Which ingredients make a premium (European) baby formula?
A healthy life(style) starts right from the beginning! Regarding baby formula, the questions to ask are: which ingredients are used, and how are they produced? The official guidelines of organic formulas produced in Europe are stringent. Even stricter than the ones in North America. The great thing about manufacturers like HiPP and Holle is that they even go one step further.
They have made stricter guidelines for themselves than the rules set by the European Union! So let’s dive into some of the main ingredients:
Prebiotics & Probiotics in organic formula
Prebiotics are like food for beneficial gut bacteria (like probiotics) and are naturally found in breast milk. They won’t get digested, but they will aid the growth of probiotics. This can help to shift your baby’s microbiome to be more similar to that of a breastfed baby. When selecting a formula, it’s advisable to check the ingredients list for common prebiotics like Galactooligosaccharides (GOS) or Fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
Probiotics are the beneficial gut bacteria that have an important part in a healthy baby’s microbiome. Probiotics may help improve immune response, could reduce colic, prevent eczema, and more.
When selecting a formula, check the ingredients list for Lactobacillus or Bifidobacterium.
The right carbohydrate
Lactose is the carbohydrate that is found in breast milk. That is the reason why Lactose-based formulas are much closer to breast milk than other alternatives. Babies produce the lactase enzyme so they can easier digest and absorb Lactose.
Lactose also has a far lower glycemic index than processed, refined sugars, aids in the absorption of calcium, which can help develop beneficial gut bacteria, and more.
In short, choosing a Lactose-based formula could probably be the most important step in finding a good formula out there. As you read the ingredients, keep in mind that lactose is the main ingredient in cow’s milk, and may appear as “organic cow’s milk” or “organic skimmed milk” in ingredient lists. Lactose-based formulas are typically manufactured in Europe.
Processed Refined Sugars
Formulas manufactured in the US are more often based on sugar, corn syrup, syrup solids, maltodextrin, or brown rice, all of which are high in sucrose and have a high glycemic index. These ingredients are unhealthy for your baby. Formulas with added sucrose are prohibited in Europe due to childhood obesity concerns. Unfortunately, obesity is quite a big problem in the US. Almost 1 in 5 children are struggling with obesity, so it has never been more important to read the ingredients list of the formula carefully.
Our organic formulas has DHA and ARA
DHA is a long-chain omega 3 fatty acid that is important for early eye and brain development. It has become mandatory to have DHA in baby Formula.
ARA is another fatty acid that is important in regulating inflammation and in generating different body signals.
Organic baby formula nutrients
Synthetic nutrients include lutein, lycopene, taurine, L-carnitine, and L-methionine. Many of these substances are toxic themselves or processed with toxic solvents. They are banned in the EU but are still commonly found in formulas made in the USA and Canada.
Most of the US-made formulas contain synthetic preservatives like ascorbic palmitate and beta carotene. You won’t find these preservatives in any European formulas. These synthetic preservatives can be toxic and are not something you want on your baby’s menu.
Palm or Soy
Palm oil is used in most formulas in both Europe and the US. It may cause digestive issues and gassiness in babies, but is still typically better than soy oil, which is the main alternative.
Soy oil is the main alternative to palm oil. While it isn’t typically associated with digestive issues, some research links it to severe menstrual cramps later in life for women. Given this, palm oil is generally considered the better alternative between the two.
Many baby formulas appear similar at first, but their ingredients lists say otherwise. Check out our handy Hipp vs Holle chart to help you decide what you do and don’t want in your little one’s formula.