Babies with lactose intolerance definitely have it hard. If they can't consume breastmilk and conventional formulas are tough to digest, you should consider a suitable lactose-free product in order to provide your baby the nutrients they need. There are various lactose-free options ranging from soy-based to hypoallergenic. But how can you choose the best one?
That's where we come in. We researched and compiled a list of our top 10 favorite lactose-free and lactose-reduced baby formulas on the market. Along with our favorite, Enfamil's Nutramigen formula, we've got nine other options. We also have a buying guide full of tips on how to find the best one on your own!
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Products or services listed have been independently ranked by the mybest Editorial Team based on Best 3 Lactose-Free Baby Formulas as of 11-04-2022.
There are plenty of things to consider when looking for a lactose-free or lactose-reduced formula. We've compiled all the major points into a buying guide for you. Read on for what to bear in mind as you shop for your little one's formula!
There are a few formula options for your lactose-intolerant baby: lactose-free, lactose-reduced, soy-based, and amino acid-based. They each have different pros and cons, so make sure to choose one compatible with your baby's body.
Whether you suspect your baby is lactose intolerant, or you already know, we recommend running your baby formula choices past your child's physician before making a final decision.
Many products labeled as "lactose-free" or "lactose-reduced" are still made from cow's milk; however, the lactose has been reduced through an enzyme processor called lactase. In this case, lactose, which is a type of sugar in milk, has been replaced completely with vegetable sugars such as corn syrup.
You should keep in mind that lactose-free formulas might still contain cow's milk protein and might not be suitable for babies with an allergy to that type of protein. We've included photos for each of our recommended product's ingredient lists, so be sure to check those out if you're feeling uncertain about proteins!
Soy formulas are made from soybeans, so they are lactose-free and might be useful if you don't want to include animal proteins in your baby's diet. However, they are not recommended for babies with a cow's milk allergy since some studies have shown that eight to 14 percent of babies who are allergic to cow's milk will react to soy as well.
Additionally, soybeans contain phytoestrogens, which is similar to the female hormone estrogen. There are some concerns that soy-based formulas might alter the reproductive development of babies.
Despite these possible issues, soy-based formula is an excellent choice if your baby has galactosemia, as such a condition makes it impossible for your baby to break down the sugars specific to milk products. So long as you discuss switching formulas with your pediatrician, it may be a good choice if your family is vegan as well.
If your baby is allergic to soy or cow's milk, you might want to choose an amino acid-based formula as it won't contain long protein chains.
Instead, amino acid-based formulas include individual amino acids and are completely hypoallergenic. That means lactose-intolerant babies can consume them without having any digestive problems.
Baby formulas often contain probiotics, the friendly bacteria living inside your gut, to support your baby's digestive health. For babies with constipation, diarrhea, or intestinal inflammation, probiotics can alleviate those symptoms.
Another common addition in baby formulas is prebiotics. These are non-digestible ingredients that stimulate the growth of probiotics. A formula with prebiotics will help enhance the growth of good organisms in your baby's intestines.
When it comes to baby formula, you probably want the cleanest ingredients that will not trigger reactions like diarrhea, rashness, or hives. Pay attention to the ingredient list, and be on the lookout for added chemicals or GMO products.
Preservatives and additives can be found in both regular and organic formulas. Particularly, synthetic preservatives like beta carotene and ascorbyl palmitate are often used to prevent oils like DHA or ARA from going rancid. Beta carotene does exist naturally, but these days it's mostly created chemically.
Meanwhile, an additive like carrageenan is used to help emulsify and preserve liquid formulas. However, it doesn't have any nutritional value. In fact, carrageenan has been shown to cause intestinal inflammation in babies and young children. It even has a minimal but very real cancer risk!
Other preservatives, especially chemical sorts like sodium nitrate or BHA, might also lead to health risks. Experts fear that when introduced to a baby's system over time, they may impede growth and developmental milestones.
Palm oil and palm olein are used to help baby formulas reach the same palmitic acid level as breastmilk. However, some dietitians worry that palm oil and palm olein can deter calcium and fat absorption, leading to hard stools or low bone mass.
Still, many studies have negated these concerns, finding that the fat and calcium content in formulas makes up for the small issues palm oil can cause.
Palm oil has also come under fire recently for its high environmental costs; its production contributes to the decrease of rainforests and the destruction of many natural habitats. A few companies are seeking to be more open and ethical about their palm oil sourcing, so you may want to look into the policies of the brand you're buying.
In a baby formula, ingredients such as sugar, corn syrup, and soybeans are often genetically modified. While there's no definite proof that GMOs are harmful to human health, many people want to avoid them for peace of mind. Stick to products with Non-GMO Project Verified labels to ensure that the formula has an acceptable GMO level of less than 0.9 percent.
You should also consider certified organic products that contain no artificial additives or growth hormones. Even though they still contain some preservatives, USDA approval ensures they meet the standard for organic products.
You shouldn't choose a product that claims to be organic but does not hold any registered certification since it might not be 100 percent organic. When in doubt, you can check this list of organizations that are permitted to certify organic products.
Various formulas are fortified with nutrients like DHA, lutein, or probiotics to support your baby's health. However, not all nutrients are safe to include in baby formulas, so be careful when picking out an enhanced formula product.
Lutein and lycopene are actually prohibited in commercial baby formulas by the European Union as they're often extracted with neurotoxic solvents like hexane and toluene. Meanwhile, nucleotides are derived from yeast-treated with chemicals, and taurine is produced using carcinogenic sulfuric acid.
Even some organic baby formulas in the U.S. contain those synthetic nutrients to meet the FDA's nutrition requirements. It's important to be aware of these if you want to avoid them.
Most formulas are fortified with synthetic DHA and ARA, two fats that naturally exist in breastmilk, to support babies' eye and neural development. However, synthetic fats might work differently from natural ones, and there hasn't been any clear evidence to show that DHA and ARA content in formulas actually benefit babies.
How DHA and ARA are processed has also raised concerns. They are processed with hexane, a neurotoxic petroleum-refining byproduct. If you want DHA and ARA oils in your baby's formula, make sure it's from sources like egg yolks and other natural ingredients.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, babies who are not breastfed or only partially breastfed need between four and 12 milligrams of iron per liter of formula.
Some people are concerned that the added iron in a formula leads to digestive issues such as constipation. However, experts say that the amount of iron in a formula is often not enough to cause constipation. Of course, if your baby has any allergic reactions to an iron-fortified formula, consult with your doctor right away!
Most baby formulas come in powder or ready-to-feed types. While powdered formula comes with the risk of measurement errors and clumping, it also has the longest shelf-life and good cost performance.
On the other hand, ready-to-feed formula is a great option if you're too busy to mix powdered formula. It can be expensive, but this liquid formula doesn't need to be your baby's main source of food. Besides, ready-to-feed formula is also a great option for travel.
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Our Top Choice - Hypoallergenic Infant Formula With LGG Probiotics
ProSobee Soy Infant Formula
Best Zero Lactose Formula for Stomach Issues
PurAmino Hypoallergenic Infant Formula
Best Amino-Based Formula for Babies With Allergies
Formulated with Enflora LGG probiotics, Enfamil's Nutramigen powder helps promote your baby's digestive health, as well as helping your baby adjust to milk proteins so they can consume traditional formulas later on.
Some reviewers were unhappy about the large amount of corn syrup in this formula. A few others were not pleased with the smell or the taste of it upon mixing.
However, many more reviewers said that the product helped relieve their babies' digestive issues. Others confirmed it's safe for very sensitive tummies. They said that not only did their children show improvement health-wise, but that they were also happier and less fussy.
The blend of vitamins in Enfamil's lactose-free formula helps enhance your baby's immune system. You may want to keep in mind that the DHA is synthetic and that this formula does contain palm oil. Still, it supports your baby's cognitive development while being soy-based and lactose-free.
Some reviewers reported that their infants experienced constipation after starting on Enfamil's ProSobee. If your child is prone to this specific issue, you might want to avoid Enfamil's soy-based formula.
However, many who bought Enfamil's ProSorbee under the guidance of their pediatricians were relieved at how well the formula soothed their babies' sensitive stomachs. They added that issues like severe gas, reflux, and spitting up quickly disappeared. Some even noted their children were less fussy and seemed to enjoy the formula.
This amino acid-based formula is infused with omega-3 DHA and ARA, probiotics, and iron to provide your baby with complete nutrition. The DHA and ARA are derived from plant-based sources.
The biggest complaint among users was that Enfamil's amino-based formula is small but expensive, and therefore difficult for some families to afford. However, there's a chance that your insurance may cover this formula, so we recommend looking into that.
Many reviewers said that the product was worth it because it actually helped their babies who have enterocolitis, or FPIES. After using the product for a while, buyers also commented that their babies slept better, became happier, and did not have severe digestive issues anymore.
While our top three choices are objectively great, here are some other runners-up that we think are worth considering.
If your baby has symptoms of lactose sensitivity but no severe allergies, you may want to try a lactose-reduced formula instead. Lactose-reduced formulas contain minimal amounts of lactose and are suitable for infants with mild lactose intolerance and or lactose sensitivity.
It's important to keep in mind that these formulas aren't good for children with galactosemia, or the inability to metabolize the sugar galactose properly. Still, if you're trying to build up a lactose tolerance in your child and have consulted with your pediatrician, these could be great options for you.
Your little precious deserves a lot of care and attention, so check out our recommended products that can give your baby some extra pampering!
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