Organic baby formula is better for your baby because it contains healthier ingredients than conventional baby formula. If you are looking to supplement or formula feed, invest in the best organic baby formula that you can afford.
For many moms that are committed to the idea of breastfeeding, struggling to breastfeed or produce enough milk can be a big disappointment. If you are having a difficult time nursing, please see a certified IBCLC lactation consultant for assistance. Seeing a lactation consultant in your early days of nursing is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your baby.
When breastfeeding doesn’t work out as planned, it’s completely ok to use baby formula. In fact, a lot of moms struggle for weeks before deciding to use formula, which is stressful in and of itself. Usually, after they finally give in and start using baby formula, they wish they had done it sooner. While breastmilk is superior to formula, you have to remember to do what is best for your baby – and yourself!
So if exclusively breastfeeding isn’t an option, how exactly do you choose the best organic baby formula for your baby? There’s a lot to consider, and most mainstream US formulas just aren’t good enough.
How Do You Choose the Best Organic Baby Formula For Your Baby?
If you decide to use formula, please know that there are no perfect options available. I would urge you to use one of the best European organic baby formula options if that’s within your budget because these contain better ingredients than most American brands of formula.
What your baby consumes directly impacts their health and well-being, and sadly, traditional formula made by the likes of Enfamil, Gerber, and Similac, among others, contain harmful, unnecessary ingredients, including corn syrup, maltodextrin, and GMOs. Even some organicformulas are made with unnecessary ingredients that aren’t good for a baby’s developing digestive system, so please choose your baby’s brand of formula wisely and carefully.
Ingredients to Avoid in Baby Formula
Just some of the unhealthy ingredients that should not be in baby formula (but are) include:
- Carrageenan (a potential carcinogen that is prohibited in the EU)
- Sweeteners such as brown rice syrup
- Palm Oil
- Synthetic DHA and ARA extracted with neurotoxic hexane
- Synthetic preservatives
- Synthetic nutrients
- Genetically modified organisms (GMOs)
Take a look at the ingredients list on any traditional brand of formula, and you’ll probably cringe.
Baby Formula Options – What Can You Give Your Baby?
If breastfeeding isn’t an option and you aren’t open to using donor milk (or can’t afford it), there are some safer organic brands of baby formula available.
Your choices for baby formula boil down to the following:
Cow’s milk formula: Dairy-based formula is the most common type of formula given to babies, although dairy can cause gas and fussiness in many babies that are intolerant to milk proteins
Goat-milk formula: Goat’s milk formulas are a great alternative to dairy-based formula, but are typically not recommended for babies who are allergic to dairy
Soy-based formula: An alternative to cow’s milk, soy-based formula is another option. However, unless your soy-based formula is organic, you can assume the soy is GMO (in which case it is not safe for babies in my opinion).
Hypoallergenic baby formula: Hypoallergenic formula is for babies with milk and/or soy-protein allergies, and contains highly broken down milk proteins which are easier for babies to tolerate
Homemade baby formula: Another option is to make your own baby formula using this recipe from the Weston A Price Foundation or this recipe from Mt. Capra; discuss this with your pediatrician before making your own formula. Personally, I don’t trust myself to make my own baby formula, although I did consider it at one point. This company carries a lot of the ingredients you need.
Camel milk: Famous for its natural properties, camel milk has also been used by some parents as a formula for their babies as young as 6 months of age. However, this is not endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Please check with your pediatrician before giving your baby camel milk. If you do give camel milk, it is recommended that you introduce it to your baby slowly, so as to minimize any potential reactions. Start at 1/4 tsp. and gradually work your way up from there.
What is the Best Organic Baby Formula?
As we said above, there is no perfect option. But here are some of the best options currently available on the market. Please thoroughly review this list, weigh the pros and cons, and decide on the best formula for you.
The Best Organic Cow’s Milk Formula
A detailed study of baby formula has been conducted by Charlotte Vallaeys, former Director of Farm and Food Policy at the Cornucopia Institute and now a Senior Analyst for the Consumer Safety and Sustainability Program at Consumers Union. Vallaeys details many of the ingredients you should avoid when choosing a brand of formula, which I’ve listed above.
Her recommendation is that if you’re not interested in making your own baby formula, you should consider an organic European baby formula. (If you do decide to make your own organic baby formula, I would shop for some of the ingredients from this online store.)
I tend to agree with the recommendation to buy European baby formula, but there are a few American brands that I would feel comfortable with as well.
Here are some of the best organic baby formula options currently on the market:
Holle Organic Baby Formula
Made with organic ingredients and with milk from cows raised on Demeter-certified biodynamic farms, Holle is one of the most popular European brands of organic baby formula. Anecdotally speaking, many moms say their baby’s colic symptoms eased up when switching from an American formula to Holle. This is one of the highest quality organic baby formula brands available.
Choose between three stages of Holle Baby Formula:
Lebenswert Organic Baby Formula
Lebenswert is another great organic baby formula brand to consider, especially since this brand does not contain any maltodextrin or starches. It does, however, still contain such vegetable oils as palm oil, rapeseed oil (canola), and sunflower oil. Lebenswert is gluten-free and certified organic to Bioland standards.
Lebenswert is available in three stages:
HiPP Organic Baby Formula
HiPP is a European brand that ranks high up there in quality, as well, and it contains no gluten, maltodextrin, or soy lecithin. HiPP makes slightly different versions of their organic baby formula for the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands. For example, some contain probiotics and starches while others do not, and the Dutch version comes in a can while the others are in a box. Choose the version that is best for your needs.
HiPP comes in three main versions:
- HiPP UK
- HiPP Germany
- HiPP Dutch
Baby’s Only Organic Formula
If you’re looking for an American-made (and easily accessible) organic baby formula, consider Baby’s Only. This is a good choice because it is easily accessible and does not contain palm oil or hexane-extracted DHA/ARA. If you get the version that contains DHA, you can feel comfortable knowing that it is safely extracted from egg yolks.
Some families use Baby’s Only from birth, though it is labeled as a toddler formula. Check with your pediatrician to make sure it has all the necessary nutrients for your baby.
Baby’s Only comes in a few different versions, including:
Happy Baby Organic Formula
Happy Baby is another good choice for American baby formula because it is easily accessible, certified organic, and contains probiotics and a prebiotic. I know a few families who have really loved it.
Happy Baby comes in three stages:
- Stage 1 Organic Infant Formula (0-12 months)
- Stage 2 Formula (6-12 months)
- Stage 3 Formula (12+ months)
Organic Goat’s Milk Formula
While dairy can cause inflammation in the body, goat’s milk is less allergenic and much more easily digested. (Fun fact: it’s also naturally homogenized.)
However, please note that most babies who are sensitive to cow’s milk proteins are also sensitive to the protein found in goat milk. Thankfully, this doesn’t apply to all babies, but it is still a concern if your baby is sensitive to cow’s milk proteins.
While there are several great goat milk formulas available, there is only one that is organic.
Holle Organic Goat Milk Formula
In addition to their cow’s milk formula, Holle also makes organic goat milk formula for babies using 99% organic ingredients certified to
Holle organic goat milk formula comes in three stages:
Designed By Nature Goat Milk Formula
Buy on Designed by Nature
If you are looking to try a goat’s milk formula, consider Designed by Nature, which is partially organic. Designed by Nature’s formula is gluten-free and high in fatty acids and contains no soy, corn, GMOs, artificial sweeteners, food dyes, or pesticides. It contains carefully chosen ingredients such as olive oil and cod liver oil.
Hypoallergenic European Baby Formula
If your baby has reflux, food allergies, eczema, or food sensitivities, you may want to consider a hypoallergenic baby formula. Talk to your pediatrician or gastroenterologist about whether this is best option for your baby.
HiPP is the only European manufacturer that makes hypoallergenic baby formula. However, due to the need for hydrolyzed proteins, HiPP’s comfort/hypoallergenic formula are not organic.
There are three options made by HiPP.
HiPP Hypoallergenic Combiotik
Buy on Huggable
This contains partially hydrolyzed whey proteins and can be gentler for sensitive babies. The whey to casein ratio is 60:40 similar to breastmilk, but the casein is not hydrolyzed, making this option less effective for the most sensitive tummies.
HiPP Anti-Reflux Baby Formula
Buy on Huggable
This formula is made using locust bean gum so that it’s thicker and easier for your baby to keep it down. Discuss this with your pediatrician before trying it.
HiPP Comfort Infant Formula
This is closest to American hypoallergenic formula and has reduced
If your baby doesn’t tolerate European hypoallergenic formula, you may need to switch to an American hypoallergenic formula like Alimentum, Neocate, or Nutramigen. Your pediatrician or pediatric gastroenterologist (who you should see if your baby has reflux) can help you choose which formula to use. I know many babies who did much better on a hypoallergenic formula.
(If you suspect that your baby might be sensitive to corn, I have heard that the Alimentum Ready-to-Feed v
Should You Buy Backup Formula if You Plan to Breastfeed?
Some women avoid buying any formula before their baby is born, thinking that it might jinx or hinder their breastfeeding efforts (especially in those early days when nursing is extra painful and hard to adjust to), while others prefer to have at least a can of formula on hand.
I can personally relate to both trains of thought, so I encourage you to figure out what works best for you and stick with that plan. I intentionally never bought any formula because I didn’t want to reach for it in a moment of exhaustion or weakness (and there were many of those moments during my first couple of weeks breastfeeding both babies). And, I can say with certainty that not having any formula on hand helped me stick to my goal of breastfeeding. I nursed my first baby until he was 2 years old (I thought for sure we’d stop at 12 months…) and it got much easier over time.
But, I wonder what I would have done if I struggled to breastfeed. I know that I prefer European formulas, and they can take a few days to arrive by mail. So, maybe it would have been prudent to have one box on hand. It’s your choice, mama! You know yourself best.
Would you be more committed to nursing if you didn’t have some on hand? Can you or your partner run out to the grocery store to pick up formula if needed? Or would you prefer to have some European formula available, just in case?
Where Can You Buy European Baby Formula?
Some of the European brands of organic baby formula recommended below (like HiPP and Holle) are not available through mainstream stores like Amazon or Target, for the most part.
The two European baby formula stores I recommend are:
Huggable is a new baby formula store that’s on a mission to make high-quality baby formula accessible to parents in the United States. Huggable only imports baby formula by air to avoid long transit times and unstable temperatures and they store their formula in a refrigerated warehouse as an extra precaution. As parents themselves, they have strict standards and quality control measures. Huggable carries a large inventory of European baby formula and is based in San Francisco.
Take 5% off your order with Huggable coupon code GENTLE through this link.
You may prefer to import baby formula from Germany directly to save on formula costs. Also a parent-run company, Organic Baby Food 24 offers fast and reliable shipping (sometimes as fast as 1-3 days) and you *shouldn’t* have any issues with customs and it is unlikely that your package would be passed through an X-ray machine. Their warehouse is temperature-controlled (though
Take 10% off your first order with code GN10 through this link.
Please note that if you are based in the United States, you may need to import formula yourself because European baby formula is not FDA approved.
For more discounts and coupon codes, visit my Baby Deals page.
While there are no “perfect” baby formula options out there, I think there are a few good ones to consider. Did you find an organic baby formula that you’re comfortable with? Hopefully one of these options will work for you!
Founder and CEO | The Gentle Nursery
Mom of two boys. Wife. Daughter of an integrative OBGYN.
After learning about the toxic chemicals found in mainstream baby products, I created The Gentle Nursery to help other parents make healthy choices for their babies. With a 10-year background in research, analytics, and leadership for a Fortune 100 company, I apply the same principles and attention to detail to every article I write. I consult with an amazing team of moms, medical professionals, chemists, and other experts to ensure accuracy.
My driving mission is to help reduce the rates of disorder, disease, and trauma in mothers and children and to inspire others to lead a healthier, happier, and non-toxic life. I am a graduate of the University of Southern California and have studied newborn baby care at the University of Colorado. Read more >