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Who Will Win the Epic Battle of the Baby Formula Brands?


*sizing up the new parents*

Are you prepared, Private Parent…

  • for the onslaught of baby formula brands that are going to assault your eyeballs the moment you walk into the baby aisle at the grocery store?
  • to feel the panic of not knowing which of those five different infant formulations you should choose first?
  • to delve in shame over whether or not you need to pay the extra cash for the organics?
  • for the looming sense of insecurity on whether your baby’s cry-fest is formula-related?

*walking down the boot-camp line*

This is WAR, Private Parent!

You thought you were about to do something simple (i.e. feed your baby), but now you find yourself smack-dab in the crossfire of cultural opinions, scientific debate, and a whole lot of yelling. 

My job, as your Drill Sergeant, is to get you prepared for the decisions ahead. I’ve written several articles on baby formulas, but THIS article….this article is different.

We’re going to look at baby formula brands. Why? Because sometimes starting with the big questions (who has nuclear weapons?) can help you reach the answers to the smaller questions a whole lot faster (who do we need to be extra-specially nice to?).

Ready to start your Intelligence Briefing?

Let’s get started.

Warfare Question #1:
Are You Familiar With the Baby Formula Brand Battleground?

The worst mistake parents can make when evaluating baby formula brands is to believe that “simple” is better.

You don’t want a baby formula with a short ingredient list.  In fact, if breastmilk itself  was being approved for sale by the FDA, the ingredient list would be a long one. (Doubt? Check this out.)

Yep, you want a long list. Fortunately, though, most of the items on that list can be linked into three main nutritional categories:

  1. Carbohydrates—lactose
  2. Protein—whey and casein (Breastmilk starts out with a 90:10 ratio, but as your baby gets older that will change to 50:50.)
  3. A fatty acid—the largest % of fatty acid in breastmilk is palmitic acid (Babies struggle to digest animal fats, so in infant formulas this is achieved by using plant oils.)

Obviously, these aren’t the only components. There are micronutrients, DHA, probiotics… All kinds of extra healthy bonuses can be added.

Those three things, though, those are the absolutely minimum ingredients required.  It’s how baby formula brands put those three puzzle-pieces together that makes them distinctly different, explaining why some babies will do better on a certain brand than others.

How to Read the Labels on Baby Formula Brands Correctly

The FDA has certain forms of nutrients approved for sale and requires labels to show those very specific nutrients. For example, you can’t just write the easily-recognizable “Vitamin B12” on the infant formula label.

Why? Because there are actually three different nutrient forms that can provide Vitamin B12, but only ONE of those three (Cyanocobalamin) has been tested and approved by the FDA for use in infant formulas.

For this reason, if you pick up a baby formula up at Target, you’re not going to see Vitamin B12 listed. It’s actually going to say Cyanocobalamin, which, let’s be honest, sounds a LOT scarier than Vitamin B12, even though it really just is Vitamin B12.

If you’re wondering why you have to have European baby formulas shipped here, instead of pick them up at the store, that’s one of the reasons why. They don’t break down those general vitamins into the smaller nutrients and so cannot be approved for sale by the FDA.

Don’t be scared away by big words on the formula labels. There is a LOT of science that goes into these baby formulas. Unless you’re going to sit down for a two-hour conference with someone with a doctorate in nutrition (like I did), there’s a lot of things there that are just going to go over your head.

Instead of stressing out about what Cyanocobalamin is, I would instead turn your battle efforts to one main focus: Understanding whey and casein.

Warfare Question #2:
How Does the Baby Formula Brand Handle Protein?

As I said before, all baby formula brands use two strands of protein (just like breastmilk) called whey and casein. Each of those protein strands reacts to stomach acids in distinct ways.

This is important because it could mean the difference between having a Connie Contentment or a Gassy McGasFace at 11:30 at night.

  • Whey proteins stay in a liquid form once they hit the stomach, letting them easily slip right through the digestive system.
  • Casein proteins bundle together when they are surrounded by stomach acids. They are more commonly linked to milk allergies, since they harder to break down.

This means the more WHEY in a baby formula, the more gentle it will be for your baby to digest. Although breastmilk starts at a 90:10 ratio for whey/protein, the most common ratio (once your baby is no longer a newborn) is 60:40. Regular milk is 20:80, so baby formula brands have to fiddle with that milk to make it more compatible for tiny digestive systems.

That said, don’t just assume 100% whey is always the way to go. *puntastic high five*  Casein is important for muscle development and lasts longer in the system, potentially helping your baby go longer in between feedings.

Each formula company believes it has the best ratio for babies. Your job, Private Parent, is to discover which ratio is best for your unique child.

Here’s the baby formula brand breakdowns for each company’s standard formulas:

One final little thing to mention, goat’s milk formula is a tad different than all the other cow’s milk formulas. The casein of goat’s milk doesn’t form a tight little ball in the stomach like cow’s milk. Instead, the curdled casein remains loose, like cottage cheese. This makes it a lot easier to digest and makes it one of the best options for avoiding constipation.

Warfare Question #3:
What is Your Monthly Military Budget?

We’ve looked at the battlefield.

We’ve examined the weaponry.

It’s time for the last final question: How are you going to PAY for all this every month?

Option A: Buy in Bulk, Auto-Ship

If you’re trying to save money on your baby’s formula, the easiest way to do that is to purchase your baby’s formula in bulk and have it automatically shipped (for free) regularly to your home. 

What fantastical arrangement is this?  It’s called Subscribe and Save and it will rock your world. (Let me prove it.)

Here are a few of the bulk prices right now at Amazon for you to compare. Yes, they feel more expensive, but trust me, when you do the per/oz calculations, you’re going to find that you save a lot more money when you purchase in bulk.

Option B: Ditch the Cow, Go with Goat

If you have a little flexibility in your monthly baby formula budget, and your baby has already started solids, I would take a hard look at a goat’s milk formula.

Goat’s milk is naturally sweet, easier to digest than cow’s milk formula, and comes from the happiest goats in the Netherlands. Click here for a free trial and see what you think!

Option C: Buy European Organic

If it’s really important for you that your baby’s formula is organic, I would consider choosing one of the European baby formulas. These formulas are in a whole other category of “organic” than the normal standards here in the US.

It’s more expensive than standard US formulas, since it has to be shipped from Germany, but you already knew, when you typed the word “organic” that you were going to be a little extra, so why not make sure you’re getting the purest baby formulas on the planet? Read my article here about what makes European organics a cut above the US organics, or skip all that and place an online order now and have your organic formula before the weekend.

Warfare Question #4:
Do You Remember Your Marching Orders?

Okay, we’ve finished our Intelligence Briefing and you now know everything you need to know to win the Battle of the Baby Formula Brands.

Before the horn shouts and you start charging down the hill, cutlass waving, don’t forget your marching orders.

Don’t worry, it’s insanely simple.

Feed your baby.

That’s the objective. At the end of the day, that’s all that matters. A growing, healthy, precious baby.

You may find your first few skirmishes with the bottle unsuccessful, with extra toots and burps, perhaps even a few strange-colored poos. That’s okay! You’re not going to win them all.

Just keep going. Try each new formula for at least a week, gradually introducing each formula over a few days (20:80, then 50:50, then 80:20) and watching your baby’s diapers and overall temperament to determine your baby formula brand winner.

I promise you, at some point in the future, you’re going to get through this gauntlet and end up victorious, with your conquer’s flag raised on the other side.

Well done, Private Parent.

My apologies!

Make that Major Mother. 


Have You Read These Yet?

We  honesty!  This post contains affiliate links that provide extra money for our mutual coffee habits addictions. Click here to learn more.


Nestlé Completes Acquisition of Pfizer Nutrition. Nestle.com
What’s in Breastmilk and What’s in Formula? BellyBelly.com.au
Whey: Casein Ratio in Infant Formula. ChampsPublicHealth.com
Baby Formula Protein Source. BabyFormulaExpert.com

Formula List. ChadHayesMD.com
Choosing Formulas. DrSears.com
Goat’s Milk Formula Nutritional Comparison Chart. KabritaUSA.com

139 thoughts on “Who Will Win the Epic Battle of the Baby Formula Brands?

  1. I would like to know what do you think about the enfamil nutramigen. My daughter has been on this since her first month because she was throwing up and spitting the enfamil newborn and was constipated . I though she was allergic to cow milk so I switched. Nutramigen is suppost to makeep baby stool softer but it has not done that for my baby. She get a little constipated but not like before. Should I keep her on the nutramigen or try something else?

    1. That is a great question, Reina! The thoughts about Nutramigen are all over the board. If your doctor is the one who prescribed this to you, then I would go back to him/her and reassess the situation. We aren’t doctors here at Incredible Infant, so I would definitely seek your doctor’s advice. First, clarity with you doctor why your daughter is on Nutramigen in the first place. If it is for an allergy, then I would recommend giving a little prune juice to her along with some probiotics to help with her digestive issues. We also have some tips for constipation in this article. If your daughter is NOT on Nutramigen because of an allergy, you also might want to try Similac Spit-up. It also works well and is more cost effective than Nutramigen. You are being a wonderfully diligent mama by working through this with her. Great job!

  2. I don’t know how old this post is but using three of the brands listed I wanted to give my opinion. It really depends on baby. My oldest did perfect in similar, my middle child didn’t she got so constipated and screamed for hours but did perfectly fine on parents choice, and my last baby did perfectly fine on enfam ul newborn and infant. 🙂

  3. I’ve used Enfamil newborn until 4-6 months with my last 2 babies.  My reasoning is that the extra Vitamin D may help in the winter months in avoiding colds/flu, so I made that choice for that reason.  My third baby was born in December, my fourth baby was born in March, so it makes sense.  I find that it blends easier, foams less, and seems to work very well.  When I switch to the regular Enfamil, it seems thicker and grainier, leaves more of a greasy film in the bottle, but my babies don’t seem to have a problem switching over, which I do around 4-6 months.  It may be that grease that stains more often.

    I can’t say whether it makes them gassier, my third baby had no problems on it whatsoever, but my fourth is a happy spitter and is constantly gassy and spitting up, but not in pain.  When she strains to poop (not constipated, just normal) she bubbles up like a little volcano (not exploding though, just burbling up…) so I assume it’s an esophagus thing and I don’t think any formula switch would help.  My first was a projectile spitter, and we used Gentleease on her before it went to soy, it didn’t help much… but at 4-6 months she grew out of it so I assume it was an esophagus issue more than formula for her as well.  My second was on regular Enfamil from day one and did fine on it.

    I hear from a lot of moms that the ‘special’ formulas cost more, but I find they’re all the same price, so I’m not spending more on newborn Enfamil vs regular or Gentleease.  The only one that seems to cost more is the Nutramigen or similar ones made from protein for really sensitive babies.   I use Enfamil the most because of WIC to be honest.

  4. The problem with a lot of these sensitive brands is they have a  sour taste! They have an awful taste to them. My child hates them! Any ideas?

    1. Try something that doesn’t have soy if possible.  The sour taste usually is the soy.

    1. Leslie, that was a lack of information – not because I was deliberately slighting it! I just couldn’t find the information on that formula like I could on the others when I wrote this article. My oldest used Member’s Mark a lot, but my second and third wouldn’t touch it. She didn’t like the taste, I guess. I’d really like to update this article, so many things to add! I’ve made a note to see if I can dig up information on that brand this time around!

  5. Hi,
    My baby is 2 months adjusted preemie. She had reflux and colic so her pediatrician prescribed her zantac. Additionally I give her probiotic and changed her formula from enfacare to neutramigen. Her colic and other issues suddenly ended. I m so happy about that but I noticed that she is not eating this formula much. So she doesnt gain that much weight. I assume its because of its taste. Now i want to change her formula again. Please help me to find a formula with better taste and gentle on her stomach that doesnt cause colic again. Thanks in advance:)

    1. Bircan,

      It’s really up to you if you want to stick with a hypoallergenic or not. Take a look at this article about hypoallergenic formula. It might help as you make that decision. If you decide to switch back from the hypoallergenic I recommend taking a look at Gerber Good Start Soothe. It is very gentle and might be what you’re looking for. This article will help you figure out how to do the switch gently. Also, we recommend you try the new formula for a full week if you can before you decide if it’s a good fit.

      I’m glad to hear that you have her on probiotics. That should really help the process as well.

      One other thing, since your baby was a preemie I would just all this by your pediatrician.

    1. Courtney,

      Good question?! There are lots of factors so I hope this article will help as you try to answer that question. This article is also incredibly helpful when considering the brands and different types of formula.

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