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Hello! I’m Anjali. I’m a board certified health coach, author, wife, mom and food lover from the SF Bay area (now living in Seattle, WA!); with a passion for delicious food and a desire to make healthy eating easy, tasty and fun! Learn more about me here and stay for a while!

Anjali Shah

What Is The Best Toddler Formula? (2021 Guide)

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If your child has passed the age of 12 months, you may be wondering whether or not you should continue giving them formula. In this post I’ll answer all you questions about whether or not you should continue formula, and provide you with a list of the best toddler formulas on the market today!

little girl drinking glass of best toddler formula

When your child is an infant they need breast milk or formula to grow and thrive. As they grow older, solids are introduced, but breast milk and formula continues to be the main source of nutrition.

However, after the age of 12 months, many parents wean their child from the breast or formula. But as your child grows, you may be wondering if you should continue with formula, or possibly switch to a toddler formula.

In this post, I’ll answer all of your formula questions so that you can decide if continuing with formula or switching to a toddler formula is a good idea for your child. This post will also help you find the best toddler formula – with detailed guidelines on what to look for and what to avoid!

Remember, before making any dietary change, please consult your child’s pediatrician.

Do Babies Need Formula After 12 Months?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Academy of Family Physicians, pediatricians recommend that children between the ages of 12-24 months should switch to whole dairy milk, and consume 16-24 ounces a day.

Before the age of 12 months, giving your child dairy is discouraged. This is because babies’ kidneys are not yet mature enough to handle the proteins and minerals in cow’s milk.

Therefore, it is not necessary to continue with formula after the age of 12 months. However, this number is not set in stone, and babies and families will vary a bit on when they make the transition to whole milk.

What Is Toddler Formula?

Toddler formula is for children between the ages of 9 months and 3 years. It is meant as a transition between infant formula and whole milk.

It is made with many of the same ingredients as infant formula. However, as I’ve explained when recommending organic formula, many ingredients in toddler formulas such as added sugars, thickeners/stabilizers, and synthetic nutrients are not beneficial for your child.

It is also important to note, that not all toddler formulas are FDA-regulated for their nutritional content. Which means that most of the brands on the market have have more sodium, fat, and sugar than infant formula.

However, not all toddler formulas are bad! There are actually high quality, organic toddler formulas out there to choose from. Depending on your child’s needs, using a toddler formula may be a good choice. Especially if you choose a high quality formula that has additional vitamins, minerals, and nutrients.

Why is 12 months the rule of thumb to stop regular formula?

Transitioning your child off of formula at 12 months is the general rule of thumb because by about that time their kidneys have developed enough to be able to handle the proteins and minerals found in cow’s milk.

Of course, if you are breast feeding, you can continue doing so until you and your child are ready to wean.

Does my child need to continue using formula after 12 months?

No, your child does not need to continue using formula after 12 months since your child’s kidneys are developed enough to handle whole milk. At this point your child should also be getting nutrients from healthy superfoods such as avocados, blueberries, spinach, and butternut squash.

However, in some cases (if your child was premature, or your pediatrician is concerned about growth/weight, or your child is a super picky eater), continuing formula may be the right choice.

Is Whole Milk As Nutritious As Formula?

The best, organic toddler formulas have added vitamins, minerals, and nutrients, above and beyond what whole milk provides. This is usually not necessary for most children that are getting an otherwise balanced diet, since a lot of those vitamins can also come from food.

Whole milk is meant to provide your child with needed calories, fat, protein, and minerals — but won’t be as “nutrient packed” as formula which is fortified with additional nutrients for children who need it.

Is Toddler Formula Better Than Milk?

Simply stated, no, toddler formula is not better than whole milk. However, in some cases, and for some children toddler formula could be a better option. According to the AAP, there is no evidence that toddler formula is any better than regular, organic, whole milk.

When Is Toddler Formula Recommended By Your Doctor?

Your pediatrician may recommend toddler formula for any of the following reasons…

  1. A kidney condition, that makes your child unable to digest cow’s milk
  2. Iron deficiency anemia
  3. Developmental delays
  4. A child that is malnourished
  5. Growth concerns

But remember, do not start toddler formula without the recommendation of your pediatrician.

How Frequently Should I Give My Child Toddler Formula?

If you choose to give your child toddler formula, it is recommended that they consume somewhere between 12-24 ounces per day. The bulk of their nutrition should come from solid foods. As your child grows past the age of 12 months they will gradually shift to getting most of their nutrition from a balanced diet of vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and healthy protein sources.

Best Toddler Formula: What to Look For

  • USDA Organic: This ensures that you are buying a formula that was made without pesticides, GMOs, hormones, artificial and synthetic ingredients.
  • Whey:Casein Ratio: A whey to casein ratio of 60:40 most closely resembles breast milk.
  • Grass Fed: Organic formulas use cow or goat milk, so look for ones that are grass fed.
  • No Added Sugars: This includes ingredients such as corn syrup, maltodextrin, sugar, brown rice syrup, corn sugars, and syrup solids.

Ingredients to Avoid in Toddler Formula

  • Synthetic DHA and ARA: DHA and ARA is naturally found in breast milk. When added to a formula it is sometimes comes from algae and fungus, often using hexane. DHA and ARA that are extracted using a different process is preferred. 
  • GMOs: Look for formulas that are certified non-GMO. If you buy an organic formula, it is automatically non-GMO. GMOs are concerning because they are genetically engineered crops that are made to be resistant to Round-Up.
  • Carrageenan: This ingredient has been banned in Europe but is still used in formulas in the US. It is know to cause inflammation in the intestines.
  • Soy or Soy based products: Too much soy given to infants can lead to health complications in the future.
  • Synthetic Nutrients: Lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, l-carnitine and l-methionine are synthetic ingredients that are allowed in US based formulas, but not European formulas.
  • Palm Oil: Palm oil is in most US formulas. It is not environmentally friendly, and can cause digestive issues in some babies. However, if you have to choose between palm oil and soy oil, I would recommend going with palm oil, because soy can be even more problematic in children.

Some of the items below were given to me to review by the manufacturer or as part of an affiliate program. I may receive commissions if you make a purchase through the links provided. I only recommend products I’ve actually evaluated, I believe are the highest quality, and can do the most to help you and your family. By purchasing any of these products from the links below, you help keep this blog running, so thanks for your support!

Keep in mind that every person & situation is different, especially yours, so make sure to talk to your doctor and see how these guidelines and tips can help you. These tips are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Never disregard or delay in seeking professional medical advice because of something you read here!

My recommendations are based on the manufacturer’s claims and ingredients list, and what I feel best giving to my own family. Your individual results may be different based on your overall diet, exercise, age, weight, family history, or pre-existing conditions.

9 Best Toddler Formulas: European Brands

Hipp Dutch Stage 3

Hipp Dutch toddler formula

This is my #1 pick for the best toddler formula out there. Suitable for 12 months upwards this formula contains a combination of GOS fibers, natural lactic acid bacteria, omega 3s, iron and vitamin D. Costs $46.99 for 800g (28.22oz) of formula.

Pros
Organic
No Syrup or Sugar Solids
No Maltodextrin
No Starch
Contains probiotics similarly found in breastmilk
Contains prebiotics (GOS modeled on breastmilk)
DHA from fish oil
Comes in a convenient canister
Cons
DHA/ARA are extracted using hexane, but no hexane is detectable in the finished formula
Contains palm oil (but is organic palm oil from sustainable cultivation)
Buy Now

Kendamil Stage 3

kendamil stage 3 toddler formula

Kendamil is proudly soy-free and contains no palm oil. It follows European standards and is vegetarian friendly. Made with 100% organic cow’s milk. It is high in vitamins such as iron, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D. Added DHA helps to support muscle, eye, and brain growth. The only reason it’s ranked slightly lower than HiPP Dutch Stage 3 is price (it costs $48.99 for 800g (28.22oz) of formula.

Pros
Uses 100% whole milk
Contains DHA and ARA from plant based sources
Contains prebiotics
Vegetarian friendly (no fish oil)
No hexane extraction
No Palm oil (uses coconut oil instead)
Cons
No probiotics
Slightly pricier than HiPP Dutch
Buy Now

HiPP Germany Stage 3

Hipp German toddler formula

It contains 40 times more iron than cows’ milk to help your toddler meet their daily requirement of this essential nutrient. Suitable from the 10th month onwards, this gentle organic growing up milk contains iron for cognitive development, vitamins A, C and D for the immune system. Costs $36.99 for 600 grams of formula (equivalent to $49.32 for 800 grams of formula).

Pros
Organic
No Syrup or Sugar Solids
No Maltodextrin
Contains probiotics similarly found in breastmilk
Contains prebiotics
Cons
Contains starch
Less convenient container (box instead of canister)
On the pricier side
Contains palm oil (but is organic palm oil from sustainable cultivation)
Buy Now

HiPP UK Stage 3

hipp UK

This product is very similar to the Hipp Dutch Stage 3 with a few exceptions. Costs $40.99 for 600 grams of formula — this makes it more expensive than HiPP Dutch on a gram for gram basis — as 800 grams of this formula would cost $54.65.

Pros
Organic
No Syrup or Sugars Added
No maltodextrin
No starch
Contains prebiotics
Contains DHA/ARA (but not fish oil)
Cons
No probiotics
Comes in less convenient box container
On the pricier side
Contains palm oil (but is organic palm oil from sustainable cultivation)
Buy Now

HiPP Stage 4 (HiPP Kindermilch)

Hipp Stage 4 Toddler Formula-Kindermilch

Contains valuable iron and vitamin D, which promotes calcium absorption and supports healthy bone development. This is an ideal formula to use if you plan to supplement with formula well into the toddler years. Made specifically for drinking from a cup vs. a bottle. Costs $36.99 for 600 grams of formula (equivalent to $49.32 for 800 grams of formula). For families who intend to formula feed beyond the age of 2, there is also a Follow On Stage of Kindermilch for kids aged 2+.

Pros
Formulated for toddlers all the way through age 3
Organic
No Syrup or Sugar Solids
No Maltodextrin
Contains probiotics similarly found in breastmilk
Prebiotics (GOS modeled on breastmilk)
Cons
No omega 3 fatty acids / no fish oil
Less convenient container comes in box rather than canister
Contains palm oil (but is organic palm oil from sustainable cultivation)
Slightly pricier than HiPP Dutch
Buy Now

Holle A2 Milk Stage 3

Holle Toddler Formula A2

A2 milk from Holle is fully organic, biodynamic, and Demeter certified. Uses both organic and A2 milk. A2 milk can help with digestion — as that protein is easier to digest than the more commonly found A1 protein in cow’s milk. It’s almost impossible to find organic A2 milk at the grocery store — so if your toddler needs A2 milk, this could be a great option for them. Costs $55.99 for 800 grams of formula.

Pros
Milk from cows with A2 beta-casein protein type (it is rarer to find A2 milk and easier for kids to digest)
May be better tolerated for kids who are sensitive to cow’s milk protein
Biodynamic, Demeter, and Organic Certified (above and beyond just organic)
Contains DHA + ARA
Cons
Contains maltodextrin
Added starch
No probiotics
No prebiotics
Much more expensive than the other formulas on this list
Contains palm oil (but is organic palm oil from sustainable cultivation)
Buy Now

Lebenswert Stage 3

Lebeswert Bio Toddler Formula

A simple and easy to digest formula meant for children starting at the age of 10 months. The challenge is this formula has added maltodextrin, a sugar, and starch for thickening. Costs $28.99 for 475 grams of formula (equivalent to $48.82 for 800 grams of formula).

Pros
Organic
Contains Fish Oil/DHA
Bioland certified
Cons
No ARA
Contains maltodextrin
Added starch
No prebiotics
No probiotics
Contains palm oil
Buy Now

Holle Stage 3

Holle Bio Toddler Formula

A cow based milk suitable as of the 10th month. Made from 99% organically grown ingredients. Costs $31.99 for 600 grams of formula (equivalent to $42.65 for 800 grams of formula).

Pros
Demeter, and Organic Certified
Bioland certified (Milk from Cows Raised on Biodynamic Farms)
Non GMO
Contains DHA
The most affordable European formula option!
Cons
Contains maltodextrin
Has starch added
No ARA
No probioticcs
No prebiotics
Contains palm oil (but is sustainably sourced)
Buy Now

Holle Stage 4

Holle Bio Stage 4 Toddler Formula

This formula is meant for children over the age of 12 months to 2 yrs. May be fed in a bottle, or incorporated into cereal. Easy to digest, gluten-free, and no added sugar. Costs $31.99 for 600 grams of formula (equivalent to $42.65 for 800 grams of formula).

Pros
Can be used up to 2 years of age
Organic and Demeter certified
Bioland certified
Cons
No DHA
No ARA
No Prebiotics
No Probiotics
Added starch and maltodextrin
Contains palm oil (but is sustainably sourced)
Buy Now

U.S Best Toddler Formula

There is only one toddler formula made in the United States that I recommend.

Baby’s Only with Whey

best baby formula babys only whey

Baby’s Only with Whey is also a lactose formula, but made with organic skimmed cow’s milk, and organic whey. It has no added sugars, and is free of synthetic ingredients, but lacks pre and probiotics. The DHA in this formula is derived from eggs, so it’s naturally extracted. Lastly, this is marketed as a toddler formula but similar to Kabrita, it meets the nutritional requirements for an infant formula. As with all formula, consult your pediatrician before using this for your baby. Costs $20 for a 12.7oz can.

Pros
Made with organic skimmed milk
Made with Natural DHA/ARA-no hexane extraction
No synthetic ingredients
FDA approved
No palm oil
No soy oil
Cons
No probiotics
No prebiotics
Buy Now

Best Toddler Formulas with Goat Milk

Goat milk formula is a good option for many toddlers and infants. If you have a child who doesn’t tolerate cow’s milk, opting for goat milk based formula may be better! For more about the pros and cons of goat milk vs. cow’s milk and the pros and cons of each, check out my post Is Goat Milk Formula Healthier than Cow’s Milk Formula?

For now, let’s review the best toddler formulas that use goat’s milk.

Kendamil Goat Stage 3

kendamil stage 3 toddler formula

The best goat milk formula — provides essential nutrients without additives. Goat milk can be a good option for toddlers who have a sensitivity to cow’s milk. Goat milk formula does not contain alpha-S1 casein, which is an allergen found in cow’s milk. Plus, the A2 protein found in Kendamil’s goat milk formulas makes it easier to digest for babies. This formula also contains Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) – the third largest solid component in human breastmilk shown to scientifically strengthen infants’ immune systems. Costs $59.99 for 800 grams of formula (28.22oz)

Pros
Contains whole milk
Contains DHA
Contains ARA
Contains Prebiotics
No hexane extraction
No Palm OIl (coconut oil instead)
May be easier to digest than cow’s milk formula
Cons
No Probiotics
Is technically not organic, but adheres to European farming standards
On the pricier side
Buy Now

Kabrita USA

best baby formula kabrita

The ingredients are non-GMO, with added prebiotics and a whey-to-casein ratio that closely resembles that in breast milk. This option contains no glucose syrup solids, no maltodextrin, no taurine or l-carnitine, and no palm oil. Costs $25.99 for 400 grams of formula (equivalent to $51.80 for 800 grams)

Pros
Non-GMO
Added prebiotics
Resembles breast milk with its whey to casein ratio
No sugar or syrup solids
No Palm OIl
No Maltodextrin
No taurine
Most affordable goat milk formula option on this list
Cons
Not certified organic, but is non-GMO
Includes soy oil
No Probiotics
Buy Now

Holle Goat Stage 3

Holle Goat Stage 3 Toddler formula

Meant to be used with a balanced diet made up of milk and solids. Made using over 99% ingredients sourced from organic farmers – the only organic goat milk formula available for toddlers. Costs $32.99 for 400 grams of formula (equivalent to $65.98 for 800 grams of formula).

Pros
The only goat milk formula that is 100% organic
Contains DHA from plant based sources
Biodynamic and Demeter Certified
No palm oil
Cons
Has Maltodextrin
Has starch added
No ARA
No Prebiotics
No Probiotics
The most expensive goat milk formula on this list
Buy Now

Nanny Care Stage 3

Nanny Care Stage 3 Toddler Formula

NANNYcare Growing Up Milk is a goat milk based formula suitable for babies for toddlers. It’s naturally easy to digest. It is designed to be a nutritionally complete formula for your child. Costs $72.99 for 900 grams (equivalent to $64.88 for 800 grams of formula)

Pros
Milk sourced from NZ goats/non-GMO and no hormones
No syrup solids
Vegetarian friendly (no fish oil)
Cons
Technically not organic
No DHA
No ARA
No Prebiotics
No Probiotics
Quite expensive
Buy Now

When Should I Stop Giving My Toddler Formula?

It is best to follow the advice of your pediatrician. Most children will not need additional formula past their second birthday. They should be getting the majority of their nutrition from solid foods.

Before starting your child on toddler formula, speak to your pediatrician.

For more helpful articles and information about baby and toddler formula, check out these posts!

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