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Infant and baby formulas can replace breast milk. They can also supplement it, extending the nursing relationship or making nursing possible.

Every baby is different. It is a good idea to consult a pediatrician for help choosing the right formula, especially if a baby has special needs, including dietary restrictions.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: Formulas suit a wide range of budgets.
  • Ingredients: Formulas list all ingredients clearly, with manufacturing processes outlined.
  • Safety: Products are suitable for babies ages 0–12 months and clearly label any potential allergens.
  • Reputation: Products are from businesses that adhere to industry best practices and have numerous positive customer reviews.

Please note that the writer of this article has not tried these products. All information presented is purely research-based and correct at the time of publication.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Best overall: Enfamil Infant Formula

  • Pricing: $18.49–38.99 for single cans
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: choline, omega-3 DHA, two-prebiotic blend
  • Pros: affordable
  • Cons: may have an unpleasant smell

This basic formula is a milk-based powder with iron. It comes as a liquid concentrate and is available in different sizes.

It is suitable for babies up to 12 months of age, and it is available at many stores.

Reviews suggest that it may help reduce gas, colic, and other common issues.

Best for exclusive formula feeding: Similac Pro-Advance

  • Pricing: $36.96 for 30.8 ounces (oz)
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: human milk oligosaccharide, lutein, omega-3 DHA, iron
  • Pros: contains prebiotics found in breast milk
  • Cons: may have an unpleasant smell

This formula may be useful when parents and caregivers cannot nurse.

It contains human milk oligosaccharide, a prebiotic found in breast milk.

It provides a range of nutrients, including lutein, which may aid eye development, and an omega-3 called docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).

Best for newborns: Enfamil NeuroPro

  • Pricing: $17.99 for 8 fl oz
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: human milk oligosaccharide, omega-3 DHA
  • Pros: contains non-GMO (genetically modified organism) ingredients
  • Cons: priced at a slightly higher price point than competitors

This formula is available in powder or liquid forms. Liquid formulas may be a safer choice for newborns.

The makers market the liquid version as a suitable choice for very young babies, including those who also have breast milk.

Enfamil made the formula with non-GMO ingredients.

It contains probiotics, which may benefit digestion in adults, though the benefits in children and babies are unknown, and the research is limited.

Best for reflux reduction: Enfamil A.R.

  • Pricing: $35.99
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: rice starch
  • Pros: may help reduce reflux
  • Cons: may be more difficult to mix due to thicker consistency

This formula contains milk thickened with rice starch, which the makers say may help reduce reflux and spitting up.

The company also advertises it as safe for babies younger than 1 year.

The maker’s data suggest that the formula reduces spitting up by half in the first week of use.

Best gluten-free: Happy Baby Organic

  • Pricing: $31.49
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: lactose, iron, prebiotics
  • Pros: organic and gluten-free
  • Cons: formula may be slightly foamy

This formula contains lactose and is rich in iron.

It also contains more prebiotics than many other options.

The makers highlight that this product is free from gluten, GMOs, and corn syrup solids.

The milk is from cows living on organic farms.

Best organic: Earth’s Best Organic Dairy

  • Pricing: $33.43
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: omega fatty acids, lutein, prebiotics
  • Pros: USDA-certified organic
  • Cons: may contain high levels of sugar

This formula is rich in omega fatty acids and has no corn syrup additives.

It is kosher, non-GMO, and contains no artificial growth hormones.

The formula contains lutein, which may support eye development.

The makers say it also contains a prebiotic that can aid digestion.

The organic classification is not well regulated, so it is important to read labels carefully to distinguish what “organic” means in the context of each formula.

Best soy formula: Parent’s Choice Soy

  • Pricing: $13.82
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: omega-3 DHA, lutein, vitamin E
  • Pros: affordable price
  • Cons: soy may pose some risks to babies

This lactose-free formula features DHA, an omega-3, as well as lutein and vitamin E.

It is kosher and gluten-free but does contain corn syrup.

The company says it is safe for babies younger than 1 year, reporting that it may also reduce fussiness in children with lactose sensitivity.

Best for allergies: Similac Alimentum

  • Pricing: $13.19
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: milk protein, omega-6
  • Pros: affordable
  • Cons: ingredients come from milk, so may not be suitable for anyone who is completely dairy-free

The makers say that is has designed this formula for babies with food allergies, colic, and lactose intolerance.

They also report it is hypoallergenic and can reduce crying and stomach issues.

The milk protein in this product has undergone predigestion, making it easier for babies with sensitive systems to metabolize.

Best for sensitive stomachs: Gerber Good Start Baby Formula Powder

  • Pricing: $29.99
  • Age range: 0–12 months
  • Ingredients: small proteins, prebiotics, probiotics
  • Pros: suitable for babies with sensitive stomachs
  • Cons: reportedly, a reduced scoop size due to a redesign

Some babies may have more sensitive stomachs than others. This may mean they have difficulty digesting regular baby formulas.

This formula contains probiotics that improve “good” bacteria. This helps sensitive stomachs and softens stools.

It also contains small proteins that are gentle on the stomach.

The company recommends this formula for babies with colic, excessive crying, fussiness, mild spit-ups, stool problems, and gas.

Below is a table comparing these baby formulas.

All the formulas in this article are suitable for babies 0-12 months.

PriceSizePrice per ozFormMilk-based?
Enfamil Infant Formulafrom $18.49from 12.5 ozfrom $1.48powder or liquidyes
Similac Pro-Advance$36.9630.8 oz$1.20powderyes
Enfamil NeuroProfrom $17.99from 8 fl ozfrom $0.38powder or liquidyes
Enfamil A.R.from $35.99from 19.5 ozfrom $1.85powder or liquidyes
Happy Baby Organic$31.4921 oz$1.50powderyes
Earth’s Best Organic Dairy$33.4323.2 oz$1.44powderyes
Parent’s Choice Soy$13.8222 oz$0.68powderno
Similac Alimentum$13.1932 fl oz$0.37powderyes
Gerber Good Start$29.9919.4 oz$1.55powderyes

These tips can help with choosing the right formula:

  • Know when formula is a good idea: All babies under 1 year need breast milk, formula, or a combination.
  • Plan strategically: A formula-fed infant needs around 25–30 oz of formula per day.
  • Try combination feeding: This involves supplementing formula feeds with breast milk, as some breast milk is more healthful for a baby than none.

Also, consider choosing a liquid formula, especially for infants under 2 months. This is because dangerous Cronobacter bacteria can grow in powdered formula.

However, powdered formula is usually less expensive, and when a person prepares it correctly, it is a safe choice for most babies.

Some caregivers believe that homemade infant formulas are safe, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn that they may not contain the right nutrients and could harbor dangerous contaminants.

Commercial formulas must pass rigorous tests, making them a safer option than homemade formula.

Babies with lactose intolerance and vegan babies need lactose-free formulas.

Some caregivers opt for soy formulas, but it is important to explore other options first, as soy is a common allergen.

Anyone who thinks their infant may have an allergy should speak with a pediatrician about testing.

A pediatrician may recommend a specialized formula if a baby has a diagnosed medical condition. It is important to know that specialized formulas may come with higher price points, and the baby may not take to them easily. The doctor can provide guidance, including information about financial support and potential alternatives.

When trying to find the safest formula for each baby, a person should:

  • Use soy and lactose alternatives only if there is a medical reason.
  • Never use a formula that has expired, comes having been opened, or smells bad.
  • Never use a formula that a manufacturer has recalled.
  • Avoid switching formulas frequently, if possible, as babies can have adverse reactions to sudden changes.
  • Use clean water. This may require boiling the water first or filtering it.
  • When supplementing, try to nurse first and then offer formula. Only give formula supplements if there is a medical reason.
  • Check formula ingredients carefully rather than relying on marketing materials. This can help a person learn why a baby reacts differently to different formulas.

It is important that a person who prepares any baby formula washes their hands frequently and thoroughly and has good overall hygiene.

Anyone concerned about risks associated with formulas, including formula preparation, should consult the baby’s pediatrician. This is especially important if the baby was born prematurely or has a compromised immune system.

Explore more about toddler formula.

Below we answer some frequently asked questions:

What is the best formula for breastfed babies?

The type of formula that is best varies between infants. All formulas from legitimate brands are suitable substitutes for breastfeeding or combination feeding.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) states that an iron-fortified formula is suitable as an alternative to nursing or for those using a combination of nursing and formula feeding.

How much formula should I feed my infant?

The CDC recommends the following amounts of formula for different age ranges:

  • First days: 1–2 oz every 2–3 hours
  • 0–5 months: 1–2 oz every 3–4 hours
  • 6–12 months: 1–2 oz about 5–6 times a day or when hungry

How do I prepare infant formula?

The CDC states that a person should follow these steps to prepare infant formula:

  • Wash hands and sanitize the preparation space.
  • Clean and sanitize the baby bottle.
  • If a person wants to warm the bottle, they can do so by running the outside of it under a warm tap.
  • Fill the bottle with the required amount of water as per the packet instructions, ensuring the water is safe to use and clean.
  • Add the required amount of powder to the water (as per packet instructions) and mix.

No single formula is right for every baby. All commercially available formulas meet most babies’ basic nutritional needs, so parents and caregivers should focus on their child’s specific needs.

If a baby has an adverse reaction to a formula, contact a pediatrician. In addition to evaluating the baby, they can also provide treatment and offer advice about the best formula alternative.