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Europe has given America some pretty amazing things.
- Germany inspired us with our favorite Baseball treat, hot dogs.
- England shared an apple pastry we quickly assimilated: “As American as apple pie…” PISH POSH.
- Greece provided the influence we needed to get our system of government off the ground.
Today I want to toss another “amazing thing” on that collection of great things given to us by our generous continental neighbors: European baby formulas.
I know we have our own baby formulas over here, formulas I’ve spent a lot of time researching and discussing over the years, but I would be a poor friend if I didn’t also share the other great formula options trickling over from across the pond.
In this article, I’ll share the three main reasons why so many Americans are trying these European baby formulas.
So slip into your Lederhosen, pour out some Earl Grey, and stick that beret back on your head where it belongs. We’re going international.
Different Kinds of Farms
Europe practices Biodynamic Organic Farming, which is like organic farming on steroids. (All natural steroids, of course.)
- The entire ecosystem of the farm is considered and maintained: soil, seeds, plants, animals, and humans.
- No pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used in the soil. (Just nature’s favorite fertilizer, poo.)
- There is no genetic modification of plants or animals (GMO’s).
- Certain processing practices (or ingredients) are also prohibited.
You can see a complete description of Biodynamic Organic Farming here, if you’re interested.
What does this have to do with European baby formulas being awesome? Well, the formulas are based on cow’s milk, and years of using the scientific method has taught us that cows that are fed on awesome grass, produce awesome milk, which can be developed into awesome baby formulas, which creates awesome babies.
It’s the cycle of life, really.
How will you know if a European baby formula is using this techniques? (…and isn’t just some knock-off brand using the word “European”.)
They will have the “Demeter” label on them somewhere. This is the trademark of all products and goods sold from Biodynamic Organic Farms. (It’s also the name of the Greek goddess of fertility. #cleverpoints!)
Avoiding Certain Ingredients
The EU does not allow European formula manufacturers to use corn syrup, glucose, fructose, rice syrup, table sugar (sucrose) or carrageenan. (This is just a few of their strict regulations, if you’re interested in those specifics, click here. They are much more rigid than our own FDA.)
European Baby Formulas Don’t Use the Typical Sweeteners
Yes, there needs to be a sweetener in your baby’s formula. Breastmilk is naturally sweet, and our bodies have been designed to crave some levels of sweetness for proper metabolic function.
Babies know this instinctively, and will refuse to drink something that doesn’t taste good. (How very…human…of them!)
European baby formula manufacturers have discovered other ways to sweeten up the formula, without using the sweeteners American formula manufacturers rely on like corn syrup, glucose, fructose, or sucrose.
- Lactose – Called “milk sugar,” since it’s found only in milk. Provides baby with needed carbohydrates. (Avoid if there is lactose intolerance in your family). HiPP and Lebenswert both use this as their sweetener.
- Maltodextrin – This is a complex carbohydrate that moves quickly through the digestive system, and can be very healthy in small doses. (Only in small doses, which is where many companies get it wrong.) Holle uses small amounts of this as a sweetener.
Having these gentle and natural sweeteners in the formula ensures that your baby will enthusiastically down bottle after bottle, growing into strong lumberjacks yodeling on the mountainside and blowing into Ricola horns.
European Baby Formulas Don’t Use Carrageenan
Carrageenan is an extract from a red seaweed called Irish Moss. Besides being regularly smoked by Leprechauns, it has also been used in traditional cooking in the British Isles as a binding agent to thicken sauces and stews. It’s used prolifically in foods, particularly for Vegan eaters, who want to avoid gelatin (an animal by-product).
It’s currently considered a scientific controversy as scientists debate the possible effects of carrageenan in your diet. I’ll let you form your own opinions on this subject. Due to all the bickering scientists, the EU stepped in and said, “ENOUGH! We can’t handle all the bickering!” and banned it completely from European baby formulas.
An Emphasis on Gut Balance
Although some American formulas are catching up, the large majority of them do not contain the probiotics and prebiotics necessary for a healthy and balanced digestive system.
This is particularly important for babies, who only just started using those organs a few months ago! Breastmilk has those nutrients naturally, so it makes sense that having a formula that does the same is a huge bonus.
The 3 Main European Baby Formulas
You know what’s even more exciting about these European baby formulas?
Instead of telling you how great they are and then ending with a “Hope you know someone in Germany who can send them over!” I can tell you exactly where to go to purchase them yourself.
No, you can’t find them on Amazon. This is because the FDA has not approved these formulas for sale.
If you DO find these formulas on Amazon, they were purchased by individuals and are being resold. Personally, that makes me a little nervous. I’d prefer to go to a reputable vender like Organic Baby Food 24 instead. (Here’s their trusted credentials.)
Here are the most common European baby formula brands:
Obviously, since these are European baby formulas, the packages are going to look a little foreign. Don’t let this intimidate you! You just need a handy dandy little translator. (Like myself!)
#1: They Use Boxes, not Cans
The first thing you’re going to notice is that these European baby formulas come in boxes, not cans. Each box contains two pouches of formula.
Sadly, the reason for this is going to have to remain one of Life’s Greatest Mysteries, because I couldn’t find any information on why (and can’t bring myself to read through another technical paper.) If you know, please tell me in the comments!
#2: They Use Stages, not Ages
Most of the European formulas above go by stages, not ages. Here’s an example of how Holle formula organizes each “stage”.
- Stage 1: from birth
- Stage 2: at 6 months
- Stage 3: at 10 months
- Stage 4: at 12 months
#3: They Use Grams, not Ounces
The packages are weighed and measured in grams, so you’re going to need to head back to your elementary days and do some conversions. (Or just ask Siri.)
- HiPP First Infant Formula Stage 1: approx. 150 oz. mixed formula
- Lebenswert Infant Formula Stage 1: approx. 130 oz. mixed formula
- Holle Organic Infant Formula Stage 1: approx. 90 oz. mixed formula
Divide how many ounces (or per 8-oz bottle) your baby typically eats, and that will help you figure out how long the boxes will last. (The estimate I read said the first stage lasts about 2.5 weeks for a newborn.)
#4: They Use German, not English
Since this is a German product, it makes sense that the package is going to be printed in German. Don’t panic! There are perfect Englishized instructions inside the package.
Here are the most common phrases on the boxes, translated for you. (I just knew that German college course would pay off!)
- Anfangsmilch – means “starting milk”
- Folgemilch – means “follow-up milk”
- Kindermilch – means “children’s milk”
- Nach dem vorbild der natur – means “along the lines of nature”
- von Geburt am – means “from birth on”
- gut sattigend – means “good saturation”
There is an expiration date on the boxes (about a year later), but it’s written in the EU version of dd/mm/yyyy not the traditional American mm/dd/yyyy format.
Why Not Try It For Yourself?
Since you can’t get this on Amazon, and you can’t stop by Walmart on the way home from work to grab a box, you’re going to have to order online.
Yes, you’ll have to pay to have it shipped to you. (Stores in the US can’t sell items not federally approved.) They realize, though, that paying for shipping sucks, so they have a coupon code to save $10 on your shipping costs. Just use the discount code SHP10 at checkout.
- Standard shipping is 10-15 business days.
- Airmail Express will deliver your formula within 1-3 business days.
They do give you a tracking code from DHL, so you can check and see where your package is and get an estimation on it’s arrival date.
Better Ingredients Lead To…
Many parents rave about these European baby formulas, giving them credit for reduced fussiness and colic, improving eczema improvements, and helping with digestive issues.
It makes sense, really. Better ingredients lead to better products.
I guess that’s why my Baloneo recipe never really took off. Who would have guessed that a slice of baloney between two Oreo cookies wouldn’t be a winner? #mystery
Click here to get your baby started on those better baby formula ingredients!
Organic Baby Formula 24 approached me and asked if I would consider researching and writing this post with their compensation. I quickly agreed because I’ve heard good things about Holle, HiPP, and Lebenswert for years and this gave me an excuse to really dig in and learn what all the hubbub was about. Needless to say, the results actually WERE worth hubbubing about…and this article was born.
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