Food & Drink Magazine

What’s The Best Organic Formula For Your Baby?

By Thepickyeater @pickyeaterblog

Desktop4We’ve all heard the advice: “Breast is best.” Exclusively breastfeed until your baby is 1 year old. Nurse on demand. Formula is “poison.” For a few moms, that advice is easy to follow: they had a natural birth, had so much milk they could donate it, breastfeeding was pain-free, and their baby latched effortlessly. And while I wish it were that easy, unfortunately for many moms, it’s not.

Breastfeeding is HARD. Not hard as in “oh this is hard I don’t feel like doing it,” but hard as in: my baby won’t latch; I have low milk supply; my baby isn’t gaining weight; I physically can’t breastfeed because I have a health condition; my nipples are sore/bleeding/cracked/blistered; I’m in excruciating pain; I have no place to pump at work; I have mastitis; I’ve seen x# of lactation consultants and I’m still having problems nursing; etc.

Since I’ve had Layla, I’ve gotten a bunch of questions from new moms about breastfeeding, baby food, and what formulas – if any – are safe and healthy for their little ones. For me, nursing was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging parts of new motherhood. Many of the early days ended in tears over it. But because I had a decent supply (and I knew many moms who didn’t have enough/any milk at all), I decided to stick with it. It was difficult and challenging every day, but I nursed and pumped for the first 6 months, started weaning around 6.5 months and fully weaned by 7.5/8 months. There was no way I was going to make it to a year, and I was ok with that.

I know a lot of moms feel guilt over weaning early, or not being able to breastfeed as much a they’d like – but honestly, whatever makes you a better, happier mom is what you should do. If you love breastfeeding, great! But if you need to supplement or switch to formula, that’s ok too. The most important thing is the love you give to your baby, and that you and your baby are happy and healthy.

And so, since I knew I was going to need formula for Layla once I weaned, I did a ton of research trying to find the healthiest formula on the market today, and ended up finding a wonderful, healthy formula that I felt good about giving Layla (more on that in a sec!)

Disclaimers before we start:

** Organic formulas are more expensive than regular formula. I realize that not every parent has the financial means to buy organic formula for their little ones, and that is ok! If you don’t have the means, just do what you can for your baby. No judgments here.

** Not every baby likes every formula. Some formulas constipate some babies. Again, if you try the formulas I recommend and they don’t work for your baby – that’s ok too!

** I am advocating a world of no judgments when it comes to breastfeeding or formula feeding. All you can do as a mom is your best. Whether you breastfeed for a year, or 6 months or 1 month, or 0 months doesn’t make you a better or worse mother. A happy healthy mom and happy healthy baby is all that matters.

Now – here it is: a breakdown of all of the organic baby formulas on the market, and which ones are the best. 

What I learned in my research is that the US doesn’t have very strict standards when it comes to organic baby formula. Ingredients that really shouldn’t be in baby formula appear all the time in many organic brands.

The ingredients that shouldn’t appear in organic formula (as outlined by the National Organic Standards Board and are banned in the EU) include:

1) Processed Refined Sugars (Syrup, Syrup Solids) – corn syrup (glucose syrup solids), maltodextrin (a partially hydrolyzed starch derived from corn, rice, or potatoes), sugar, or brown rice syrup. Manufacturers use these because they are cheaper than lactose (which is what should be in formula).

2) Synthetic DHA and ARA - DHA and ARA are naturally found in breastmilk, but the DHA and ARA added to formula are extracted from algae and fungus, often using hexane (a neurotoxic petroleum-based solvent). The National Organic Standards Board has guidelines against this, but the USDA still allows it in organic formulas sold in the US.

3) Synthetic Preservatives - ascorbic palmitate and beta carotene are the common ones here.

4) Synthetic Nutrients – this includes lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, l-carnitine and l-methionine. These are banned in formulas in the EU, but are allowed in the US (go figure). I won’t go into details on each nutrient listed above, but essentially – many are processed with neurotoxic solvents or are either themselves listed as a toxic ingredient.

Note: Palm Oil is in most formulas (EU & US), but it can form “soaps” in the baby’s intestines – which can cause digestive issues/gas/etc.

Unfortunately, almost every single formula in the US market has one or more of these ingredients included. Even the EU formulas have Palm Oil (but they have less of it than the US formulas, and so it doesn’t cause digestive issues). That being said, organic formula is still better than conventional formula – because at least organic formula is made with non-GMO ingredients and the milk used is hormone free.

So what’s a mom to do? Order your formula online from the EU if you can! Hipp Organic and Holle are the two best infant formulas out there. 

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Hipp Organic and Holle Organic are two brands from the EU that have wonderful ingredient lists for their formulas. Hipp is the best, in my opinion and Holle is a close second. I used Hipp for Layla, and it has been working great for us. You can see the ingredients here, and you can buy it with free shipping to the US here. For Holle – you can see the ingredients here, and you can buy it with free shipping to the US here.

Here is a chart of the organic baby formulas out there, outlining which have the ingredients above. The chart is ranked from best to worst formula. In the US, Baby’s Only formula is probably your best bet.

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The Bottom Line:

** There is no perfect formula, but some are still much better than others.

** Baby’s Only is probably the best in the US (that you can buy at your local grocery store).

** If you can afford it, shipping your formula from Europe is the absolute best way to go, and Hipp Organic is the best formula out there!


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