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Formula isn’t so scarce these days. With more options on the shelves, here’s our take on the best baby formulas to help you choose.
- Best baby formula overall: Bobbie Organic Infant Formula | Skip to review
- Best name-brand baby formula: Similac 360 Total Care Infant Formula | Skip to review
- Best baby formula for gas: Enfamil Gentlease Infant Formula | Skip to review
- Best baby formula for preemies: Similac NeoSure Infant Formula | Skip to review
- Best baby formula for food allergies: Enfamil Nutramigen with Enflora LGG Infant Formula | Skip to review
- Best plant-based baby formula: Gerber Good Start Soy Powder Infant Formula | Skip to review
- Best budget baby formula: Kirkland Signature ProCare Baby Formula | Skip to review
There is no one brand or type of formula universally best for all babies. In fact, 2009 American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines state that infant formulas are “nutritionally interchangeable.”
All baby formulas sold in the United States have to go through Food and Drug Administration (FDA) nutritional and safety testing.
All baby formulas must include protein, fat, carbohydrates, and FDA required amounts of vitamins and minerals. Though, formulas can vary based on the type and size of protein, the type of fat, the type of carbohydrate, and possibly extra ingredients such as human milk oligosaccharides (HMOs) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
Some babies may do great with one brand or type of formula, while others not so much. It all comes down to finding what settles best with your baby.
We’ve evaluated the ingredients and price of many popular baby formulas to help you choose.
A note about the baby formula shortages
While the baby formula shortages in the United States that resulted from safety recalls have calmed down somewhat, give your pediatrician’s office a call if you’re having difficulty finding one. They may have sample cans available or advise you on the closest match to your baby’s formula.
Other resources may include your local WIC office (a federal assistance nutrition program for women, infants, and children), social media infant feeding groups, or large online grocery retailers.
We based our pricing guide on ounces in the container pre mixing.
- $ = under $1 per ounce (oz)
- $$ = $1–$2 per oz
- $$$ = over $2 per oz
Best baby formula overall
We chose this formula as our top pick because it has high quality ingredients, meets nutritional requirements for infant development, is available at a reasonable price, and has a high customer satisfaction rate.
Formulas labeled organic must meet certain standards, such as being made without prohibited synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. Organic formulas are also free of artificial flavors and colors, growth hormones, preservatives, and other additives. This may set this formula apart from a health and safety perspective.
It doesn’t have palm oil, corn syrup, or soy allergens, and is gluten-free. Bobbie makes two types of formula: regular infant formula and a partially hydrolyzed gentle formula for sensitive tummies.
Bobbie is available at some retailers such as Target, but is also available as a subscription service so you don’t have to worry about running out of formula.
Our director of social media used Bobbie with her baby and said: “Bobbie has been a great solution for my family. My baby took to the formula with no issues and after using it exclusively for 1 week I noticed far less spit up when burping after feedings. I love that the formula is available via subscription.
“As a busy working mom, it’s easy lose track of shopping list priorities until it’s too late and with the subscription I never have to worry about not having formula.”
Considerations: Not every baby, particularly those with severe allergies, may tolerate this formula. Some people love the idea of a subscription, while others prefer to get their formula at the store. This formula is not as widely available in stores, though.
- organic dairy may mean exposing your baby to fewer harmful chemicals
- still contains fatty acids and prebiotics to support baby’s immune system, just like standard formulas
- relatively affordable organic formula
- better taste than many formulas
- meets USDA and E.U. organic requirements
- partially hydrolyzed version available for sensitive tummies
- subscription service available
- may not be suitable for babies with a true cow’s milk protein allergy
- not available in as many brick-and-mortar retailers as other formulas
Bobbie provided this formula for free for our team to test, but opinions are our own.
Best name-brand baby formula
Similac is a trusted and established brand within the industry. This formula is often recommended by pediatricians and is a top pick for supplementing breastfed babies.
Key features: Similac claims that this formula is their closest in composition to human breast milk (we selected a different formula for this below, but this one is comparable). It includes a blend of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E — all nutrients found in breast milk.
It also contains five HMO prebiotics, which is why the company claims it is more similar to breast milk than other formulas.
Considerations: Many parents share very positive reviews of this formula. It’s worth noting that it contains cow’s milk protein that has not been broken down, so it is a larger protein than that found in human breast milk. Similac 360 Sensitive, with partially hydrolyzed proteins for easier digestion, is available.
- contains nutrients found in breast milk
- contains five HMO prebiotics
- gentle formula with a nutritional profile similar to breast milk
- it has not been scientifically proven that this formula is better than other infant formulas
- contains larger cow’s milk proteins, which some babies may have trouble digesting
Best baby formula for gas
If you’re looking for a formula that’s easier for your baby to digest, this is one option that might work for you.
Key features: Enfamil claims that in 2008 clinical trials this partially hydrolyzed formula reduced gas and associated fussiness and crying in 1 day.
This formula contains a high amount of DHA to help nourish and develop your baby’s brain. (It’s worth noting that there is
It is also one of the only formulas containing milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), a three-layered membrane found in breast milk that
The dairy proteins in this formula are partially hydrolyzed, making them smaller and more comparable in size to the proteins in breast milk.
Considerations: Many parents are pleased with this formula and feel it helps with their baby’s digestion. A few note that they didn’t like the packaging and that the formula left an oily residue in the bottle after feeding.
- partially hydrolyzed proteins may be easier for many babies to digest, reducing gas and fussiness
- contains DHA, choline, and prebiotics to help support baby’s brain and immune system
- very positive parent reviews and some support from clinical research
- contains some ingredients similar to those found in breast milk, such as HMOs and MFGM
- does contain milk and soy proteins, so may not be suitable for infants with these allergies
- may leave residue in bottles
Best baby formula for preemies
Human milk is a good choice for preemies, but it may not always be available. Babies born prematurely may need additional support nutritionally.
As a result, formulas for preemies focus on higher calories — usually 22–24 calories per oz versus the standard 20 — to help boost weight gain. They may also contain nutrients geared at promoting long-term growth and development.
Key features: This product includes additional calories — as well as nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and phosphorus — to help a baby grow in the first year. Specifically, the enriched formula aims to help premature babies “catch up” in growth
Considerations: While most parents explain that this formula did help their babies catch up, some shared it caused constipation, gas, and other digestive issues. This formula also isn’t sold at all stores, so you may need to order it online.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about whether to use formula with extra calories and how long to continue with it, as some doctors recommend switching formulas after a few months.
Specialty formulas such as this one are especially important to use under medical supervision. It’s also important to follow the formula preparation instructions exactly to reduce the risk of infection from Cronobacter sakazakii.
Other options: The
- higher calories and nutrient enrichment may be beneficial for preterm infants
- preemies typically start life at a lower birth weight, and an enriched formula may help them “catch up” on their growth curve
- may cause digestive issues
- must be used under medical supervision
- not as widely available as standard infant formulas
- powdered formulas could be more prone to contamination
Best baby formula for food allergies
Some babies may be allergic to cow’s milk protein and need hypoallergenic formula — specifically, one where the protein has been broken down partially or fully. These formulas are also called protein hydrolysate formulas and for babies who can’t drink standard milk- or soy-based varieties.
Key features: This formula is free of lactose and sucrose.
According to Enfamil, this formula reduced crying in 90% of babies within 48 hours. The brand claims the formula may reduce future allergy issues. Anecdotal reports suggest many parents saw improvements in their baby’s eczema, colicky crying, and runny stools after switching to this formula.
Considerations: This formula may not be helpful if your baby doesn’t have allergies. It’s also more expensive than some of the formulas on this list. Some parents share that the formula smells and tastes bad.
Other options: You can find Enfamil Nutramigen in a liquid concentrate form. This means that you’ll mix the liquid with water for bottles instead of using powder. Some parents find this method more convenient.
- hydrolyzed protein is much smaller and easier to digest, as it is a more similar size to breast milk proteins
- broken down proteins won’t trigger an allergic reaction in babies with a cow’s milk protein or soy protein allergy
- may provide significant relief of colic or allergy symptoms
- unpleasant taste and smell
- quite expensive
Best plant-based baby formula
Around 25% of all formulas sold in the United States are soy based. These formulas are free of both lactose and cow’s milk protein, and they may be better digested by babies with certain health conditions.
Talk with your doctor before switching to soy, however. Research suggests that preterm babies fed soy gain significantly less weight than those on standard formulas. Many babies with cow’s milk allergies are also allergic to soy protein.
Key features: Gerber claims this soy formula can help ease the fussiness and gas babies experience with cow milk allergies. The formula includes soy protein, vitamin D, DHA, and added calcium to support growth and development.
Considerations: Soy may not be the magic answer for all babies, particularly as many babies with cow’s milk allergies also have soy allergies. Plant-based proteins are not necessarily easier for babies to digest. Some parents share that this formula worsened their little one’s gas and colic issues. Others say the powder is lumpy and difficult to mix.
- plant-based soy formula
- relatively affordable
- contains added calcium
- many babies who are allergic to cow’s milk protein are also allergic to soy protein
- some parents found this worsened digestive issues
- some parents reported this formula is difficult to mix well
Best budget baby formula
Your baby drinks a ton of formula in their first year, and many formulas are quite pricey. So, you may just be thinking of the bottom line. Good news for you: Some solid generic options provide the same nutrition and safety at a fraction of the cost.
Key features: Kirkland Signature ProCare Baby Formula is modeled after Similac ProAdvance and Enfamil NeuroPro, so it also contains 2′-FL HMO. This non-GMO dairy formula has DHA, lutein, vitamin E, and choline. Typically, it’s widely available either in store or online from Costco. This formula comes packaged in two 42-ounce containers, so you won’t have to restock on formula as often as single canisters.
Considerations: Many parents give this formula high marks for mixing easily and not upsetting your baby’s tummy. If you’re already on the Costco bandwagon, this is a great option. If you prefer not to buy a Costco membership, there are other great picks on our list (in fact, our top pick overall is a similar price point to this one).
- ingredient profile is similar to brand name competitors
- easy to mix
- well tolerated by babies
- may be more affordable than many comparable formulas
- comes in a value-size two-pack, so you won’t have to replace as often
- some parents noticed clumps even after mixing
- membership required to purchase
|Bobbie Organic Infant Formula
|organic milk, DHA, ARA, biotin, organic sunflower oil, organic whey protein
|organic ingredients meeting both USDA and E.U. requirements
|most easily available via subscription
|Similac 360 Care Non-GMO Infant Formula
|whey (milk) protein, more HMO prebiotics than other formulas, lutein, DHA, choline
|may be more similar to breast milk, given higher concentration of prebiotics (which breast milk also has)
|not necessarily better than other formulas
|Enfamil Gentlease Infant Formula
|partially broken down (hydrolyzed) milk protein, DHA, choline, prebiotics
|smaller proteins may be easier for some babies to digest; prebiotics may promote gut health; contains breast milk-imitating ingredients
|not suitable for babies with cow’s milk or soy allergies
|Similac NeoSure Infant Formula
|milk protein, DHA, lutein, vitamin E
|more calories per oz to help preemies grow
|must be used under medical supervision
|Enfamil Nutramigen with Enflora LGG Infant Formula
|completely hydrolyzed proteins, DHA, probiotics, vitamins
|completely broken down proteins can be digested by babies with cow’s milk allergy (or other allergies) to relieve bloody stools and crying
|more expensive than standard formulas
|Gerber Good Start Soy Powder Infant Formula
|soy proteins, DHA, vitamins
|may be a good source of protein for babies who can’t tolerate cow’s milk
|many babies with cow’s milk allergies are also allergic to soy
|Kirkland Signature ProCare
|2′-FL HMO, DHA, lutein, vitamin E, choline
|a very similar ingredient profile to more expensive formulas
|only available with Costco membership
According to 2009 AAFP and AAP guidelines, no one brand of formula is necessarily better than another. Instead, baby formulas are described as “nutritionally interchangeable.”
The baby formulas on this list are considered the “best” because they earn high marks from parents and doctors for their ease of use, store availability, overall value, and ingredient quality, and for relieving digestive issues.
Finding the right formula may take some trial and error. Speak with your pediatrician if you have concerns about your baby’s nutrition or digestion or for a recommendation based on their individual needs.
In the United States, infant formulas are required to meet FDA nutritional standards. Baby formulas made in Europe are required to meet the European Food Safety Agency standards. So any formula you choose should meet the minimum nutritional requirements.
The FDA requires minimum amounts of 29 key nutrients and gives maximum quantities for 9 of the nutrients required in baby formulas.
The key macro nutrients a baby needs are carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.
Baby formulas typically include beneficial vitamins and micronutrients, such as iron (crucial for development), DHA (
Here are some things to look for when you’re choosing a formula:
- The ingredients list: The label can say almost anything the company wants it to and isn’t actually that helpful when choosing a formula. The ingredients, especially the first few, will tell you the most.
- Type of protein: What type of protein is the base for the formula: cow’s milk, soy milk, or goat’s milk?
- Size of the protein: Standard formulas made with cow’s milk or soy milk have big proteins that may be harder for many babies to digest. Partially hydrolyzed proteins are smaller, while fully hydrolyzed proteins are the smallest. Partially and fully hydrolyzed protein formulas are closer to the size of proteins found in breast milk, and these formulas are often labeled “gentle” or “hypoallergenic.” Fully hydrolyzed protein formulas are usually only necessary in the case of severe allergies or digestive issues, so check with your doctor before going this route.
- Type of carbohydrate: The main types are lactose (the sugar found in milk, including human breast milk), sucrose (table sugar), and glucose (corn syrup, brown rice syrup, glucose syrup, and maltodextrin).
- A broken seal: If the seal on the container is broken or missing, do not purchase it — or be sure to return it if you have — as it could be contaminated.
- Product recalls: Periodically check for
product recallsbefore purchasing formula.
- Expiration date: Check the container before purchasing (and before using if you have a stash built up).
- Preparation instructions: Double-check the preparation instructions, especially if you’re switching to a new formula. This is particularly important if you’re switching to a European formula, as the units of measurement may be different.
- Pediatrician’s expertise: Always check with your pediatrician if there’s a formula you want to use that seems niche or off-market, has significantly fewer nutrients (check the nutrition info label), or you have any concerns about choosing a formula.
A few other infant formula considerations
You can find formula in three forms: powdered, liquid concentrate, and ready-to-eat. Powdered and liquid concentrate must be mixed with water before feeding to your baby. Ready-to-eat bottles contain liquid formula that’s already diluted with the appropriate amount of water.
Most formulas are made from cow’s milk, but you can also find soy and protein hydrolysate formulas for babies with certain intolerances or allergies. Goat’s milk baby formula is another option.
Most formulas contain 20 calories per oz. Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, choose a brand that contains iron (most do) to help prevent iron deficiency anemia.
Anything else that’s added to the formula, such as fatty acids and other ingredients found in breast milk, are completely safe, but they may or may not provide the benefits the company suggests on the box.
Breast milk vs. formula
Breast milk is the ideal food for babies. Both the AAP and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the
That said, not all parents breastfeed, whether by necessity or choice — and it is a personal decision. For more on the subject, read the following:
No matter which you choose, it’s important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to mix the formula. Diluting the formula with too much water can decrease the nutritional value, and it can lead to electrolyte imbalances that can cause seizures. Meanwhile, adding too little water can affect a baby’s digestion.
Always use the measuring scoop that comes with your formula. The AAP recommends cooling boiled water for 5 minutes before mixing with formula and then allowing the bottle to cool to room temperature before serving.
- Wash your hands with soap and water before grabbing bottles and preparing formula: While you’re at it, make sure your bottles are clean and nipples intact.
- Check the expiration date on your formula container: Examine the container for breaks in the seal, rust marks, leaks, and other signs that the formula is compromised.
- Use water from a safe source: You might consider boiling water for a minute and cooling before mixing bottles as well. If you don’t think your tap water is safe to use, consider purchasing bottled water.
- Measure out the water first before adding powder or liquid concentrate: It’s very important to follow the directions on the box for how much water you’ll use. Diluting formula with too much water or too little water can lead to serious digestion issues.
- Warm bottles by putting them in a pot of warm water on the stove or use a bottle warmer: Heat to body temperature. Never use a microwave to heat formula.
- Use prepared formula within 2 hours or store it in the refrigerator for 24 hours: Discard any formula your baby doesn’t finish after a feeding.
- Feed your baby in an upright position and burp often to help relieve symptoms of colic: You may also want to look into curved bottles or those that use collapsible bags to reduce air intake.
Note that if your baby is under 3 months old, was born prematurely, or has other health issues, your doctor may have additional guidelines for preparing formula.
What is the best baby formula for colic?
There’s no solid evidence to suggest that a certain formula is a solution to colic.
Cow’s milk protein allergy is the most common allergy in infants and children — affecting approximately 0.5–3% worldwide, according to a
Be sure to speak with your pediatrician if you think your baby has colic.
A hydrolyzed (hypoallergenic) formula may give them relief. EHF (extensively hydrolyzed) formulas are suitable for many babies with allergies and not as expensive as amino acid formula. For babies with severe or multiple allergies, an amino acid formula, such as Enfamil Nutramigen, may be the best option.
Colic tends to stop between a baby’s first 4 or 6 months. Talk with your pediatrician if you’re concerned about your baby’s crying or how they are tolerating their formula.
What is the best baby formula for reflux?
Formula-fed babies have higher rates of reflux than breastfed babies, with issues typically peaking around the 4-month mark. There are formulas, such as the Enfamil A.R. Infant Formula, that are thickened by rice. They may help decrease the frequency of spit-ups, but they should be used under the guidance of your pediatrician.
Can I switch baby formulas?
Try giving your baby one type of formula for 1–2 weeks before switching. While it’s safe to switch between brands and types, you may not want to switch frequently. If there’s an allergy or an adverse reaction, it can be difficult to identify the source if they were used too close together.
Which baby formula is the closest formula to breast milk?
Many different brands have various newer ingredients that do make them more similar to breast milk. But it’s difficult to determine which is truly the closest to breast milk.
Some options, like Enfamil Gentlease, contain partially hydrolyzed proteins, so the proteins are smaller and more similar to those found in human milk. It also contains MFGMs, which are only found in human breast milk.
Another option to consider is Similac 360, which contains HMOs similar to those in human milk. This formula does contain cow’s milk proteins that are not broken down, so they are still quite a bit larger than the proteins found in human milk.
No formula can completely mimic human breast milk. However, scientific and nutritional advances have come a long way in recent years, and there are some great options.
What are the 3 types of baby formula?
The three main types of infant formulas include:
- cow’s milk protein-based formulas
- soy protein-based formulas
- protein hydrolysate (broken down) formulas
These types of formulas can come prepared three ways:
- Powdered formula: must be mixed with water before feeding
- Liquid concentrate formula: must also be mixed with water before feeding
- Ready-to-use formula: comes already mixed to the correct ratio
There are many formula options available. Breast milk is recommended as the first choice for a baby’s optimal health, but all formulas will meet the basic nutritional needs of your baby. The key is preparing them safely.
Still don’t know which formula to choose? Ask your pediatrician. They may be able to point you in the right direction based on your baby’s health history or your personal preferences. Same goes with switching formula brands or types.
Note that your pediatrician’s office may have coupons or free samples so you can try before you buy.