The Best Organic Baby Formulas of 2021
We've been reviewing infant formulas for over 10 years and evaluating them against over a dozen criteria. If we made our own organic baby formula, here is what it would look like:
✔️ Certified organic.
✔️ Meets federal infant feeding guidelines.
✔️ First ingredient lactose or milk.
✔️ Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA, ALA).
✔️ Omega-6 fatty acids (ARA, LA).
✔️ Amino acids.
✔️ Inositol, Lutein, & Choline.
✔️ Clean Label Project verified.
❌ No Gluten.
❌ No sucrose, sugars, or corn syrups.
❌ No maltodextrine.
❌ No soy or soybean oil.
❌ No palm oil or palm olein.
❌ No soy lecithin.
❌ No carageenan.
❌ No M. Alpina oil.
❌ No C. Cohnii oil.
Of course, you also want the formula to mix easily and settle without bubbles, show high acceptance, and reduce gas, reflux, spit-up, constipation, and colic. And don't forget a fair price! That's a lot to ask for, and very few formulas meet the needs of picky parents!
- Top 5 Organic Baby Formulas Comparison Table
- Highly Recommended:
- 1. Best Overall: Loulouka
- 2. Best for Digestion: HiPP Dutch Organic Formula
- 3. Best Whole Milk Formula: Kendamil Organic Baby Formula
- 4. Best Swiss Option: Holle Bio Pre Organic Formula
- 5. Best US Option: Baby's Only Organic Formula
- 6. Great for Sensitive Tummies: Baby's Only LactoRelief Baby Formula
- Moderately Recommended:
- 7. Earth's Best Organic Formula
- 8. Happy Baby Organic Baby Formula
- 9. Lebenswert Stage 1 Organic Baby Formula
- Some Other Options:
- 10. Similac Organic Baby Formula
- 11. Mama Bear Organic Baby Formula
- Discontinued Formulas
- Discontinued: The Honest Co Organic Formula
- Discontinued: Plum Organics Grow Well
- Discontinued: Gerber Natura Organic
- Discontinued: Happy Tot Grow & Shine
- Baby Formula Ingredients
- Good Ingredients
- Bad Ingredients
- Downright Ugly Ingredients
Here are our top 5 recommended organic baby formulas, followed by reviews of nearly a dozen options. Once your child graduates from baby formula, be sure to check out our list of the best organic baby foods!
|Model and Link to Amazon||Our Rating|
|#1. Loulouka Organic Baby Formula|
|#2. HiPP Combiotic Dutch Formula|
|#3. Kendamil Organic Baby Formula|
|#4. Holle Pre and Stage 1 Formula|
|#5. Baby's Only Organic Formula|
Infant formula comes in dozens of brands and varieties, and figuring out what's best for your baby can be a daunting task, especially for discerning parents who want the best for their babies. The best organic formulas contain all-natural and non-GMO organic ingredients, plus they are sourced from farms that feed their cattle high quality foods without traces of pesticides, herbicides, steroids/hormones, antibiotics, or other harmful additives.
In the United States, USDA certified organic products must contain at least 95% organic ingredients; that's a decent criterion, but not the most stringent. By comparison, European baby formulas must meet the EU Bio (organic) certification process, which has a more stringent 98% organic content criterion.
Non-organic formulas, in contrast, are more likely to contain scary trace chemicals such as pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, antibiotics, growth hormones, and heavy metals. They also tend to contain unhealthy ingredients such as corn syrups and corn syrup solids, starches and fillers, partially hydrolyzed whey protein, soy, canola, and palm oils, and omegas extracted using hexane. These aren't the best ingredients to have in any foods, nevermind in your baby's first energy source!
Here are the Best Organic Baby Formulas of 2021!
Loulouka is one of the newest European baby formulas to hit the market, and it has quickly become one of the best-selling baby formulas at major online retailers. And for some great reasons! First of all, many parents do not appreciate the use of soy and palm oils in their formulas, and Loulouka listened! This awesome baby formula uses only sunflower, coconut, and rapeseed oils as sources of fat. For carbohydrates and protein, it is based on skimmed milk (first ingredient) and whey powder, achieving a suitable whey to casein ratio similar to breast milk. If you've read elsewhere that Loulouka is a whole milk baby formula, that information is outdated: they adapted their formulas in 2020 to use only skim milk. Why? Whole milk baby formula can be a harder to digest, especially for infants with more sensitive tummies. As of this writing, you could still find the whole milk version at OrganicStart, but it's getting phased out. At the same time, Loulouka updated their packaging, introducing large (900g) flip-top tins that make storage and dispensing really convenient. Second, like HiPP, the Loulouka formulas contain prebiotics (GOS), choline, amino acids (L-carnitine), and Omega-3 fatty acids (ALA, DHA); going beyond many other formulas, they also include Omega-6 (linoleic acid), and inositol. Just as important is what Loulouka stage 1 does not contain: added sugars, palm oil, soy or soy oil, GMO ingredients, synthetic nutrients or preservatives, starch, or maltodextrin. Third, Loulouka formulas are made in Switzerland using only milk from cows fed organic grass and hay, conforming to high Swiss standards for sustainable organic farming and using locally-sourced ingredients. Most importantly, Loulouka passed our tests with flying colors! We loved the consistency, ease of mixing, and taste - and so did our test babies, who showed high acceptance and no signs of gas, indigestion, or constipation! You can read more about our testing in our comprehensive Loulouka baby formula review. Loulouka formulas come in three stages: stage 1 for use from birth to 6 months, stage 2 for 6+ months, and stage 3 for 10+ months. Of the different Loulouka varieties, stage 1 is our favorite because it avoids maltodextrin as a carbohydrate, which is added in Stages 2-3. It is important to point out that Loulouka meets both FDA and USDA guidelines for infant feeding, as well as EU infant feeding requirements and their relatively strict organic food requirements. Overall, we love Loulouka formulas and are thrilled to include it on our list! We think you'll also be happy to hear that the Loulouka formulas are very reasonably priced for a European formula (coming in at just over $1.00/ounce)! Interested? You can check out the Loulouka Organic Baby Formula at OrganicStart!
HiPP is one of the best-selling European formulas (made in Germany and sold in Dutch, UK, and German varieties), and for some great reasons. This review is of the Dutch version, which we think is the best of the pack (see why here). It is a skim-milk and lactose-based certified organic formula that contains both prebiotics (plant fiber) and probiotics for digestability, Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids, and uses whey powder (and whey protein) along with a mix of vegetable oils (palm, rapeseed, sunflower). Just like breast milk, it has an ideal whey to casein ratio of about 75/25, and contains lactic acid bacteria cultures (B.lactis) that can help reduce colic and irritability (according to published research). Even more compelling is what this formula does NOT contain: starch, gluten, maltodextrin, processed sugar solids, artificial preservatives or vitamins/minerals, soy (Stages 1-2), or GMO ingredients. It's a very comprehensive infant formula that is widely respected around the world for its macro- and micro-nutrient profile, and widely recommended by pediatricians and infant feeding specialists for sensitive stomachs. The addition of prebiotics and probiotics makes this the best sensitive baby formula option, while also making it relatively complete in terms of nutritional value, especially relative to US formulas and FDA and USDA recommendations. In fact, its ingredient profile is a bit more similar to some US brands such as Baby's Only and Happy Baby, but it excels relative to the typical formula in its sensitivity and nutritional composition, making it a great formula for babies with GI sensitivity (gas, colic, reflux) and more complex nutritional needs (of course, always ask your pediatrician first!). We have tested the Dutch, UK, and German versions of HiPP Combiotik (called Combiotic in UK) in several infants and toddlers, and found very high acceptance rates, with none of them developing any clear signs of gas or discomfort. All of the moms liked the Dutch formula in particular for its consistency, ease of mixing, and lack of bubbles after mixing. Cons? The HiPP formulas do contain palm oil and Mortierella alpina oil (M. alpina). While these two ingredients are very common in baby formula, if we had a choice we would prefer different oils (coconut, sunflower). Like all the best organic baby formulas, Hipp Combiotik is relatively expensive (about $1.60/ounce) in comparison to Loulouka or US formulas; note that you can save 10% with our Mommyhood101 coupon code at OrganicStart, which helps a bit! For more details on our testing of HiPP formulas, see our full in-depth review of Dutch, UK, and German HiPP Combiotik. Interested? You can check out the HiPP Combiotik Formula at OrganicStart!
Founded in 1962, Kendamil is one of the longest-running baby formula companies in Europe. Kendamil has a long and reliable history of producing very high quality baby formulas, and the launched this organic formula in 2018. Monde Selection awarded Kendamil with a Gold Metal as the world's best organic baby formula, and you might recognize the name from its use by the Royal Family! What makes it so great? It is one of only two whole milk formulas on our list, and it doesn't contain any of the nasty ingredients we list above - no gluten, soy, palm oil, sucrose, corn syrups, or maltodextrine. What does it have? Whole milk as the first ingredient, Omega-3 (DHA, ALA), Omega-6 (LA), amino acids, prebiotics (GOS from milk), inositol, and choline. Oils are from sunflower, coconut, and rapeseed, without any palm or soy. Also, we love the fact that it contains milk fat globule membranes (MFGM) just like breast milk, which are associated with healthy brain development and cognitive outcomes in children. In our testing, we found that the formula mixed very well with warm water without any clumping, bubbling, or excessive foaming. You can see more details about our testing in our full review of Kendamil organic baby formula. We fed the Kendamil to three infants and two toddlers, and all of them seemed to accept it and drank their usual amounts. Only one of the four babies, the 4-month old breastfed one, developed a bit of gas. Her mom didn't attribute it to the Kendamil, noting that the same happens when she tries any formula. It is important to note, however, that whole milk baby formulas can be a bit more difficult to digest, especially for infants with sensitive stomachs. For them, we would try out either the HiPP or Baby's Only option. The only other small drawback is price, with Kendamil topping out our list at about $1.75/ounce. We do have a 10% off Mommyhood101 coupon you can use here to help stomach the price! Overall, we love the new Kendamil organic baby formulas, available in Stages 1-3, and we're happy to feature Kendamil here on our list! Interested? You can check out the Kendamil Organic Baby Formula here!
Holle formulas (pronounced "hoe-lay") are made by one of the oldest and most widely respected baby formula companies in the world, with over 85 years of experience making non-GMO organic baby food products. Based in Switzerland, they work directly with the best German raw organic ingredient suppliers and carefully track the sourcing, sustainability, and quality of every ingredient they include in their baby formulas. Ingredients are sourced from Demeter biodynamic farms, which hold the highest European certification for sustainable farming without chemicals and synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. This is an organic baby formula that you can truly feel good about. The Holle Bio line comes in two infant formula stages, Holle Pre and Holle Stage 1, both intended for birth onward. It also comes in what the company calls "follow-on milk" (stages 2-4). We've personally tested the Pre and stages 1 and 2 varieties, in both Cow and Goat varieties, and are thrilled with what they have to offer. Each has no artificial preservatives, flavors, colors, thickeners, sweeteners, or chemicals. The cow version contains organic whole (Pre) or skim (Stages 1+) milk and whey powder as the first two ingredients, then organic vegetable oils (palm, rapeseed, sunflower), and vitamins and minerals. The goat version is great for infants with cow milk sensitivity, using organic goat milk and lactose, along with the vegetable oils and vitamins and minerals. Check with your pediatrician before switching formulas. In our testing, the Holle Pre was super easy to dispense and mix, and it shows a super high acceptance rate even for primarily breast-fed babies, making it one of the best options for parents who need to switch between breastfeeding and formula, or as a transition formula. We saw very low levels of gas, spit-up, reflux or other gastrointestinal distress in babies using this formula, and many parents we know are using it on recommendation from their pediatrician. We liked the fact that it contains Omega-3 and Omega-6 (LA, ALA, and DHA), and the nutritional profile meets US recommendations (USDA, FDA). Cons? Well, it is pricey just like the other European formula options, but is comparable to Loulouka coming in at about $1.10/ounce. Fortunately, this European baby formula is available here in the US from certain online stores (like OrganicStart and Little Bundle (formerly Huggable), making it less expensive than it used to be. A few additional little cons are that it contains palm oil, which some believe can cause a bit of gassiness in babies with more sensitive tummies, and rapeseed oil (which is a fancy way to say canola oil). For more specifics about Holle, be sure to read our Holle baby formula review here. Interested? You can find the best deals on the Holle Bio Pre and Stages 1-4 baby formulas here!
Baby's Only makes five different varieties of organic baby formula, all labeled as Toddler formula. Note that while they label it as such, Baby's Only told us that this is only because they encourage breastfeeding for babies under 1 year old. Some of their more popular formulas such as the lactorelief version do not contain lactose, which they substitute with brown rice syrup (which is not the best). In this version, the Whey & Dairy with DHA version, the formulation is much more like breast milk, using lactose as the primary carbohydrate. Proteins come from whey powder, nonfat milk, and whey protein concentrate. Fats come from the usual suspects, including soybean oil, coconut oil, and safflower or sunflower oil. But did you notice something missing? No palm oil! It also inclues naturally sourced Omega-3 (DHA) extracted from eggs, choline, and lutein. Baby's Only loves to brag that they are awarded "best in class" by the clean label project among all US formulas, which is a testament to their use of high quality and traceable ingredients. We would brag too! Note also that while this formula uses egg lecithin, testing shows that there is no detectable level of egg allergen in the formula. In our testing, we tried out this formula ourselves and with two babies, one 4 months and the other 8 months. Both were exclusively formula-fed from birth, with one using Similac Advanced and the other using Holle Bio Stage 2. Both of them took to this formula without any issues, and continued feeding with it for several bottles. One of the parents said their baby developed a bit more constipation than they were used to with the HiPP, but the other one said everything was moving smoothly. No spit-up or gas in either, but if your baby has a more sensitive tummy we suggest considering the Baby's Only LactoRelief version, or HiPP Combiotic. Cons? Well, this Baby's Only formula doesn't contain Omega-6 fatty acids, prebiotics, or probiotics. It's a relatively simple formulation, and we believe it doesn't need to conform with FDA or USDA recommendations for infant formulas because it's marketed as a Toddler formula. At about $1/ounce, we think the Baby's Only option is awesome and relatively budget-savvy option, but suggest that it's used for infants over 6 months of age. Interested? You can check out the Baby's Only Formula with DHA here!
This is an outstanding option for babies who seem to have some issues related to digesting dairy, such as gas, reflux, or bloating. This is a lactose-free organic and kosher baby formula, with high levels of essential fatty acids that the baby's body converts to DHA (an omega-3) and ARA (an omega-6). It is definitely one of the best high-quality organic formulas for sensitive stomachs made in the US, and parents rave about its flavor - much better than the Similac Sensitive or Enfamil Gentlease, and it has no corn syrup or genetically modified ingredients. It also uses naturally-sourced rather than petroleum-based vitamins, such as vitamin E acetate, DHA sourced from eggs rather than algae, and brown rice syrup instead of corn syrup solids. We are also impressed that Baby's Only has managed to make a great sensitive baby formula without including many of the ingredients that we prefer not to find in a formula, such as glucose or corn syrup solids, palm oil, or DHA sourced using hexane. Instead, they took the high road and used ingredients they could stand behind. In our testing with 3 infants (two were 3 months and one 6 months), they not only readily accepted this formula but also showed no signs of discomfort or gas whatsoever; in fact, the mom of one of these babies immediately switched to Baby's Only after the test! Note that while we are fully aware that the label says "Toddler Formula," the manufacturer suggests that this is only because they recommend exclusively breastfeeding babies under 1 year old and therefore this formula has not been FDA approved for infant feeding. It has nothing to do with ingredients or its suitability for newborns, but rather because they have not conducted the appropriate trials or application process. Many parents feed infants with Baby's Only formula, but always check with your pediatrician first. This could be a good option to try before your pediatrician considers antacids. We also want to point out that this is one of the few baby formulas to receive the highest rating from the Clean Label Project, which is one of the best ways to tell you're getting a high quality and sustainably sourced product. Negatives? Like any baby formula, some parents suggest that it can cause mild constipation, but we didn't experience any in our tests, and certainly any gassiness will likely be less than with any of the non-sensitive options. Also, while it doesn't contain lactose, we're not super excited about having syrup and maltodextrin as the primary carbohydrate sources. Interested? You can check out the Baby's Only Formula here.
Good Organic Formula Options
This is one of the original and best organic formulas on the US market, and over the past several years Earth's Best has made several improvements to their formula in response to both parent feedback and changing FDA and USDA recommendations. Like most of the best infant formulas on this list, the Earth's Best infant version uses lactose as the primary carbohydrate, similar to breast milk. For protein it includes nonfat cow's milk and whey protein concentrate, like many other formulas. For fats, it includes the usual suspects: palm oil, soy oil, coconut oil, and safflower or sunflower oils. The macronutrient profile is very similar to breast milk, just like with the Baby's Only formula. In addition, Earth's Best adds in some Omega-3 (DHA) and Omega-6 (ARA) via alpina and algal oils, prebiotics, amino acids, and lutein. Other than the palm oil and soy oil, this is a great overall ingredient profile, very similar to what you find in other front-runners on this list. In our testing, we thought the formula mixed really easily with water, without forming any clumps or major bubbling issues, and without leaving a powdery film in the bottle. The taste was very similar to Baby's Only and Lebenswert, as was the thin consistency similar to breast milk. We gave this formula to two families for testing, one with a 3-month old, and one with a 7-month old. The 3-month old was formula-fed, and 7-month old was weaning from breastfeeding with supplemental formula. Both babies took the formula without any issues with acceptance, though one did have some spit-up and gassiness after. That same baby developed some constipation that was more than her parents typically saw with her usual formula (HiPP Combiotik Dutch). That might be attributed to the high iron content (1.8mg per serving), though there isn't much scientific evidence that formula iron content is linked to constipation or other stomach distress. Note that Earth's Best also makes a low lactose version, called the Sensitivity Infant Formula. We couldn't find much information about this online, and haven't tested it ourselves. In comparison to Baby's Only, Earth's Best appears to use the traditional hexane method for extracting DHA and ARA from lab-grown algae and fungus. Hexane is a solvent that is also used as a chemical degreaser and industrial cleaner and is a known neurotoxin. Some think there may be trace levels in baby formulas containing DHA and ARA extracted using hexane. We prefer to stay out of that debate given the lack of sound scientific data one way or the other. Interested? You can check out the Earth's Best baby formula here.
The best organic formulas should be modeled after breastmilk and allow flexible supplementing of breastfeeding and facilitate transitions. Just like breast milk, this formula uses lactose as the primary carbohydrate source, and it contains a macronutrient (proteins, fats, carbohydrates) profile that is very similar to breast milk. Protein is provided with nonfat cow's milk and whey protein concentrate, and fats come from palm, soy, coconut, and safflower and/or sunflower oils. Plus some added bonuses like two different prebiotics (FOS and GOS), Omega 3 and Omega 6 (ARA and DHA), and choline. It is organic, non-GMO (of course), and contains no corn syrup solids or other sweeteners, maltodextrin or food starch. Like Baby's Only, the DHA is extracted without using hexane or other harmful chemicals, in this case using a water-based process. It is also kosher and the packaging and formula itself contain no BPA. There are no surprise ingredients in this formula, other than the palm and soy oils, and the dairy cows that supply the milk are only fed the best organic diets. About 100 calories, 2 grams of protein, and 5 grams of fat per serving, this formula has a macronutrient profile very similar to breast milk. It also doesn't taste much different from it, though some of our testers thought it wasn't quite as sweet as breast milk. And while it does contain iron (1 mg per serving), it doesn't contain as much iron as many other formulas (which are typically around 2mg). Of course, we want to point out that the FDA and USDA advise against iron-reduced infant formulas, and there is no strong scientific basis for iron contributing to constipation in formula-fed infants. Overall this is an excellent addition to our best baby formula list for several reasons, including its overall quality, ingredient sourcing, and nutritional profile. Cons? We did find it difficult to dissolve in water, taking a lot of shaking and stirring to get it to fully dissolve and not leave any clumps. So that was a bit more work than we may have desired, at least relative to other options on this list. If your baby has any food-related sensitivities, this does contain soy (just FYI). Also, like most formulas it contains palm oil, which is a bit controversial for use in baby formula due to its risk of causing mild gassiness. Interested? You can check out the Happy Baby Formula at Amazon.
This Lebenswert formula sets the gold standard for how organic formulas should be sourced and manufactured. Based in Spain, the Bioland company has been making this top-rated European organic infant formula for several years. The Lebenswert formula is based on organic skim milk, organic whey, organic vegetable oils (palm, rapeseed, sunflower), organic lactose, and vitamins and minerals. The farms and ingredients are certified organic, they only use the best high-quality raw ingredients, and the company uses its profits to fund conservation of natural resources. Even better, because this baby formula is suitable for use from birth onward, it is great for exclusive bottle feeding, which makes it a really unique addition to the organic baby formula market. In our testing, we found it to taste great without being too sweet or oily, mix well with water, and it caused the least gas of most other formulas on this list. And that's impressive because some of them, like the HiPP options, are also really great at that. This is a baby formula intended for highly discerning parents who are looking for a European baby formula that doesn't break the bank. Cons? Many parents don't appreciate the inclusion of palm oil or rapeseed (canola) oil, and we agree with the sentiment. We also don't appreciate the inclusion of maltodextrine and food starch in Stages 2-3. Also, in comparison to Loulouka, Holle, and HiPP, Lebenswert has been slow to add Omega-3 fatty acids to their formulas. A new European regulation will force them to include at least Omega-3 in the upcoming months, and bring them up to current recommendations. If you're intimidated by the fact that the information on the box is not in English, just scroll down on the OrganicStart website to see ingredients and instructions in English. Or for even more details, check out our full Lebenswert baby formula review here. Interested? You can check out the Lebenswert Organics baby formula here.
Other Organic Formula Options
Similac makes a wide range of baby formulas, including the popular Pro-Advance, Pro-Total Comfort, Advance, Sensitive, Pro-Sensitive, Spit-Up, and Alimentum options. The sheer range of formula options can perplex even the savviest parents, and we find ourselves wondering how much of that range is marketing versus substantive differences in ingredients, nutrition, or sensitivity. This baby formula stands out from the pack because it's one of only two organic options offered by Similac, and the only option we believe is worth having on this list. This organic formula is suitable for infants 0-12 months and is based on organic nonfat cow's milk, with secondary ingredients including maltodextrin, sugar, and three oils: sunflower, soy, and coconut. The maltodextrin is a very common carbohydrate powder that is used as a cheap replacement for lactose, and also as a thickener and preservative; your body processes maltodextrin like a sugar, so it can cause a quick blood sugar increase. A few of the best formulas on this list avoid maltodextrin entirely, such as the Loulouka, Kendamil, Lebenswert, HiPP, Plum Organics, and Happy Baby options, but it is considered a relatively harmless ingredient. Regarding sugar, it's relatively rare for an organic formula to add sugar, but realize that this formula does not use lactose or whey powder, which other formulas use to indirectly add sugar (and at least they didn't try to disguise processed sugar as a syrup solid). We have no major issues with the sunflower or coconut oils, and think they are a good replacement for palm oil, but we also understand that some parents might be avoiding soy due to potential allergies. Other ingredients include a variety of vitamins and minerals (including 1.8mg iron and 1.5IU vitamin E), lutein, DHA, and choline. Just as an FYI because we know parents worry about these things, the DHA in this formula is from alpina oil and c. cohii oil, which are likely treated with hexane solvent, acid, or bleach as part of their manufacturing. Baby's Only, for instance, derives DHA from egg phospholipids using water only. In our testing, we found that this powder did not mix easily or well in water, with the powder never fully dissolving. This made for a somewhat grainy formula that left a residue in the bottle. When we let it sit for more than a few minutes, we would need to shake the bottle again to avoid the water and formula separating. Shaking also created a lot of bubbles that will likely cause issues with babies who are sensitive to gas and reflux. The two babies we tested it on readily accepted its flavor, and we tasted it ourselves and found it to be sweet and a bit tart, similar to breast milk. No issues with gas or discomfort were experienced, but the babies we tested on tend to be pretty resilient in this regard to begin with. Overall, we appreciate this new addition to the organic formula market, and think Similac did a pretty decent job with it. Once they figure out the solubility issues they could have a real winner here, as long as you're OK with the addition of sugar, maltodextrin, and the way they source DHA. Costs about a dollar per ounce if you buy in bulk, which is a very good price for an organic infant formula. Interested? You can check out the Similac Organic baby formula here.
This organic infant formula is offered by Amazon's private label brand Mama Bear, and is a very recent addition to our list of the best organic formulas. Like most if not all Mama Bear products, Amazon works with a major brand and manufacturer of a product to make a Mama Bear branded version. We have no direct evidence of this, but we suspect this product is a slightly tweaked and rebranded Similac or Happy Baby formula; if anyone has the scoop, send us a message on Facebook or email! Mama Bear now makes a wide range of baby formulas, including Gentle, Sensitive, Advanced, and more, but this is the only USDA organic version available. This organic formula is suitable from birth up to 12 months, and is based on organic nonfat cow's milk, with secondary ingredients including maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, and four oils: palm, soy, coconut, and safflower or sunflower. Notice that it doesn't use lactose as a carbohydrate, replacing it with corn syrup solids and maltodextrin, both of which are not ideal in a baby formula. Lactose is the primary carbohydrate in breast milk, accounting for about 40% of all calories found in breast milk; if you're looking for an organic baby formula that is similar to breast milk in terms of macronutrient composition, this probably isn't a good bet. In addition to those fats, carbohydrates, and proteins, it also contains prebiotics, Omega-3 (DHA and ARA), and Omega-6 (LA). The Omega-3 content is derived from M. Alpina oil and Cohnii oil, likely using hexane solvent, acid, or bleach as part of their extraction. Baby's Only, for instance, derives DHA from egg phospholipids using water only to avoid these possible issues. Mixing this formula with water, we found that it blended very nicely and didn't leave any powdery film in the bottle. We also didn't have any big issues with bubbles or foaming. We tried it out with two formula-fed babies, 3 and 7 months old, one who typically drinks HiPP Combiotik and the other Earth's Best. Both readily accepted this formula, which wasn't particularly surprising given its sweetness and otherwise bland flavor. One of the babies didn't drink as much as usual and pushed it away after about 3 ounces, but the other seemed to really like it. Neither of them developed any spit-up or gas that was out of the ordinary, and one of the parents reported that they would consider using it as their primary formula, while the other (the HiPP user) didn't like the maltodextrin, corn syrup solids, or soy. Coming in at only about $1 per ounce, this is the cheapest organic baby formula on our list.Interested? You can check out the Mama Bear Organic baby formula here.
Discontinued Formula Options
Discontinued: The Honest Company Best Organic Formula
The Honest Company was founded by Jessica Alba with the intent to develop and market baby products with high levels of quality and transparency, while offering premium products at reasonable prices. They offered two awesome organic infant formulas, but unfortunately they were short-lived and discontinued as of 2020.
Discontinued: Plum Organics Best Organic Infant Formula
Plum Organics infant formula was discontinued as of 2020; if you've been using it successfully, then you might want to get your hands on some supplies before they're gone!
Discontinued: Gerber Natura Best Organic Formula
The Gerber Natura organic baby formula was discontinued as of 2020, so if you've been using it successfully you might want to get your hands on any remaining supplies! It was never in the top 5 of our list, but it did rank pretty decently next to some of the other options.
Discontinued: Happy Tot Grow Shine Organic Toddler Milk
The Happy Tot organic baby formula was discontinued as of 2019, which is unfortunate because it was pretty decent!
Conclusions: There are many barriers to breastfeeding that can cause moms to supplement or replace breast milk with baby formula. These can be medical, professional, social, cultural, or any other reason. Whether you have low milk supply, a medical condition, or your baby is having difficulty latching, you should never feel guilty about choosing to supplement or exclusively feed with organic baby formula. The best thing for your baby is that they are loved and nourished, whether it is from breast or bottle!
Here's what we learned by putting together this formula guide: there are very few organic formulas on the market, especially in the USA. This is particularly the case with organic baby formulas suitable for newborn infants. European baby formula companies (like Loulouka, Kendamil, Holle, Lebenswert, and HiPP) have been taking the American market by storm, producing extremely high quality organic baby formulas that are suitable for use as infant baby formulas.
Even five years ago, it was difficult to get your hands on European baby formulas and they were very expensive to import to the US. More recently, companies such as OrganicStart and Little Bundle have popped up to fill the US distribution gap, making it more affordable and efficient to purchase European baby formulas online.
The Similac organic formula was recalled a couple years ago, putting a bad taste in people's mouths about large companies attempting to pull the fleece over people's eyes and claiming organic while being a bit careless in manufacturing processes. Some formulas labeled as organic contain some questionable, non-organic, ingredients such as petroleum-sourced vitamins and sulfates. Not certain how some companies are getting away with it, but likely because the organic food market is not yet well-regulated (and even when it is, the US only requires 95% organic content to become USDA certified organic).
Another more recent option for toddler formula is goat milk formulas, like the Kabrita Non-GMO Goat Milk Toddler Formula. We love that goat milk formula, but it's not a fully organic product so it's not eligible for inclusion on this list.
Whether you're breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, or switching between the two, be sure to invest in one of the best nursing pillows to keep yourself comfortable and your baby well-positioned for digestion, and one of the best baby bottles to make feeding easy and efficient.
Trying to figure out whether HiPP or Holle is best for your child? Check out our comparison of HiPP vs. Holle formulas!
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The Worst Baby Formula Ingredients
In general, baby formulas need a source of protein, fat, carbohydrate, and vitamins and minerals. For protein, formulas usually include one or more of the following: nonfat milk, skim milk, reduced fat milk, whole milk (milks can generally be cow or goat), soy milk, amino acids, casein, whey powder, and whey protein powder. Breast milk, for reference, is about 60% whey protein, and 40% casein protein; casein protein is digested slower than whey protein.
For fats, formulas usually contain a mix of vegetable oils, often palm oil, sunflower oil, coconut oil, soybean oil, safflower oil, rapeseed oil, and others.
For carbohydrates, the best baby formulas usually contain lactose (milk sugar), but others also use maltodextrin (plant-based sweetener and thickener), corn syrup solids, glucose syrup solids, brown rice syrup, or just plain sugar.
For minerals and vitamins, formulas tend to contain at least iron, calcium, potassium, zinc, folic acid, and vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K. Some infant formulas also add in fatty acids such as DHA and ARA, some also add in bacteria, prebiotics, and/or probiotics to aid digestion.
Baby formulas vary widely in which of these ingredients they use, and how much of each they use. They also vary widely in the extent to which they use ingredients that are generally safe but might be sourced or extracted using harch chemicals. These are all things to consider when picking a baby formula, and things we think about when doing our reviews.
When we review ingredients lists for infant formulas, we are looking for a few primary things that should be included, and some others that should not be included. We categorize these as the good ingredients, the bad ingredients, and the downright ugly ingredients.
Good Baby Formula Ingredients: In general, most of the staple ingredients are safe. These include the primary protein sources such as various milks (cow, goat, nonfat, skim, reduced fat, etc), whey, and protein powders (such as whey protein). Fats are a slightly different story, with certain oils being generally accepted as safe: palm oil, soy oil, coconut oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil. None of these oils contain cholesterol (which breast milk has), or DHA, which is a fatty acid linked to proper brain development (which is why many formula brands add DHA). Of course, there are reports of some parents finding that certain oils upset their baby's tummy, with palm oil being one example. If you are at all concerned about allergies, then you'll need to decide whether you want to risk coconut or soy oils (ask your doctor). In terms of carbohydrates, lactose is generally the preferred source of sugar in formula, though some use maltodextrin or food starch.
Bad Baby Formula Ingredients: These ingredients fall somewhere between "OK" and "run away" and unfortunately they are very common in most baby formulas. For protein sources, most agree that a soy-based formula is not ideal given controversy over hormonal effects of soy consumption, and its generally poor nutritional profile relative to cow or goat milk (i.e., there's no whey or casein). A primary whey protein ingredient is also not ideal for similar nutritional reasons. For fat sources, try to avoid formulas using palm olein (which is different from palm oil) because it's not absorbed very well, can cause reduced calcium absorption, and can cause constipation and gassiness. For carbohydrates, try to avoid formulas using processed sugars such as maltodextrin, food starch, corn syrup solids, glucose syrup solids, and sugar itself. For vitamins and minerals, we get a lot of inquiries from parents who are concerned about the manner in which these ingredients are sourced, which chemicals are used to extract them, and whether they might be harmful to their baby's health. In general, vitamins and minerals will be safe, but we find it more compelling when a baby formula manufacturer indicates how they sourced certain ingredients such as fatty acids, and prebiotics and probiotics. Another concern is some pesky artificial ingredients that still show up in organic products, such as sodium selenate, taurine, docosahexaenoic acid, arachidonic acid, calcium chloride, choline bitartrate, cyanocobalamin, L-carnitine, lutein, cholecalciferol, inositol, beta-carotene, and biotin. While likely not dangerous, it is concerning that these synthetic ingredients are present (in very low quantity) in many organic products.
The Worst Baby Formula Ingredients: Most of the really bad stuff is no longer present in baby formulas, especially not the best organic formulas. These include sucrose, dioxins, artificial preservatives, artificial colors, artificial flavors, corn maltodextrin, food starch, high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup solids, partially hydrogenated oils, and genetically modified soy. Some research has demonstrated that as much as 80% of baby formulas contain toxins and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, lead, and acrylamide, giving us some motivation for continuing to pursue organic baby formula options!