Best Vegan Baby Formula (2022 Guide)This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. Please read my disclosure.
If you’re a new parent, you know that breastmilk or formula is going to be your baby’s primary source of nutrition during the first 12 months of their life. But if you’re a vegan parent, and want to raise your baby vegan, and you can’t (or don’t want to) breastfeed, what vegan formula options are out there for you? That’s where this guide comes in! We are going to break down the best vegan baby formula options available on the market today. You’ll learn pros and cons of each, as well as tips to help you choose the best formula for your baby!
Baby formula is a breast milk substitute designed to feed children during their first year of life. While most infant formula is made from cow’s milk, there are plenty of non-dairy options available to accommodate milk allergies, vegan families, lactose intolerance, and any other reason why dairy may not be an option for your baby.
Whether you’re raising a vegan baby, or you’re looking for a more eco-friendly formula, or your baby simply can’t tolerate dairy (either a diagnosed cow’s milk allergy or sensitivity), you might be wondering whether a plant based infant formula might work for your baby. Luckily, there are quite a few options to choose from, depending on your needs.
So, if you’re on the market for the best vegan baby formula, this guide is for you! I’ve done the research so you don’t have to — and I have narrowed down the best dairy-free baby formula options on the market (that you can buy in the US)!
What Are The Different Types Of Baby Formula Available?
If you have young children, then you know just how many baby formula options are out there. As a mom of two, I understand just how overwhelming it can be to determine which formula is best for your baby. Before we jump into the best vegan baby formulas, let’s start with the different types of baby formula that you can choose from:
- Organic Cow’s Milk Baby Formula: Most infant formula found at the grocery store is made from cow’s milk, and organic milk formula assures that at least 95 percent of all the ingredients and processing aids are organic and that the product is free from preservatives, toxins, artificial colors, and artificial flavors.
- Non-Organic Cow’s Milk: Non-organic cow’s milk formula is still made from cow’s milk (hence the name), yet it might contain hormones, chemicals, and pesticides since it is not organic.
- Organic Goat’s Milk Baby Formula: Goat milk is very similar to dairy-based formulas in terms of nutrients. But, because it’s made from goat milk which contains the A2 milk protein (vs. A1 for cow’s milk), it may be easier for some babies to digest who are intolerant to cow’s milk. Organic goat’s milk is non-GMO and free from preservatives, toxins, etc.
- Non-Organic Goat’s Milk: Non-organic goat’s milk is more common than its organic counterpart. However, it is a popular option because non organic goat milk still has the A2 vs. A1 milk protein.
- Hypoallergenic Formula: If your baby has trouble digesting cow’s milk-based formula, then your pediatrician might recommend hypoallergenic formula, which can be made from either regular or organic ingredients. As a rule, hypoallergenic formula is free of milk proteins, lactose, and soy.
- A2 Milk: A2 milk is an alternative to regular cow’s milk that is often easier for babies to digest. A2 milk can come from goats, or from a small population of cow’s that happen to produce A2 vs. A1 milk.
- Toddler Formula: While most toddlers don’t need formula, toddler formula is designed to be consumed after a child’s first year of life. Essentially, it is a kind of transition formula, and can be used to supplement a picky eater’s diet with critical nutrients.
- Plant Based Baby Formula: Plant-based formula is made without using animal products. Basically, you can think of it as being a non-dairy formula or vegan formula option.
What Formula Milk Options Are Available For Vegan Babies?
Looking for a dairy-free formula to give your vegan baby? Here are some non milk based formula options and other healthy ways to feed vegan babies.
- Breast Milk: Breastfeeding is a great option for vegan infants and vegan parents. Breast milk is full of vitamins that are essential for your baby’s needs, and many pediatricians agree that it is better for your baby than formula feeding. If you are vegan, your breastmilk is considered vegan, since breastmilk is made from the foods you eat!
- Donor Breast Milk: If you can’t breastfeed yourself, you can opt to feed your baby with donated breast milk from a vegan mother.
- Soy Milk: Soy milk contains essential nutrients for healthy development and growth, and most non dairy infant formula brands will use soy instead of dairy. (If you’re wondering whether or not soy formula is healthy, check out the FAQ section below.)
- Pea Protein Milk: Baby’s Only is the only non milk based baby formula that uses pea protein as its base. It is technically a toddler formula, so consult with your pediatrician before using it for your baby (if your baby is under 12 months of age).
- Oat Milk: Oat milk is a great option for toddlers, but to my knowledge there isn’t an oat milk based non-dairy infant formula for parents who are looking to nix soy from their diets.
- Almond Milk: Almond milk is not the best protein source, but it is super low in calories and often is fortified with nutrients. It should not be given to babies under 12 months of age, similar to oat milk. If you do purchase almond milk for your toddler, make sure it’s the unsweetened kind and does not contain carrageenan. There is also one organic toddler formula that uses almonds as the base: Else Nutrition.)
- Coconut Milk: I have not found a great vegan formula milk option that uses coconut milk as its base, likely because it does not have a ton of nutrients, making it less than ideal for your baby’s diet. Toddlers and kids can enjoy unsweetened coconut milk occasionally, but it wouldn’t be a major source of nutrients, similar to almond milk.
What Is Vegan Baby Formula?
So, what is vegan baby formula? Well, it’s probably exactly what you think. Vegan infant formula does not contain ingredients that come from animal sources, and is made without using animal products or byproducts. This means it is dairy-free and suitable for vegan and vegetarian diets.
Vitamin D In Infant Formula – Is It Vegan?
Most non-milk baby formulas are not 100 percent vegan, as they still contain Vitamin D3, which is made using lanolin from sheep’s wool. You can make Vitamin D3 from vegan sources, such as from lichen or mushrooms, but these tend to be much more expensive to develop so most formula brands will use the lanolin-derived form of Vitamin D. However, you can’t just leave Vitamin D out of a formula – as it is an essential nutrient in child development – it plays a role in immune system development, healthy bones & teeth, and brain development.
Currently, the only true vegan baby formulas is manufactured in Europe (Bebe M Infant Formula and Sprout Organic’s Infant Formula). Bebe M is available to ship to the US – you can order it online here, but Sprout (as far as I can tell) is not.
In the US, there is one soy free vegan baby formula that’s also organic – but it’s meant for babies aged 12+ months (Else Plant Based Toddler Formula). You’ll have to check with your pediatrician to determine whether this formula is suitable for your baby, if your baby is under 12 months of age.
Is There Vegan Baby Formula Available?
As I mentioned, there is not a 100 percent vegan baby formula that is manufactured in the United States, though there is a 100 percent vegan toddler formula available. The only organic vegan baby formulas that I’ve found are made in Europe (Bebe M Infant Formula) or Australia (Sprout Organic’s Infant Formula).
However, if you’re looking to combat dairy allergies or lactose intolerance, there are plenty of dairy-free alternatives for baby formula available in the grocery store. Typically, you can find them with other baby products or in the vegan foods section.
Depending on how strict of a vegan you are, here are your options when choosing a vegan baby formula in the US:
- Ask your pediatrician if Bebe M is suitable for your baby and if so, order it here.
- If your pediatrician does not recommend Bebe M, ask your pediatrician if Else Nutrition is suitable for your baby, since it’s the only vegan approved infant formula available in the US.
- If your pediatrician does not recommend Bebe M or Else, choose another plant based formula that uses lanolin-derived Vitamin D, but all of the other ingredients are vegan friendly.
Is Non Dairy Baby Formula Safe To Use?
A lot of parents wonder whether or not a vegan diet – and vegan baby formula, specifically – is safe for your baby. As with most questions you’ll have to answer as a parent, whether or not you choose to use vegan baby formula is going to be up to you and your baby’s needs. While there are no 100% vegan options for formula available, a non-dairy formula is a terrific option for babies with a milk allergy and mothers who are unable to breastfeed.
When it comes to a vegan diet, it will take a lot more diligence to ensure your baby is getting the nutrients they need, due to their extremely rapid growth rate, but a vegan diet is not unsafe when done right. As long as it’s okayed by your pediatrician, feeding your baby plant-based formula and keeping them plant based when they transition to solid foods is a perfectly healthy option.
Can Babies Drink Plant Based Milk Instead of Formula?
No, absolutely not! It’s actually extremely unsafe to give your baby regular plant based milk from 0-12 months of age. You actually can’t give your baby regular cow’s milk or regular goat’s milk before they turn 1 either, because the nutritional composition of regular milk (whether plant based or animal based) does not have the right mix of important nutrients your baby needs for adequate growth and development.
Baby formula is typically made with powdered cow’s milk — which means it has been processed and changed to more closely match the nutrient profile of breastmilk, making it suitable for your baby to drink.
What Should You Look For in a Non-Dairy Formula?
Looking to buy your little one a non-dairy formula? Here’s what you should look for:
- Ideally organic (or at least non-GMO). The best organic baby formulas adhere to the highest standards of food processing, so it’s guaranteed to be the healthiest option for your baby.
- Iron-fortified. Some babies don’t have enough natural reserves of iron, so it’s always a great idea to feed babies iron-fortified formulas if they are not being breastfed.
- Docosahexaenoic acids (DHA). These omega-3 fatty acids are naturally found in breast milk. Because DHA is believed to be crucial for the healthy development of babies’ eyes and brains, synthetic forms of it are often found in non-dairy formulas. Ideally, it’s a vegan friendly DHA.
- No added sugars: This is in an ideal case, and there are a couple of non milk baby formula brands that don’t add syrup solids to their formulas. However, this is harder to find for vegan formulas specifically, because formula makers can’t use lactose (which is the naturally occurring sugar in milk), and they will need to replace it as a carbohydrate to ensure the right balance of nutrients in the formula.
What Ingredients Should You Avoid In Baby Formula?
When it comes to non-milk-based baby formula, there are sneaky yet common ingredients that you should avoid. Casein, diacetyl, lactoglobulin, lactalbumin, Lacto acidophilus, lactoferrin, lactose, lactulose, rennet, and whey all come from milk, so keep that in mind if your baby has a milk allergy.
You’ll also want to avoid GMO formulas if you can, and added sugars (if possible).
As I mentioned, certain dairy-free baby formulas contain ingredients that may or may not be vegan. Vitamin D, for example, can come from non-vegan sources, and DHA might not be 100% vegan either. For this reason, be mindful that your plant-based infant formula might not be entirely what it seems. Always be thorough when checking the label and doing your research on a new formula brand.
Best Vegan Baby Formulas
Even though it’s slightly more challenging to find, there are good formulas for vegan diets out there! Here are my top picks for the best non-dairy baby formula brands for your little ones:
Bebe M (Bebe Mandorle) Organic Rice-Based Infant Formula is the only vegan baby formula that I’ve found that’s 100% organic, and suitable from birth until 12 months of age (Stage 1 is from 0-6 months, Stage 2 from 6-9 months, Stage 3 from 10 months – 3 years of age!). It uses 100% plant-based ingredients that are tightly regulated by the EU, designed to meet the nutritional requirements for babies. It is made from an organic rice protein hydrolysate, which makes it a dairy-free formula that’s vegan friendly, but is also suitable for babies with dairy allergies or lactose intolerance.
Note: This product is labeled as “Foods for special medical purposes (FSMPs)” and should be only given under medical supervision. Please consult your pediatrician before introducing the formula to your baby.
This plant-based, complete nutrition formula for toddlers is jam-packed with protein, vitamins, and other key minerals. It uses an almond base. This is my top pick for a dairy free toddler formula, because it’s organic, has a high quality ingredients list, and is the only 100% vegan formula available (even the Vitamin D is vegan!). Else just released a new version of their formula that has added omega fatty acids as well!
- Cost: One-time purchases cost $36, but you can purchase via subscription for just $34.
- Where can you buy it? Else Nutrition’s vegan baby formula (soy-free) is available for purchase on their website or on Amazon.
This pea-protein formula doesn’t have any soy protein or soy phytoestrogens, making it one of the best non dairy formula options you can buy for your child. This dairy free organic formula is intended for toddlers over 12 months of age. Baby’s Only adheres to the highest standards by sourcing only the best and cleanest organic materials.
- Cost: It costs $15 for one 12.7oz can, but if you subscribe it only costs $12.74.
- Where can you buy it? You can purchase this formula on Nature’s One’s website, as well as on Amazon.
This soy milk-based formula is a terrific non-dairy baby formula option. While it’s not technically organic, it is non GMO which makes it the best dairy free baby formula available in the US today (as it is formulated for babies aged 0 months and up!)
- Cost: This product costs $30 for a 21oz container.
- Where can you buy it? You can purchase this formula on Earth’s Best’s website, on Amazon, at Walmart, at Sprouts Farmers Market, and other health stores.
This is a soy-based alternative to milk-based formulas that comes in either powder, concentrate, or liquid form. Enfamil is the #1 pediatrician-recommended formula brand.
- Cost: It costs just $11.99 for a 32 fl oz bottle.
- Where can you buy it? You can purchase this formula on Enfamil’s website, on Amazon, or at Walmart.
There is both an infant and toddler version of Gerber Good Start Soy Formula. Essentially, it is made with soy proteins that ease digestion for tiny tummies that are lactose or milk intolerant.
- Cost: It costs just under $20 for 24oz.
- Where can you buy it? You can purchase this formula on Gerber’s website, on Amazon, at Walmart, or in similar stores.
This formula is derived from soy beans for easy-to-digest baby formula (dairy-free). It’s nutritionally complete and easy to digest, intended for infants with fussiness and gas. It’s also specially designed for babies with lactose intolerance and galactosemia.
- Cost: It costs $36.96 per can
- Where can you buy it? You can purchase this formula on Similac’s website, in Target, Walmart, and other leading grocery stores.
This dairy-free formula is specifically formulated for the dietary management of infants with cow milk allergy (CMA), multiple food allergies (MFA), and related medical conditions.
- Cost: It costs $167.50 for four, 14oz cans.
- Where can you buy it? You can purchase this formula on Similac’s website, on Amazon, at Walgreens, and at Walmart.
Vegan Baby Formula FAQs
Below you will find the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about vegan baby formula:
The main concern with soy is due to the phytoestrogens (aka isoflavones) that are naturally present in soy. They are said to have an “estrogenic effect” because they’re similar in structure to the hormone estrogen. Babies who drink soy formula will obviously be consuming much larger quantities of these isoflavones than babies who don’t drink soy formula.
So it’s natural to wonder whether these isoflavones might have a negative hormonal impact on babies who are consuming so much during their most critical development period. There has been some research done on this, and the conclusion was that soy formula during infancy didn’t have a discernible impact on babies’ hormone levels later in life.
The American Academy of Pediatrics also says that soy formula is perfectly fine for babies with a milk allergy or lactose intolerance. The safety and health of soy formula have been studied extensively and it appears to be safe from a neuro-developmental perspective.
Additionally, there are no clear negative effects regarding an infant’s sexual development and growth. However, it is always a good idea to check with your pediatrician before starting any new formula, including soy based formulas.
My main issue with soy is that most soy is genetically modified, so if you do decide to choose a soy formula, make sure you’re choosing an organic formula to ensure the soy is non-GMO!
No, it’s not safe! Please don’t DIY your own vegan baby formula if you can’t find one available that meets your needs. It’s very risky, dangerous, and unsafe, and has all sorts of issues including:
– Bacterial contamination
– Unsafe ingredients / causing major health issues for your baby
– Inadequate nutrients / causing insufficient growth
– Not meeting your baby’s nutritional needs affecting development
If you’ve taken a peek at the ingredients, you might have noticed that there is corn syrup in your baby’s formula. Why? Well, corn syrup is a carbohydrate that babies can easily digest, and it is recognized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a safe ingredient. For these reasons, it commonly replaces lactose in non-dairy baby formulas.
The answer is: it depends! Compared to cow’s milk formula, non dairy formula is going to have a lower carbon footprint and it’s likely better for the environment. However, most of the dairy free baby formula options in the US
Vegan diets omit any animal-based food products, including both eggs and dairy, which can pose a unique risk for rapidly growing babies. However, for most of the first year, you can ensure a healthy vegan diet for your newborn either by breastfeeding or offering a soy-based formula that is recommended by your pediatrician.
I hope this guide has helped you find the best vegan formula for your baby! If your baby has a milk allergy or your family prescribes to a vegan lifestyle, these vegan baby formulas are absolutely worth checking out.
I also want to mention, if you are struggling to find a plant based baby formula that you feel good about giving your little one, and you can’t (or don’t want to) breastfeed (which is totally fine and your right to make that choice!), try to do your best in choosing a formula and remember that FED is best, above all else. If you have to allow a few animal-derived ingredients for your baby’s first few months, rest assured that once they turn 1 you can transition them to a 100% vegan diet.
For more recipes, guides, tips, and tricks, check out the Best For Kids section of my blog. If there’s a fabulous vegan formula brand that I missed (or a fully vegan one that finally hit the American market), be sure to let me know in the comments! And if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or send me a message – I respond to every question I get!