are made using cow’s milk, along with various other nutrients, in order to provide your baby with optimal nutrition. Some babies, for various reasons, have bad reactions to cow’s milk formulas, so if that is the case with your baby you may want to look for an alternative, such as soy, goat’s milk or other specialty formulas. You should consult with your baby’s pediatrician to figure out what type of formula is best for your baby.
If you are using formula to supplement a breastfed baby, you’ll definitely want to check out our top 10 bottles for breastfed babies, designed to make the transition back-and-forth between breast and bottle easier. Even if you’re not breastfeeding, you can check out our top 10 best baby bottles. And don’t forget a bottle warmer for a super easy and fast way to serving your baby the best-tasting milk or formula.
Below, see the best infant formula brands and get the low-down on which one might work best for your baby. Some are designed for premature babies, some are fortified with iron, some are for sensitive tummies and some are even organic. I’ve broken down the price by can and by the ounce so you can get a direct comparison to find out which one will be the best value for you.
1. Best GMO-Free Infant Formula: Gerber Good Start Gentle Powder Infant Formula
Made with “comfort proteins” for tiny tummies, Gerber Good Start Gentle Powder Infant Formula is a favorite of many formula-feeding parents. Although it is not organic, it is GMO free and does not contain corn syrup. This formula contains iron as well as DHA, for brain and eye development. Gerber’s Gentle formula contains probiotics and antioxidants similar to those found in breast milk. This is a great starter formula for very young babies, and is also recommended for parents who are transitioning their babies from breast milk to formula. Some complaints include that the formula is somewhat clumpy and difficult to mix, and that the measuring cup is flimsy and not very useful.
Price: $24.99 for 23.2 ounces ($1.08/ounce)
- Contains iron and expert-recommended DHA for brain and eye development
- Contains prebiotics and antioxidants similar to those found in breast milk
- Does not contain corn syrup
- Not organic
- Measuring cup is not very useful
- Price on Amazon fluctuates
- Somewhat difficult to mix
2. Best Conventional Infant Formula: Similac Advance Infant Formula with Iron
Similac Advance Infant Formula with Iron is a favorite of hospitals and new parents. It contains iron as well as OptiGRO, Similac’s exclusive blend of DHA, lutein and vitamin E for brain, eye and physical development. This product is inexpensive at just over a dollar per ounce, and it also comes in different styles, sizes and packaging options for your convenience. If you have a baby with a sensitive tummy, this product may not be optimal. It is not organic nor GMO free.
Price: $112.09 for 3 packs with 36 ounces each ($1.04/ounce)
- Features OptiGRO, Similac’s exclusive blend of DHA, lutein and vitamin E
- Top brand given in hospitals
- Designed to support brain, eye and physical development
- Not organic
- Not GMO free
- Not designed for sensitive tummies
- Some consumers report receiving dented cans
3. Best Infant Formula for Premies: Similac NeoSure Infant Formula with Iron
Parents love this formula because it helps prematurely born infants gain weight more quickly; it is designed specifically for that purpose. Similac NeoSure Infant Formula with Iron provides more protein, vitamins and minerals than formulas designed for full-term babies; the product includes DHA and ARA, as well as the trademarked OptiGRO, which is Similac’s exclusive blend of DHA, lutein and vitamin E. Some consumers report that the formula gives their babies excessive gas or constipation, but premie parents tend to think it is worth it for the successful weight gain. Once their babies have caught up, many parents are ready to switch to a formula designed for full-term babies. This product it not organic nor free from GMOs, and the first ingredient is corn syrup solids.
Price: $102.54 for 6 packs with 13.1 ounces each ($1.30/ounce)
- Designed for prematurely born babies
- Provides more protein, vitamins and minerals than formulas designed for full-term babies
- Includes DHA and ARA, nutrients found in breast milk and proven to support mental and visual development in baby’s first year
- Features OptiGRO, Similac’s exclusive blend of DHA, lutein and vitamin E
- Can give some babies excessive gas or constipation
- More expensive
- Not ideal for full-term babies or premie babies once they catch up
- Not organic nor GMO free
4. Closest Infant Formula to Mother’s Milk: Enfamil Enspire Powdered Baby Formula
Parents seem to be pretty happy with this brand of formula overall—enough so that many are willing to pay the $1.95 per ounce price, which is almost double some of the more affordable brands. The steep price is due to the fact that no other formula on the market contains milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), which is structurally very close to breast milk and is designed to foster cognitive development in infants. This formula is non GMO based, and it contains lactoferrin and a dual prebiotic blend to support immune health. Finally, it contains DHA and choline for healthy brain development. It’s got a lot to offer, but the formula isn’t organic, so if that is what you’re looking for you may want to look elsewhere. Some parents report that this formula isn’t ideal for babies with reflux or sensitive tummies.
Price: $39.98 for 20.5 ounces ($1.95/ounce)
- Non GMO
- Contains lactoferrin and a dual prebiotic blend to support immune health
- Contains milk fat globule membrane (MFGM) to support cognitive development
- Contains DHA and choline to foster brain development
- Can’t use coupons via Amazon
- Not organic
- Not designed to prevent reflux or for sensitive tummies
5. Best Organic Infant Formula: Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula with Iron
Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula with Iron is an affordable organic option at just $1.10 per ounce; it is certified USDA organic and kosher. This formula contains no added corn syrup solids; it is made with lutein for eye development and prebiotics for immune system health. It also contains DHA and ARA, ingredients naturally occurring in breast milk, for the eye and brain development of baby. This formula does tend to clump more than other brands, and some consumers report a fishy smell (likely due to the DHA). This brand isn’t ideal for sensitive tummies, so if your baby is colicky or has reflux, seek out a different formula. Finally, a note that some consumers report a lack of trust in this brand due to an ongoing lawsuit.
Price: $22.79 for 23.2 ounces ($0.98/ounce)
- USDA organic and certified kosher
- No added corn syrup solids
- Contains lutein for eyes and prebiotics for immune system development
- Contains DHA & ARA, ingredients naturally found in breast milk, for baby’s brain and eye development
- Some consumers report this formula tends to clump
- Not for sensitive tummies
- Some consumers report a fishy smell
- Some consumers report a lack of trust in this brand due to an ongoing lawsuit
6. Best Infant Formula for Premie Growth: Enfamil EnfaCare Baby Formula
Another formula designed specifically for prematurely born infants, Enfamil EnfaCare Baby Formula contains 40% more proteins and more vitamins and minerals than Enfamil Infant Formula in order to support growth in premies. This formula also contains the expert-recommended levels of DHA and ARA to support brain and eye development. It is more expensive compared to Similac’s premature-infant formula at $1.26 per ounce. This brand of formula is not free of GMOs and it contains high fructose corn syrup. This specific version of Enfamil is not designed for preventing reflux or for sensitive tummies. A few consumers have reported instances of receiving damaged cans or inconsistent packaging.
Price: $96.50 for 6 cans of 12.8 ounces ($1.26/ounce)
- Designed for babies born prematurely
- Contains 40% more proteins and more vitamins and minerals (compared to Enfamil Infant Formula) to support growth
- Contains expert-recommended levels of DHA and ARA to support brain and eye development
- Contains a blend of nutrients and antioxidants to help support baby’s immune system
- More expensive than full-term infant formula brands
- Can cause some gas, bloating and constipation
- Not free of GMOs or high fructose corn syrup
- Some reports of damaged cans and inconsistent packaging
7. Best Organic & GMO-Free Infant Formula: Plum Organics Grow Well Organic Infant Formula
Plum Organics Grow Well Organic Infant Formula is a certified organic formula created for newborns to babies up to 12 months. It’s made with organic non-fat milk from cows fed organic grain and hay, which are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers. This formula contains no added corn syrups; instead, carbohydrates are derived from the cow’s milk. It contains no GMOs and is gluten free and kosher. The price is higher compared to other organic brands on this list, but you can save 30% on your first delivery by clipping the Amazon coupon. Major complaints include the inclusion of soy and palm oils in the formula, and some issues with constipation. This formula is not designed for sensitive tummies or babies suffering from reflux.
Price: $29.83 for 21 ounces ($1.42/ounce)
- Made with organic non-fat milk from cows that are fed organic grain and hay, grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers
- No corn syrup solids added
- No GMOs, gluten free and kosher
- Can save 30% with Amazon coupon on first delivery
- More expensive than other organic brands
- Some consumers complain of constipation
- Contains soy and palm oils
- Not designed for sensitive tummies or babies with reflux
8. Best Infant Formula for Supporting Early Milestones: Enfamil Newborn Baby Formula
Enfamil Newborn Baby Formula is designed for newborn babies through babies three months of age. It is nutritionally tailored to support early milestones, such as focusing. This formula contains brain-nourishing DHA and choline, as well as a proprietary blend of dual prebiotics, designed to help support the immune system, and clinically proven to promote digestive health in newborns. Enfamil Newborn is more expensive compared to other non-organic brands, at $1.42/ounce, and unfortunately the refill packs that can be used to refill the reusable container are not currently available via Amazon. This formula is not free of GMOs, but it does not contain added corn syrup solids. Some consumers complain it gives their babies gas and makes them fussy.
Price: $103.84 for 4 packs of 20.5 ounces ($1.27/ounce)
- Contains expert-recommended brain-nourishing DHA and choline
- Contains a proprietary blend of dual prebiotics designed to help support the immune system, and clinically proven to promote digestive health
- Nutritionally tailored to help support early milestones like focusing
- Designed specifically for newborns through age three months
- More expensive compared with other brands
- Refills for reusable tub currently unavailable via Amazon
- Not free of GMOs
- Some consumers complain of gas and fussiness
9. Best Hypoallergenic Infant Formula: Gerber Extensive HA Hypoallergenic Powder Infant Formula with Iron
Gerber Extensive HA Hypoallergenic Powder Infant Formula with Iron is a good choice for babies who are allergic to cow’s milk and soy; it is made with whey protein instead. This formula contains the probiotic B. lactis, which helps to promote a balance of beneficial bacteria to support digestive health. It also contains expert-recommended DHA for brain and eye development, as well as a special oil blend with medium chain triglycerides to help facilitate fat absorption. This brand is expensive, but if your baby is suffering from allergies to cow’s milk and soy based formulas, it may be well worth the cost. Some consumers complain the formula tastes bad and that they wouldn’t want their babies to eat a bitter-tasting formula. The first ingredient of this formula is corn maltodextrin, a highly processed food.
Price: $25.15 for 14.1 ounces ($1.78/ounce) | Right now clip the Amazon coupon for an extra 15% off your first delivery
- A hypoallergenic 100% whey protein formula for babies with allergies or eczema
- Contains the probiotic B. lactis to help promote a balance of beneficial bacteria to support baby’s digestive health
- Contains expert-recommended DHA for brain and eye development
- Contains a special oil blend with medium chain triglycerides to help facilitate fat absorption
- Not organic
- Some consumers complain of bad taste
- First ingredient is corn maltodextrin
Find more Gerber Extensive HA Hypoallergenic Powder Infant Formula with Iron information and reviews here.
10. Best Infant Formula for Colick: Earth’s Best Organic Sensitivity Infant Formula with Iron
Earth’s Best Organic also makes a Sensitivity Infant Formula for fussy, colicky babies and those with other sensitivities. Note that it does contain some lactose, but it is a low-lactose, whey-dominant formula with a blend of carbohydrates that are meant to be gentle on baby’s tummy. Compared with the Gerber sensitivity formula, this one has a better price per ounce, and it is also USDA certified organic. Consumers report this formula tends to clump; it is recommended to mix the formula powder with warm water so it blends more easily. It also causes constipation in some babies. The first ingredient is glucose syrup solids.
Price: $26.79 for 23.2 ounces ($1.15/ounce)
- First USDA certified organic formula approved for fussy babies
- Low lactose, easy-to-digest, whey-dominant formula with a blend of carbohydrates that is gentle on baby’s tummy
- USDA Organic certified & kosher; no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives, GEI, growth hormones, antibiotics, steroids or potentially harmful pesticides/herbicides
- Inexpensive compared to other sensitive brands
- Formula somewhat difficult to dissolve, tends to clump
- Some consumers report a fishy smell
- Some consumers report this formula causes constipation
- First ingredient is glucose syrup solids
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