Switching to formula or opting for combined feeding is a big decision for mothers and the matter should not be taken lightly.
It does not have to be intimidating either.
Many people may give their opinion on this topic, even highly experienced mothers, but the situations are rarely the same.
Therefore, we’ve decided to create this guide to help you make the right decision and get the best formula for breastfed babies on the market.
First What's Baby Formula?
If you’re an expectant mother or a mom of little baby, then you perhaps know that nothing but breastfeeding is the healthiest option for the newborn.
There is no doubt that breast milk is simply the best food for an infant.
It is recognized as such by the American Academy of Pediatrics, by lactation consultants and nursing experts worldwide.
But, it’s true that a mother cannot breastfeed a baby at every moment. The possible reasons behind it may be related to some physical factors or any other aspect.
For all those reasons, you probably want to look for the top formula. Every baby is not same; so, the needs of each of them are diverse.
You may go for either a liquid formula or a powdered one. The former one is extremely convenient, as you can easily serve the required amount for your baby.
Produced from cow milk, these breastfed babies’ supplements present your baby with an extensive variety of healthy nutrients.
It has a significant content of potassium, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, Vitamin A, B6, B12, C and D, with is without the immunity building factors of breast milk.
The proteins usually come from whey or casein in milk. It’s a processed food with added ingredients for optimal nutrition.
There are also prebiotics in it, which lead to the growth of good bacteria in the gut. As for the concentration, the quality and purity of each ingredient, it is all up to the brand producing the formula.
Without a doubt, there are plenty of leading brands and parents should wisely pick a formula that suits their child’s needs. However, some formulas are free of lactose, and thus, you don’t need to worry if your baby cannot tolerate this ingredient.
Besides, many other supplements are also based on goats’ milk and hydrolyzed procedure. But, the common feature is that all these formulas have a nutritional stability.
Thus, we recommend you to buy breastfed babies’ supplements are beneficial not only for your sweet baby but you yourself also.
Whenever you feel lethargic or your breasts are not feeling well, you may prefer the most suitable supplements for your baby.
5 Best Baby Formula for Breastfed Babies Reviews 2019
Organic - GMO Free
Organic - GMO Free
Organic - GMO Free
Not GMO Free
If you ask other parents for the best formula, then Earth’s Best Organic Formula is very likely going to be the first recommendation.
The formula is designed with inspiration taken from breast milk and for women whose milk production declines with time, this is a perfect substitute.
For instance the whey to casein ratio is pretty much identical to that of real mother’s milk and the formula ends up providing a complete nutritional package for the growing baby.
This package pretty much contains all the nutrients that your baby will need.
It's important to note that this formula contains no artificial flavors or colors or preservatives of any kind. There is no presence of GEI, growth hormones or any antibiotics & steroids and neither does it contain potentially harmful pesticides/herbicides.
Instead the formula comes enriched with Omega 3 DHA and Omega 6 ARA fatty acids (both are nutrients found in breast milk), the former is concentrated 2 times as much as any other leading formula brand, leading to a quicker development of the baby’s brain and sight.
The formula is easy to digest and made with high quality protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals and even contains iron. The product is completely organic, USDA certified and Kosher certified as well.
If you are looking for a nutritionally complete diet for your infant, then you will rarely do better than Earth’s best Organic range. This product is recommended for babies who are a year or lesser.
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According to data collected by Nielson research, Similac is not just the number one formula brand chosen by mothers but also the number one brand that is fed in hospitals and it is safe to say that it is not just coz of the cute packaging that it is so.
As the babies grow older, they switch from just milk to other kinds of normal foods so it is important to ensure that they be given a formula that gives them all the nutrients they need for adequately support their growth and development.
The Go & Grow by Similac provides just that by integrating the formula with optiGRO, their own blend of DHA, lutein and vitamin E, which are all, found in breast milk too.
This provides a complete nutritional experience for a toddle with 25 different vitamins and minerals thrown in to ensure that your child gets the advantage of a balanced diet.
Besides DHE helps with the development of the brain, Vitamin E helps develop various cells and lutein ensures the baby enjoys optimal eye health.
Additionally the formula also provides a boost to the natural immune system of the baby to ensure overall good health levels.
Go & Grow by Similac is a top quality baby formula that comes backed by their Tummy Care guarantee. If your baby’s tummy does not agree with this formula, then you can try another one from their range, totally free of cost.
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As far as completely natural and 100% organic baby formulas go, the Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Formula might be the best organic baby formula on the shelves today.
This should fulfill all the requirements of people who are very careful about what they and their baby consumes.
As with any quality baby formula, the product comes with high levels of DHA and ARA essential fatty acids that make it very similar to breast milk and allow the baby to enjoy the health advantage that comes from it.
Remarkably, the product is completely gluten free and does not contain any rBST Dairy, no Corn Syrup or any sort of GMO Ingredients. Neither will you find the presence of any genetically modified ingredients in this baby formula either.
The adherence to the organic tag is such that even the milk that is used in the manufacturing of the Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Formula is derived only from cows that have not been given any steroids, or antibiotics or any artificial growth hormones whatsoever.
Most importantly, the calcium to phosphorous ratio in this formula is optimized at 1:5, ensuring that the baby gets the exact does that he or she needs and that there are optimal conditions for proper bone development.
It contains no palm oil or any other dubious ingredients that are not good for your baby, All in all this is a great supplemental product for those parents who are very conscious about the natural health of their babies.
You can check out the mixing instruction on their official website.
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For parents who are always on the go or those that have a lack of time on their hands, the Similac Advanced Newborn Infant Formula with ready to feed bottles is an ideal solution.
There is no effort required but to open the bottle and feed it to the baby. Working with formula can’t possibly get easier than this.
First of all, the bottles do not contain BPA so there are no chances of toxins mixing in with your baby’s formula.
The formula by itself is top notch, competing with other leading formulas in the market and sees the inclusion of Similac’s trademark optiGRO blend that has a great mixture of DHA, lutein and Vitamin E that work towards developing the various bodily functions in a baby.
None of the ingredients are genetically engineered and this is on the whole a whole nutritional formula that covers all the needs that a baby might have. This is ideally suited for babies that are up to one year old.
This is marketed towards parents who don’t have the time to make formula in a traditional manner. This is also perfect for fathers who want to feed their babies when the mother is not around.
The feeding process is very easy and you could even stick in a nipple that your baby is used to. A must have in every mother’s baby bag.
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While it may seem like yet another baby formula that is geared towards babies aged 0 to 12 months old, the Enfamil Infant Baby Formula does a lot more than most other brands.
The difference is that Enfamil comes with prebiotic support to additional boost your child’s immune system.
This is done by feeding the baby bacteria that are beneficial and that are naturally found in the digestive tract. After all 70% of a baby’s immune system is centered around the digestive tract.
The prebiotics work wonders in reinforcing the natural defense of the baby’s body by greatly improving the immune system of the baby.
The product features their patented Neuro Complete Formula that contain essential nutrients such as choline, iron and DHA (the essential fatty acid that is present in breast milk). All of these nutrients are geared towards ensuring that the baby’s brain develops adequately.
The Enfamil Infant Baby Formula is one of the closest ever formulas that does a great job of emulating real mature breast milk. This is exactly the reason why this product remains the #1 baby formula prescribed by pediatricians around the country.
It also contains Iron, Vitamin A and Vitamin D in necessary quantities to provide a total nutritional solution for the baby’s bodily needs.
The bottles it comes packaged in are BPA free and it is all in all a great product for the young baby.
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How Did we Choose These Baby Formula?
There are over a hundred types of infant formula on the market and choosing one or five over the rest involves research. Our list had numerous options ranging from standard formulas to specialty formulas.
We came across powdered formula, liquid concentrates, fortified options, plus organic options and non-GMO formula. Looking at all these options, it became clearer just how hard moms struggle to choose the best formula loved by their babies.
Understandably, manufacturers are only trying to beat their competition. But, for moms planning on weaning their kids, they have to find a formula that enhances good health in babies: a formula that is easily digestible and hypoallergenic formula for babies with severe allergies.
Though enriched with carbohydrate, protein is the most important nutrient considered when looking for baby formula. Digestion issues and allergies result from proteins hence the availability of formula from cow milk, protein hydrolysate (formula whose protein has been broken down into tiny molecules) and soy.
A look at most of the formula on the market shows that over 80 percent of the formulas is from a cow’s milk. This comes from the fact that a cow’s milk has a structure close to that of human breast milk. Our picks are all from cow’s milk but, they are non-GMO based.
We also picked the formula that works well for babies and toddlers who are lactose intolerant like the Go & Grow by Similac, a non-GMO bases formula for toddlers.
For this review, we also picked formulas that enhance digestion, growth, and development. Therefore, we chose the baby formula with beneficial bacteria, ARA and DHA. The presence of iron also was of significance in our review. DHA and ARA are important for brain and eye development.
Finally, knowing how choosy babies are, we looked at the consistency and the texture of powdered and liquid concentrate formula. We also noted the smells and the taste.
Is It OK to Introduce Formula to a Breastfed Baby?
First of all, formula can be absolutely necessary in situations when the mother does not produce enough milk herself or there are other reasons stopping her from breastfeeding her baby, like a child who has a difficulty latching. Too much work during the day/exhaustion at night could have the same effect.
Introducing formula will be of great help in so many ways. Mothers should not be discouraged by a lack of milk in the beginning. It is known that, the more one breastfeeding, the more milk will be produced.
Insist on stimulating the gland this way on a regular basis and it might pick up on itself. The same effect can be obtained with breast pumps for lactation.
As long as there is some mother milk, however, the formula is seen as a great addition or helper in times when the mother can’t breastfed. It is what allows mothers to go back to work or fathers to bond with their babies by feeding them themselves.
Because of its nutrient profile, formula is safe and fulfilling. It even prolongs the period of time to the next meal. As long as it’s kept in accordance to the manufacturer’s directions and everything touching it is clean, it poses no threat to the newborn.
How to Introduce Formula to a Breastfed Baby
Introducing formula to a baby ho has only been breastfed can be a bit difficult emotionally. This is why the proper method involves first a combination.
Alternate the two and there won’t be much of a shock. A radical changeover will surely feel a lot worse. Don’t worry about your baby not accepting it.
They are adaptable and quick to form new habits. Even if it’s completely rejected at first, don’t panic and have patience.
Don’t mix your own milk with the formula.
The baby can reject the bottle or drink just part of it. This means you will have to throw away what’s left, thus wasting precious milk of your own.
Keeps things separate. Only in the beginning you may add a part of formula to more arts of breast milk, which will have fewer chances of being rejected.
This will get their system accustomed to the new and the next dose will be easier accepted. If their belly is OK with it, you can proceed further.
The taste will also be a little different. As the child gets used to the new method, you can let other people take up this task as well.
In many cases, a different approach has worked better: giving the bottle to a different person like relative or babysitter. This is because, when faced with the mother, the child will always be drawn to her body and look for the breast milk while discarding the bottle
If there’s the father, then there is only one option left. See how your kid behaves and choose the most appropriate approach.
Bottle feeding is not meant to be introduced for your convenience only. The baby is always better with maternal milk.
If you consider you have poor lactation, use breast pumps and other proven methods and let your baby suck again and again, to stimulate natural secretion of milk.
Many mothers give up early because they don’t know about this necessary stimulation. The amount of milk being produced can increase with time.
If you still have a low milk supply and the child stays hungry after breastfeeding, then it’s time to supplement with formula.
Do not use a microwave to warm the formula.
You may want to read on the topic and about the many harmful effects of this method. However, there is another practical aspect that worries: microwaving can create hot spots in the milk and if you’re not mixing it well enough afterward too, it can burn the baby’s mouth.
The liquid can be stored in the refrigerator, but only for 24 hours. Do not leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Unfinished bottles should be washed well and left to dry.
Powdered or Prepared Formula – Which One to Choose
There are two main types of infant formula easily available on the market. See their descriptions, pros and cons below:
- Powdered Form
The nutrients are in solid form and require to be mixed with water. It's no rocker science here.
Note that powder formula is not sterile, but the risks are easily eliminated once you mix it with hot water. The temperature should never be lower than 70 degrees Celsius, in order to make sure the dangerous bacteria is killed.
Also, keep everything clean – the bottle, the cap and all the parts involved, as well as your hands. Have the bottle well cleaned on the inside, too.
As for the preparation, you will have to measure the water and the powder carefully, then bring the water to a boil. Add powder to the needed quantity of water and shake thoroughly. Usually, it's one scoop of powder to 2 fl oz of water.
You will find powdered formula sold in cans. These will contain an amount sufficient for 90 to 200 liquid ounces or more. It is an economical choice if you come to think of it.
Use this according to your schedule and energy; you may prepare it each time your baby needs it or make a whole day's worth and keep it in the refrigerator.
- Ready to feed/Prepared
The ready-to-mix infant formula is the most common form and the easiest to use. It's very helpful because you can take the liquid with you wherever you go and feed it to the kid.
There is no need to mix the ingredients or to measure. No further dilution is required. Simply use it as it is. You will find it sold in containers of various sizes.
To make sure that you are choosing an already prepared formula, read the print on the label – it's supposed to mention “ready to feed”. As for the money you're spending, there will be a larger amount in this case.
You need to weigh your time and resources carefully before you make your choice. Do not mistake prepared formula for concentrate. If it's concentrate, then it will have to be diluted with water.
Regardless of which form you will choose, you will have to get accustomed to the measurement units because that is how you will be calculating the amounts. Also, check the expiry date and the maximum storage time at room temperature, as well as in the refrigerator.
What to Consider Before Introducing Formula to a Breastfed Baby?
Formula cannot be simply introduced to a baby’s diet to replace breast milk partially or 100%. There are several factors to consider before implementing this. The change may be easier or harder to make, depending on these factors. We will break this down for you for more clarity.
- When to begin
Always do your best to breastfeed your baby for at least a whole month, if not two. They need to get used to it and your own breasts need to adjust and lactate accordingly.
Have no worry, infants can still form new habits later on. If the baby still hesitates, wait it out until he or she is hungry again so they will be more willing to take the new milk.
- The transition
At first, it is best to strive to give the infant both maternal milk and formula. This method can and should be prolonged for as long as possible, because every drop of the mother's milk matters a lot. The more of that, the better for the baby's health and development.
Transitioning from breast milk to formula has to be done with great care. Always warm it up at the right temperature and mix it with your own milk for the first times; have about 75% of that and 25% formula and mix them well. It is true, some kids have a whole bottle of formula right from the start, but not all are as accepting.
- Digestion times
Introducing formula to breastfed baby will change your daily schedule – for the better. Formula takes longer to digest and therefore will stay longer in the stomach. This is one huge advantage.
This means that formula can actually be used by anyone – by the father or any babysitter you may resort to. The mother will enjoy more freedom to arrange her schedule as she finds comfortable.
Also, she won't have to get up at night every time to feed her baby herself. In addition, the consistency, the nutrients and the digestion times of formula will leave you more time in between each feeding moment, thus simplifying your work.
- The quantity
At first you can't know how they will like it or react to it. Although the formula is safe, the baby needs to accept it and adjust to it. Start with small quantities and gradually increase these.
Remember that you are instituting a new habit and also letting the infant's body accommodate with the newly introduced food. Up to that point they had nothing but your own milk. Babies usually won't brink a whole formula bottle from the start so don't expect this.
- The nipple size
Carefully select the rubber nipple for the bottle. To make it resemble the natural nipple, go for a small one at first, with a low flow.
This won't feel weird to the baby. Also, milk that is more easily available (from the bottle) will quickly get the child addicted and thus he/she will refuse the breast.
- Your schedule
To choose the good formula for breastfed babies, you must also consider what your daily schedule is or will be. Everything changes when your maternity leave ends.
You will then have to come up with a new plan to have the child fed. This also depends on how quickly one gets hungry again. See what is convenient to you.
Working mothers prefer to use breastfeed once in the morning and once in the evening. Their body adjusts and regulates lactation to suit these times. During the night, the father can wake up to feed the child with a bottle.
- Your budget
Powder costs less that readily made formula. It will cost more of your time, however. Be honest to yourself about which is most important to you.
Ready-to-feed formulations are more easy to use and will be like a piece of cake, but the price is higher. To get to the best solution, start by calculating how much of it your baby needs.
Perhaps you only need small quantities of formula and a lot of it is getting thrown away at the end of the day. In this case, you may want to consider purchasing powder instead of the liquid form.
How To Wean Baby To Formula From Breast Feeding
Whether it takes weeks, months or years, every breastfed baby gets weaned eventually. So, when doesn’t matter as much as how. This is because we all have different beliefs and we raise our kids differently and what the world thinks doesn’t matter.
Once you decide to wean your baby, here is how you can do it:
1 – Wean Gradually
You can’t wean your baby off breast milk at once unless your baby refuses breast milk. Otherwise, if you are like most of us, we started formula feeding while breastfeeding. You have to take the weaning process slowly.
Formula milk is important for supplementation, but you should keep on breastfeeding for a few more months to meet your kid’s nutritional needs. Gradual weaning, which we also call partial breastfeeding protects your breasts from engorgement. It also eases your baby’s anxiety.
In the process, we learned that partial breastfeeding has numerous benefits. These benefits include, but aren’t limited complete nutrition, bonding, comfort, oral development, allergy and disease prevention and it also boosts baby’s immune system. Therefore, partial weaning is important in the entire weaning process.
For the weaning results, drop one feeding every three days. The process will take a few weeks so; you have to be patient too.
2 – Increase Attention when Weaning
Nursing is an important bonding time for moms with their babies. For that intimacy during weaning, you should lavish your baby with extra attention. Snuggling together or playing together can offer the right emotional equivalent to nursing.
3 – Is the Timing Right?
Though it feels like the right time for you to wean, it may not be the right timing for your baby. The worst times to wean your baby include when moving homes, a separation, learning to walk or when your child starts daycare. If your maternity leave is almost ending, you will want to start weaning during the holidays or when taking a vacation.
4 – Get the Right Bottles
There are feeding bottles with Stage 1 nipples. These bottles work well for babies under six months. Note that you may encounter some resistance when bottle feeding a baby aged between three and four months.
How can you simplify bottle feeding – integrate breastfeeding with bottle feeding but with breast milk to minimize resistance.
Having a gradual and a systematic weaning process also makes it easy for you to know the best breast milk substitute. If you suspect that your child has a protein allergy, or if they are colicky, you can change the feeding bottle or switch to lactose-free formula or soy-based formula.
Even before you introduce your baby to a formula, you can tell if your baby has allergies if they get extra colicky, have reflux and if they cry a lot after every nursing session – the problem could be what you eat. Fortunately, there are many hypoallergenic alternatives.
Comparison of Infant Formula
Breastmilk is crucial for complete nutrition which leads to the healthy growth and the development of your baby. However, if your breasts refuse to produce milk, if the milk production is insufficient to meet your baby’s needs, or if you can’t breastfeed, then you will have to introduce your child to baby formula.
As mentioned above, your baby may refuse formula because of the taste, the smell, consistency, texture or indigestion: though the formula is FDA approved. This begs the question, which is the best infant formula?
- Cow’s milk formula – it undergoes processing making it easily digestible. It is the most common type of baby formula.
- Specialized formula – this provides sustenance to babies with special needs, for instance, premature babies and babies with a high risk of developing allergies. The most common specialized formula is protein hydrolysate.
- Soy formula – this is a vegan option only recommended by doctors in rare cases of extreme protein allergies.
You can get the formula in powder form, as a liquid concentrate, or in ready-to-feed bottles.
1 – Formula that meets the FDA guidelines
In the search for the most-recommended formula, make sure it meets the guidelines stipulated in the Infant Formula Act. The formula must have at least 29 nutrients which include minerals, vitamins, proteins, carbohydrates, and fats.
The protein content in the formula should be between 8-12 percent of calories, fats 43-49 percent and carbohydrates 41-43 percent. Also, it should have extra vitamin D, DHA/ARA essential fatty acids and more calcium and iron.
2 – DHA/ ARA
These two compounds are present in almost all brands of formula on the US market. DHA, Docosahexaenoic acid, and ARA, arachidonic acids are artificial forms of essential fatty acids found naturally in breast milk. Fortification of DHA and ARA promotes healthy eye and brain development.
3 – Organic formula
The number of organic formulas is growing as seen in brands like Earth’s Best Organic Infant formula and Similac. Organic formula costs more than nonorganic formula.
4 – Cow’s formula milk
As mentioned, this is the most prevalent type of formula. Though cow’s milk isn’t entirely like human breast milk, the formula undergoes processing to meet an infant’s nutritional needs.
Since 42 percent of all the calories from breast milk come from sugars, manufacturers add lactose to cow’s milk. Cow’s milk is also low in iron, and the resultant formula has added iron.
5 – Soy formula milk
Babies allergic to cow milk or those who are lactose intolerant use soy as an alternative. This formula milk is from the soybean.
6 – Hydrolyzed formulas
If the parent’s history indicates that there is a high risk of an allergy, then your baby will have to use hydrolyzed formula. Such formulas are also called hypoallergenic formulas. They cost more than other types of formulas because the proteins have been broken down into tiny pieces that are easily digestible and absorbable.
7 – Probiotic and Prebiotic infant formulas
There is an increasing number of formulas with probiotics. Probiotics are the good bacteria which reside in the gut. The bacteria help in the breakdown of medicine and food while keeping disease causing microbes at bay. The use of probiotic formula is beneficial to kids suffering from diarrhea or those on antibiotics.
You will also find prebiotic formula. What this formula does is to stimulate, promote and support the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut.
Conclusion - The Closest Formula to Breastmilk
Formula is the best alternative to a mother’s milk on the market, but it is never supposed to replace it – not when this exists, be it in smaller or larger quantities. It is, however, excellent at supplementing when lactation is slow or other problems exist.
At the same time, it is completely safe and the best brands have achieved the complete nutrient profile. Formula is good for the baby and convenient for the family – specially for the mother, who can be less concerned about what she eats or when she breastfeeds.
Introducing formula is essential in most cases, because mother don’t have enough breast milk. This is easy to notice: the infant is still hungry and looking for more.
Earth's Best Organic Infant Formula with Iron - Editor's Choice