Women who choose not to breast-feed their infant need to use formula until the baby is 1. On average, an infant drinks 25 to 30 ounces a day for the majority of the first year, according to neonatologist Steve Abrams, M.D., and some parents might feel more comfortable using an organic version. Although organic formula is more expensive than the standard version, its ingredient list might be worth it.
Organic baby formula comes in cow's milk varieties, lactose-free options and soy versions, just like nonorganic formula. However, a number of ingredients are organic; in one brand of cow's milk, this includes brown rice syrup, nonfat milk, high oleic sunflower or safflower oil, soybean oil, coconut oil, soy lecithin and vanilla. In a soy formula, organic ingredients include glucose syrup solids, soy protein, palm olein or palm oil and soy oil. In one brand of lactose-free formula, you'll find organic milk protein concentrate in lieu of organic nonfat milk. Organic formula contains a number of nutrients also present in nonorganic versions, including vitamins B-1, B-2, B-6 and B-12, copper, folic acid, biotin and vitamin D-3.
Added Nutrients and Benefits
A study published in 2010 in "Alternative Medicine Review" determined that organic foods are higher in certain nutrients and lower in nitrate and pesticide levels than nonorganic. Further, organic dairy foods provide health benefits, particularly when it comes to allergic dermatitis. You can purchase organic infant formulas with added nutrients such as docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid, fatty acids found naturally in breast milk, as well as choline, an essential nutrient.
Some varieties of organic infant formula might be significantly sweeter than their nonorganic counterparts, according to a 2008 article in "The New York Times," if they use cane sugar, or sucrose. This type of sweetener can harm tooth enamel and potentially cause babies to overeat, leading to rapid weight gain -- a predictor of childhood obesity -- in the first year. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the type or amount of sugar allowed in infant formula. There's also a concern about arsenic levels in organic formulas that use brown rice syrup, documented by a study published in 2012 in "Environmental Health Perspective." One organic milk formula tested by researchers had six times the safe drinking water limit as set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Choosing Baby Formula
Even when you make the decision to use organic formula, you'll also have to decide which type to use: cow's milk-based, lactose-free or soy-based. The protein in milk-based formula has been altered to make it easier for a baby to digest, and according to Babycenter, most babies do best on this type because it has the right balance of protein, carbs and fat. However, if your child is lactose-intolerant -- which is rare in infants -- you can choose a lactose-free formula. For parents who prefer vegetarian or vegan foods, or if your baby can't digest cow's milk formulas, you can use a soy-based formula that's made from a plant protein, which has also been modified for easier digestion. However, approximately half of the babies who are allergic to milk are also allergic to soy. When it comes to brand name versus generics, all varieties must meet FDA requirements for nutrients.
- Nature's One: Baby's Only Organic Dairy Formula
- Consumer Reports: Baby Formula Buying Guide
- Earth's Best Organics: Organic Soy Infant Formula With DHA & ARA
- The New York Times: For an All-Organic Formula, Baby, That’s Sweet
- Alternative Medicine Review: Organic Foods Contain Higher Levels of Certain Nutrients, Lower Levels of Pesticides, and May Provide Health Benefits for the Consumer
- Nature's One: Baby's Only Organic LactoRelief Formula
- Environmental Health Perspective: Arsenic, Organic Foods, and Brown Rice Syrup