10 Best Baby Formula Brands Made in the U.S. (2020 Guide)This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure.
This in-depth and easily understandable parent guide will help you find and buy the best baby formula brands made in the U.S. You will learn the differences between U.S. vs. European baby formulas, the top 10 recommended baby formulas, what ingredients to avoid, what brands and types to avoid, and where you can purchase the best baby formulas in U.S.
What is the difference between U.S. and European formula brands?
Most baby formulas made in the US are full of unhealthy ingredients for your baby. Some of these ingredients include added sugars/syrup solids, preservatives, GMOs, and synthetic ingredients. European Baby Formulas (especially organic European baby formulas) are more similar to breast milk than most of their U.S. counterparts in the make-up of carbohydrates and fat, and European formulas are held to higher organic standards. This post focuses on the best baby formulas for parents who are looking for a US-made formula that meets the high standards set by European baby formula companies.
Best Baby Formula: What to Look For
- USDA Organic: When buying formula for your baby look for one that is certified USDA organic. This means that it was produced without pesticides, GMOs, hormones, and should have no artificial or synthetic ingredients.
- Whey:Casein Ratio: You want to find a formula that has a whey: casein ratio of 60:40, which most closely mimics breast milk.
- Grass Fed: Since organic formulas use cow or goat milk look for ones that are grass fed.
- No Added Sugars or Synthetic Ingredients: See the list of ingredients to avoid below!
Best Baby Formula in the US: What to Avoid
- Added Sugars: Look for a formula that doesn’t contain added sugars in the form of syrups or syrup solids. Some to look out for are corn syrup, maltodextrin, sugar, or brown rice syrup, corn sugars, and syrup solids.
- Synthetic DHA and ARA: DHA and ARA are naturally found in breastmilk, but the DHA and ARA added to formula are extracted from algae and fungus, often using hexane (a neurotoxic petroleum-based solvent). While hexane is undetectable in the formula after processing and I don’t consider this to be a huge concern, if you can find DHA extracted using a different process, or DHA from egg yolk, that can be a more ideal option.
- Synthetic Preservatives or Stabilizers: Look out for ascorbic palmitate and beta carotene.
- GMOs: Buy formulas that are certified Non-GMO. GMOs are genetically engineered crops that are made to be resistant to Round-Up (glyphosate) and produce their own insecticide. The challenge is that glyphosate is likely carcinogenic to humans. In addition, the cows producing the milk are hormone free if Non-GMO. If you end up buying an organic baby formula, it will automatically be Non-GMO.
- Soy or Soy based products: Too much soy in infancy has been linked to early menstruation and other health issues.
- Carrageenan: While carrageenan has been banned from formulas in Europe it is still allowed in U.S. formulas even though numerous studies have found that it causes inflammation in the intestines.
- Maltodextrin: is another name for sugar. It is a high-glycemic stabilizer.
- Synthetic Nutrients: Lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, l-carnitine and l-methionine are allowed in the US which are processed with neurotoxic solvents and are not allowed in European Organic Infant Formulas.
- Note about Palm Oil: Palm Oil is in most formulas US formulas. It is not environmentally-friendly, and it can form “soaps” in the baby’s intestines – which can cause digestive issues. What I’ve seen is that Palm Oil doesn’t cause issues for most babies and is relatively harmless as compared to other oils added to baby formulas. If you have to choose an added oil, I’d choose palm over soy because of this study about soy (among many others) that makes it even more problematic than palm oil.
What types of baby formulas are on the market?
- Cow’s Milk Lactose Based: Most formulas fall into this category. Cow’s milk is altered to resemble breast milk so that it has the right balance of nutrients and is more easily digestible.
- Hypoallergenic: Are for those babies that have an allergy and severe problem digesting cow’s milk formula. There are several types of hypoallergenic formulas including, partially hydrolyzed, extensively hydrolyzed, and free amino acid based.
- Goat Milk: This can be a good option if your baby has a cow’s milk sensitivity vs. a diagnosed cow’s milk protein allergy.
- Soy Based: These formulas should be avoided due to studies that demonstrate their problems with digestive issues and other side effects.
This post will focus on the best baby formulas in manufactured in the U.S. that meet the criteria outlined above.
Top 10 Best Baby Formula Brands Made in the U.S.
It is a challenge finding the best baby formulas that meet all of the standards I’ve outlined. However, the formulas listed below are considerably better than most US formulas on the shelves. In this top 10 list you’ll find more details for each formula, outlining why it might be a good fit for your baby, along with pros, cons, and additional considerations for each.
What is the closest formula to breast milk?
Baby formulas are intended to be a substitute or a supplement for breast milk, you might assume most formulas would then be designed to closely resemble breast milk in their ingredients. However, many formulas on the market contain synthetic ingredients. Lactose is the main carbohydrate source in breast milk. The other main components of breast milk are proteins and fats. Finding a formula that features lactose as the main carbohydrate, and whey as the protein and fat is the way to go when looking for a formula that most resembles breast milk.
What is the best formula for a colic baby?
While most colicky babies will do fine on the above mentioned formulas. If your baby is particularly sensitive they may benefit from a formula that is strictly whey based. Whey proteins are more easily digestible then the standard synthetic proteins. A lactose based formula with a combination of milk powder and whey protein such as Kabrita or Baby’s Only Organic with Whey are a good choice.
How do I know if my baby’s formula is upsetting their tummy?
- Your baby is unusually fussy.
- Resists sleeping and eating.
- Cries more often than usual
- Has diarrhea
- Wiggles and squirms or tenses muscles
- Makes uncomfortable faces such is squeezing eyes closed or frowns.
If your baby shows any of these signs consult your pediatrician.
Top 10 Best Baby Formula Brands, Ranked From Best to Worst
Below is a detailed chart ranking all of the best baby formula brands. At the top of the chart, I’ve included a hypothetical line for the “ideal” formula – so you have something to measure all of the other formulas against.
Not every baby likes every formula. Some formulas constipate or irritate some babies, yet keep other babies’ tummies perfectly happy. If you try the formulas I recommend and they don’t work for your baby – that is ok!
There is no perfect formula, but some are still much better than others. If you can afford it, and your pediatrician approves your formula choice, I’d recommend going with one of the top 3 formulas on my list (Baby’s Only with Whey, Kabrita USA or Happy Baby). But in general, just do the best you can for your baby. No judgments here.
[For more information on the best European organic baby formulas, including my recommendations on where to buy, click here] And if you have any questions about European or U.S. baby formulas, don’t hesitate to leave me a comment or send me an email, I respond to every single message I get!
Note: I am not a doctor, so while I would personally use the top formulas on this list for my children, please consult with your pediatrician before using any formula for your baby.