Baby Formula and Food: How to Choose the Right One

Deciding what formula to feed an infant can prove confusing. It’s such an important decision, and though it’s great to have many options, deciphering ingredients and labels is major work. (As if being a new parent wasn’t already hard enough!)

Going into the process is much simpler if parents know what to look for from the beginning. There are key questions every consumer should ask. A few that are important are:

  • Are there allergens or ingredients parents want to avoid?
  • Where do the nutrients in the formula come from?
  • Is organic formula preferred?
  • Is powdered or liquid formula the best way to go?

What each parent chooses depends on their specific situation. A family with a history of food allergies may want to avoid formulas that contain dairy or gluten, while others may need a healthy option that won’t break the bank.

Of course, it’s always best to understand a little bit about the different types and major brands of formula before making any sort of final decision:

Powdered Formula

Most consumers imagine powdered formula when they think of feeding their babies from a bottle because it is so popular. A big benefit is that powdered formula is cheap. Parents can also store it for extended periods of time without it going bad. The average shelf life of powdered formula is about a month (although this will vary by brand). A downside is that it takes time to prepare a bottle when the baby needs one. Powdered formula isn’t always easy on the go since it needs to mixed and heated as well.

Ready-to-use Formula

Coming in at a higher cost but a lot more convenience is liquid formula that is ready to use. It’s perfect for on-the-go situations, but it has to be consumed within a specific time frame. Forty-eight hours is the norm (although this will vary by brand).

Liquid Formula from Concentrate

This is the middle stop between powdered and ready-to-use formula, both in price and convenience. This type still requires mixing, but mixing the liquid with water is often easier than mixing powder.

What About Specific Ingredients?

The ingredients in formula vary by brand and type. Many parents choose a milk-based formula to start. These are popular, and many babies don’t have problems with the dairy component. However, soy-based formula is available, and if parents know a dairy allergy is likely, they may want to start with soy.

There are also formulas made with ingredients for extremely specific situations. Babies with food allergies, sodium issues, or digestive issues may require a special formula that specifically addresses these problems, for example. They can be more expensive, but the baby’s health and comfort are obviously well worth the price.

Popular Brands

There are plenty of highly trusted brands available. This gives parents plenty of options to choose from so they can make the right decision for their families. Even better, plenty of brands even offer discounts or special coupons! Some trusted, big-name baby food brands include:

Enfamil

One of the most recognized names on the market, Enfamil offers a variety of options for bottle-feeding parents. They have age-specific formulas and also provide formula for babies with stomach problems and allergies. They also have plenty of trusted products that boast other incredible features. The NeuroPro formula, for example, contains brain-boosting DHA and immune support through probiotics.

Enfamil frequently offers coupons, contests, and other treats. They also offer a rewards program that lets users accumulate points through activities like purchases and friend referrals. Users can redeem points for select products.

Similac

Similac is another popular formula brand. The company prides itself on working to accommodate parents who want to know where ingredients come from and that they are safe. Since knowing where nutrients are coming from is a big part of choosing the right formula, this company is making it easier to obtain this knowledge. Pure Bliss is a Similac product that clearly labels that the company created it with milk from grass-fed cows, for instance.

This brand also offers special discounts. One such reward program is the Similac StrongMoms Rewards program. It offers a chance to save hundreds of dollars for eligible participants. The coupons and freebies help lessen the cost of feeding an infant, so signing up is encouraged.

Earth’s Best Organic

Earth’s Best Organic offers fully organic products for parents who desire them. They offer milk-based and non-GMO plant-based options, and they have formulas for a range of ages. Besides creating certified organic products, the dairy in their milk-based formula is kosher.

Coupons are available through the official company site and newsletter.

Gerber

When most people imagine the Gerber baby, they tend to think of baby food that comes in jars, ready for the baby transitioning to pureed fruits and veggies. However, Gerber offers feeding options for many ages, including infants who need formula. The system this brand uses to label their products lets consumers know which one to choose based on a child’s age, development, and specific needs. Each one is designed for the stage a child is in at any given time.

Gerber offers coupons through their website, and many stores that carry this brand’s products offer coupons as well. Furthermore, this brand offers its own program, MyGerber, which not only provides product offers, but also plenty of other great resources for parents, like interactive app tools.

Organic Baby Food

Eventually, parents will need to find a soft baby food when they wean their child off formula. Since this is a critical period during a child’s development, it’s especially important to find food that will foster healthy growth. Today, many are turning to organic products as part of a more natural, wholesome lifestyle. Some trusted organic baby food brands include:

Yumi

For busy parents who want to give their kids something healthy and homemade, Yumi is a great choice. This company creates fresh meals to be delivered to the home on a weekly basis. That way, on-the-go parents can rest easy knowing that their kids are getting the most nutritious, exciting meals without the hassle of making the food themselves.

This direct-to-home brand recognizes that weaning is a long process; no one can switch from formula to solids overnight. They have several products specially designed for specific stages of the weaning process. This gradually lets children adjust to different textures, nutrients, and flavors as they grow.

Sprout Organics

Sprout is a brand that has it all: baby and toddler food, snacks, recipe videos, coupons, and more! Founded in 2008, the company is committed to offering organic products to ensure proper growth and development in a responsible, more wholesome way. It’s even won a few awards, including recognition from the National Parenting Product Awards (NAPPA).

Interested individuals can purchase Sprout products both online or in-person at a store. The official site has a store locator that also lists online vendors. The site also offers several coupons, including buy one, get one (BOGO) deals as well as a few dollars off some of their products.

Nature’s One

Nature’s One is a brand that prides itself on its organic products and independent manufacturer status (no big Pharma here). It provides several lines of products, including its Baby’s Only Organic formulas. This line offers formulas that toddlers may consume, with soy, whey, and other formulas available. Parents with children that have extra dietary needs may also look into some of Nature’s One other lines, like their PediaSmart products.

Eligible individuals who subscribe to the company’s Subscribe and Save program may receive up to 15% off. There is currently no subscription fee. The official site notes that it cannot combine discounts with other groups, however.

Plum Organics

Plum Organics is all about providing the healthiest food to a child from the get-go. With plenty of organic, non-GMO formulas and foods to infants, toddlers, and even snacks for kids. They even have gluten-free and kosher products available, so every family can find something perfectly suited to their own unique needs. And those who are concerned about being eco-friendly as well as finding the most wholesome foods for their baby? Well, they can relax knowing that Plum Organics makes its packaging with the environment in mind. If the packaging itself isn’t recyclable, it’s often instead made with materials that are greener to produce than more traditional packaging materials like glass.

Following Plum Organics on either Facebook or Instagram can help parents stay posted on current coupons and discounts.

Final Thoughts

Choosing the right formula is a major decision, but breaking down the process and considering all of the choices can make it easier for expectant parents. Future guardians need to consider how they are using formula to make the right decision for them. If parents are simply supplementing while breastfeeding, they may choose a different type than if using formula full time. Price, convenience, and easy availability are also important factors to consider. There’s no one formula or baby food that will work best for everyone, so it’s always best to do some research before making any decisions.

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