So maybe you are ready to breastfeed a little less often and want to supplement your healthy, happy baby with formula. Maybe you want to skip cow’s milk and soy formulas for a better, healthier, alternative…What do you choose? Is there a difference? Does it really matter? Being familiar with the ingredients in a baby’s formula is vital to make sure you are giving them the best possible nutrition.
Let’s first talk about the advantages of breastfeeding for as long as possible. There are several benefits of breastfeeding your child on top of the great nutritional rewards:
- Attachment: The act of breastfeeding and having skin to skin contact with your child helps strengthen the bond between the two of you.
- Neurology: The act of suckling initiates calming and relaxation pathways in the baby. It lowers your baby’s heart rate and metabolism while suckling
- Benefits for mom: the act of breastfeeding releases hormones that help mom relax, reduce the risk of postpartum depression,
- Immunity: Mom will pass along immune molecules in the form of IgA, and will also support healthy gut bacteria
- Nutrition: skin to skin contact helps baby regulate their blood sugar, breastfed babies have a lower incidence of obesity when they get older
Large brands such as Simliac, Enfamil, Gerber Good Start (Nestle) use dairy from cows that are treated with hormones. Not only that, there are GMO ingredients such as soy and corn. Cows dairy is more difficult to digest than breast milk, added sugars, there are synthetic other synthetic ingredients in the formula, and introducing it too early can lead to allergies. Because some baby’s bodies are not ready or do not react well to the cow’s milk, it can also present as ear aches or ear infections, indigestion, congestion, or eczema. Also, you may not notice that sugar content is not labelled on formula as the FDA does not require it. You have no idea of how much and what kind of extra, unnecessary sugar is added to your formula.
So what are your options? Goat milk! Goat’s milk has smaller fat globules than cow’s milk, making it easier to digest. There are much more short chained fatty acids as compared to cow’s milk, and it also breaks down at a similar rate as breastmilk. Under a microscope, goat milk is much more similar to human breast milk, digests at about the same speed, and delivers very similar bowel movements in quantity and consistency…who doesn’t want that?! Specific brands are also very dedicated to how they source their ingredients, and adhere to organic and non GMO standards. If you are looking for a good goat’s milk formula, try Kabrita. This is a brand that uses milk from goats in the Netherlands. They not only offer formula, but yogurt as well. You can find them locally at Nature’s Corner, or you can purchase online. Other goat milk brands such as Meyenberg can be found at Wegmans, and they also make other goat milk products. They do not use preservatives or hormones, and are Kosher. Holle is an Austrain brand that offers goat and cow’s milk formulas that are organic, non GMO, and made with no artificial ingredients, and they label their sugar content.
If you would like to use a cow’s milk formula, there are definitely some good quality options. Baby’s Only from Nature’s One is a USDA Organic certified, hormone free, Kosher cow’s milk formula, and would be a suitable option. They label their sugar content. Earth’s Best offers an organic, hormone/pesticide free, and Kosher cow’s milk formula, however, they do not label sugar content. Two of their first three ingredients are sugar, and there are soy ingredients as well…nope!
When it comes to rice based formulas, I am not a huge fan of introducing grains early on, so I would just skip these in my opinion. Also, skip soy formulas as well. Large brands are going to use GMO soy, among other additives, preservative, etc…so don’t go there.
Here would be my ranking system of which formulas I would recommend after you have breastfed for as long as possible or want to supplement: #1-4 would be the best, #5 is just ok based on some of the other ingredients.
1. Kabrita (goat)
2. Holle (goat)
3. Meyenberg (goat)
4. Nature’s One Baby’s Only (organic non GMO cow)
5. Earth’s Best (organic non GMO cow…but still may contain soy and too much sugar)
Any of the large brands such as Similac, Enfamil, Gerber, I honestly would not recommend because they are full of low quality ingredients, extra sugars, and GMOs. I wouldn’t bother with any of the soy based or rice based formulas from any brand if you can avoid them.