Choosing the right infant formula can be challenging, especially when you have some great products by well-known brands to choose from. In this article, we provide the differences between Nestlé, Similac, and Enfamil, three popular baby formula brands.
Did You Know?
The first commercial infant formula was developed in 1867 by Justus von Liebig. It was known as Liebig’s Soluble Food for Babies.
When it comes to choosing the right nutrition for the baby, we all know that breast milk is the best for the child. However, if you decide to supplement breast milk with formula, or have trouble feeding the child, then choosing the right commercially prepared infant formula is extremely important. There are many brands that produce baby formula, and it is not easy for parents to decide which formula might be the best.
Some brands list outstanding ingredients that help colic and gassy children, while others feature ingredients that help in the growth and development of the child. So, how do you know which of these claims holds true? In this AptParenting article, we compare three popular brands, Nestle, Similac, and Enfamil, that boast of some excellent products.
Speaking of which, aren’t all these infant formulas just the same? Well, that is because the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has very strong regulations and nutrient specifications for infant formulas which should meet the nutritional needs of infants. For example, all infant formulas must contain DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid), an omega-3 fatty acid, that helps in the development of the brain, eyes, and nervous system. Infant formula should also contain ARA (arachidonic acid), a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid, that facilitates the growth of muscle tissues. Of course, the finer points regarding nutrition that includes carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, may vary from one brand to another. So, Enfamil probably contains some extra levels of DHA and ARA than Similac. Unlike Similac, Enfamil is made using palm olein oil, which causes firmer stools. This is the reason some mothers switch to Similac, which provides more calcium absorption than Enfamil or Good Start which is relatively easier to digest. Here is a detailed comparison between the three brands.
|Nestle Vs. Similac Vs. Enfamil|
|Milk Proteins||100% whey proteins||Whey and casein proteins||Whey and casein proteins|
|DHA and ARA||Contains DHA and ARA (Except in Nourish Plus)||Contains DHA and ARA||Contains DHA and ARA|
|Prebiotics||No Prebiotics||Contains Prebiotics||Contains Prebiotics|
|Probiotics||Contains probiotics||No probiotics||No probiotics|
|Antioxidants||Contains antioxidants||Contains antioxidants||No antioxidants|
|Fat Source||Vegetable oils||Soy and coconut oil||Palm olein oil|
All the three brands have cow milk-based, lactose-containing formulas enriched with iron, vitamins, and other minerals. For lactose intolerant babies, there are soy-based formulas as well. The choice of the best baby formula depends to a great extent on the parents and the baby. Now, after having done a quick comparison, we shall take a closer look at each of these options.
First introduced in 1959, Enfamil is one of the leading producers of baby formula in the world. Its motto is to bring a formula that is designed to make it nutritionally closer to breast milk. The product, first introduced by Mead Johnson, has undergone several significant formulations over the years. Enfamil has special infant formulas for each stage of growth.
Enfamil PREMIUM Newborn
Part of the Enfamil Staged Nutrition, this infant baby formula is tailored for babies under the age of two years. It is the only product specially tailored for newborns. It contains DHA, a fatty acid that is necessary for the baby’s brain development. It also contains 27 fl oz. of Vitamin D which helps in absorption of calcium and phosphorous. The Enfamil Newborn also contains a ”Natural Defense Dual Prebiotics Blend” that helps in strengthening the baby’s immune system and natural defenses.
Other newborn products from Enfamil are:
❐ Enfamil for Supplementing (Used as a complement to breast milk)
Enfamil PREMIUM Infant
The Enfamil Infant formula is similar to the Newborn formula, and it can be used from birth to 12-months. The only difference being the dual prebiotic blend that is designed to work longer in the digestive tract as compared to the previous formula.
Other infant formulas from the brand include:
❐ Enfamil Gentlease (formula to reduce gas and fussiness)
❐ Enfamil A.R. (formula to prevent spit-up)
❐ Enfamil ProSobee (soy-based formula)
❐ Nutramigen with Enflora LGG (formula to manage colic caused by cow-milk allergy)
❐ Enfamil EnfaCare (formula specially designed for premature babies)
Enfagrow Toddler Transitions
Tailored for babies between the ages of nine to eighteen months, this formula is meant to support the nutritional needs of growing babies. Apart from DHA and Vitamin D, Enfagrow Toddler Transitions has iron, calcium, vitamin C and E for the development of the baby’s immune system.
Other toddler formulas from the brand include:
❐ Enfagrow Toddler Transitions Gentlease (formula designed for toddlers experiencing fussiness and gas)
❐ Enfagrow Toddler Transitions Soy (soy-based formula for toddlers)
❐ Enfagrow Toddler Next Step (Designed to provide adequate nutrition to for toddlers aged 1-3 years)
Manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, Similac is a popular brand that offers a complete line of baby food and formula. The highlight of the Similac formulas is the ”Early Shield”, which is designed to strengthen the immune system, and help in brain and eye development.
Similac Advance is designed for newborns and babies up to 12 months old. It contains ”Early Shield”, which essentially means that along with DHA and ARA, the formula also contains lutein for eye and brain development, along with nucleotides and prebiotics that boost the immune system and keep the baby healthy. The best part about the Similac formula is the palm olein oil-free fat blend that aids in faster calcium absorption.
Another Similac product for routine feeding is:
❐ Similac Advance Organic (formula is certified USDA Organic)
Similac For Supplementation
Containing the same benefits as Similac Advance, the Similac For Supplementation is designed for breastfeeding moms who choose to supplement. It contains more prebiotics for easier digestion and softer stools.
If your child suffers from colic and gas all the time due to lactose sensitivity, you would want to switch to this formula which is specially designed for sensitive tummies.
Other formulas for sensitive tummies include:
❐ Similac Total Comfort (formula made for addressing persistent feeding issues)
❐ Similac Soy Isomil (soy formula for gas and fussiness caused by cow milk formulas)
❐ Similac For Spit-Up (formula that is designed to prevent frequent spit-up)
Similac Expert Care Alimentum
Allergies to cow milk or soy milk and protein sensitivity can lead to a number of health issues in children. It can lead to excessive crying, gas, and irritability. Protein sensitivity can lead to rashes, diarrhea, and sleeping troubles. This is why Similac Expert Care Alimentum is a great, easy-to-digest formula that is best for babies who have extremely sensitive tummies.
Other products meant for babies requiring specialized care include:
❐ Similac Expert Care NeoSure (formula for premature babies)
❐ Similac Expert Care For Diarrhea (formula for dietary management of diarrhea for babies aged six months and above)
Similac Go and Grow
As your baby grows, there are many changes in his/her nutritional requirements. Similac Go & Grow is meant to provide adequate nutrition for a growing child. It contains essential vitamins and minerals including iron, calcium, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Some great toddler formulas by Similac are:
❐ Similac Go & Grow Soy (soy-based nutrition for toddlers)
❐ PediaSure (nutritional support for kids)
Gerber, well-known for its pureed carrots and strained peas, has partnered with the Nestlé Good Start infant formula experts to manufacture a great infant formula named Gerber Good Start. However, this company also manufactures the Good Start formula, which is the only infant formula that contains easy-to-digest whey proteins which are partially broken down, making them easier to digest. It is thus, a great formula for sensitive tummies.
Gerber Good Start Protect
This milk-based formula contains ”comfort proteins” or 100% whey protein that are broken down so as to aid digestion. They prevent frequent spit-ups, colic, and fussiness in kids. It also contains DHA and ARA for brain and eye development, and naturally healthy probiotics for a healthy stomach.
Other infant formulas from the brand include:
❐ Gerber Good Start Gentle (for sensitive stomach)
❐ Gerber Good Start Soy (soy-based formula)
❐ Gerber Good Start Nourish (formula that supports growth and development of premature infants)
Some parents give a big thumbs up to the Nestlé formula, while others stick to Enfamil or Similac that is recommended by their pediatricians. Moreover, children can have their own preferences as well. Some babies find it easier to digest the Gerber Good Start, while others have less spit-up with Similac or Enfamil. At the end of the day, you need to choose a formula which is good for the child and which your child likes having.