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If you’re in a hurry and just want to find out what the best organic formula is, I’d recommend the Earth’s Best Organic Dairy Infant Powder Formula.
It is common knowledge that breastfeeding your child gives it the best possible nutrition they can possibly get. Breastfeeding helps build their immune system. But what if you can’t breastfeed, whatever the reason?
Naturally, any new parent will look for the next best possible option. When looking at infant formulas to substitute breastfeeding, you may want to look into the best organic formulas available. Organic formulas don’t contain artificial ingredients and make for a more natural replacement.
Here are the organic formulas I will be reviewing:
What Is Infant Formula?
Infant formula is a processed food for babies and infants up to 12 months old. It usually comes as a powder to which water is added or comes as a ready-to-feed liquid. Both varieties are then fed by a bottle.
Research found that the main ingredient in traditional formulas isn’t actually milk, but refined sugars. Though it may make sense that this is because your baby’s digestive system isn’t able to handle complex carbohydrates yet, the amount of artificial sweeteners is very high. Levels double from people with diabetes have been measured in babies who consumed regular formula within their first year.
Besides that, traditional formulas contain a multitude of ingredients one wouldn’t consider suitable for human consumption. Pesticides based on sulfate, fungicides, petroleum-derived vitamins, and corn syrup solids, to name a few. They have also been found to contain traces of other dangerous chemicals.
What Is Organic Infant Formula?
Organic infant formula only contains mostly all-natural ingredients. The ingredients may come from grass-fed, free-range cattle at organic farms, who keep their cattle free from antibiotics, steroids, growth hormones, herbicides and pesticides, etc. It turns out organic varieties are actually much closer to human milk than conventional formulas.
Few synthetic ingredients are found in organic formulas, as they are manufactured from organic ingredients. There is a wide variety when it comes to taste and quality, and yes, they tend to be more expensive. But knowing that you’re only feeding your child a substitute as close to breastfeeding as possible must be a comforting thought.
If you feel you really want to keep matters in your own hands and make sure you get a completely natural organic formula, have a look at DIY recipes. This can be pretty time-consuming, though, so keep reading and we’ll guide you in choosing your best option for the best organic infant formulas on the market already.
Things to Consider When Selecting Organic Formula
An increasing number of options are becoming available. However, to be fair, calling a product organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s safe or healthy. Let’s look at some things you’ll want to remember when selecting your best product.
Are All Organic Formulas Healthy?
I guess we can safely state that most organic infant formulas will be better and healthier than conventional formulas. But while they are organic, there are definitely variations when it comes to quality. As organic formulas tend to be more expensive, some cheaper brands may substitute coconut oil with, for example, canola oil to keep costs lower.
Canola oil is less beneficial than coconut oil. Make sure to read the labels when selecting your formula.
What Should Be on the Label?
To make sure you’re buying a product that’s safe, you’ll want to find an organic certification somewhere on the container. This certificate guarantees through approval of the USDA that no genetically modified organisms (GMO) and no synthetic chemicals have been used while producing the formula.
Furthermore, the best organic infant formulas will state on their ingredient labels:
- Organic milk: Cow milk is ideal, though if your baby has allergies, look for soy milk alternatively.
- Vegetable or fish oil: Coconut is preferred, but avoid palm oil.
- Lactose: Improves the taste—avoid white sugar or synthetic varieties.
- Whey protein: This is easier to digest than synthetic varieties.
- Iron content: Constipation is often linked to the amount of iron, so if your baby is sensitive to this, make sure to look for the iron content on the label.
Which Ingredients Do You Want to Avoid?
We all know how marketing works, and some manufacturers will produce low-quality products that appear to be fully organic and, therefore, healthy in order to make more profit. Some ingredients may sound healthy, but they may not benefit the health of your baby.
Naturally, if you find large quantities of any ingredient that is not organic, it cancels out the product to be organic legitimately, so you’ll want to look for alternatives.
Ingredients to avoid or be careful about are:
- Canola oil
- Carrageenan (as it can cause inflammation, even though it’s natural)
- Corn fructose or high fructose
- Docosahexaenoic acid, or DHA (as they are usually extracted through hexane. Though they may benefit development, some children have adverse reactions to it)
- Palm oil or any oil that prevents calcium and fat absorption (*)
- Sugars other than lactose, as they are linked to obesity and overfeeding
- Synthetic ingredients, even if called a nutrient
(*) Though palm oil in itself isn’t necessarily unhealthy or dangerous for your child, if and when used as a part of a balanced diet, environmentalists argue that the farming of oil palm trees is terrible for the planet. Palm oil production is said to have been responsible for about 8 percent of the world’s deforestation between 1990 and 2008. This is because forests are burned to clear areas where people can grow oil palms—even if it’s illegal.
When considering organic products, it only makes sense to consider the impact of the production of those products on the environment as well.
Consider Your Location
Europe and the US have different standards when it comes to manufacturing and labeling. Make sure to do your research, as what is considered organic in one place might not be elsewhere. European products, though generally regarded to be of high organic quality, may not be readily available or in stock when ordering from the US.
Our Organic Infant Formula Reviews
With a heads up on what to look for and avoid, we will now review the top 10 best organic formulas available on the market.
Earth’s Best is an organic formula that’s easy to digest and is nutritionally complete for the first 12 months of your infant’s life. The all-lactose milk contains no corn syrup solids, and it contains the omega-6 ARA and omega-3 DHA fatty acids naturally found in breast milk. According to the manufacturer, water instead of hexane was used in the extraction of the DHA.
The formula contains lutein for eye development and prebiotic fructooligosaccharides for immunity. Besides being kosher, the formula does not contain any GMO ingredients and is made without prohibited synthetic pesticides and fertilizers. With iron added to the formula, Earth’s Best is bringing their infant formula closer to breast milk.
It’s easy on the stomach, according to many parents, though some report constipation as a result of feeding their child this formula. Some parents mention it being beneficial to their baby with reflux issues, while others report their child vomiting after using it. There seems to be inconsistency in quality at times when it comes to smell and taste, as well as the formula sometimes being extremely foamy after preparing it, and flat with other containers.
In general, the smell and taste are pleasant and very close to actual breast milk. Baby’s stool also comes out closer to those when being fed breast milk than with other formulas. Earth’s Best seems to keep high regard to all ingredients being organic and take care of additives being extracted in the best possible way.
Modeled after breast milk, this organic formula contains prebiotics for digestive health, DHA for brain and eye development, and vitamins A and E for immune system support. It contains organic non-fat milk as the main ingredient, besides organic lactose, vegetable oils such as palm, soy, and coconut oil, and organic whey protein. It’s labeled kosher and free of gluten.
The formula has iron added, which is an important nutrient for babies. The DHA used is derived from algae, which in general, is considered lower quality and not the healthiest option. Galacto-oligosaccharides are made from milk sugar (lactose) and are a particularly beneficial type of prebiotic.
Gerber Natura dissolves well in either warm or cool water without leaving lumps, just by stirring the formula after mixing or by gently swirling it around. Firm shaking, however, can lead to a very foamy mixture.
The smell is pleasant, and most babies seem to really enjoy the taste. This formula is easy on the stomach, and few issues of spitting up, fussiness, or constipation have been mentioned.
Some parents report babies getting gassy after being fed this formula. The packaging is inconvenient, as the scoop often comes buried under the formula, and the can shape doesn’t allow for easy scooping when the can is almost empty.
Baby’s Only Organic Formula is free of GMO, corn and glucose syrup, palm oil, and hexane-processed DHA, which is derived from egg yolk. Its main ingredients are organic brown rice syrup and organic non-fat milk. The formula contains a mixture of vegetable oils, which include sunflower, soybean, and coconut oil.
The formula contains no milk from antibiotic-treated dairy cows, no hormones, and no harmful pesticides or fertilizers. Though it’s classified as a toddler formula, parents have successfully fed their infants the formula, and the toddler classification is done to promote breastfeeding.
The formula is very gentle on the stomach, and most toddlers seem to love it and digest it very easily. It assists in the relief of constipation, an upset tummy, spitting up, and acid reflux. The organic formula mixes up and dissolves well in water with hardly any lumps, no matter if it’s warm or cold water.
Baby’s Only formula comes in a relatively small container, and some parents have reported a distinct difference in quality between products purchased in-store and products purchased online. The formula comes in BPA-free packaging and is rated “Best in Class” for Superior Nutrition and Purity by CleanLabelProject.org, which reflects the effort of the manufacturer to clean source their ingredients.
They have many options to choose from, including dairy, whey protein, soy, and LactoRelief, in case of lactose intolerance or allergies.
Again “modeled after breast milk,” this formula is made with organic lactose, the principal carbohydrate found in breast milk. The formula provides key vitamins and minerals that are found naturally in breast milk. Happy Baby contains four times more prebiotics than most infant formulas, mimicking prebiotics found naturally in breast milk, which promotes healthy gut bacteria in infants.
The DHA is derived from algae rather than the more favorable egg yolk variety, though extracted without the use of hexane. The formula contains no corn syrup solids or GMO ingredients. The ingredients are clean-sourced, and the formula has no synthetic additives.
Baby’s seem to respond to it remarkably differently, though. Where certain parents and babies are very pleased, and witness issues disappear after using Happy Baby, others report extremes from severe constipation to developing diarrhea. It seems there is more variety on baby’s tolerance and taste than in other brands, and therefore, a more individual approach would be advised.
In general, the feedback on smell isn’t great; a heavy fish smell is mentioned regularly by parents. The taste also has a rather large variety mentioned, ranging from great to horrific. It mixes and dissolves well in water and leaves little to no lumps, though stirring is recommended over shaking.
There is a stage 1 and stage 2 variety available, depending on the age of your little one, but consistency and taste seem to vary distinctly between both. The packaging is convenient, and the manufacturer has come up with a scoop holder, which is a big plus.
The Honest Company comes with a formula with premium ingredients abiding by the strict criteria of the USDA certified organic program. This ensures high-quality sourcing with trusted organic dairy farms and sustainable farming practices. The baby formula is a blend of iron, vitamin D3, calcium, choline, and folic acid.
DHA and ARA are added to help support brain and eye development—the DHA is derived from algae, though. To help support digestion and immune function, prebiotic fructose-oligosaccharides (FOS), is added to help support good bacteria in the digestive system.
Many parents mention their baby is a great fan of the taste and doesn’t spit or have reflux like with other formulas, where others report that the formula can cause baby to be gassy and that it’s not too gentle on the stomach. Though babies love it, it may cause constipation. With no child being the same, Honest seems to be a brand that varies in responses.
There’s a sensitive variant for babies with intolerance or sensitivity available. With the price being on the high end, it may be wise to try before committing to automatic delivery subscriptions.
Earth’s Best Toddler Milk is USDA organic certified and contains non-GMO ingredients, making it suitable for toddlers one year and older as a nutritious alternative to cow’s milk. It has a natural vanilla flavor your little one will love. It contains DHA omega-3 fatty acids to help support eye and brain development and prebiotics for immunity.
Made with organic skimmed milk powder from grass and grain-fed cows, the other main ingredients are ‘organic’ maltodextrin and organic sugar cane. Though maltodextrin comes from natural foods, it’s highly processed and has a high glycemic index, which can spike blood sugar levels quickly.
The maltodextrin combined with sugar cane gives the impression that this formula is rather sugary and less organic than other organic labeled formulas. A combination of vegetable oils is added, with palm, soybean, and coconut oil, among others.
The formula mixes OK but may get quite foamy when shaken vigorously, so stirring is recommended. It may also have lumps, which can be avoided by adding hot water, after which you should let the formula cool off again. The formula is also rather thick, though still doable for bottles.
Parents report babies to respond well to it when it comes to tummy issues and digestion and for even picky toddlers to love the taste. Constipation is mentioned by a fair few parents, too, though others actually find the stool to be more regular using this formula. All in all, baby may love the taste, but with maltodextrin and sugar cane as main ingredients, there are healthier and more organic options available.
This organic formula consists of organic lactose and organic nonfat milk and lists organic palm oil, soy oil, and coconut oil and, finally, whey protein as the main ingredients. The product contains DHA and ARA, though the extraction method isn’t stated on the label.
Many parents praise the formula for its easy transition between breast milk and formula and a good option for sensitive babies due to the whey protein. Also, babies with bad reflux tend to respond well to this formula. As in many other brands, exceptions to this are also mentioned, some babies get gassy or suffer from colic or constipation.
Mixing the formula may cause it to foam quite a bit, and lumps are easily formed. The color is like actual breast milk and not as yellow as other formulas. Some parents refer to the smell as being fishy and for the taste to be metallic. Many babies don’t seem too bothered by their parents’ observations, though.
Plum Organics’ customers have confirmed that the production of this formula has been discontinued, so if you chose this formula as your favorite, you may want to start looking for the next best option, before it becomes completely unavailable.
Similac Pro-Advance is not specifically mentioned and branded as organic. That being said, it contains nonfat milk, lactose, and whey protein, which makes it suitable for sensitive children. It is one of the very few products without palm oil; it contains high oleic safflower oil, soy oil, and coconut oil instead.
Similac states that it is the first infant formula with 2’-FL oligosaccharide (designed to be closer than ever to breast milk) and without artificial growth hormones.
Their blend of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E nutrients also found in breast milk helps support baby’s overall growth and brain and eye development.
The packaging is convenient; the containers are rather large and have a long shelf life. Many containers are reported dented, damaged, or opened when ordered online, which may negatively affect the quality. A number of parents are happy about bulk deals for larger containers when purchasing online, yet others report what has been noted in other brands as well; online purchased formula seems of a different (lesser) quality than store-bought.
Though most satisfied parents seem happiest about shelf life and bulk prices, many stick to it as it came recommended by their hospital or pediatrician, and their baby doesn’t have adverse reactions. Some parents reported reduced gassiness, spit-up, and overall fussiness one day after switching to Similac Pro-Advance.
A number of other parents, however, state their pediatrician advised them not to use it, and others mention their babies vomiting, getting diarrhea, and being fussy after being fed this product.
The formula mixes well and without lumps or foam. It comes with a scoop you have to dig into the formula for.
Baby’s Only LactoRelief (as well as their Toddler formula) is the first and only organic infant formula using Organic Certified DHA and ARA derived from organic egg phospholipids, which supports brain and eye development. The organic low-lactose dairy is perfect for babies who are lactose intolerant or sensitive. Baby’s Only contains no hormones, harmful pesticides, or fertilizers.
Rated “Best in Class” for Superior Nutrition and Purity by CleanLabelProject.org, Baby’s Only Organic Formulas do not contain GMO, corn or glucose syrup, palm oil, or hexane-processed DHA. They’re providing the formula in BPA-free packaging, and the formula is certified to be kosher. It contains dairy, soy, egg, and coconut.
Besides all these plusses, it contains brown organic rice as the main ingredient and contains maltodextrin derived from brown rice, which is highly processed and has a high glycemic index. It’s somewhere lower on the label, so it may not be too much, but it’s still worth noting.
Parents report that their baby responds to it really well, especially when dealing with intolerance or allergies. The taste is great, and the smell is reported to be less artificial than most other formulas. Many report relief from constipation caused by other formulas, as well as relief from spitting-up and gassiness.
Most of the complaints parents refer to are due to damaged packaging when purchasing online or finding a lesser quality than when bought in the store. Their baby is still happy and responding better to it than to other products. It seems to be a genuinely good product, just be mindful of where to purchase.
According to the label, this formula contains milk from certified grass-fed New Zealand cows and contains high levels of vitamins A and E and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. The milk is GMO, rBGH, grain, and antibiotic-free. Munchkin contains ARA and hexane-free DHA to support brain development and lactoferrin, which is an immune booster naturally found in breast milk.
Though it has few good quality ingredients, the formula is not completely organic. The formula’s first ingredient is skim milk, which seems to defeat the purpose of grass-fed milk, only after many other ingredients whole milk powder is listed. Grass-fed milk is naturally high in vitamin E, but it doesn’t benefit this product since vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin and there is significantly more fat from oils than milk in this formula.
It doesn’t contain palm oil, like many others do, however, Munchkin’s first oil on the label is actually soybean oil, as the third ingredient listed. It also contains coconut oil and fish-derived oils, which is the source of the DHA.
The formula dissolves and mixes well, even with colder water, and doesn’t cause any lumps. Parents have successfully switched to this formula with baby either not noticing or making baby happy and call it a great transition between formula and actual milk.
Parents love the consistency in quality, though, and babies love the taste. Overall, it is tolerated really well. The powder has iron added but doesn’t seem to have the taste that accompanies many other brands with iron.
Parents of sensitive children report that the formula is really gentle and doesn’t cause any adverse reactions. Some even say the formula reversed the adverse reactions their child had to different formulas.
Bringing Home The Best Organic Infant Formula
It likely didn’t go unnoticed that having “organic” on the packaging doesn’t always mean a product is fully organic, nor does it mean it will not contain any unhealthy or possibly harmful ingredients. Carefully reading the label when selecting your favorite product is highly recommended. It’s also striking how many brands seem to have an inconsistent quality, which especially seems to differ between store-bought and purchased online.
After ample consideration, we chose Earth’s Best Organic Dairy Infant Powder Formula to be the best organic infant formula. It combines the best organic ingredients and still has an affordable price. Every child is different, though, so you may have different priorities when it comes to ingredients, or your child may like or respond to another brand better. Pick whatever suits your needs!