Formula Buying Guide
How to Choose the Best Formula
Breastfeeding may be the best way to support your baby’s brain and immune system, but we can get as close as possible by choosing a formula with the right ingredients.
As I covered in detail in Brain Health from Birth, the top ingredients to look for in a newborn formula are:
- Whey Protein
- Lactose as the primary carbohydrate source
- Prebiotics to support a healthy gut microbiome.
- Milk Fat Globule Membrane (MFGM).
My Top Formula Picks For Newborns Without Allergy, Eczema, or Reflux
Enfamil Enspire or Enfamil NeuroPro Infant. Both contain MFGM, shown to support cognitive development and help to build a healthy microbiome. They also contain prebiotics (as GOS and polydextrose). The difference between the two is that Enspire also contains lactoferrin, which further helps to support a healthy microbiome and prevent GI infections.
(Enfamil Neuropro Enfacare is the version for premature babies. Neuropro Gentlease is a partially hydrolyzed form for colicky babies, which also uses corn syrup instead of lactose. It may be a good option for some babies, but it is not a whey-only formula, so Gerber Good Start Gentle is likely better for babies with more significant digestive problems).
For Babies with Reflux, Colic, Constipation, or Allergy
- First choice: Gerber Good Start Gentle
- Second choice: Gerber Good Start Soothe
- Third choice: Similac Pro Total Comfort
These formulas each contain hydrolyzed whey as the only protein, along with 2-FL, the preferred prebiotic. Gerber Gentle is a slightly better place to start because it contains lactose as the primary carbohydrate, which is closer to breastmilk.
Very few babies have genuine problems with lactose, but if your baby continues to have digestive problems, you could try Gerber Soothe, which has less lactose and more maltodextrin (it also already has the L.reuteri probiotic shown to improve colic).
As a last resort, you could then try Similac Pro Total Comfort, which uses corn syrup and sugar in place of lactose.
If you are breastfeeding and merely using formula to supplement, Gerber Good Start For Supplementation is a good option. This is similar to their Gentle formula, but does not contain prebiotics, since breastfed babies will already be getting enough from breastmilk.
With my first son, who had extremely bad reflux and cried in pain after every feeding, we tried 8 different formulas (and donor breastmilk) and Gerber Good Start Gentle was by far the best tolerated. It is an even better formula these days, because it now contains the 2-FL prebiotic to help support a healthy microbiome, which should further soothe colic and reflux.
If You Really Want to Buy Organic
As I explained in the book, the scientific evidence indicates that it is more important to choose a formula with the key ingredient shown to support brain and immune health, rather than choosing organic.
If organic is a high priority, top recommendation is Happy Baby Organic Formula, because it contains two prebiotics, GOS and FOS. This combination has been shown to help babies build a healthy microbiome, and most organic formulas only contain one type of prebiotic, if that. If there is a family history of allergy or eczema and you want an organic formula, the best option is Plum Organics Gentle. This is one of few organic formulas made from hydrolyzed whey protein. The drawback is that it does not contain any prebiotics. Another organic hydrolyzed whey formula is Hipp Comfort, which can be ordered from the UK or Germany.
Detailed Formula Comparison Chart
|Formula Name||Protein Type||Main Carbohydrate||Prebiotic||Extra Features|
|Enfamil NeuroPro Infant||Milk protein with added whey||Lactose||GOS &Polydextrose||MFGM|
|Enfamil Gentlease NeuroPro||Hydrolyzed milk and whey protein||Corn syrup||N/A||MFGM|
|Enfamil Reguline||Hydrolyzed milk and whey protein||50% Corn syrup 50% lactose||GOS &Polydextrose|
|Enfamil Enspire||Milk protein with added whey||Lactose||GOS &Polydextrose||MFGM & lactoferrin|
|Similac Pro-Total Comfort||Hydrolyzed whey||Corn maltodextrin||2-FL & FOS||No|
|Similac Pro-Sensitive||Milk protein (i.e 80% casein)||Corn syrup, sugar||2-FL & FOS||No|
|Similac Pro-Advance||Milk protein with added whey||Lactose||2-FL & FOS||No|
|Gerber Good Start Gentle||Hydrolyzed whey||Lactose||2-FL||B. lactis probiotic|
|Gerber Good Start Soothe||Hydrolyzed whey||Corn maltodextrin||2-FL||L. reuteri DSM 17938 probiotic|
|Plum Organics Gentle||Hydrolyzed whey||Lactose||N/A||Organic|
|Gerber Natura Organic Formula||Milk protein with added whey||Lactose||GOS||Organic|
|Earth’s Best Organic Dairy Infant Powder||Milk protein with added whey||Lactose||FOS||Organic|
|Happy Baby Organic Stage 1 Infant Formula||Milk protein with added whey||Lactose||GOS & FOS||Organic|
|HiPP Organic First Infant Milk (EU/UK)||Milk protein with added whey||Lactose||GOS||Organic, no taurine|