When it came time to give my son Mason formula, we were completely overwhelmed by all the choices and variations out there. The good news is that "most babies can tolerate any brand and any preparation, whether it's powder or concentrated," says Jennifer Shu, M.D., a Parents advisor and author of Bringing Your Newborn Home. We consulted our pediatrician and went with his recommendation. (And, fortunately, Mason enjoyed it as much as he loved breast milk!) Before you consult your pediatrician, check out our guide to the largest formula manufacturers in the United States.
You've seen Similac and Enfamil sold at pretty much every drugstore, probably side by side, because they're the two largest formula companies in the country. In addition to powder formula, milk- and soy-based formulas, ready-to-serve formula, and fortified formula, both companies make two different kinds of hypoallergenic formula. Enfamil Gentlease and Similac Sensitive are partially hydrolyzed, which means the milk proteins in these formulas have been partially broken down. Similac Alimentum and Enfamil Nutramigen have extensively broken-down proteins for babies with the greatest sensitivity to cow's milk and soy. Similac also offers an organic option, for those who wish to minimize their child's exposure to pesticides.
Gerber Good Start, the third-largest formula manufacturer, produces all of the same conventional formulas as Similac and Enfamil do, as well as a hypoallergenic formula called Soothe.
Ever wonder where that store-brand formula that you see all the time comes from? Chances are, it was made by Perigo Nutritionals, which produces most of the "generic" formula in the United States. (The rest is produced by brand-name formula companies and sold under the store brand.) Despite the lack of a flashy label, store-brand formulas are nutritionally equivalent to their brand-name counterparts, thanks to strict guidelines enforced by the FDA and the U.S. Formula Act, says Frank R. Greer, M.D., a professor of pediatrics at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. So you can rest assured that whether you choose brand-name or generic formula, your baby will get the nutrients she needs.
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