Because traditional formulas are all required to meet the same basic nutritional standards, we looked for the most affordable formulas that offer the most additional potential benefits. 2) Plum Organics Grow Well Organic Infant Formula. She loves it and does If your baby isn’t getting all of their required nutrition from breast milk, they will need formula. Like our main pick, and like other more expensive formulas, it has lactose as its sole carbohydrate and has extra nutrients, including DHA and ARA, lutein, l-carnitine, nucleotides, and a prebiotic (galactooligosaccharides). Regardless of brand or type, most of the information on the nutrition label of a can or bottle of baby formula will be exactly the same. 5) Baby’s Only Dairy with DHA Toddler Formula. This formula is the least expensive option we found and is as effective as any other traditional formula for feeding infants. Since both formulas are the same price, we opted for the Advantage version. Finally, we considered cost. Each of these companies makes a half dozen or more types of formula, and we ended up with a list of 47 formulas.1. We focused our research on cow’s milk–based formulas for babies who are healthy, were born at full term, and don’t have any specialized nutritional or medical needs. Baby formula in the US is based on either cow’s milk or soy. It’s significantly more expensive than powdered formulas, though. “Brand-name and store-name formulas are nearly identical,” a 2017 article on infant feeding in the journal Pediatrics states. These include the fatty acids DHA and ARA; lutein, lycopene, taurine, l-carnitine, and nucleotides; prebiotics (fructooligosaccharides, galactooligosaccharides, 2’-FL HMO (PDF), and polydextrose); probiotics (Lactobacillus reuteri and Bifidobacterium lactis); milk fat globule membrane; and lactoferrin (a molecule that aids iron absorption and may help prevent infection). For this guide, we focused on powdered formulas, because they are the most commonly used (PDF), most economical, and come in the most varieties. Happy Baby’s organic baby formula is a great option for parents who want to avoid corn syrup and maltodextrin, but don’t want to order European formulas. Most babies do well on traditional formula, but if your pediatrician recommends giving your baby a “gentle,” or partially hydrolyzed, formula—containing partly broken-down milk proteins that may be easier for some babies to digest—we suggest the generic Parent’s Choice Tender (62¢ per ounce) or Up & Up Tender (73¢ per ounce). Gentle formulas should contain only partially hydrolyzed proteins. It includes several extra nutrients also found in more expensive formulas. If you or your pediatrician thinks your baby might do well with a partially hydrolyzed formula, we suggest Parent’s Choice Tender or Up & Up Tender. Infant: lactose; polydextrose (prebiotic), NeuroPro Infant: lactose; polydextrose, milk fat globule membrane, Premium Newborn and Premium Infant: lactose; polydextrose, Enspire: lactose; nucleotides, polydextrose, lactoferrin, milk fat globule membrane. Its pouches make it an ideal pick if you are mostly on the move with your baby. They all include DHA and ARA, taurine, nucleotides, and l-carnitine. Bridget Young, PhD, , phone interview, February 9, 2018, Dr. Anthony Porto, , phone interview, February 21, 2018, Dr. Jenny Thomas, , phone interview, March 8, 2018, Lars Bode, PhD, , phone interview, March 9, 2018, The National Academies Press, Institute of Medicine, Infant Formula: Evaluating the Safety of New Ingredients, Camilla R. Martin et al., Review of Infant Feeding: Key Features of Breast Milk and Infant Formula, Nutrients, May 1, 2016, Dina M. DiMaggio et al., Updates in Infant Nutrition, Pediatrics in Review, October 1, 2017, Tracy P. Milbrandt, MD, Standard Infant Formula and Formula Feeding—Cow Milk Protein Formulas, Pediatrics in Review, May 1, 2017, Tracy P. Milbrandt, MD, Specialized Infant Formulas, Pediatrics in Review, May 1, 2017, Lars Bode, PhD, Human milk oligosaccharides: every baby needs a sugar mama, Glycobiology, September 1, 2012. This guide is intended as an introduction to baby formula. Both are manufactured by Perrigo Nutritionals. © 2020 Wirecutter, Inc., A New York Times Company. Costco recently updated its formula, renaming it Kirkland Signature ProCare Non-GMO Infant Formula. This formula is also sold in grocery and drugstore chains as CVS Advantage, Sam’s Club Advantage, and Walgreens Advantage, among others. But Bode, Porto, and Thomas all cautioned that the few prebiotics currently added to formula don’t affect a baby’s gut microflora and immune system the same way the many dozens of unique prebiotics found in breast milk do. Our organic baby formula offers complete nutrition for your baby with key vitamins and minerals found in breast milk. Because it’s believed that some babies have a hard time digesting the cow’s milk–based lactose in baby formula, some formulas marketed as “sensitive” have reduced lactose or are lactose-free, and instead use corn syrup, sucrose, or other sugars. 4) Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula. All infant formula in the US labeled for healthy babies is safe and will support normal growth and development from birth through 12 months. Pediatricians Thomas and Porto both told us that parents should feel comfortable using store-brand or generic infant formulas such as Kirkland Signature ProCare Non-GMO, because they contain all the same FDA-required nutrients and ingredients as formulas made by Enfamil, Similac, and Gerber, which can cost two to three times as much. But with so many different options on the market, choosing a baby formula brand can be downright mind-boggling.