Best Baby Formulas of 2021

Whether you are supplementing with formula or using it full-time, here are the best baby formulas.

Best Baby Formulas of 2021.

Is there a formula shortage?

Manufacturers say there’s no shortage—they’re producing plenty of formula. So why the empty shelves? Shops order items based on the quantity they typically sell. Recently, panicked shoppers grabbed more formula than usual, which made it difficult for others to find what they need right now.

Infant formula will be restocked at your local grocer or store as soon as possible, but it takes time to get from factories to store shelves. Call the store manager to see when a new shipment is expected to arrive

Where can you find baby formula in the meantime?

Many manufacturers offer store locators on their websites, which can help you find nearby places that stock your favorite formula. Drugstores and baby supply companies often carry formula as well. But call ahead to make sure it’s there before you go, since you want to limit going out as much as possible right now. Also, you might be able to purchase formula directly from a manufacturer’s website or see if it’s available for delivery from retailer websites.

What should you do if you can’t find your favorite formula?

In general, try to stick with a formula that is similar to the one that you’ve been using, advises Rebekah Wheeler, Certified Nurse-Midwife and Lead Family Guide at Cleo (an online health and wellness service).

If you can’t find your favorite formula, it’s safe to switch formulas unless your child requires a special type of formula (in that case, check with your pediatrician first).

In the U.S., infant formula is overseen by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which ensures that all infant formula meets specific nutrient requirements. You can be confident that any formula you find here will be safe and contain the vitamins, minerals and proper ratio of carbohydrates and proteins to help your baby thrive.

If you’re still having trouble locating baby formula, talk to your pediatrician, says Wheeler. Your doctor may have samples. You can also ask friends who are formula feeding if they can lend you an unopened container or call 211, a hotline that can help you find local food banks, women’s shelters and other food-assistance organizations that may have formula available.

How to Choose a Formula

There are many benefits to breastfeeding, and it’s recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) as the optimal source of nutrition through your baby’s first year of life. But breastfeeding doesn’t work for every family, and you may need or choose to use formula full-time or give it in addition to breast milk.

The best formula for your child is the type your pediatrician recommends and your baby accepts. The good news is that all formula is heavily regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and has to meet the same basic nutritional requirements. Formula is designed to mimic breast milk, but ingredients can differ. There are three main types of formula:

  • Cow’s milk formula has been treated to make the protein more easily digestible and is the most prevalent type of formula on the market.
  • Soy formula is a vegan option that’s only recommended by doctors in rare situations, such as when your baby is allergic to the protein in cow’s milk.
  • Specialized formula provides sustenance for children who have particular needs, such as premature babies or babies with a high risk of developing allergies.

Formula also comes in three forms:

  • Powder that you mix with water
  • Liquid concentrate that you also mix with water
  • Ready-to-feed bottles that don’t require mixing

For the full lowdown on formula ingredients, review the information on choosing a formula by the AAP.

Do you think this content is helpful? Let our editors know!

Best Overall Baby Formula

Pro-Advance Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron - $28.98.
Why We Love It

There’s a lot to think about when it comes to choosing the right baby formula, and this one covers all the bases. It’s made with something called 2’-FL Human Milk Oligosaccharide—HMO for short—an immune-system nourishing prebiotic similar to one found in breast milk. (HMO is important because it feeds good bacteria to the gut, where the majority of the immune system exists.) There’s also nutrients that support brain development, eye health and developing cells. Similac Pro-Advance is also non-GMO and contains no artificial growth hormones.

Keep in Mind

Similac is the #1 brand of baby formula chosen by hospitals, so there’s a good chance that if you’re using formula from day one (or even just supplementing), the hospital where you deliver may have some samples to help get you started.

Best Organic Baby Formula

Earth's Best Earth's Best Organic Infant Formula DHA & ARA with Iron, 23.2 Oz - $25.49.
Why We Love It

Earth’s Best should be on your list if organic ingredients are an important factor for you when selecting a baby formula. Certified USDA organic and non-GMO, this formula is designed to be as similar as possible to breast milk. It contains high quality protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and essential fatty acids and no added corn syrup solids.

Keep in Mind

The brand also makes gentle formula for sensitive tummies, a reduced lactose formula and a plant-based soy formula.

Best Baby Formula Most Like Breast Milk

NeuroPro Gentlease Baby Formula - $27.98.
Why We Love It

Enfamil’s Neuro-Pro line is backed by years of research on breast milk and clinical studies around its brain-building nutritional qualities. The formula is the only one to contain milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), a 3-layered membrane previously found only in breast milk and that’s been proven to support brain development. Neuro-Pro also contains DHA, proteins and baby probiotics for immune support. Parents love the gentle formula that helps reduce fussiness, colic and gas.

Keep in Mind

If a sensitive belly isn’t an issue, the brand also makes a standard Enfamil Neuro-Pro formula, as well as the Enspire line, the first and only formula to contain MFGM and Lactoferrin (two components of breast milk that support brain and immune development).

Best Baby Formula to Prevent Gas

Pro-Sensitive Infant Formula - $28.99.
Why We Love It

When it comes to babies who have extra-sensitive tummies, finding the right formula can be a bit of trial and error. Some parents find that this non-GMO Similac formula is the one that finally eliminates their babies’ painful bouts of gas and bloating. Safe for lactose-sensitive babies, the formula aims to boost your little one’s immune system. And just like the brand’s Pro-Advance formula, it also contains the 2’-FL HMO prebiotic found only in breast milk.

Keep in Mind

You’re likely to pay a bit more for this sensitive formula.

Best Store Brand Baby Formula

Why We Love It

All of the amazing baby and kid stuff at Target will give you a reason to love this bullseye retailer even more than you already do once your little one arrives—and the store brand’s baby formula is at the top of the list. Easy on the tummy and easy on the wallet, Target’s non-GMO baby formula is made from cow’s milk protein that’s broken down into smaller parts to help with digestion. This can lead to a reduction in fussiness, gas and crying.

Best Organic Baby Formula Most Like Breast Milk

Why We Love It

Fed is best, so if you’re looking for an organic formula that closely mimics breast milk, Happy Baby is a good choice. This formula is designed to meet all of your baby’s nutritional needs over their first year and is made with ingredients similar to those found in breast milk such as prebiotics and key vitamins and minerals like calcium, vitamin D, DHA, zinc, choline and organic lactose. The lactose is made from cows raised on organic farms and the formula is non-GMO and free of corn syrup.

Keep in Mind

Once your little one is ready to move on from formula to solid foods, Happy Baby also has a huge variety of organic purees, pouches, snacks and more.

Most Affordable Baby Formula

Why We Love It

If you love Costco as much as we do, it will come as no surprise to you that the brand’s generic formula stacks up nicely against major brands—and at a price that’s much more affordable. Modeled after breast milk, the Kirkland formula is non-GMO, has no artificial growth hormones, and contains 2’-FL HMO for immune support as well as DHA and Lutein for brain and eye development. It’s most likely aligned to Similac Pro-Advance and Enfamil formula if you’re looking to do a side-by-side comparison with major brands.

Keep in Mind

You’ll have to be a member of Costco to unlock these great deals, but who are you kidding…what else are you doing on a Saturday afternoon, anyway?

Best Toddler Formula

Why We Love It

If you have a picky eater, you know what it’s like to worry that they’re not getting enough of the good stuff to make their body and brain grow. Go & Grow is designed to help toddlers get the nutrients they need with 25 vitamins and minerals in each eight-ounce serving. Some parents use Go & Grow as a transition step between ending breastfeeding at one year and starting regular cow’s milk. It comes in plain and flavored versions, and has non-GMO options for both the standard Go & Grow formula and a formula for children with lactose sensitivity.

Keep in Mind

Once your child turns one, it’s fine for most kids to start drinking regular cow’s milk.

Choosing What’s Right for You

While selecting a baby formula may feel like a super-weighty decision, the reality is that every formula has the key ingredients your child needs to thrive. Getting your pediatrician’s advice on what’s best for your baby and having your little one weigh in on the taste can help guide you towards making the right decision for your baby and your budget.Share

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