We want to start out by stating the obvious. Breast milk is definitely the gold standard when it comes to feeding your baby. Pretty much any doctor you talk to will recommend breastfeeding for the first six months, preferably the first twelve.

Human milk is, by design, the perfect food for little humans. Breast milk is generally easier to digest than formula. The composition of breast milk offers your baby the ideal combination of nutrients and protection against allergies and illnesses.  Plus antibodies found in mother’s milk are passed on to your little one which boosts their immune system.

So while we may all agree, breast milk is best – that doesn’t necessarily mean breastfeeding is. The two things should be separate in your mind. Many women, who are amazing moms with beautiful healthy kids, are not able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. And they shouldn’t be shamed or judged because of it.

Being a mom is so much more than just how a baby is fed. Doing what is right for you and your baby’s unique circumstances is what’s important.

For those mothers who are unable to breastfeed, for whatever reason, choosing the right formula is a crucial decision. Every formula-feeding mom wants to know, what is the safest, best formula I can give my baby?

That’s where we can offer some guidance and help.

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Ingredients To Avoid

When it comes to choosing a high-quality, safe infant formula…it’s more about knowing what you don’t want. You want to avoid the bad stuff; the chemicals and additives that can cause issues for your baby. Here’s a list of ingredients to watch out for:

Non-Organic Ingredients
Choosing organic doesn’t automatically mean a particular formula is safe, but it’s an excellent place to start. Conventional non-organic formula can contain GMOs, milk from cows treated with hormones and antibiotics, traces of pesticides, and oils processed with neurotoxic solvents like hexane. Avoid all that junk and look for an all organic formula.
 
Palm Oil and Palm Olein
Human milk is naturally high in certain types of fatty acids. Manufacturers try to mimic this by adding oil, like palm oil. The trouble is, the structure of the fat molecules in palm oil is different and is digested differently.

Human infants do not properly absorb palm oil. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that unabsorbed palmitic acid can remain in a baby’s gut and react with calcium to form “soaps” in a baby’s intestines. Which is not only gross, but it can negatively affect a baby’s health.

Soy
If you have a baby that suffers from dairy intolerance, you may have to rely on a soy product (talk to your doctor). But otherwise, it’s recommended you avoid it. Soy is almost always genetically modified. Soy formulas also tend to have higher levels of aluminum contamination since soy sucks up aluminum from soil.
 
Carrageenan
Carrageenan helps stabilize liquid formula, but numerous studies suggest it leads to intestinal inflammation and colon tumors. The EU has outlawed the use of carrageenan in all infant formula, but it is still allowed in the U.S. Steer clear.
 
Preservatives
Watch out for synthetic preservatives like beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate.
 
Synthetic Nutrients
These are also outlawed in the EU, but can still be found in U.S. formulas. Watch out for lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, I-methionine, and I-carnitine.
 
Certain Sugars
Breast milk is sweet, so it makes sense formula contains added sugar. The closest sweetener to the type found in human milk is lactose from cow’s milk, but it is expensive. Therefore some manufacturers don’t use lactose.

Instead, they use plant-based sucrose, which is banned in the EU and you want to avoid. Other sweeteners to avoid include maltodextrin, corn syrup, and brown rice syrup.  The latter can contain up to six times the EPA’s safe limit for arsenic, so you seriously want to avoid brown rice sugar.

Bad Tap Water

OK, so this isn’t actually in the formula itself…but think about it. If you go to all the trouble of getting organic, clean baby formula – why would you risk mixing it with questionable tap water?

Tap water can be full of chlorine byproducts, weed killer, solvents, lead, phthalates, BPA, etc. Do yourself a favor and use filtered water!

Baby formulas may also contain aluminum, which if not excreted can cause health issues. It’s hard to avoid trace amounts of the stuff, but if aluminum is a concern for you, making your formula with a silicon-rich mineral water can help. It’s believed to reduce the absorption of aluminum in your child’s gut.

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Goat’s Milk Formula

One option for formulas that not a lot of folks talk about are goat’s milk formulas. Goat milk proteins form a smaller, softer, and looser curd in the gut than cow’s milk. This means it breaks down faster than cow’s milk.

Cow milk protein may be difficult to digest for some children and may cause mild to moderate symptoms such as colic, constipation, diarrhea, gas, bloating, chronic congestion, recurrent ear infections, and eczema.

Goat milk fats are smaller than cow milk fats. And, goat milk fat contains higher amounts of short- and medium-chain fatty acids compared to cow’s milk. This may make it easier to digest for some infants with a cow milk formula sensitivity.

Keep in mind, goat milk is not appropriate for children with a confirmed cow milk protein allergy (CMPA). If your child has a milk protein allergy, talk to your doctor about other formula options.

European Baby Formulas

Another option you may not have considered are European baby formulas. The EU has much tighter regulations that govern the making of baby formula. As a result, things like carrageenan and synthetic nutrients that can be found in some U.S. brands are banned in the EU.

The EU also has stricter organic and farming requirements. These tighter regulations mean that better ingredients tend to go in their formulas. In your search for the best formula for your baby, don’t forget to consider EU brands.

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Our Favorite Organic Baby Formulas

 
U.S. Brand
While we tend to favor EU brands for the reasons stated above, EU brands can be on the expensive side and therefore aren’t for everyone. To help, we’re offering an additional 10% off any formula from My Organic . Use Coupon Code “BEENKE10” at check out.
 
For a quality U.S. brand, we like Baby’s Only Organic Formula. As the name implies, it’s all organic and does not contain any of the dreaded palm oil.
 
EU Brand
If you’re open to an EU brand, we like Lebenswert Formula (Stage 1). It does not contain maltodextrin, it uses lactose instead. It’s also free from palm oil, soy, and canola oil. Plus, Lebenswert adheres to bioland organic guidelines which exceed the most stringent EU regulations.
 
Hypoallergenic
We chose another EU brand, HiPP HA formula because it contains no sugar, corn syrup, or maltodextrin and it’s full of healthy prebiotics. Of course, in an allergy situation, you need to run your formula choice by your doctor so they can verify the ingredients will work for your child.
 
Goat’s Milk Formula
Holle Organic Infant Goat Milk Formula is another EU brand that we like. The primary ingredients, goat milk, oils, and carbohydrates all meet very high European organic standards. They also leave out most preservatives and synthetic nutrients that you don’t want.
 
Special Savings Just For Beenke Members!
Get an additional 10% off any formula from My Organic including EU brands. Use Coupon Code “BEENKE10” at check out.

Do What Works For You And Your Baby

Breast milk may be best, but a quality organic formula is a great alternative when full-time nursing isn’t a good option due to breastfeeding challenges.

Deciding to use formula depends on a lot of personal factors. It’s a tough decision for most moms and we support doing what is best for your family. There is no bottle shame happening here!

If formula is the right choice for you, be sure to choose a quality organic product free from chemical additives to give your baby the best formula possible.

In some cases, the greatest benefit from formula is the relief it gives moms that have been struggling. Formula can be help stop you from stressing, and let your focus on spending quality time with your baby.