Ready to learn about organic vs non organic formula? Trying to figure out how on earth to choose the best organic formula for your baby? I’m here to help!
Let me start by saying I am NOT a medical professional, just a label reading Momma, which I’m sure if you are reading this article you are too.
SPOILER ALERT: Don’t read this if you don’t want to know the details about formula and what’s in it. Ignorance is bliss if you want it to be!
- My experience with formula feeding
- Organic vs non organic formula
- Choosing the best organic baby formula
- The companies behind most organic baby formulas on the market
- 6 Ingredients to look out for in organic baby formula
- Which is the best organic baby formula?
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My experience with formula feeding
So, I flunked breastfeeding TWICE, well technically 3 times, but the last attempt, I felt like more of a dropout. I tried pretty much everything to make it work, EVERYTHING, but sometimes things just don’t work out like you want em’ to.
For a lot of moms, formula will come into the equation at some point. Most doctors recommend waiting until 1 year of age to give regular milk, so if you don’t/can’t do breast milk until that time, then you are left with formula to give your wee one.
Now, with my first babe I just fed her what they gave me at the doc’s office. If it was easy to find at Target, it was good enough. Now, my little gal is a smart cookie, and is still alive and kicking after drinking it, so seriously, no judgments if you are currently giving your baby regular old formula or if you plan on doing so in the future!
Organic vs non organic formula
So, let me break it down real simple for ya! Formulas that are NOT organic will have the following:
- GMO’s- Genetically modified Ingredients
- Milk from cows that have been given growth hormones or antibiotics
- Ingredients that were treated with pesticides and herbicides and fumigated in storage
- Use oils that were processed with the use of neurotoxic solvents like hexane
If you decide that you are going to skip the organic route, then the rest of my post doesn’t matter, feel free to go back to eating Bon Bon’s on the couch (because that’s what us Moms do all day, right?! Bahahaha!)
All NON-organic formulas are pretty much created equal, with some subtle differences. So if a conventional formula feels like the best fit for your family – you do you mama! And go ahead and pick a formula that fits your budget and agrees with your baby.
If you are going to go with Organic, then that’s a whole different ballgame.
Soooo, what does it mean IF you buy Organic formula? Ask and you shall receive:
- NO genetically modified ANYTHING
- The cows MUST be fed organic feed and cannot be given growth hormones
- ALL crops must NOT be treated with pesticides or chemicals
- Farms must pass an inspection
There are quite a few formula brands out there, so I am only going to focus on the ones I have tried (well my baby has tried) or formula brands I have read great things about.
Choosing the best organic baby formula
The companies behind most organic baby formulas on the market
PBM (Perrigo): These are the guys making Vermont Organics, Bright Beginnings, Whole Foods 365 brand, Earths Best, and Walmart Parents Choice
Abbott Laboratories: Similac Organic formula (these guys are “winning” as far as SALES goes)
Natures One: Baby’s Only Organic: (This is a family owned operation and not a publicly traded corporation) This formula is labeled as Toddler formula, but that is only because they want to promote breastfeeding before the age of 1, but it IS perfectly fine to give it to your baby before then.
Danone’s: Happy Baby Organic Formula (These are the guys making Evian water and Activia yogurt. It was actually started by two Moms!)
6 Ingredients to look out for in organic baby formula
I am going to focus on only a few ingredients that I think are enough to help you in making the decision that you feel is best!
Baby formula tries to closely mimic human milk (obviously), but cow’s milk has less lactose than human milk. So, the formulas need to make up for it by adding more of the sweet stuff. Lactose is THE best option to make milk sweet annnnnnd be the most similar to human milk. However, this shizzz is pricey $$$
Sadly, this means going on a budget (I hate it when my hubby uses that word!) for these formula companies. So, what do you think they did? That’s right! No more lactose, and instead plant-based sweeteners.
Try to stick to a formula that has LACTOSE listed as the first ingredient. Avoid corn syrup as the first ingredient.
Organic baby formulas that have lactose as the first ingredient and are my TOP PICKS:
Organic baby formulas that use OTHER sweeteners that you should be aware of.
- Baby’s Only Organic: This brand is the only one using brown rice syrup to sweeten their formula. The only issue with this is that rice can contain high levels of arsenic. So, Baby’s Only got right on that and made sure their formula didn’t have high levels of arsenic in it. It’s gluten-free and has no corn syrup.
- Similac Organic: This formula decided to use straight up sugar to sweeten the formula. The NY Times actually wrote an article slamming this whole thing. READ IT. In Europe, formulas are not allowed to have sugar-sweetened infant formula. Basically, they don’t want your kid getting FAT, or overfed. Annnnnd, to make this research even sweeter they did a taste test, and found that Similac Organic was just as sweet as “Country Time Lemonade.” I used to use that shit to mask the taste of vodka in my adult drinks!
2. Palm Oil
Long story short, this stuff is added to formulas to mimic human milk, because human milk has palmitic oil, but they are NOT the same.
Palm oil is a problem because it can form “soaps” in your babe’s gut. This is NO bueno and is said to affect their development and health. It can also lead to hard stools and lower bone mass density.
Everyone EXCEPT Similac and Baby’s Only contain palm oils. Earth’s Best used to NOT have it in their formula but added it in in 2007.
So Similac sweetens with sugar but doesn’t have palm oil. Are you started to get the sense of why it’s super hard to pick an organic formula that checks all the boxes. Ugh!
**Palm oil is one of the first ingredients in Enfamil! PS: this is the same stuff I gave my super smart little daughter, and she’s alive and well. Just don’t want you to think I am bein’ all judgy about Enfamil.
3. DHA and ARA
We all see these big capital letters on the packing of our formula and some of us know what they mean, while others just assume it’s important to give to our kiddos. Here is the cliffs notes version.
- DHA is an omega 3 fatty acid and ARA is an Omega 6 fatty acid; both of which are found in human milk
- The DHA and ARA that are added to formula are NOT the same as what is in human milk. It’s kind of like a knock-off purse. It may look and feel like a Gucci bag, but it ain’t.
I don’t want to get into my findings, but the bottom line is this: Studies say that this is used as a marketing tool, and has no real benefit to your infant. There have even been some reports of diarrhea and vomiting from these additives.
So, if your infant formula doesn’t contain these big capital letters on the label, rest easy, your tiny human will still be brilliant and have great eyesight.
Oh, and one more thing, almost every formula has DHA and ARA on their formula cans, so it’s kinda hard to avoid.
This is added to some ready-to-go formulas, same little bottles they give you in the hospital. It is only added so you don’t have to shake the bottle of formula! It is a totally unnecessary additive that causes “gut” issues.
5. Synthetic lycopene, Lutein, Synthetic l-Carnitine, L-Methionine
The only organic formula that contains ALL of these synthetic ingredients is Similac Organic. Every other formula does not contain all of the above ingredients. FYI: Some of those listed are banned in European countries.
So, some formulas have a prebiotic in them, and having a healthy gut isn’t a bad thing for your baby. If you like the sound of this, then you might want to check out Happy Baby.
Which is the best organic baby formula?
Ok, ok, so you have blabbed for this long about formula, now what?!! Which do I choose?
My short answer is this: I have NO freaking clue! Now that you know what is in the formula, you can make a proper decision. The truth is, I thought I had it figured out with a master plan to use two formulas, but in the end it just didn’t seem to jive with my second babe.
What worked for my baby might not work for yours! The reality with formula is that there will be some trial and error. Every baby responds differently.
What is Graytmama’s formula for formula: I am done with the Non-organic formulas! I’m sure my daughter will hold it against me when she grows up and finds out I gave her baby brothers the “good stuff”. I can just hear her now, “Ugh! Mom, you clearly never loved me, because you gave me Non-organic formula, now none of the boys like me at school!”
Organic formulas I’ve used and liked
It’s worth the extra money to at least give that to my baby. With baby #2 we WERE giving Baby’s Only Organic and importing a formula from Europe called Hipp. Both of these formulas can be bought on Amazon.
- Issues with Hipp Organic: Takes about a month to ship. Has fluoride in the formula, but not a ton. This stuff is amazeballs! You hardly have to shake it, and the consistency looks just like breastmilk. It’s got all the goods! I can’t say for sure if this formula was bugging my babe’s belly or if he was too fresh, but I dropped it because I had to blame something for the sleepless nights.
- Issues with Baby’s Only Organic: Constipates for realz!
We were alternating between the Hipp and Baby’s Only, until my guy turned into a nut job that was waking up ten times a night. There are only a few culprits when it comes to newborns, and food is definitely one of them.
I don’t discourage either formula, I think they are both great, but I made the switch to Earth’s Best to see if there were any changes.
Earth’s Best for the win!
Earth’s Best also has a sensitive formula and a formula without DHA and ARA. Now, I never had the chance to play around with Happy Baby , but I gotta it seems like a really great option too.
What formulas have you found works best for you?