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Human milk may be the best food for human babies, but not everyone wants to—or can—breastfeed exclusively. Many working moms, for example, nurse in the morning and evening and have a caregiver give the baby formula during the day. And some women choose to use formula full time.
If you decide to give your baby formula, your pediatrician will tell you which type is most appropriate for your baby’s health, age and nutritional needs (such as dairy vs. soy). Once you choose a brand you like, you’ll need to consider the convenience and cost of the various types—powder, liquid concentrate or ready-to-feed. Powder is the least expensive option, but mixing it requires an extra step. Ready-to-feed is the most convenient option but is also the most expensive.
No matter which brand of formula you choose, safety is not an issue, as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates all commercially prepared formulas to ensure not only that they’re safe, but that they contain specific nutrients necessary to sustain a baby for the first year of life. So when it comes to nutrition, one brand is not superior to another.
That said, here’s a rundown of some of the most popular formulas on the market today.
|Formula||What makes it special||Available in dairy and soy?||Formulations available||Suggested retail price for powder||Iron-fortified?|
|Baby’s Only Organic Toddler Formula||Made from organic ingredients; recommended for babies 1 year and older, unless approved by your pediatrician (the manufacturer doesn’t want to compete with breastfeeding).||Yes||Powder only||$11 for 12.7 ounces||Yes|
|Enfamil Gentle Ease Lipil||Contains one-fourth the lactose of other dairy formulas; recommended for babies who are fussy or “gassy”; contains DHA and ARA.||Dairy only||Powder only||$13 for 12 ounces||Yes|
|Nestlé Good Start Supreme||Made with “comfort proteins,” 100 percent whey protein partially hydrolyzed to be easily digested by babies with sensitive digestive systems; contains DHA and ARA (fatty acids found in breast milk that are important for brain and eye development).||Yes||Powder, liquid concentrate and ready-to-feed liquid||$13 for 12.9 ounces||Yes|
|Horizon Organic Infant Formula with Iron||Produced without the use of antibiotics, added growth hormones or pesticides, and following guidelines for organic food as set by the USDA National Organic Program. (Note: available in Oregon, California and Washington only.)||Dairy only||Powder only||$19 for 13.2 ounces||Yes|
|Similac Advance||Made with nucleotides, which help
support the development of babies’ immune systems; contains DHA and ARA.
|Yes||Powder, liquid concentrate and ready-to-feed liquid||$13 for 12.9 ounces||Yes|