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For parents who can’t or don’t want to breastfeed then bottle feeding formula milks is the only option for newborn babies and until they are at weaning age (6 months). But, there are a fair few formula brands available to buy in the UK and it can be difficult to know which one is the best infant formula powder to buy and feed them.
Modern powdered milks are easy to digest, full of proteins, casein, vitamins and other nutritional minerals to help them develop and grow from birth. We are also lucky that scientific research has also enabled milks to be made from other sources such as soy to help babies with a lactose intolerance or for parents who want their baby to be as organic as possible.
Your baby’s development is your number one priority and we hope that through our evidence based research you will find the perfect brand for you.
Best Baby Milk Formula UK Reviews
- Best Baby Milk Formula UK Reviews
- UK Infant Formula Buyer’s Guide
- UK Baby Milk Formula FAQs
SMA Pro First Infant Milk from Birth
SMA Pro Infant milk is a great breast milk alternative which uses an organic cows milk base and follows all of the Infant Milk regulations for safe bottle feeding. It’s one of the cheapest on the market and easy to get a hold of in all supermarkets and online retailers such as Amazon.
This comes as a powered which will need to be mixed manually with water or put into an automatic baby bottle maker.
Contains everything research has shown to be beneficial to babies such as Omega 3 & 6, proteins, casein, GOS/FOS and vitamins A, C and D. Easy to digest and has everything for your baby’s nutritional needs.
Aptamil First Infant Milk Ready To Feed (from birth)
The most common shop-bought ready to consume and pre mixed formula milk is from Aptamil. It’s more or less the same composition as it’s powdered tubs but comes in a convenient plastic bottle that can literally be ‘ready to go’ provided it has been stored correctly. Uses a cows milk base.
You will have to pay an extra premium for these types of formula as they have extra packaging and are precisely mixed but sometimes that is worth the cost, especially when you’re in a rush. Suitable from birth to 6 months when they can move on to follow on formula.
HiPP Organic 1 First Infant Baby Milk Powder from Birth
All formula powder brands on the market are approximately 99% organic whereas Hipp’s milk is 100% organic. The composition is still the same as other brands and contain the essential nutrients and minerals such as DHA, Omega 3&6, Vitamins A, C and D using a cow’s milk base.
It is slightly more expensive than most household brands but for households who are truly wanting ton be organic then Hipp is the brand we recommend as it’s not difficult to get a hold of from supermarkets and online retailers.
SMA Soya Based Infant Dairy Free Formula
For babies with a suspected or confirmed cow’s milk intolerance then SMA offer a soya based organic infant formula. It still has the same nutrients and mineral as a cow’s milk formula but without the dairy. However, this is vegetarian and not vegan so bare that in mind. It is significantly more expensive than cow’s milk variants as it is more difficult to produce and they produce much less so enjoy less mass manufacturing benefits.
Babies with cow’s milk intolerances is a real thing and one of the reasons why your baby may seem to be constantly in pain or bloated following feeds. Your doctor may recommend a lactose free brand but they will never name a specific one but are the ones we’d suggest as they are readily available in supermarkets and online.
Cow & Gate Hungry Infant Milk
The ‘hungry baby’ label is a bit of a myth with the reality being other causes of their crying or constantly being overfed formula milks to the point their stomachs have expanded. Other causes could be too many carbohydrates and not enough organic nutrients so their body is craving what they don’t get from formula. However, if you want a formula milk blend that will keep your baby feeling satiated for longer then ‘hungry baby’ formula milk has higher levels of protein which have been seen to keep a baby full for longer.
Aside from the swap on carbohydrates and protein, everything else is the same. Out of all the baby formula milk brands that offer a hungry formula Cow & Gate appear to the cheapest. You may want to just buy one tub to see if it works before opting for a more expensive brand.
Aptamil Profutura Infant Formula and Follow Milk
Follow on formula milk is designed to give to babies around the 6 month mark to compliment a weaning diet. The regulations are loosen a little with the formula so there can be some differences between brands but they offer essentially the same essential nutrients and minerals for a growing baby such as calcium, iron and DHA. Although there’s no rulebook to say that babies can’t still be exclusively bottle fed at 6 months old, it’s still encouraged to start offering them something different to milk.
Aptamil offer a decent infant formula and follow on milk and sell them in large convenient tubs. You’ll still need you bottle making gear for this milk so don’t put it away just yet!
Cow & Gate Follow on Milk
Lastly, if you used pre-mixed bottles for your best baby’s first 6 months and want to continue with that convenience then Cow & Gate offer a ready to feed baby formula in this form. They don’t come in massive quantities so there’s not much to be saved in terms of bulk buying but Cow & Gate are one of the most cost effective baby formula brands.
Their formula in liquid form is the same as powdered so you’re not getting short changed on the nutrition. This stuff is still packed with omega 3 & 6, iron, calcium and vitamin D. Cow & Gate have been making infant formula for a century so it’s a brand you can trust to deliver quality bottle after bottle. Easily available in supermarkets such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons as well as online through the likes of Amazon and Boot.
UK Infant Formula Buyer’s Guide
The world of infant formula in the United Kingdom is actually a simple one, there may seem like there’s an overwhelming amount of baby formula you could buy but the reality is that they’re all the same. This is because of the Infant Formula and Follow-On Formula Regulations 2007. Essentially, these regulations prohibits formula brands from making their formula ‘better’ than the others alone – if one brand discovers something that could be beneficial to an infant then all brands must add this ingredient in.
Is there a ‘best baby milk’ brand?
Breast milk is the best baby milk you can get and breastfeeding is the best way to delivery that milk. In terms of best infant formula; in short, no. Tight regulations mean that the ingredients in each brand of formula is almost identical to each other. The regulations means that no brand is allowed to be the best on the market. The only difference is the brand and marketing behind it.
What about brands with premium ranges (Pro Formula, Advanced etc)?
This is simply a marketing ploy to make their brand stick out. The ingredients and composition are still the same and regulated just like all other milks.
What are the ingredients in formula milk?
Below is a list of ingredients in a typical infant first formula milk.
Demineralised whey, vegetable oils, lactose, skimmed milk, glacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), whey protein concentrate, fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), calcium carbonate, potassium citrate, potassium chloride, fish oil, magnesium chloride, calcium phosphate, vitamin C, emulsifier (soya lecithin), choline chloride, taurine, ferrous sulphate, zinc sulphate, uridine, 5-monophosphate sodium salt, cytidine-5-monophosphate, vitamin E, inositol, adenosine-5-monophosphate, inosine-5-monophosphate sodium salt, nicotinamide, l-tryptophan, guanosine-5-monophosphate sodium salt, l-carnitine, pantothenic acid, folic acid, copper sulphate, vitamin A, biotin, vitamin B12, thiamin, vitamin D3, vitamin B6, manganese sulphate, potassium iodide, vitamin K1, soldium selenite. Contains: Milk, fish, soya.
Will formula milk make my baby unwell?
The World Health Organization (WHO) — recommend breastfeeding as the best choice for babies. Breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevent allergies, and protect against a number of chronic conditions. Unicef UK add “increasing the number of babies who are breastfed could cut the incidence of common childhood illnesses such as ear, chest and gut infections and save the NHS up to £50 million each year.”
Baby formula milk has been designed and regulated to ensure there are no ingredients in a quantity which can harm an infant. That said, infant formula doesn’t provide anywhere near as much beneficial antibodies, food to feed and grow healthy gut bacteria and complex nutrients and minerals.
Baby formula may or may not make a baby unwell but by feeding cow’s milk, soy milk or goat’s milk types of formula they miss out on what breastmilk would have given them which makes a baby more likely to catch infections and take longer to recover from them.
How do you prepare suitable infant babies formulas powder?
Each brand will have specific instructions in how to prepare their powder and exact measurements which will need to be done manually or programmed into your automatic baby bottle maker for safe feeding. Here’s a brief guide:
- Fill a clean kettle with fresh water (a kettle with a water filter is recommended) and put it to boil
- Leave the boiled water to sit and cool down but no more than 30 minutes and ensure the water is still over 70 degrees. You may need a thermometer for this.
- Wash your hands thoroughly as there is evidence that even the smallest amounts of bacteria can easily spoil a fresh baby’s bottle and make them unwell if they drink it.
- Get a clean baby bottle which has been sterilised with no excess residue from previous formulas or washing up liquids etc
- Look at the instructions from the back of your chosen formulas box or container. Pour the water as per their exact instructions.
- Using your provided powder scoop, fill it up and level using a suitable flat and clean edge such as a knife and pour into the water making sure nothing is spilled.
- Put the teat on the top of the bottle, then the cap on the teat and ensure it has been screwed in properly so that nothing is spilled.
- Vigorously shake the bottle up and down, turn the bottle upside down and shake again and check to make sure all of the powder has dissolved into the water creating a smooth milk drink.
- Hold the bottle under tap water to make it suitably cool for the baby to drink.
- Drop a little bit of the milk on your wrist to check the temperature before giving to your baby. It should be warm or cool but not hot. Hot milks can scald which can make future feeds hard to complete.
Once the feed is finished, throw any excess milk away and sterilise the bottle ready for the next feed.
Always read and follow the instructions exactly as the powder brand has specified. The above is intended as a brief overview.
UK Baby Milk Formula FAQs
Powdered or ready to feed – which is better?
The composition of both share the same regulatory requirements and therefore the same. The powdered formula is cheaper per feed but needs to be manually prepared whereas the ready to feed liquid costs more but is readily available without the fuss. The choice comes down to whether or not you want to pay extra for convenience.
What is the closest formula to breast milk?
Due to regulations and similarity to each other, there is no brand of formula milk which is any closer to breastmilk than another. In short, no formula milk is close to breastmilk.
Is SMA better than Aptamil?
No. The composition of both of these formulas are the same. The only difference is the branding.