Every new parent wants to give their baby the nutrition they need. With all of the different formulas on the market, it can be difficult to decide which is best for your child. “Choosing a formula is a big decision for families,” says Natasha Burgert, M.D., F.A.A.P., Philips Avent’s pediatrician. The good news is that all formulas must meet federal nutrient requirements, and infant formula manufacturers must notify the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to marketing a new formula.
But as concerns grow regarding food sources, chemicals and pesticides, choosing organic is an option for parents who are looking to minimize their baby’s exposure to certain preservatives and additives. Organic baby formulas go a step further than conventional ones as they have to meet additional federal guidelines to get the USDA Organic Stamp, but Dr. Burgert says there may not be a huge nutritional difference between the two.
Regardless of whether you are purchasing organic or non-organic formula, pay attention to the ingredients in whichever option you choose. Some formulas utilize glucose and corn syrup for their carbohydrates as opposed to lactose which is the main carbohydrate source in breast milk. Choosing a formula that is as close to breastmilk as possible or modeled after breastmilk is key, which is why we did the work for you and rounded up the best organic baby formula brands available in the United States. Here are the best organic baby formula brands, according to experts and parents.
Organic Dairy Infant Powder Formula with Iron Milk-Based Powder
Earth’s Best line of infant formulas includes dairy, sensitivity and gentle, which all meet the U.S. FDA’s nutritional requirements and regulations, and are USDA National Organic Program Approved, non-GMO and kosher. The formulas contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and meet all FDA requirements for infant nutrition. This one, in particular, is fortified with iron, DHA and ARA and contains lutein for eye health and prebiotic fiber for digestion too.
Our registered dietitians point out that Earth’s Best formulas are made without potentially harmful pesticides and produced with milk from cows that are humanely raised and not treated with antibiotics or growth hormones. “Once we started using Earth’s Best, we no longer had to use gas drops like we did with his previous formula,” one mother from our panel said. “We currently switch between the regular and gentle due to the formula shortage. Because of the low inventory, it can be difficult to find multiple canisters of the same type, but switching doesn’t seem to bother my little guy’s tummy.”
Earth’s Best shared with Good Housekeeping that they maintain rigorous internal standards and testing procedures to ensure their products meet the current national and international food guidelines. They work collaboratively with suppliers and associations from the food sector to continuously refine and improve upon the standards to ensure their products exceed safety and nutrition standards – including reducing the levels of heavy metals that occur naturally in soil and water.
Availability: Earth’s Best is widely available through Amazon’s platform and at retailers nationwide, including but not limited to CVS, Walmart, Target, Kroger, Buy Buy Baby, Bed Bath & Beyond and other retailers.
Registered dietitians in the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab analyzed over 20 organic formula products, evaluating everything from ingredient lists and DHA content to mixability and clumping. In addition to being certified organic, our top picks are also void of corn syrup solids and meet current FDA guidelines. We consulted a panel of parents who currently use the formulas with their infants for their real-life feedback on factors contributing to both parent and baby experience with the product, such as ease of use and baby tolerance. We worked with pediatricians for their insights as well and evaluated testing data and literature provided by the brands to support their claims.
What should parents look for when purchasing formula?
“Choosing a formula is a big decision for families. The vast majority of infants use a traditional, milk-based formula. That’s the type of formula I would explore first,” says Dr. Burgert.
Dr. Burgert adds that there may be different formula additives or “extras” in certain brands, but the fundamental proteins, carbohydrates and micronutrients are very similar in all standard formulas. “Much of the extra value that formula companies claim on the label has little, if any, evidential support.”
But finding the right formula for your baby and one that they tolerate may take some time. “Since every baby is different, feel free to experiment with different brands to find out the one that your baby likes best,” Dr. Burgert advises. “Especially during the formula shortage, know that most babies will easily transition from one brand to another with little fuss. Read your labels to find formula equivalencies, and reach out to your pediatrician for help.”
Is organic formula better than conventional formula?
Organic baby formulas go a step further than conventional ones as they have to meet additional federal guidelines to get the USDA Organic Stamp. That being said, there may not be a huge nutritional difference. “Conventional formula is nutritionally equivalent to organic formula,” Dr. Burgert says. “Some families have a personal preference towards organic formulas, but there is no evidence that is a nutritionally superior choice.”
Both organic and conventional formulas usually contain nutrients like DHA, AHA, prebiotics and lutein which may all have beneficial benefits for baby, but organic formulas do tend to come at a premium price. But if organic eating is a priority in your household, there aren’t any drawbacks to choosing organic formula so long as it meets FDA requirements.
Should I purchase formula from overseas?
Purchasing imported formula online or through a dealer can be extremely risky and is not advised. Infant formula is one of the most highly regulated foods in America, and the FDA monitors all formulas and consistently inspects manufacturers to make sure products are safe for your baby. If they are not safe, the formula will be recalled and customers will be quickly informed. Lack of FDA regulation, shipping and storage concerns, and labeling differences are some of the many reasons why the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has expressed strong concern over buying imported infant formulas online. There is no scientific evidence or research to show that imported formulas are better for babies. However, during the formula shortage, the FDA is looking closely at approving some imported formulas from reliable sources but this will be with full FDA oversight to ensure safety.