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Top Rated Baby Formulas

By Adele M. Gill ; Updated June 13, 2017

With the overwhelming number of baby formula types on the market, new and expectant moms are likely to feel conflicted over what brand to choose for their little one. During the baby’s hospital stay, samples of formula will be provided in order to help parents choose. As a baby develops, the child’s pediatrician may adjust the type of formula to meet her unique nutritional needs. Before switching formulas, parents should always speak to their doctor first.

Cow's Milk Formulas

Cow’s milk formulas are manufactured to have similar nutritional attributes as breast milk. Most babies will start on cow’s milk formulas unless they are found to have milk allergies. The best types of cow’s milk formulas are the brands packed with the vitamins and minerals required for infant development. The ideal brands will contain DHA, iron and ARA -- all essential for brain development. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, iron-fortified formulas should contain between 10 to 12 mg of iron per serving. Other nutrients to check for include Vitamin D for bone growth and prebiotics to encourage a healthy gut. Formulas that contain nucleotides offer extra immune system protection. Organic baby formulas do not contain genetically engineered ingredients and will not come from cows treated with antibiotics or growth hormones.

Soy Formulas

The best soy formula will have many of the same nutrients as cow’s milk formula to ensure a baby thrives during his first year. The formula should be fortified with iron, DHA and ARA. There are also types of soy formula used to target specific issues that may be affecting the baby, such as gas and fussiness. Your child’s doctor may recommend soy formula if the baby is exhibiting signs of a cow’s milk allergy, but according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, as many as half of all infants with a milk allergy will also have a soy allergy.

Protein Hydrosolate Formulas

These types of baby formulas contain broken down enzymes to help infants who have demonstrated the signs of having a milk or soy allergy. Specialized formulas are also commonly recommended for premature infants or children with a pre-existing medical condition. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, pre-thickened versions of formulas are now sold in order to diminish the symptoms of acid reflux in babies and no longer require the parents to mix formulas with rice cereal. Unless otherwise advised by a pediatrician, the best brands will be fortified with DHA, ARA, iron, probiotics and prebiotics. The United States Department of Agriculture states that probiotics may help prevent bacteria infections in babies. Lactose-free formula versions have the lactose removed and replaced with another type of sugar, such as corn syrup.

Generic Formula Brands

Perigo Nutritionals produces most of the store-brand baby formulas available in the United States. Lower-cost formulas and generic brands have the same nutritional profile as the name-brand versions and they must all pass the same strict standards for baby formulas set forth by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. The main difference between the two types is the price. Savings are available on store-brand formulas because the companies do not inflate prices in order to cover marketing costs.

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