2023 Formula Guide: Best European Organic Baby Formula
A mother's choice to breastfeed is highly personal and can be affected by several factors. We all know the advice: "Breast is best." For some moms, that advice is easy to follow. Unfortunately, for many moms, it's not. Luckily there are excellent alternatives for breastfeeding to ensure adequate nutrition for your little one. An alternative to breastfeeding is formula feeding your baby. Choosing the healthiest formula means giving your child, at each specific age, all of the essential nutrients in the right amounts.
Making the best possible choice can be overwhelming at best, but the good thing is; we have done the research for you! This article is an in-depth guide for parents who (are going to) formula-feed their babies. We will provide all the necessary information you need to help you find the right organic formula for your little one.
While breastfeeding is best, it is not always possible for many parents.
Formula Feeding Vs. Breastfeeding
Choosing whether to breastfeed or formula-feed your baby is one of the hardest decisions new parents make. Pediatricians say that breastmilk is the best nutritional choice for infants. Breastmilk is naturally full of the nutrients your baby needs. But breastfeeding may not be possible for all parents due to different circumstances. For example, some moms can't breastfeed due to their lifestyle or specific medical situations, or if parents are the same gender or have adopted a baby. The most important thing is the love you give to your newborn and that you and your baby are both happy and healthy. That's why we say 'Breast isn't always best'; FED + LOVE is best! Organic infant formula can be a healthy alternative for parents who can't breastfeed or decide not to. A good organic Baby Formula provides babies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive.
Formula closest to breastmilk
When you have decided to supplement or exclusively feed your little one with baby formula, you want to have formula that resembles breast milk closest.
When you're looking for the best quality baby formula similar to breast milk, you want to ensure that your little one's baby formula is organic and made with wholesome ingredients. When ordering European Organic Baby Formulas, you can be rest assured that the manufacturers have produced their formulas according to the strict organic regulations set by the The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
What Is Organic Baby Formula?
Organic baby formula is made with at least 95% organic ingredients. Meaning all of the ingredients in the formula have to be grown or produced according to organic standards, which include:
- No GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms)
- No hormones or steroids used on animals or added
- No artificial colors or flavors
- No antibiotics
- No pesticides or insecticides
- All animals are fed an organic diet
- No synthetic/artificial preservatives
Good to know: Certified Organic is different than "made with organic ingredients." The latter means that 70% of the ingredients are organic, not 95% as with Certified Organic.
Organic European Vs. Organic American Formula
What makes European formulas so good? Well, Not all organic products are created equal. The guidelines for baby formulas set by The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) are way stricter than the regulations set by the FDA.
European baby formula manufacturers use cleaner ingredients and follow stricter regulations regarding nutrient composition, usage, and nutrients than American formulas. The ingredients used are often cleaner and of a higher quality.
Here are some key differences you can find in European baby formulas vs. American baby formulas:
- US formulas only contain 70% organic ingredients, unlike European formulas, which contain 95% organic ingredients
- European formulas must have at least 30% of calories from lactose, which is not required for U.S.-manufactured formulas.
- EFSA standards prohibit the inclusion of sucrose (table sugar) in baby formula, except in small quantities in some specialty formulas for premature (Preemie) infants or infants with allergies.
- Certified " Organic" by the EFSA means that the formulas contain no GMOs, pesticides, hormones, or steroids.
So, if you wonder, Why Buy European Baby Formula? The reasons above speak for themselves!
The Hipp, Holle and Lebenswert brands that we carry go beyond the EU’s minimum organic standards with their DE-ÖKO, Demeter and Bioland certifications.
Stage & Age with Baby Formulas
In the United States, most baby formula is not sold in stages, meaning that the nutrient levels have to be appropriate for babies of all ages. This is a vital element that separates the one-size-fits-all American approach to sized-to-fit European formulas.
Babies should gain 1oz a day for the first three months.
European baby formula uses labeling for ages so that the developmental, and nutritional needs per age are met. The nutritious needs of a newly born baby are just different from that of a 10-month-old baby. The stages of European baby formula are specific to the phase of nutritional development the baby is in, as opposed to their calendar age. Stages in European baby formulas have a specific balance of fats, proteins, iron and vitamins. This allows parents to find the baby formula that is best suited to the child's individual needs. We offer four different Stages of E.U. Organic Baby Formulas:
Stage PRE Baby Formula (Specifically for newborns)
Stage PRE formulas are very similar to Stage 1 and are suitable from birth onwards. Despite the name, they are not related to premature babies ("preemies"). The main difference is that Stage PRE baby formulas do not contain starch, which can sometimes be difficult for babies to digest.
Stage 1 Baby Formula (from birth to 6 months)
The nutritional content of Stage 1 formula is in line with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals that babies need at this stage. All Stage 1 formulas, also known as "first infant milk," can be used as a complete source of nutrition or as a supplement to breast milk.
Stage 2 Baby Formula (For babies 6 months and older)
Stage 2 formula (also known as "follow-on formula") is designed for babies from six months to a year (or, depending on the brand, until 10 months), and has slightly higher amounts of protein and certain other nutrients to be in tune to a growing baby's needs. The main difference in these formulas is that Stage 2 formulas contain more iron, vitamin D, and calcium.
Stage 3 Baby Formula (For babies who are 10 & 12 months and older)
Stage 3 formula (or "growing-up milk" and "toddler milk") is intended for use after the age of 10 months or one year, depending on the manufacturer: for products sold in Germany, Stage 3 is labeled for 10+ months and older whereas in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, Stage 3 is labeled for one+ year.
Types & Brands of European Organic Formulas
To narrow things down, we offer three brands of world-class European baby formula:
The HiPP brand was founded in Germany in 1899 and has been an innovation leader in baby food, organic, and ecological businesses ever since. HiPP goes the 'extra mile' to ensure its formulas are of the highest organic quality, analyzing all ingredients for traces of over 1,000 substances. They exceed the legal requirements needed to call a product organic. HiPP is known to mimic breastmilk as closely as possible, and is made possible by a team of infant nutrition experts, using over 55 years of breastmilk research.
The Holle brand is backed by almost a century-long tradition of organic goodness. All their baby formulas are free from chemicals, preservatives, artificial flavorings, GMOs, and added sugar. Holle holds itself to a high standard with its Demeter certification and is a market leader in sourcing organic ingredients from biodynamic farms. Demeter is the top certification for biodynamic farms, requiring annual renewal. Holle, recently took things one step further: All of their milk formulas are now climate positive!
Important to know is that Lebenswert is part of the Holle Family. It was introduced about ten years ago to give parents a cheaper alternative to organic and high-quality baby formula. The Bioland certification of all Lebenswert ingredients means that the formula is derived from farms that abide by high standards of farming practices.
The products of HiPP, Holle and Lebenswert can be categorized into a few types of formulas:
Organic Cow's Milk Formulas
The most common base for organic baby formulas is Cow's milk. Most organic cow's milk formulas are made with skimmed milk that has been supplemented with a blend of organic vegetable oils to create a fatty acid profile which is comparable to breast milk.
Organic Goat's Milk Formulas
These formulas provide the same nutrients as cow's milk formulas, but they may be more suitable for newborns who have trouble digesting cow's milk formula or show symptoms such as eczema, skin rashes or bloating, which can indicate a milk protein intolerance. Goat's milk formulas are gaining popularity and many parents prefer goat milk regardless of an milk protein intolerance. Goat milk formula naturally contains higher levels of vitamin A and C, magnesium and calcium when compared to cow's milk.
Cow's milk protein allergy (CMPA) affects an estimated 2% to 7,5% of infants. While infants with a severe allergy are more likely to need a special amino acid-based formula, infants with cow's milk protein sensitivity or a more mild form of intolerance may benefit from a hydrolyzed formula in which the milk proteins have been broken down into smaller particles, making it easier digestible.
Please note: HiPP Hypoallergenic (HA) baby Formulas are technically not organic, because hydrolyzed milk protein is not available in organic form. However, all other ingredients included are organically sourced.
Feeding difficulties are common among young infants whose immature digestive systems may need some help breaking down the nutrients in formula. We offer a range of premium specialty formulas that have been developed to help ease some of the most common feeding and digestive problems: Spit up, Acid Reflux, Colic, Constipation and Gassiness.
A 4-month-old consumes twice as much milk as a toddler
Premium baby formulas can never replicate all of the components of breast milk, like antibodies and hormones. But these European organic formulas contain ingredients that approximate breast milk to the highest possible degree. Here's a List of ideal ingredients you want to look out for and that are used in most of our products:
Lactose (aka: "milk sugar")
The main carbohydrate in breast milk is Lactose, also found in cow's and goat's milk, but in smaller quantities. Thus, in addition to a base of organic cow's or goat's milk, the best organic formulas often contain additional Lactose to approximate breast milk's high carbohydrate content. Lactose is the predominant carbohydrate source in the HiPP formulas we carry.
Organic Skimmed Milk
The milk in the organic formula comes from cows and goats treated with high welfare standards, fed a diet of grass and organic grain, and kept on sustainably-run farms. This makes their milk as pure as possible, improving the overall taste and nutrient content. The cow's milk used in Holle Bio meets the Demeter standard, while Lebenswert milk meets the Bioland standard. These certifications go beyond the European Union's basic standards for organic farming.
Organic whey protein
Baby formulas from birth to 6 months of age contain mainly whey proteins, while baby food for children over six months often contains more casein. Whey and casein protein are the main components of goat or cow's milk. They are building blocks for your child's body and act as catalysts for various biochemical processes.
Organic vegetable oils
The fat in the European Organic formulas comes from a blend of organic vegetable oils. Most commonly palm oil, sunflower oil, and rapeseed oil. Some formulas even contain coconut oil. These vegetable oils are added to a base of organic skim milk to provide the correct quantities of infant fatty acids, like palmitic and oleic acid.
Vitamins and minerals
All organic baby formulas we carry contain various vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B, C, D, and K, iron, calcium, and potassium.
All European formulas for babies under one year must contain DHA (omega-3 fatty acid docosahexaenoic acid) as of Spring 2020. DHA contributes to babies' cognitive development and healthy brain function. Organic formulas typically contain additional omega 3 & 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids such as linoleic acid (L.A.), arachidonic acid (ARA), and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).
Probiotics & Prebiotics
To imitate the immunity-boosting properties of breast milk, many organic formulas also contain prebiotic fibers and probiotics (such as Lactobacillus). Among other benefits, these special ingredients promote a healthy digestive system. All our HiPP formulas contain prebiotics, and most contain probiotics. Our Lebenswert and Holle formulas do not contain any probiotics or prebiotics, allowing parents to give their baby a simple formula or add probiotic drops if when wanted.
Ingredients to Avoid in Organic Baby Formula
Now that we have gone over a list of suitable components that nourish your little one. In contrast, let's look at the list of ingredients to avoid when choosing a formula.
Too much sugar can be dangerous for small children. It has been associated with vitamin B deficiency in children, and these vitamins are important for normal digestion in young children and the absorption of carbohydrates.
Children's food should not in any way contain genetically modified soy.
Preferably baby food must not contain gluten until they are at least six months of age. Gluten is poorly broken down in the body of newborns. It can also provoke the development of "celiac disease" (gluten heteropathy).
Phytin is a substance that interferes with the absorption of calcium, salts, and vitamin D. The problem is that phytin contains phosphorus.
Gliadin is a substance contained in the shell of cereals that provokes necrosis of the intestinal villi. These villi are necessary for the absorption of nutrients into the body and thus are important to the health of your baby's body.
In US-manufactured infant formulas, carrageenan is added as a stabilizing agent in ready-to-feed formulas. But it is not allowed by the E.U. to be added to organic formulas because it causes intestinal inflammation.
Synthetic nutrients can be present in formulas manufactured in the U.S. These products can harm your baby because they're filled with harmful chemicals called carcinogens. It has been found that infants given formulas with synthetic fillers are more likely to develop chronic diseases as they grow up.
Baby Formula Comparison Chart
All of our organic formulas contain Lactose, Omega-3, Omega-6, DHA and are soy free. When it comes to other ingredients, our formulas differ slightly. Below is a detailed chart comparing all of the best organic baby formulas, based on the main ingredients in baby formula.
Please Note: Our HiPP HA, Comfort & Anti Reflux (AR) Formulas are technically not organic because hydrolyzing the milk protein requires more processing. However, all other ingredients included are still organic.
Our organic Formula Recommendations
We're finally here! Now that you have all the background, we can give you our top picks for our organic formulas and look at how they fit every age, stage, and nutritional need.
#1 Best Overall
Since day one, our Hipp Dutch Stage 1 (0 to 6 months), Stage 2 (6 to 12 months), and 3 (12 months onwards)DEEPLINKEN have been our customers' favorite and best-selling formulas. This is no surprise because these formulas have been known for long as the best European formulas, and they're a kind of "golden benchmark" for organic, nutritionally-complete infant cow milk formulas. The ingredients in HiPP Dutch are entirely GMO-free, meeting the European Union's strict standards for organic agriculture. It's also free from artificial preservatives. The main ingredients are organic skim milk, organic Lactose, organic whey, and organic vegetable oils. Also, they contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, prebiotics, probiotics, and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as DHA. It also comes in an easy-to-dispense, airtight container!
#2 Best Value Infant Formula
One of the most popular European formulas for infants from birth to 6 months, HiPP UK Stage 1 Combiotic Formula DEEPLINK. HiPP UK is also quite similar to HiPP Dutch. At approx half a dollar cent ($0.050) per gram, it is the best value, and a healthy organic infant formula option we carry. The main difference between HiPP UK and HiPP Dutch (besides the price) is that it contains only prebiotics and no probiotics.
#3 Formula with Probiotics & Prebiotics:
HiPP German Stage 1 Organic Infant Formula is a natural, easy-to-digest formula suitable from birth. It comes packed with an excellent spread of probiotics to help support your baby’s immune system and brain development. Hipp's main carbohydrate is lactose, so you won’t have to worry about unnecessary fillers. Each formula contains a wide selection of vitamins and minerals. To support immune health, vitamins A & C blends into the formula. Next, vitamin D adds to support bone health and joints. Finally, Omega 3s and 6s (DHA & ARA) combine to help the brain and muscle tissue grow. The compounds in this high-quality formula make this a great formula for your baby. As your little one matures, this formula can also be found in Hipp German Organic Stage 2 and Stage 3.
#4 Best Hypoallergenic Formula
HiPP Hypoallergenic (HA) baby formula is free of casein and contains protein hydrolysates that break down proteins for infants with sensitive stomachs. The Hypoallergenic Formula Line from HiPP is specially developed for babies who are prone to allergies. Milk protein can be an essential factor in triggering allergies. The milk protein in the HiPP Hypoallergenic formulas is split into smaller molecules. HiPP HA uses a protein that is wholly hydrolyzed and was proven by studies to prevent allergies. This hypoallergenic formula has highly broken down proteins that your baby’s body is less likely to see as a threat and, thereby, is less likely to react to.
Please Note: Our HiPP HA, Comfort & Anti Reflux (AR) Formulas are technically not organic because hydrolyzing the milk protein requires more processing. However, all other ingredients included are still organic
#5 Most popular Organic Goat Milk Formula:
Rather than resorting to a heavily processed US-manufactured formula, Holle Goat offers an alternative made with natural ingredients such as whole organic goat’s milk, organic lactose, organic maltodextrin, and a blend of organic vegetable oils. Holle Goat Stage 1 is an increasingly popular choice for babies up to six months of age, especially those who have difficulty tolerating cow’s milk formula. Click here so see our whole range of Holle Goat Formulas.
Although no “perfect” formula exists, specific premium baby formulas can help set your baby up for the best possible (healthy) start in life. Clean, nutritious, and organic formulas like HiPP, Holle, and Lebenswert have supported countless babies in Europe, the U.S., and globally. They have helped them grow happy, healthy, and thriving. Hopefully, this guide has given you some food for thought about what sets organic formula, mainly organic formula from Europe, apart from the conventional formula. As you know, the best thing you can do as a parent is to keep your little one fed, happy, and healthy!
Not sure which formula to order?
Please know that, while all of this information might seem overwhelming, we have a dedicated parent support team who are ready to answer your questions. Please shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we'll get back to you shortly. We are here to help!
Please note: every person and situation is different so we always advise you to talk to your pediatrician first and see how these guidelines and tips can help you. This guide is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.