Your 6 Biggest Baby-Formula Questions, Answered

Whether you plan to use a little baby formula or a lot, we’ve got the answers to the questions parents wonder about most.

Formula in Bottle Blue Background Rattle Toy Jeffrey Westbrook

1. How do I choose?

We know, so many choices! The good news: Formulas are more alike than different, says Frank R. Greer, M.D., professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health. To help decide, read up on formulations that interest you and ask your pediatrician and other moms for advice.

2. What’s the difference between powder and ready-made?

Powder has to be mixed with water, while ready-made just has to be poured into a bottle. They’re essentially the same—you’ll pay more for ready-made. 

3. Can babies drink formula made of cow’s milk?

Even though your baby isn’t supposed to drink cow’s milk until she turns 1, most formula is made with it and it’s completely safe, says Dr. Greer. To make cow’s milk as digestible and nutritious as breast milk, it’s heat-treated and mixed with water, protein, fat, carbs, vitamins, and minerals. 

4. Should I start with soy?

The only advantage of feeding your baby soy-based formula is if you want to raise him on a vegan diet, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. “Babies are just as likely to be allergic to soy milk as they are to cow’s milk, so if he’s fussy or spitting up constantly after feeding, try switching to another cow’s-milk formula before turning to soy,” says Dr. Greer.

5. What about organic and grass-fed formulas?

They’re free of possible pesticides and have a smaller carbon footprint, so if those perks appeal to you, go for it. But they don’t have more or better nutrients than other brands, says Dr. Greer. 

6. Any water concerns?

If you have city water, it’s fine to use the tap, but if your home has a well, talk to your pediatrician about supplementing with bottled H2O.