When it comes to the wide world of the best organic baby formula, the endless amount of options can be overwhelming for any parent. That’s why we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best organic baby formula out there, so you can make an informed decision about how to best support your baby’s nutrition.
Here we have outlined the best organic baby formula of 2019:
- Happy Baby Organic Stage 1 Infant Formula Milk Based Powder with Iron
- Hipp Organic Combiotic Baby Formula
- Lebenswert Stage 1 Organic (Bio) Infant Milk Formula (500g)
- Plum Organics, Organic Infant Formula with Iron
- Earth’s Best Organic Infant Powder Formula with Iron, Omega-3 DHA & Omega-6 ARA 23.2 Ounce
Is Organic Baby Formula Necessary?
Before getting into the organic versus traditional formula debate, we’ve got to say it: breast is best! We encourage all mothers to breastfeed for as long as they can because there is no formulaic substitute for breast milk.
That said, breastfeeding may not be happening for you. You may not be producing enough milk and need the formula to supplement your feedings, or you may be ready to wean your baby off breast milk. Whatever the case may be, choosing formula is an important decision.
So what are the advantages to choosing organic formula over traditional formula?
Conventional formulas, though FDA regulated, often contain ingredients harmful to babies, such as unsafe GMOs, added sugars, and other toxic chemicals. Crazy, right?
Organic baby formulas are made with ingredients that, like their organic fruit and vegetable counterparts, are not exposed to pesticides. They generally contain less sugar and processed ingredients.
If you are interested in going the organic route, not all organic baby formulas are created equal. Read on for some information about the types of organic formula available and what to keep in mind before purchasing one.
How is Organic Formula Sold?
The organic formula usually comes in three types: powdered, liquid concentrate, and ready to use.
Powdered formula is easy to prepare. You scoop out the desired amount and mix it with water.
You can store the canister in your pantry, it’s not bulky, and you can prepare it to your baby’s liking. It’s also the most cost-effective formula option, making it the king of the three types of formulas.
The only real downside to powdered formula is that preparing the bottle takes some time.
Some parents prefer the liquid concentrate formula, which requires you to mix equal parts concentrate with water. While not as cheap as powdered formula, preparing liquid concentrate is somewhat faster.
Ready to Use
As its name implies, ready to use formula is, well, ready to use. This type of formula is extremely convenient as the preparation is simple: you open and serve. One drawback is that ready to use formula must be consumed in 48 hours or else it will spoil.
Types of Organic Formula
Regardless of whether the formula is powder, liquid concentrate or ready to use, each is made with a different base. Here’s some necessary information about the most common ones.
Most parents try this type of formula first, as most infants tolerate it well. Cow’s milk formula contains the complete form of cow’s milk protein, which provides a reasonably thorough nutritional baseline.
While true lactose intolerance in babies is rare, there is a lactose-free formula option for those babies. Some may also need to switch to this type of formula after having diarrheal sickness.
This technical-sounding name is just a fancy way of saying that the formula’s proteins have been broken down into small protein pieces. This process makes them easier to digest for infants with specific health issues like allergies.
Organic soy baby formulas are made from soy protein and are lactose-free. They are an excellent alternative for babies who can’t tolerate dairy products.
How to Choose the Best Organic Infant Formula
So what is the hallmark of a great baby formula?
A great baby formula bears specific characteristics: it is rich in nutrients, won’t upset baby’s stomach, and of course is organic.
How they provide a complete nutritional profile of carbohydrates, protein, and fats is where formulas differ.
Keep in mind that you may have to experiment with different formulas to find the one best suited to your baby. What works for one baby may not work for another, so be prepared for a little trial and error.
Things like added prebiotics are great for some babies but make others gassy.
Some don’t respond well to DHA and ARA, the essential fatty acids found in breast milk.
As you can see, there is no one-size-fits-all baby formula.
What Ingredients Should You Avoid in Organic Baby Formulas?
That’s a great question. It would be great to think that any organic formula is a safe bet, but you should do your research before committing to a formula. Ideally, organic baby formulas will contain none of the following items:
- Pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides
- Processed refined sugars
- Synthetic nutrients
- Synthetic preservatives
- Palm oil, which may form a “soap” in the child’s intestines
- Carrageenan, a possible carcinogen
These items by no means constitute an exhaustive list. We encourage you to do your research about the ingredients in the formula you choose.
What About Certifications?
To aid you in your search for organic baby formulas, be on the lookout for certain certifications. These will help you understand if the product is doing what it claims to do.
Strict requirements must be met to earn a certification, which generally is displayed with a logo or symbol on the product packaging.
You may already be familiar with this certification, administered by the USDA. Products bearing this label meet the organic standards set forth by the USDA.
This video provides a great overview of how the organic certification process works so you can better understand what this label means.
Products that have been proven to be non-GMO, or non-genetically modified organisms, bear the logo of The Non-GMO Project.
For those with gluten intolerance or celiac disease, the gluten-free label indicates that the product contains no gluten.
Is Organic Formula More Expensive?
The short answer?
If you eat organic food (and even if you don’t), you already know that these foods are more expensive than their non-organic counterparts. The same holds true for baby formula.
The cost of organic formula is indeed something to keep in mind when deciding on one. The cost will be even higher if the formula that works best for your baby is from another country.
If your budget allows for it, great! If not, this article is still full of great information about what to look for in a formula.
What Are DHA and ARA?
We mentioned DHA and ARA above, which are fatty acids found in breast milk. They are nutrients shown to stimulate brain development in babies.
There is some controversy about using these nutrients in baby formulas. Some parents claim that their babies have had adverse reactions to them. There is also debate about whether or not synthesized DHA and ARA have the same effect on babies as the ones found in breast milk.
The research on this one is conflicting, but know that most formulas do contain DHA and ARA. If you are concerned about the presence of these fatty acids in your formula, we have included a non-DHA option on our list.
The Top 5 Organic Baby Formula Comparison
Now that we’ve covered the basics, it’s time for the fun stuff! We’ve rounded up the top 5 organic baby formulas and created a list outlining product information, as well as pros and cons.
Without further ado, here they are.
This stage 1 powder formula, suitable for babies up to a year old, is modeled after breast milk. Happy Baby Organic is non-GMO, gluten-free, and does not include corn syrup solids. Instead, this company sweetens their milk with lactose, the main ingredient in breast milk.
Happy Baby also includes a mix of two prebiotics (GOS & FOS), making it the formula with the highest amount of prebiotics available in the U.S. Prebiotics are the third largest solid ingredient in both breast milk and Happy Baby Formula, and their function is to keep your baby’s digestive system running smoothly.
Given its popularity, this formula seems to do just that. It is popular among parents who like that it’s easy to digest and doesn’t cause stomach issues.
Besides the prebiotics mentioned, the formula also boasts a wide range of carefully obtained organic ingredients. Parents like that Happy Baby is made with critical vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D, and iron.
The fatty acids DHA and ARA found in breast milk are also present in the formula. Happy Baby’s are sourced from non-GMO algae.
- US brand makes it easy to find and buy
- Tends to work for a wide range of infants, making it a great formula to start with
- Doesn’t cause much spit up
- On the pricier side for organic formulas
- Some users complain that the formula is too foamy and causes bloating in their babies
HiPP is one of the best formulas on the market. It is made from all natural ingredients and incorporates a blend of non-GMO organic skim milk and whey proteins.
Though it can be hard to find a formula without DHA and ARA, HiPP has taken a novel approach to these nutrients. Their DHA and ARA are not synthetic but derived from fish oil.
HiPP exclusively uses lactose as a sweetener, and what makes it even better is that it is wheat and gluten and peanut free. Much like Happy Baby, HiPP has included prebiotics in their recipe.
They sell formulas from stage 1 to stage 4 that come in both powder form and ready to use.
If your little one’s tummy is rather delicate, HiPP Combiotic Infant Formula is the best organic sensitive baby formula on the list. It is hydrolyzed, so the milk proteins have been broken down into the smallest fragments possible. These proteins help infants with allergies assimilate them better.
Organic standards in Europe are even stricter than the ones in the United States, which means that out of all the options on this list, HiPP stands out nutritionally.
- Most nutritionally complete of all formulas on the list
- Excellent for babies with sensitive stomachs
- Highest organic standards
- Not readily available in the US since it’s a European brand. Most parents have to buy it online, and the overseas shipping costs mean you’ll be paying practically double
- Contains palm oil
- Powder variety has elevated aluminum content, which is why we recommend using the pre-made version
The Lebenswert formula is very similarly ranked to HiPP. Both are made in Europe and contain a similar nutritional profile.
Lebenswert is a top-rated choice. If you’re concerned about DHA or ARA, this formula is one of the few that doesn’t include it. It’s also preservative free, and the milk used comes from pasture-fed cows.
One thing reviewers mentioned is that Lebenswert smells and tastes like real milk. Some other formulas smell and taste less than desirable, so if that’s a concern for you, consider buying this formula.
Unfortunately, Lebenswert formula does have one major concern.
Parents looking to buy this product are sometimes dismayed to learn that maltodextrin is used in the stage 2 formula. While the FDA has approved maltodextrin, this refined sugar is comparable to corn syrup solids, a major formula no-no.
If you want continuity in a formula, the maltodextrin issue could be a real deal breaker.
- Breastfeeding moms like this formula
- Lebenswert’s farms meet and exceed the Bioland Association’s strict guidelines for organic and biodynamic farming
- The brand focuses on recycling and sustainability
- Much like HiPP, availability and cost are big issues for Lebenswert. It can be challenging to find, and you run into the same elevated prices due to both shipping costs and the product itself
- Maltodextrin in the Stage 2 formula
Plum Organics is a US based certified organic brand. It is non-GMO, doesn’t include antibiotics or hormones, and is free of pesticides and fertilizers. Plum Organics is also USDA certified organic.
Skim-milk-based and fortified with DHA and ARA, this option made the list for being a nutritionally complete budget-friendly choice. Plum Organics is a newer brand so parents may be unfamiliar with the advantages to this formula.
One of those is that parents can rest assured that Plum Organics formula contains no corn syrup solids. Another advantage is how readily available it is. Unlike HiPP and Lebenswert, parents can more easily find Plum Organics and at a lower price point.
This baby formula is quite a popular option among parents with picky eaters. While Plum Organics seems to be a second or third choice behind more popular Happy Baby, upon encountering issues, many parents switch and stick with this formula.
Making the jump from exclusive breastfeeding to formula can be exasperating, as you figure out what your little one likes. Of the options on our list, Plum Organics is probably the best organic formula for breastfed babies. The manufacturers have found a recipe that these babies seem to like.
- Good for fussy eaters
- Well-received among exclusively breastfed babies
- No added corn syrup
- Not made with iron
- Price has recently increased
- Has somewhat of a fishy smell
Earth’s Best Organic stands out as a more affordable organic option.
This formula is a milk-based powder made with DHA and ARA. The USDA has certified it both organic and kosher, and there are five different types of formula available to meet a range of dietary needs.
Whichever one you choose will be non-GMO, and parents love that Earth’s Best Organic doesn’t use artificial sweeteners. It has come to be a popular formula among parents as the milk-based powder closely imitates breast milk.
If DHA is a concern for you, they sell a non-DHA option. It’s interesting to note that the DHA carrying formulas differ from other brands. They use water assisted extracted DHA instead of other possibly toxic solvents.
Earth’s Best Organic is one of the best organic toddler formula options for babies that are a little bit older. In general, their variety of formulas available from this brand makes Earth’s Best Organic an excellent choice for parents looking for variety.
- Fortified with iron
- Reduced lactose formula is excellent for babies with fussiness or gas
- Great transition formula for breastfed babies
- Special formulas available in gentle and sensitive
- Some users reported difficulty getting the formula to mix properly
- Often unavailable in stores
And the Winner Is …
After reviewing the top 5 organic baby formulas on the market, Plum Organics offers the best quality for price value.
While the European formulas may technically be organically superior, their high cost and general low availability prevented them from topping the list.
Among similar products, Plum Organics emerged as the winner because they have created a high-quality organic formula accessible to parents.
What differentiates it from Happy Baby, a comparable formula, are the proteins partially hydrolyzed. These proteins make this formula a sound choice for most types of babies, as it will not tend to upset their stomach.
Plum Organics has pages and pages of positive reviews from happy parents. On the whole, they note that their babies enjoy this formula whether they are breastfed, transitioning, or exclusively bottle-fed. This satisfaction makes it a clear winner in our book.