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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!

What’s The Best Organic Formula For Your Baby?

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This post will help you find the healthiest, organic, best baby formula, and has a helpful chart ranking all of the organic formulas on the market today! I update this post monthly to ensure that all of the information below is recent and accurate!
the best organic formula for your baby. healthy baby formula, best organic baby formulaWe’ve all heard the advice: “Breast is best.” Exclusively breastfeed until your baby is 1 year old. Nurse on demand. Formula is “poison.” For a few moms, that advice is easy to follow: they had a natural birth, had so much milk they could donate it, breastfeeding was pain-free, and their baby latched effortlessly. And while I wish it were that easy, unfortunately for many moms, it’s not.

Breastfeeding is HARD. Not hard as in “oh this is hard I don’t feel like doing it,” but hard as in: my baby won’t latch; I have low milk supply; my baby isn’t gaining weight; I physically can’t breastfeed because I have a health condition; my nipples are sore/bleeding/cracked/blistered; I’m in excruciating pain; I have no place to pump at work; I have mastitis; I’ve seen x# of lactation consultants and I’m still having problems nursing; etc.

Since I’ve had Layla, I’ve gotten a bunch of questions from new moms about breastfeeding, baby food, and what is the best formula for babies (especially regarding safe, organic, healthy formula for their little ones). For me, nursing was one of the most physically and emotionally challenging parts of new motherhood. Many of the early days ended in tears over it. But because I had a decent supply (and I knew many moms who didn’t have enough/any milk at all), I decided to stick with it. It was difficult and challenging every day, but I nursed and pumped for the first 6 months, started weaning around 6.5 months and fully weaned by 7.5/8 months. There was no way I was going to make it to a year, and I was ok with that.

I know a lot of moms feel guilt over weaning early, or not being able to breastfeed as much a they’d like – but honestly, whatever makes you a better, happier mom is what you should do. If you love breastfeeding, great! But if you need to supplement or switch to formula, that’s ok too. The most important thing is the love you give to your baby, and that you and your baby are happy and healthy.

And so, since I knew I was going to need formula for Layla once I weaned, I did a ton of research trying to find the best baby formula on the market today, and ended up finding a wonderful, healthy formula that I felt good about giving Layla (more on that in a sec!)

Disclaimers before we start:

** Organic formulas are more expensive than regular formula. I realize that not every parent has the financial means to buy organic formula for their little ones, and that is ok! If you don’t have the means, just do what you can for your baby. No judgments here.

** Not every baby likes every formula. Some formulas constipate some babies. Again, if you try the formulas I recommend and they don’t work for your baby – that’s ok too!

** I am advocating a world of no judgments when it comes to breastfeeding or formula feeding. All you can do as a mom is your best. Whether you breastfeed for a year, or 6 months or 1 month, or 0 months doesn’t make you a better or worse mother. A happy healthy mom and happy healthy baby is all that matters.

So what is the best formula for babies? And what should you look for when picking the right formula? 

Here it is: a breakdown of all of the organic baby formulas on the market, and which is the best baby formula.

What I learned in my research is that the US doesn’t have very strict standards when it comes to organic baby formula. Ingredients that really shouldn’t be in baby formula appear all the time in many organic brands.

The ingredients that shouldn’t appear in organic formula (as outlined by the National Organic Standards Board and are banned in the EU) include:

1) Processed Refined Sugars (Syrup, Syrup Solids) – corn syrup (glucose syrup solids), maltodextrin (a partially hydrolyzed starch derived from corn, rice, or potatoes), sugar, or brown rice syrup. Manufacturers use these because they are cheaper than lactose (which is what should be in formula).

2) 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). The National Organic Standards Board has guidelines against this, but the USDA still allows it in organic formulas sold in the US. The issue of hexane in formula is a complicated one — and I have more details about that below!

3) Synthetic Preservatives – ascorbic palmitate and beta carotene are the common ones here.

4) Synthetic Nutrients – this includes lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, l-carnitine and l-methionine. These are banned in formulas in the EU, but are allowed in the US (go figure). I won’t go into details on each nutrient listed above, but essentially – many are processed with neurotoxic solvents or are either themselves listed as a toxic ingredient.

Note: Palm Oil is in most formulas (EU & US), but it can form “soaps” in the baby’s intestines – which can cause digestive issues/gas/etc. However, I’d still choose palm oil over the alternative some formulas that don’t have palm oil use – which is soy oil, because of this study about soy that makes it problematic. 

Unfortunately, almost every single formula in the US market has one or more of these ingredients included. Even the EU formulas have Palm Oil (but they have less of it than the US formulas, and so it doesn’t cause digestive issues). That being said, organic formula is still better than conventional formula – because at least organic formula is made with non-GMO ingredients and the cows producing the milk are hormone free.

So what’s a mom to do? Order your formula online from the EU if you can! Hipp Organic and Holle are the two best infant formulas out there. 

the best organic formula for your baby. healthy baby formula, best organic baby formula

Hipp Organic, Lebenswert, and Holle Organic are three brands from the EU that have wonderful ingredient lists for their formulas. HiPP is the best, in my opinion and Lebenswert is a close second. I used HiPP for Layla, and it worked great for us.

For HiPP: You can see the ingredients here, For Lebenswert: you can see the ingredients here, and For Holle: you can see the ingredients here.

To buy either HiPP, Lebenswert, or Holle online, I have found a couple online retailers who are either based in the US or ship to the US in a reliable and safe manner!

My top three online retailers for all European baby formula are: Organic Start, BabyKindMarket, and Organic Baby Food. And my top online retailer for HiPP Dutch is Dutch Expat Shop!

Organic Start is an amazing, reliable, reputable, online retailer based in the US who has fast & FREE shipping! I have spoken with Peter, the owner of Organic Start, multiple times over the past year and after researching him and his business thoroughly, I feel confident in recommending Organic Start as a resource for purchasing HiPP, Lebenswert, and Holle in the US. Peter is a father of triplets who is passionate about making the best European formulas available in the US. Organic Start also sells Loulouka,Topfer, Goat Milk Formula, Anti-Reflux, and Hypoallergenic Formula. After working with Peter over the past couple years, I can confidently say that formulas purchased from Organic Start are safe, authentic, and reliable. Note: If you’re looking to buy HiPP UK, HiPP Dutch, HiPP GermanyHolleLebenswert or Holle Goat Formula in BULK (with a bulk discount!) I highly recommend Organic Start Wholesale. (The wholesale arm of Organic Start). Organic Start is offering a 10% off discount for their retail site, using the code PICKY10 – can be used twice per person and it never expires!

DutchExpatShop is pretty awesome because they are the most affordable online retailer for HiPP Dutch! Many of you have struggled with HiPP Dutch being out of stock, and DutchExpatShop pretty much guarantees that they will always have HiPP Dutch at an affordable price to ship to the US. They are based in the Netherlands, and they also have the widest selection of Baby Care products from the Netherlands that I’ve seen. The cool thing about their shop is that you can pretty much get any products from Holland and Belgium through their site (like even stuff for mama like yummy snacks, fresh cheesesbeauty products, body care and more!)

BabyKindMarket is a second reputable online seller based in the US who offers free shipping on all orders over $25 (which is a very low threshold to hit!) They’re never out of stock of HiPP Dutchand they offer all of the Holle, Lebenswert, HiPP, and Goat Milk formulas available in the EU. They also offer a whole line of baby care products from the EU including lotions, body wash, sunscreen and more!

Organic Baby Food is another reputable, online retailer based in the EU who has fast shipping to the US! They sell HiPP, Lebenswert, and Hollealong with Hypoallergenic formula and Goat’s Milk formula. They have reasonable prices, reliable shipping (within 1-3 business days!), amazing customer support and I have been in contact with the owner personally. In addition to baby formula they also have a variety of organic cereals and snacks for babies from HiPP/Holle/Leb, as well as a line of baby care products (shampoo, lotion, calendula) that are gentle and free of any synthetic ingredients so they are perfect for babies! A few other great things about this company: guaranteed delivery within 2 days, money back if your shipment is delayed, dedicated customer support (a few hours turnaround time for emails or direct phone support at 1-800-701-4303), and deep discounts up to 60% off sometimes! They are also giving readers of The Picky Eater a 10% off coupon code at checkout – just use the code: PICKY and you will get the discount!

One new option for Goat Milk formulas that I recommend is Kabrita USA. Kabrita has a new formulation that is now available nationwide – in stores like Costco, Walmart, Whole Foods, and on their website! The new formulation has NO glucose syrup solids, no taurine or l-carnitine, AND has GOS (a prebiotic) added. The new formulation makes Kabrita the best Goat Milk formula out there – better than Holle Goat! It’s cheaper than Holle, available in the US, European sourced, non-GMO, no Palm Oil (they use palmitic oil instead), no maltodextrin, easier to digest than Holle — Kabrita’s whey/casein ratio is very close to breastmilk, while Holle’s isn’t and I have heard that babies who struggle with constipation do better on Kabrita. I’m actually ranking it as a “1” on the chart below, because it is the best goat milk formula out there. Also, Kabrita is offering 10% off all orders with the coupon code GENTLEKABRITA.

I’m in personal contact with the owners of all 5 of these companies: Organic Start (and Organic Start Wholesale), Dutch Expat Shop,  BabyKindMarketOrganic Baby Food, and Kabrita USA and I feel comfortable recommending all of them to you.

Here is a chart of the organic baby formulas out there, outlining which have the ingredients above. The chart is ranked from best to worst formula. 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.

Note: I update this post frequently – this chart is as of April 2019. All updates are listed in detail (by date) below the chart as well! 

chart describing the best healthiest safest organic baby and infant formula

For anyone looking for a goat milk formula specifically, I have a separate chart in this post that outlines the best goat milk formula for your baby!

The Bottom Line:

** There is no perfect formula, but some are still much better than others.

** Baby’s Only with Whey is probably the best in the US (that you can buy at your local grocery store)

** If you can afford it, shipping your formula from Europe is the absolute best way to go, and HiPP or Lebenswert are the best formulas out there!

** Regarding Hexane-extracted DHA and ARA, I have gotten confirmation that both HiPP and Topfer use hexane-extracted DHA/ARA – but they both claim that 100% of the hexane is removed after extraction and it is not detectable in their formulas. Given that these are European formulas and the guidelines in Europe are much more stringent than the US guidelines, I’m inclined to believe them.

** Regarding GrassFed and PureBliss – they are not organic formulas, but they are non GMO and antibiotic free, and their ingredients list is relatively clean, which is why I have added them at the bottom here as they are available in the US and are better than all of the non-organic formulas available in the US today. More details on how they can be non GMO and grass fed but NOT organic are below in the 4/6/17 Update!

Recommendations on Supplementing: DHA, Vitamin D, Probiotics

I have gotten a lot of questions about what to supplement with if your baby is on a formula that doesn’t have DHA added, what probiotic to use, or what to do if your baby is getting some breastmilk along with their formula (in which case you need to add Vitamin D). Here are my top picks for baby supplements:

Vitamin D: I absolutely love these Baby Vitamin D Drops. There is literally nothing added to them (no flavors, colors, etc.). They are liquid and you only need one drop in your baby’s bottle per day. You can also just apply the drop on your baby’s pacifier, on your nipple (if you’re nursing), or on your finger and have your baby suck it off. Super easy, tasteless and pure.

DHA: The only Omega 3 supplement I’d recommend for kids is Nordic Naturals. They have an infant DHA supplement and a children’s DHA supplement – both of which are extremely pure, have no added preservatives or sugar, and are in liquid form so they can be added to just about anything!

ProbioticsI love Garden of Life’s line of probiotics – they are shipped cold and their infant/kids one can be added to your baby’s bottle (starting at 3 months of age), and can be used even when your child gets older (just add the powder to their milk). I also like Klaire Labs’ powdered probiotic. For infants 0-3 months of age, I recommend BioGaia’s probiotic. For older kids, Garden of Life also has a kids’ chewable probiotic if you need and option that doesn’t require refrigeration, and I take their adult capsule daily.

Baby Food: For those of you transitioning to solids and looking for homemade baby food recipes, I have a bunch of easy recipes you can try here! But in those instances when you’re on the go and looking for a healthy, organic, pre-made option, my list of the healthiest baby food pouches should help.

More Info on Hexane Extracted DHA/ARA in Formula:

I spoke with an expert who has her BS in Biology with a minor in Chemistry, who worked in an organic chemistry lab for 2 years and worked with many solvents used in extractions, compound purification, and analysis, and then went on to get an MS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She is extremely knowledgable when it comes to hexane and extraction methods, so I asked her for her thoughts on how concerned we should be about hexane-extracted DHA/ARA in formula. Here is the summary: 

  • Hexane is often used as extraction solvent for extracting fats. This is because it has a low boiling point when compared to most fats, which makes it easy to get rid of post-extraction – leaving the fat behind.
  • To get rid of Hexane, chemists use a large apparatus called a “rotary vap” that gets rid of the solvents and you end up with a pure powder substance (usually a chemical compound). The next step is to check the purity of the compound using a machine called an NMR or MS, which tells you whether you have any of your solvent left.
  • This woman told me that she never, ever found an issue with having hexane still present after drying her sample.
  • Since formulas are a powder, they are heated to the point of water removal, and therefore the hexane should be all gone. It is unlikely that hexane is left in properly treated formula, but you are placing trust in the formula and manufacturing industry that all formula is being properly prepared.
  • Note: All oils that don’t have a cold-pressed process are extracted using hexane – this includes corn oil, soy oil, vegetable oil, etc. (unless otherwise specified on the bottle). Hexane is also used during the development process for drugs – many drugs are purified in a hexane solvent and then it is dried off. So if you are going to question hexane, you need to be aware of the other areas where it is used in our regular food and drug supply!
  • When it comes to being concerned about hexane vs. other questionable ingredients in organic formulas – maltodextrin, soy oil, etc., I’d be more concerned about maltodextrin vs. hexane extracted DHA. This is because maltodextrin’s glycemic index is much higher than table sugar and I personally believe a lot of issues today come from sugar and inflammation, and even when hexane is used it should be gone by the time the formula is packaged.
  • Unfortunately, there is no formula out there that doesn’t have at least one of the “offending” ingredients I have listed above! For me personally, I would choose hexane-extracted DHA over maltodextrin or soy oil for example. This is because soy oil is also extracted using hexane, and maltodextrin has an extremely high glycemic index. In addition, formulas that contain soy oil or maltodextrin are 100% guaranteed to contain these ingredients, versus hexane which is likely not traceable in a formula that has used it as a method to extract DHA/ARA before the formula has been prepared!

The Ranking As of August 2018:

#1 | HiPP (prefer the Dutch version of HiPP – which you can also get at DutchExpatShopor HiPP PRE or Loulouka or Lebenswert or Holle PRE or Kabrita USA (if you want a Goat Milk Formula)

#2 | Baby’s Only with Whey Protein

#3 | Topfer or BabyLove or Regular Holle

#4 | Holle Goat or Happy Baby or Honest Co

#4 |  Plum Organics

#5 | Baby’s Only with Brown Rice Syrup

… and then the rest of the list!

US Only Formulas Ranked!

I’ve gotten a lot of questions on how I’d rank just the US-made formulas (for folks who can’t afford or don’t want to buy from the EU). For just the US formulas, I’d rank them as follows.

#1 | Baby’s Only with Whey Protein or Kabrita USA

#2 | Happy Baby or Honest Co

#3 | Plum Organics

#4 | Baby’s Only with Brown Rice Syrup (which also has a version with DHA/ARA added)

#5 | Earth’s Best

Detailed Updates by Date Below!

Update as of 4/23/19: Organic Start has partnered with formula makers in Switzerland (who have been making formula for the past 60 years) to create a new European formula called Loulouka! It is comparable to HiPP Dutch from a clean ingredients standpoint, and it is certified by the EU, but it has no palm oil! This is a great option for your little one, and I have updated my chart with Loulouka included. Loulouka is made in Switzerland from the best Swiss organic whole milk. No artificial pesticides or herbicides are used at Swiss organic farms and most of the milk used in Loulouka comes from farms located in the Swiss Alps. They also support eco-friendly manufacturing practices and they recycle waste heat, CO2 and wastewater during the production process. And, before any product leaves their factory, over 50 quality and safety checks have taken place. The owner of organic start has had a hand in making this formula, but there is no doubt that from an ingredients perspective it is comparable to the rest of the formulas on this list. I’ll be doing a separate post with more information about Loulouka and will link it here when it’s live!

Update as of 1/24/19: Honest Co. has improved the ingredients in their formula!! Yay!! They no longer use glucose syrup solids or taurine, and have added prebiotics. Because of this they jumped a bunch of places on the list and are now comparable with Happy Baby!

Update as of 12/31/18: I have added two reputable retailers to my site who I have been able to communicate with and understand the ins and outs of their company! The first is DutchExpatShop – the cheapest seller of HiPP Dutch that I’ve found. And the second is BabyKindMarket – a reputable online seller based in the US who offers free shipping on all orders over $25! Also, if you’re looking for a Facebook group about baby formula, I’d recommend this particular Facebook group that’s meant as an unbiased discussion forum for baby formula in a supportive, non-judgmental manner.

Update as of 3/15/15: The Honest Company just came out with an Organic Baby Formula – that, in my opinion, is now the best option for an Organic formula made in the US. The first two ingredients in the formula are similar to HiPP (Organic Non Fat Milk, Organic Lactose) — but then the third ingredient is “Organic Glucose Syrup Solids,” which is not great but still better than Baby’s Only (which has “brown rice syrup” as the first ingredient). The Honest Co. formula is still not better than Holle or HiPP, but is better than all of the other US formulas out there.

Update as of 5/25/15: Baby’s Only just came out with a Whey Protein Formula that now is probably the best option for an Organic formula in the US. Nutritionally, it seems much better than the original Baby’s Only formula with brown rice syrup. Some things to note: 1) It looks like the nucleotides in this formula aren’t added synthetically – that Baby’s Only just discloses that all milk proteins have naturally occurring nucleotides – in which case that seems ok. 2) They do have organic soybean oil and soy lecithin in their formula 3) They don’t have palm oil (like HiPP does) in the formula or glucose syrup solids (like the Honest Company’s formula) which is great. This makes Baby’s Only with Whey a pretty great option – and might be the best option in the US since it doesn’t have glucose syrup solids like the Honest Company’s formula does. Between HiPP, Holle and Baby’s Only with Whey, it’s a bit of a toss up between whether you’d rather have soybean oil or palm oil in your baby’s formula. I might still go with Hipp or Holle first, and then Baby’s Only with Whey Protein, and then the Honest Company’s formula in the US. Note: Holle also has a new formula called Lebenswert – which doesn’t have maltodextrin (for stage 1; it does for stage 2/3).

Update as of 3/31/16: Plum Organics just released a formula which is a great option for Organic formula in the US! It doesn’t have any syrup solids (yay!) and it has a combination of 4 oils (coconut and high oleic sunflower – which are great; and palm/soybean oil – not as great). Between Plum Organics and Baby’s Only with Whey – I think they are both great options for a formula you can purchase in the US. Baby’s Only with Whey might be slightly better because they don’t have palm oil, but honestly I’d say they are pretty comparable.

Update as of 4/30/16: Honest Co. is being sued because their formula contains Taurine and other ingredients that really shouldn’t be in organic formula. The problem is, those ingredients are considered OK by the FDA and the same ingredients are in many of the organic formulas available in the US (like Earth’s Best and Baby’s Only with Brown Rice Syrup)! That’s why I recommend the European formulas over any formula in the US – the EU formulas have the cleanest list of ingredients by far. I hope the FDA changes their standards on what ingredients are considered acceptable for organic formulas – depending on how the suit turns out I’ll update this list accordingly!

Update as of 6/21/16: I just found out about a German formula available in the US called “BabyLove“. The ingredients look great, are really in line with HiPP and Holle – and are a great option for your baby! The only ingredient on their list that I’m not sure about is “sweet whey powder” – I’m not sure if that is lactose, or if that’s added sugars. The company claims that their formula has no added sugars, but I haven’t found any more information than that. Either way, the rest of the ingredients look pretty comparable to HiPP or Holle so I’m adding it as a #3 option for your little one!

Update as of 7/23/16: HiPP UK has changed its ingredients for its Stage 2 formulas (they now include soy). BUT – the Dutch version of HiPP still has high quality ingredients and no soy. Also, a new formula called Topfer just came out, and their ingredients are very comparable to HiPP or Holle Leb! I’d definitely recommend their formula!

Update as of 11/4/16: Earth’s Best has recently changed the ingredients in their formula — they no longer use syrup solids as the sugar! Now they use lactose. That’s definitely an improvement! They have FOS (which is a prebiotic sourced from sucrose – so it’s not bad), and they still have palm oil, taurine, etc. on their ingredients list but getting rid of the syrup solids is a big plus.

Update as of 1/10/17: Regarding hexane extracted DHA in formula – this is what I’ve found to be true: Baby’s Only with Whey Protein has confirmed that the DHA in their formula is NOT extracted using hexane. As for the DHA in HiPP, their company statement says: “HiPP Infant milks use natural sources of DHA and ARA, derived from fish oils.”

Update as of 4/6/17: There are a few new formulas coming out (or that have just come out!) Happy Baby in the US, PureBliss by Similac, and GrassFed by Munchkin. HappyBaby is a decent option in the US – I’d rank it after Regular Holle (the chart above is updated!). GrassFed and PureBliss both have decent ingredients (the only “offending” ingredients are Soy Oil and Taurine) but they are not certified organic. Both say that their formulas are made with 100% Grass Fed Cow Milk, have no antibiotics and are non GMO – but they are not organic. This is likely because in some capacity, >5% of their ingredients by mass were not sourced-organic. Also, you can feed cows grass that has been sprayed with non-organic pesticides and it’s still considered “grass fed” but it wouldn’t be considered organic. They mention that the cows are GMO, rBGH and antibiotic free, but do not address the grass itself, so that might be another reason why it’s not organic. I have kept them on the list at the bottom because their ingredients are pretty good (you can read about GrassFed’s ingredients here), and are better than some of the other formulas in the US that are on the market today, but they can’t be considered “organic formulas.”

Update as of 7/1/17: Many of you have asked me questions about the FDA’s recent crackdown on US-based sellers of European formula. This is happening because the FDA does not allow sellers to buy formula in Europe and sell it here in the US under a US business name. The formula has to come directly from Europe. It is 100% legal to order formula from Europe for personal use. If your order is less than $800, you will not be charged duty. It’s important to use reputable sites who know international shipping declarations so that your package of formula doesn’t encounter problems when arriving in the US! That’s why I highly recommend Organic Start (or Organic Start Wholesale) and Organic Baby Food, because they are familiar with these declarations and will get your formula to you without any delays or issues.

Update as of 4/1/18: There is a new Goat Milk formula that has recently come out – from Kabrita USA. Their Goat Milk formula has lactose and whey as the primary ingredients, palmitic oil instead of palm oil, and no glucose syrup solids in the newest formulation! I have also heard that it’s better than Holle Goat for babies who struggle with constipation. Currently their formula is labeled as a “toddler formula,” but their formula does meet the FDA’s nutrient requirements for an infant formula and I’ve heard that infants do well on it. Kabrita USA is moving through the required steps (laid out by the FDA) to be marketed and sold explicitly in the US as infant formula as well!

Update as of 4/10/18: Many of you have mentioned that HiPP Dutch can be out of stock from time to time and have asked for the next best thing. If you don’t want to use Lebenswert or Holle PRE, another great option is HiPP PRE! It’s basically identical in ingredients to HiPP Dutch, so it’s the perfect replacement when needed.

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893 responses to “What’s The Best Organic Formula For Your Baby?”

  1. Thank you so much for the amazing information. I was just wondering if alot of your #1 brands would be #1 in all stage forms? Example: Lebenswert Stage 1 vs Stage 2. I used Lebenswert Stage 1 for my first baby and never increased to the different stages bc of the maltodextrin. Would love to know if your other #1’s have the same issue. Also, would appreciate your opinion on continuing with stage 1 at all ages, if the other stages weren’t as clean? I have baby #2 on the way so any input would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

    • Hi Jessica! That’s a great question! So yes, this chart is based mostly on Stage 1 because it would have gotten way too long and complicated to add all the stages in, and because Stage 1 can be used for the entire first year of life! However, the rankings still pretty much hold for Stage 2/3 — because all of the formulas except HiPP Dutch end up changing things up in Stage 2/3 (e.g. addition of starch, or addition of maltodextrin or soy oil) — so then they all sort of drop at the same “rate” if that makes sense. You can certainly just continue with Stage 1 for the entire first year, as long as your baby is eating solids well and your pediatrician is ok with it. The main difference between stage 1 and 2 is the iron content (which is higher in stage 2), which is why as long as your baby ends up doing well with a variety of solids after 6+ months of age, the extra iron can be obtained from food instead! Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  2. Hi! I have been researching these formulas for a few weeks and checking out some of the distributors along with joining the holle and hipp facebook group. I came across your blog and love your tables. I was curious about LouLouka though- isn’t it a newly released formula? Only a few weeks old? I am surprised you already have it up on your blog as a recommended formula! I have heard that there is another formula that is exactly the same that has been around longer-Bimbosan, from my understanding (maybe you should consider adding that as well since its the same), I learned this from the group I am in . As a mother, personally, I would feel more comfortable with something that has been around for a while, like Holle and HiPP have been out for a while, but from what I am reading it seems you have a relationship with the owner of the new formula so I understand adding it as a reliable formula. However, either way, I definitely feel like it’s important for moms to keep its new release in mind. Maybe if I have more kids a few years from now I would considerate it after its been around for a while.

    • Hi Cynthia! Great question! LouLouka is a new formula, but because I have a relationship with the owner of Organic Start, I was able to do the research into the manufacturing practices and ingredients fairly quickly – which is why I feel comfortable recommending it here! And you are right about Bimbosan – it’s a great formula and very similar to LouLouka – but I haven’t found a reputable seller of it in the US which is why it’s not on my list! I didn’t want to include a formula option that was great but not accessible to everyone in the US. Once I find a reputable seller, I will be adding Bimbosan as well though (and if you have found someone let me know)! I think there are a lot of great things about HiPP that are comparable to LouLouka and a few things better (added pre/probiotics, etc.) and just the palm oil in HiPP is the only thing LouLouka does better (coconut oil instead of palm oil). I hope that helps – but you should absolutely buy whichever formula you are the most comfortable with!

      • I didn’t see the details about the manufacturing practices on an update portion of your blog like I see for other things,
        Maybe I missed it. Can you possibly give some more information regarding this I think it would be helpful for me and other mothers to share this information…. also I believe there is a company that ships Bimbosan formula here based on what I saw in the Facebook group. The link seems odd because it’s been translated via google https://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?depth=1&nv=1&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=de&sp=nmt4&tl=en&u=https://vitadrogerie.ch/&xid=25657,15700022,15700043,15700186,15700190,15700253,15700256,15700259&usg=ALkJrhjR42ibUcfeHz0bDZdr6fR0C8Uijw
        Obviously I haven’t ordered from them but it seemed to have been the current reccomended source for ordering . Original link https://vitadrogerie.ch/ . Based on my research there seems to be many overseas distributors that moms order formula from reliability all the time other than the ones listed here as well as other US distributors as well that aren’t listed. I think it’s great to be able to have all these options honestly as when I first started researching I thought it would be difficult to obtain these formulas.

      • Hi Cynthia! I’m actually working on a separate post about Loulouka which details the answers to all of your questions, which is why I didn’t include it in the update on this post. But I have added a few additional pieces of info to this post about Loulouka and then I’ll link to the other post when it’s live! This is what I included here: Loulouka is made by parents for parents. It is made in Switzerland from the best Swiss organic whole milk. No artificial pesticides or herbicides are used at Swiss organic farms and most of the milk used in Loulouka comes from farms located in the Swiss Alps. They also support eco-friendly manufacturing practices and they recycle waste heat, CO2 and wastewater during the production process. And, before any product leaves their factory, over 50 quality and safety checks have taken place. I hope that helps for now and stay tuned for my other post which will have more details! Regarding your questions about other overseas distributors and US distributors of these formulas, I know there are many more out there – but honestly not all of them are reputable. And before I add any distributors to this post I go through a pretty intense vetting process which includes speaking with the owner, learning about their supply chain, etc. Which is why I haven’t included every distributor of these formulas on this site – I can’t vouch for all of them. I’m currently in the process of vetting Formuland and Bottles and Burps – so once that is complete you’ll likely see them here as well. But I hope you can understand that I don’t feel comfortable recommending distributors that I haven’t spoken to personally, because I need to know for a fact that the formula they are selling is authentic and high quality. Regarding Bimbosan — I’m sure that distributor has worked for moms in your Facebook group – but again, until I’m able to speak with them I likely won’t list them here. But I’m glad moms in the group have had a good experience with them! I hope that all makes sense, let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Also, do you know if there is any info on the team of nutritionists that assisted in the making of Loulouka? My girlfriend actually is interested as she has tried various formulas with no luck so I am also trying to gather information for her 🙂 I think we are going to try HiPP UK version first and see where that takes us!!

      • Hi Cynthia! Regarding the team of nutritionists – the owner of Organic Start actually teamed up with formula makers in Switzerland (who have been making formula for the past 60 years) to create Loulouka because they wanted an option for parents that didn’t have palm oil in it. Their factory in Switzerland has the following certificates: ISO Food Safety System Certification 22000, Swiss Organic Regulation, Swiss Organic Farming Ordinance, HACCP Certification, Suisse Garantie Certification, CH-US Organic Equivalency Agreement. Let me know if you need any more info! HiPP UK is a great place to start though! Hope your little one does well on it! 🙂

  3. Hello – this chart was very helpful! I am trying to decide between Hipp (UK) and Baby’s Only with Whey. Based on this article/ chart, I am deciding between two factors (just making sure I understand everything correctly) – would I rather give baby formula with palm oil BUT has synthetic (hexane extracted) DHA & ARA or formula with soy oil that has natural DHA & ARA? According to overall ranking – hexane extracted DHA & ARA is less of an issue than soy oil is? Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Stephanie! Yup that’s exactly right – I don’t see hexane extracted DHA/ARA as being as big of an issue as soy oil – since the hexane is not even detectable in the formula, but soy obviously is – and can mess with a baby’s hormonal development. So I’d rather go with the DHA/ARA (which is not ideal but I don’t see it as harmful or risky) as the soy oil. Also – here is more info on the hexane question (which I’ve also included in my post above!) Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions!
      More Info on Hexane Extracted DHA/ARA in Formula:
      I spoke with an expert who has her BS in Biology with a minor in Chemistry, who worked in an organic chemistry lab for 2 years and worked with many solvents used in extractions, compound purification, and analysis, and then went on to get an MS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She is extremely knowledgable when it comes to hexane and extraction methods, so I asked her for her thoughts on how concerned we should be about hexane-extracted DHA/ARA in formula. Here is the summary:
      Hexane is often used as extraction solvent for extracting fats. This is because it has a low boiling point when compared to most fats, which makes it easy to get rid of post-extraction – leaving the fat behind.
      To get rid of Hexane, chemists use a large apparatus called a “rotary vap” that gets rid of the solvents and you end up with a pure powder substance (usually a chemical compound). The next step is to check the purity of the compound using a machine called an NMR or MS, which tells you whether you have any of your solvent left.
      This woman told me that she never, ever found an issue with having hexane still present after drying her sample.
      Since formulas are a powder, they are heated to the point of water removal, and therefore the hexane should be all gone. It is unlikely that hexane is left in properly treated formula, but you are placing trust in the formula and manufacturing industry that all formula is being properly prepared.
      Note: All oils that don’t have a cold-pressed process are extracted using hexane – this includes corn oil, soy oil, vegetable oil, etc. (unless otherwise specified on the bottle). Hexane is also used during the development process for drugs – many drugs are purified in a hexane solvent and then it is dried off. So if you are going to question hexane, you need to be aware of the other areas where it is used in our regular food and drug supply!
      When it comes to being concerned about hexane vs. other questionable ingredients in organic formulas – maltodextrin, soy oil, etc., I’d be more concerned about maltodextrin vs. hexane extracted DHA. This is because maltodextrin’s glycemic index is much higher than table sugar and I personally believe a lot of issues today come from sugar and inflammation, and even when hexane is used it should be gone by the time the formula is packaged.
      Unfortunately, there is no formula out there that doesn’t have at least one of the “offending” ingredients I have listed above! For me personally, I would choose hexane-extracted DHA over maltodextrin or soy oil for example. This is because soy oil is also extracted using hexane, and maltodextrin has an extremely high glycemic index. In addition, formulas that contain soy oil or maltodextrin are 100% guaranteed to contain these ingredients, versus hexane which is likely not traceable in a formula that has used it as a method to extract DHA/ARA before the formula has been prepared!

  4. I used 2 types of organic formula. First when my son had colic–I used Hipp organic formula made specifically for babies w/ colic, reflux and allergies. Then when my son out grew colic, my doctor recommended Holle organic formula. Both were amazing, my son loved them, they are certified organic, and I was easily able to order them and save money at formularus.com

    • Hi Jen! I ranked NannyCare in my goat milk formulas post here: https://pickyeaterblog.com/best-goat-milk-formula/
      NannyCare would be near where PureBliss is on this chart, because it doesn’t have any Non-GMO/Organic certifications, but their milk is sourced from New Zealand which has higher standards than the US. It has no soy based ingredients, maltodextrin, and only includes two of the synthetic ingredients that I recommend avoiding. They don’t have a whey-casein ratio as close to breastmilk as Kabrita, and they don’t have DHA or prebiotics added. Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions!

  5. Thank you very much for all the useful information. If at least I found you when I was so close to depression .. Yes, we all know that breastfeeding is the best, and I really tried my best. I was tortured by a conscience, but my baby was simply hungry 🙁 and I only needed some support. I got the first HIPP from a close friend, and since then we have been inseparable 🙂 my baby is healthy and satisfied, and we will surely continue to use it 🙂 I order from BuyOrganicFormula because of free shipping, but it is good to know that there are so many ways that this European miracle (for us it was really a miracle) be easily available to us. We are starting with cereals, so can you tell us what’s best for the beginning? I thought it was best to start from the simple Holle Rice Cereal or you think that we can start with mixed ones, they sound so delicious 🙂

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Peggy!! I’m so sorry to hear about your breastfeeding experience – but you absolutely did the right thing by supplementing with formula for your baby. FED is best, breast isn’t best! 🙂 I totally support your decision. Glad to hear you’ve had a good experience with this shop – I haven’t heard of them before but it’s good to know it’s worked for you! For cereal, I like oatmeal better than rice cereal – it’s much more nutritious, lower on the glycemic index, and higher in fiber. I think Holle has an oatmeal you can use, or you can just make your own 🙂 Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  6. Hi! My 11 wk old baby is suspected to have a Dairy Intolerance(mucous in poop) so we are currently on Hipp Pre HA. I am unable to afford it at the moment and was wondering which American formulas are hydrolyzed like HA and can be found in stores? Im trying to stay away from Alimentum, Neocate etc…want to stick to organic.

    • Hi Asia! I’m so sorry your little one has a dairy intolerance! To your question, unfortunately there are literally zero American formulas that are hydrolyzed like HA and are also organic. Alimentum and Neocate/etc. are the only options made in the US available to parents today. It’s really unfortunate, and I wish I had a better answer for you but I don’t! Would you be able to afford HiPP Pre HA if you bought it in bulk like from Organic Start Wholesale? That would be cheaper than buying it retail but not sure what your budget is! I’m so sorry I don’t have a better answer for you – hopefully the US will start making healthier formulas for little ones that are similar to HiPP!!

  7. What about HIPP HA? My daughter (6 mos)has a dairy intolerance and hates alimentum and nutramigen and I would rather find her something that not only she likes but I like also. EBF, DF/SF diet, but supply is dropping so need to supplement and eventually transition. Would you recommend HIPP’s hypoallergenic version?

    • Absolutely! I love HiPP HA! It’s way better than Alimentum/Nutramigen/etc. from an ingredients standpoint and I have heard that many babies with a dairy intolerance do well on it. And if you know you’re going to be buying a lot of it, I’d recommend looking at Organic Start’s Wholesale site – because it’ll be way cheaper there than retail. Hope that helps and I hope HiPP HA works well for your daughter!

  8. hello Anjali
    Thank you for your information. They are very helpful. My baby is 7 month what stage formula (Hipp Dutch) should i buy her for her age. stage 2 or 3 ?
    thank you

  9. Hi Anjali, this post is so helpful. I have two questions. For the Baby’s Only formula, do you recommend the version with or without DHA/ARA? And regarding Kabrita, do you consider that formula suitable to use as a primary source of nutrition for infants under 1 year. Their website states that it’s not a suitable sole source of nutrition for either infants or toddlers, but their nutrients seem to be on par with those in other formulas. Thank you!

    • Hi Erin! I’m so glad this post was helpful! Regarding Baby’s Only – I’d go with the one that contains DHA/ARA, that way you don’t have to supplement with it separately (just more convenient!). For Kabrita – I know lots of moms who use it as their baby’s formula and have no issues – but I’d just recommend showing the ingredients label to your pediatrician before using it to get their go-ahead. Let me know if you have any other questions!

  10. Hi Anjali,
    Thanks for this helpful blog! Curious to know if you have any thoughts on Baby’s Only newest formula version: non-GMO Dairy Whey DHA/ARA Formula. I think your summary uses their original “dairy” version for comparison but would love to hear your thoughts on this newer version and whether it improves upon the original. Also, the whole “toddler formula” angle. Is it ok to give to infants under 1? Look forward to hearing from you.

    • Hi Nisha! I actually do rank the Baby’s Only with Whey on my chart! 🙂 The one with Whey/DHA/ARA is ranked “1.5” – right under all the European formulas. And the regular Baby’s Only (just dairy) is ranked at number “4” on the chart – so the Whey one is definitely way better than regular baby’s only! Mainly because it has no syrup solids – which is a major change. Regarding the “toddler formula” issue – Baby’s Only markets their formulas as “toddler” because they want to encourage breastfeeding for the first year of life. I know many moms who use Baby’s Only for their infants and have had no problems with it. That said, I’d still double check with your pediatrician before giving your baby this formula (or any new formula for that matter) – just to make sure they are comfortable with it!

  11. Hi, after much much research, and trying many formulas, I am still confused! Took my 7 bottles and 7 different formulas, including holle, and babys only whey, for baby to finally take a bottle. making a long story short, he took similac advance liquid, that was getting so expensive I decided to try to transition him to holle, since cost wise would be the same and wayyyy better for him, he gladly took it, but it gave him some tummy issues, so now i just tried lebenswert, seems to be doing ok, I thought it was the best of the best, but now im not so sure. what about the issues with aluminum in hipp? or should i try babys only again since it has no palm oil and no dha from hexane?…i just really would love to know what the true ” BEST ” is? please HELP! concerned mom!

    • Hi Gabby! If your baby is taking Lebenswert with no problems, I’d just stick to that! It is a great formula – and as long as you’re supplementing with DHA and probiotics, it’ll work great for you. Lebenswert is one of my top formulas and is equivalent to HiPP with supplementation of DHA & Probiotics. So you are doing great – just keep doing what you’re doing. Regarding the aluminum issues about HiPP — that study was really flawed and was kind of a red herring (if you search the comments of this post for “aluminum” – you’ll see the facts about the study and why it really shouldn’t be a concern). Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  12. I’m looking at Similac Organic and Similac Pure Bliss for supplementing with my twins but I’m not sure what the better option is. The coupons available with Similac are what has me picking between these two.

    • Hi Ashley! I’d go with Similac Pure Bliss honestly. The difference between the two versions is that Similac Organic is certified Organic, while Pure Bliss is not organic but they do use milk from grass fed cows, there are no GMOs or growth hormones/antibiotics used either. So it’s very close to organic, but not actually organic. Also, Pure Bliss’s ingredients list is far superior to Similac Organic. Similac Organic uses maltodextrin, sugar, and some synthetic ingredients (e.g. taurine). Pure Bliss doesn’t have any sugar added, doesn’t have maltodextrin, but does have the synthetic ingredients that Similac Organic does. So given that Pure Bliss is very close to organic and has no sugar or maltodextrin, I would chose that over Similac Organic. I hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  13. Hello,

    Thank you so much for the information. I used your charts a little over two years ago with my daughter as I had supply issues.

    I was planning on using lebenswert again but I noticed a new formula on the suppliers website I order from.

    I was wondering if had any information on Löwenzahn Organics Pre Infant Formula?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Natalie! Thanks so much for reaching out and I’m so glad this post was helpful to you with your daughter! Regarding Löwenzahn Organics – I actually hadn’t heard of them before but I looked them up and the ingredients in the formula look good! Very comparable to HiPP Dutch or HiPP PRE. None of the sellers I work with sell that formula so I can’t speak to the best way to get it in the US – but if you are able to get it from a reputable seller let me know! Thanks!

  14. Hi Anjali,
    I always buy Hipp from organic start wholesale, and they have the choice of transition kits. I know for Hipp Dutch, stage 2 is for less than 12 months old, and stage 3 is for 12 months +. I wonder if that is ok for a 11 months baby drinks stage 3? And is that ok for a 14 months baby still drinks stage 2? Which way will be better? Because I am in the middle of transition, it’s kind of hard to decide what stage I should buy right now since it come in bulk.

    • Hi Lily! I’d do Stage 2 for the 14 month old baby vs. Stage 3 for the 11 month old baby. That way you’re not increasing the dose of the vitamins/minerals too fast for your 11 month old before they are ready to transition! Hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  15. Hi Anjali, Thank you so much for all the information you have put together which is very helpful for FTM across the globe.

    After going through your blog, I purchased Holle Pre for my 2 month old. I was supplementing with Similac since my milk supply is not sufficient for my little one. Before I switch her to Holle, I have few Qs regarding the water to be used with formula. We have a reverse osmosis system in our house, so can I use that water directly to mix the formula or is there any bottled water brand that you can recommend. I am looking to avoid the effort of boiling water, then cooling it off to 50 degrees and after mixing, bringing it to 37 degrees etc, bcoz midnight feedings will get difficult.
    And, I brought the formula from organic start and their website says I can store the formula in an air tight container and use it in 2 weeks. Since, I am supplementing formula, I will not be able to use 400 grams of formula in 2 weeks. So, please let me know if I can keep using it till I run out of or before expiry date.
    Thank you in advance.

    • Hi! Great questions! Regarding the water, if you’re using filtered water, you don’t have to boil it. The EU recommends boiling water used to make formula to sterilize the formula (since the formula isn’t technically sterile once you have touched it – e.g. used the scoop with your hands). But we didn’t boil the water for either of our kids – we just used filtered or bottled water and it was fine 🙂 You should double check with your pediatrician – ours was comfortable with us not boiling the water before mixing it with the formula! Regarding how quickly you should use the formula – if you’re not going to finish one whole box in 2 weeks, I’d recommend not getting the HiPP Dutch container (which is one big container of formula) and instead – getting HiPP PRE – which comes in two separate packets of formula in one box. That way you can open one packet of formula, store it in an airtight container and use it within 2-3 weeks, and then open the other packet when you need it! I hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  16. Hi! I was wondering for your US Only Formula rankings, can you provide a nutshell summary/reason for your rankings for each? I understand why Baby’s Only with Whey would be #1, but what makes you rank Happy Baby, Plum Organics, and Earth’s Best as 2,3, and 5? Thank you!

    I met with a registered dietician this week and she recommends Earth’s Best over the Baby’s Only for my baby…so I am having a hard time deciding what is best for my baby. I was originally set on starting Baby’s Only with her, but now after meeting with her I’m confused. (My baby is 14 months, but she is very underweight and not on the growth curve for weight, even when adjusting for her prematurity of 5 weeks. She was exclusively on breastmilk until 12 months, and then when I had to stop pumping for medical reasons, I started giving her frozen in the AM and then organic nonhomogenized whole milk for other feedings.) When looking over your post, my only concern with the Earth’s Best would be the hexane-extracted DHA/ARA and the palm oil. As far as some of the synthetic nutrients and preservatives, I asked her about these, and this was her response: “Beta carotene is an antioxidant that our body processes to form Vit. A, and is found in orange veggies (like carrots). Same goes for lycopene (an antioxidant found in tomatoes), lutein, taurine, etc. We definitely want these nutrients in formula, as it is technically a sole source of nutrition for infants.”

    Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Dorothy! I replied to your email but I’ll reply here too in case someone else has a similar question! Great question! Regarding the rankings:
      Baby’s Only with Whey has naturally extracted DHA/ARA, and the only “offending” ingredient is soy oil. It doesn’t have pre or probiotics added, but those are easy to supplement so it’s ok.
      Happy Baby has prebiotics, but it has hexane extracted DHA/ARA, palm oil and soy oil (more offending ingredients than Happy Baby)
      Plum Organics has no pre or probiotics, and has hexane extracted DHA/ARA, palm oil, soy oil and taurine (one more offending ingredient than Happy Baby)
      And then Earth’s Best has prebiotics, but has all of the synthetic ingredients plus palm oil, soy oil, hexane DHA/ARA

      So essentially, the formulas are ranked based on the number of sub-optimal ingredients they have, Earth’s Best being last for having the most undesirable ingredients. If your baby is 14 months – that’s actually the perfect age for Baby’s Only. From a caloric standpoint, Baby’s Only and Earth’s Best have the same amount of calories so there’s no advantage there if your baby is underweight. But at 14 months your baby should be well into eating solids by now – how is she doing with solid foods? Is she eating 3 good meals a day? If so, then organic whole milk should probably be sufficient vs. formula!

      Regarding the synthetic nutrients – I disagree with her. Yes, lycopene comes from tomatoes, but the lycopene in infant formulas isn’t derived from food. The version in organic infant formula is produced synthetically by the chemical manufacturer BASF. A three-stage process is used to produce synthetic lycopene, and involves the solvent dichloromethane and the solvent toluene – which is derived from benzene. That’s the issue with all of the synthetic nutrients in infant formulas – I’d be fine with them if they were whole food based, but they’re not. Also, The National Organic Standards Board rejected the use of lutein, lycopene, nucleotides, taurine, l-carnitine and l-methionine in dairy-based formula. None of these nutrients are required in infant formula by the Food and Drug Administration, and all are prohibited in organic formula in the European Union. Some, like lutein and lycopene, are even prohibited in conventional infant formula in the European Union.

      At 14 months, I’d honestly just switch your baby to organic whole milk and make sure she’s getting tons of healthy fats and caloric dense foods in her meals 3x or more per day. In her milk, you can also add 1 tbsp organic heavy cream to increase the calories, and on her food you can add olive oil/coconut oil/avocado oil/etc. to increase the calories there. I have tons of other ideas on how to increase the caloric intake for your baby if you need them! I’ve coached moms who have underweight infants 1:1 and we’ve seen good results.

      Those are just my thoughts! But I would defer to your pediatrician, since they have seen your baby in person and knows her best! I hope that helps, let me know if you have any other questions!

  17. Hi Anjali! Thank you for sharing such an informative blog. Baby formulas are a blessing for working mom as it makes their life easier. Nowadays many organic baby formulas are available in the market, but European Hipp formula and Holle baby formulas are very popular as it is very healthy. It makes a baby fuller for a long period of time.

  18. Anjali, thank you so much for putting this together. Your research is helping tons of mamas! How did you introduce formula to your little one? Any suggestions? Thank you!

    • Hi Dana! Awww thank you so much! I’m so glad it’s been helpful! I introduced formula to my son when he was about 2 months old, just gave him like 1-2oz a day to get him used to the taste so he wouldn’t reject it later. Then around 4 months we started doing 1 bottle of formula a day. And then moved up to 2 bottles of formula at 6 months, and at 8/9 months he was on all formula. If you’re ok with doing 1-2oz formula a day then I think introducing it earlier is better than later because then they are much less likely to reject it later! Hope that helps!

  19. I just bought Hipp Dutch in bulk from organicstartwholesale, but the shipping info shows”Departure from office of exchangeBpost
    Belgium”, do you know why does it ship from Belgium instead of Netherlands? On their website, it says orders ship straight from Germany or Netherlands.

    • Hi Lily! They do package and ship them from their warehouse in the Netherlands, but it goes from the Netherlands to Belgium and then to the US (because it’s faster and easier to ship from Belgium to the US than from the Netherlands to the US). Hope that helps clarify!

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