Read why European Baby formula is a popular choice when choosing a baby formula for your baby, especially with a formula shortage.
We all want what's best for our babies—including milk. Of course, that's where good infant nutrition is established. You might have stumbled upon a few Facebook groups where mamas share their go-to sites for European baby formula and have wondered, “Is it really the best milk option for my baby?”
The short answer? Yes!
And I'm here to tell you all about it.
Of course, breast milk is the best option when feeding your little one in the early stages of their life. But, if for any reason, you're unable or choose not to breastfeed, baby formulas are here to save the day.
Learn more about what makes European-style baby formula different from American formula here.
Why I am here and who I am:
Hey mama, I am Trish— AKA Labor Nurse Mama, a labor and delivery nurse with over 15 years of high-risk OB experience. I am also a mama to 7 kids and have given birth to 6 and have labored thousands of mamas and delivered many, many babies. I am the online birth class educator for Calm Labor Confident Birth and The VBAC Lab birth classes. and the mama expert inside our Calm Mama Society Mama Membership Community! You can find me over on IG teaching over 240k mamas daily.
We make a small commission from some of the links (you don’t pay any more for using our links); however some of the recommendations, we do not earn anything; we love ’em and want you to know about them. Click here for our full disclosure. Thank you!
European Baby Formula vs. American Baby Formula…What's The Difference?
Did you know that many American parents are willing to pay a premium for importing European baby formulas? Why? Easy. Because these formulas are better than US brands.
Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made an official announcement to consumers to not use certain powdered infant formula products from Abbott Nutrition’s Sturgis, Michigan facility, to which Abbott initiated a voluntary recall of the products.
“Ensuring the availability of safe, sole-source nutrition products like infant formula is of the utmost importance to the FDA. Our teams have been working tirelessly to address and alleviate supply issues and will continue doing everything within our authority to ensure the production of safe infant formula products.”
That being said, this gave the impression to American parents that they need to find a better, safer, alternative… which leads us to infant formula from Europe.
Let's compare European vs American baby formula:
1. Farming Practices
Generally, EU farming practices win. The European Commission (the EU counterpart of the FDA in the US) is the governing body of European formula regulation which requires no detectable levels of pesticide residues in infant formula.
(It's also important to note that their regulations are much stricter compared to the FDA's)
This regulation hits the safety jackpot! Because it ensures that all European formulas are organic and then some. The majority of formulas are made from milk cows living on Demeter farms that are “biodynamic,” which means:
- Only use self-sustaining farming methods from start to finish.
- No GMO technology, synthetic pesticides, or fertilizers allowed.
- Farms are dedicated to biodiversity.
- Water conservation and composting are maximized.
Quick trivia: Demeter farms, existed since 1928 in Europe (and are considered one of the most recognized brands in EU), are organic++ which means these farms are completely organic and the environment is well taken care of.
Farming practices are practically sustainable and focus on nurturing grass-fed cows.
Grass-fed cows = healthy, happy moos! Studies show that cows that consume grass produce milk that has added health benefits to infants as opposed to cows raised on corn (like what we have here in the US).
In the US, we have either organic OR grass-fed formula but never both. However, if you go with a European brand, you get both of them combined. The more, the merrier!
2. Cow milk Is Out, Goat Milk Is In
EU stays ahead of the US in the goat milk formula race. It's a fully-approved base for infant formula and largely available in Europe.
The main reason why moms are choosing goat milk is because it is more hypoallergenic when it comes to allergies/sensitivities compared to cow's milk.
Quick trivia: The main brand manufacturers of goat milk in EU are Holle (German company) and Nanny Care (a British company).
3. Europe Baby Formulas Come In Formula Stages
In the US, the FDA regulates infant formula AKA formula for infants from birth up to 12 months. On the other side, the EU classifies its formulas into two types:
- Infant Formula: for babies from birth to anywhere between 4 – 6 months AKA the introduction stage to solid food.
- Follow-on Formula: for infants anywhere(between 4 – 6 months until 1 year where solid food has already started.
We're not really gonna talk too much about what each formula stage means but just so you know, here are the three stages:
- Stage 1: Infant Formula
- Stage 2: Follow-on Formula
- Stage 3: Toddler Formula
When choosing a European Formula, paying attention to detail is so important. Pay attention to making sure that you get the right stage that's SUITABLE FOR YOUR BABY'S AGE. Why? Because the vitamins, nutrients, proteins, and minerals per stage are specifically made for their respective age groups.
How do European baby formulas differ?
What makes the European baby formulas stand out against other types of formulas is how strict they are in terms of imposing their standards of assessment. While this may not be a requirement in other countries, EU bans certain added sugars, like corn syrup, from traditional milk-based formulas, and it requires that at least 30% of the carbohydrates come from lactose, the energy-giving carbohydrate in human milk.
Along with this, different forms of sugar (i.e. sucrose) are a big no, except for rare occasions such as premature birth or allergies. In this case, a small quantity would be allowed.
The US doesn't have any of those restrictions regarding sucrose or lactose. US brands contain 70% corn maltodextrin and 30% lactose (Gerber Good Start), 80% corn syrup solids, and 20% lactose (Enfamil), 46% maltodextrin, 27% lactose, 27% sugar (Similac).
Lots of the “sensitive” formulas in the US would violate this %lactose rule, and Similac Sensitive and most US soy formulas would also violate the sucrose rule.
Tips for Buying European Formula
If you're considering buying European baby formula, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Check the labels carefully to make sure you're getting a product that meets your needs.
- Make sure to compare prices and choose a formula that's affordable for you.
- Remember that European formulas may be different from what you're used to, so take some time to familiarize yourself with the ingredients and how to use them before you purchase.
- Read the ingredient label carefully to make sure that the formula does not contain any GMOs or other ingredients that you may be concerned about.
- Double-check if the formula is “pro” sensitive stomachs.
- Choose a reputable brand that has a good reputation for safety and quality.
- Pay attention to shipping times. Try looking for brands that offer express shipping and long expiration dates.
- Find mixing instructions in English.
- Don't forget to compare prices between different brands and retailers to get the best deal.
- Finally, consult your doctor.
By following these tips, you can be sure you're getting the best European baby formula for your baby.
I hope this blog helped you on deciding whether or not to go for European baby formulas. Got any European formula experiences to share? Send us a message! We'd love to hear your story!