What is considered a good baby formula?
Lined up on the shop shelves, at first they do appear to be very similar, but if you turn those boxes around, the ingredient list tells a different story. Here, this blog will give you well-researched information on the ingredients found in formula, so you are well equipped when it comes to deciding which one is best for your little one.
Selecting the right carbohydrate is important because they are vital for the body. Lactose-based formulas are the best ones to choose for the health of your little one, as opposed to relying on refined sugars and other artificial preservatives.
Lactose is found in breast milk, so formulas containing it are closer to natural breast milk, and infants produce the lactase enzyme, which allows them to digest and absorb lactose. It has a lower glycemic index than processed refined sugars, which helps babies absorb calcium and helps the growth of good bacteria in the gut. This is considered the most important step in finding the best formula for your child.
When looking at the ingredient lists on the back of formulas, keep in mind that lactose is the main ingredient in cow’s milk. Instead of “lactose” listed, it may be “organic skimmed milk” or “organic cow’s milk.”
US-produced formulas usually contain sugar, syrup solids, corn syrup, maltodextrin, or brown rice; these have a higher glycemic index, something you ideally don’t want as they are very unhealthy. These are banned in Europe because of concerns about childhood obesity.
Prebiotics and Probiotics
These are the good gut bacteria that you need inside you; they are part of a healthy baby’s microbiome, which is important: 30% of microbiomes of babies who are breastfed derive from natural probiotics. They can help with reducing colic and improve the immune response, and more. When checking the list of ingredients, look for the common probiotics Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.
These are essentially food for probiotics; they are naturally found in breast milk, but while they aren’t digested by the baby, they still help the growth of probiotics. They should be listed as Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) or Fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
DHA and ARA
Naturally found in breast milk, DHA is a long-chain omega 3 fatty acid that is crucial in early brain development and eye development. While it isn’t necessary to include it in a formula as it can be generated from other fatty acids, DHA formulas are usually better because babies need more of it than they can generate.
Similar to DHA, ARA is found naturally in breast milk and it is a fatty acid; it helps to regulate inflammation and while it isn’t necessary, it is really beneficial to have in the formula.
Typically, US formulas contain synthetic preservatives such as ascorbic palmitate and beta Cartier. They aren't included in European formulas because they are disapproved of by the National Organic Standards Board. They can be incredibly toxic - something you don’t want in your baby’s formula.
Again, synthetic nutrients such as taurine, L-carnitine, L-methionine, lutein and lycopene are toxic - or processed with solvents that are toxic; these are banned by Europe but still commonly found in US formulas.
Palm Oil vs. Soy Oil
Europe and the US commonly use palm oil. There is a risk of it causing some digestive issues and gassiness in babies, but it is better to use than soy oil.
It is the main alternative oil to palm oil. On the plus side, it isn’t associated with digestive issues, but it has been scientifically linked to severe future menstrual cramps.
Now, hopefully, you will feel more confident in being able to identify what is in formulas and make an informed decision on what is best for your baby. If you have any questions, we are more than happy to help, so email our support team.