The 7 Best Baby Formulas to Buy in 2018

Top picks for your growing child

Feeding your baby can be one of the most stressful and rewarding things as a new parent—no matter if you are breast, combo, or formula feeding. If you're going the formula feeding route or want to have some on hand in case of an emergency, it is hard to know which formula to buy. All baby formulas are regulated by the FDA and are engineered to closely resemble breastmilk, giving a baby a combination of proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, and more to help them grow.

There are three different formula forms. Powders, which need to be mixed with distilled water, are the most affordable option but can be challenging for on-the-go families. Liquid concentrates also need to be mixed with distilled water, but they don't need a scoop. The only con is you generally have to refrigerate these after opening and use within 48 hours. Lastly, ready-to-feed formulas come pre-mixed out of the bottle, but are often the most expensive of the lot and they need to be consumed within 48-hours and also need to be refrigerated.

Besides the form of formula, you also need to consider the makeup of formula. For most healthy babies, cow's milk formula does the trick and is the most affordable. If your baby is allergic or sensitive to cow's milk, you might want to try a soy formula (which can sometimes also upset their stomachs), or an even more specialized formula that breaks down proteins even further to make it easy for babies with allergies to digest without discomfort.

With all the above being said, each baby will have their own preferences and needs (babies with reflux or constipation and colicky babies might need something different), so you might need to try a few different ones or change brands as your baby grows. Often hospitals and your pediatrician will send you home with some samples so you can try these and go from there.

To help you get started on your research, here are the best baby formulas for your needs. Just note a lot of the prices reflected are for a month's supply.

Best Overall: Similac Advance Infant Formula with Iron

Many of your mom friends are sure to have tried this Amazon Choice product that gives your baby all they need to grow big and strong. This is a cow's milk-based formula that has DHA, Lutein, Vitamin E, and other nutrients that help your baby's brain and eyes grow. This also has 2’-FL Human Milk Oligosaccharide, a prebiotic that mimics breastmilk and helps support your baby's gut health.

Many reviewers claim that this is the first formula they used with their child and they didn't need to make a switch. A lot of reviewers also noted their child didn't have any spit-up, reflux, or constipation issues with this. This also comes in a ready-to-feed formula.

Best Organic: Baby’s Only Organic LactoRelief with DHA & ARA Toddler Formula

If giving your baby organic ingredients is important to you, this top-choice from Baby's Only might be the right fit. This is called a "toddler formula" because Baby's Only follows the AAP guidelines that babies should be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months of life, but it is suited for newborns and older children alike. This flavor provides relief for babies whose stomachs might be sensitive to cow's milk. While it is still milk-based, the enzymes have been broken down to be easier on the belly and it also has added DHA and ARA for extra nutrients.

If your child doesn't appear to have any sensitivities, you can stick to Baby's Only's dairy or dairy with DHA and ARA. For babies that are allergic to milk proteins, they also have a soy formula, though you should consult with your doctor before trying that option. All of their flavors are non-GMO and were all rated "best in purity" by the Clean Label Project, an independent non-profit organization, in 2017.

Reviewers with children with sensitive stomachs say this is the formula that finally worked for their child and they were happy to learn that the ingredients were all organic. It has also worked great for parents who are supplementing breastfeeding as well, with the baby experiencing little taste confusion between the formula and breast milk.

Best for Gas: Enfamil PREMIUM Non-GMO Gentlease Infant Formula

Gas is no joke for babies. If your child is suffering through this and is formula fed you might to talk to your pediatrician about changing formulas. Enfamil Gentlease is touted by parents as helping ease fussy babies within 24 hours. Again, this formula has broken down milk proteins which make it easier for your little one to digest, thus helping eliminate gas. This comes in both a powder and ready to feed formula so you can pick whatever works for your needs. 

Parents of children with gas troubles noted that this has solved their problem and has helped produce bowel movements.

Best for Breastfed Babies: Gerber Good Start Gentle for Supplementing

Breastfeeding babies need a formula that’s as close as possible to mom’s milk, especially if you’re supplementing or combo-feeding and want to continue nursing. Gerber Good Start Gentle for Supplementing is specifically formulated for combo-feeding babies, with “comfort proteins” that make for easier digestion and probiotics, like B. lactis, that mimic those found in breastmilk.

Most parents say their babies have no problem switching between Gerber Good Start Gentle and breastmilk. However, some do warn that the formula tends to clump, so be sure to mix it well before serving.

Best for Constipation: Enfamil Reguline Infant Formula

A common problem with formula fed babies is constipation. If your baby is having digestive issues or hard pebble-like stools, you might want to try Enfamil Reguline Infant Formula, a specially formulated brand with dual-prebiotics and probiotics to ease babies' tummies. It’s designed to soften stools and provide essential nutrients like choline and DHA.

Customers frequently say that Enfamil Reguline was a last resort after trying plenty of other formulas and techniques for a constipated, gassy, fussy baby, and that it was a lifesaver. Parents report that it stopped their baby's straining and gas without causing reflux or other digestive problems. However, it’s pricey, so you might want to try it only if you’ve tried everything else.

Best for Reflux: Enfamil A.R. Infant Formula for Spit-Up

Enfamil A.R. Infant Formula for Spit-Ups is specially created to solve reflux issues and other digestive problems. It follows reflux guidelines from AAP and includes dual prebiotics to help with overall digestion.

Enfamil A.R. helps treat acid reflux with a thicker formula (more effective, according to double-blind studies, than regular formula that simply has rice cereal added to it). And though other acid reflux formulas sometimes cause constipation, parents don’t report bloating or constipation often with Enfamil A.R. Many parents say that it finally eased their babies’ spit-up problems and allowed them to gain weight. However, a few customers say that its thickness makes it difficult to mix, so make sure it’s clump-free when you’re done shaking.

Best for Milk Allergies: Similac Alimentum Infant Formula

If, after talking to your pediatrician, it is suspected that your baby has milk allergies and you have tried various formulas out there with no ease in symptoms, it might be time to give Similica Alimentum a try. This formula is generally the last resort for parents because the taste and smell can be a bit unpleasant and the cost is much higher than other formulas out there. That being said, if your child has a serious allergy this might be your best option.

The formula contains a predigested milk protein that is generally tolerable to those children with allergies. It also has added DHA and ARA to round out some nutritional gaps in your baby's diet. In a clinical study, this formula helped reduce symptoms of colicky babies within in 24-hours which is music to a suffering family's ears.

Many reviewers say this finally helped ease tummy trouble with their baby but many note the cost can be quite high on this so you might want to try other options and speak to your pediatrician first before making the move. 

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