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How To Choose the Best Formula Milk for Your Baby

Medically reviewed by Mary Rani Cadiz, MD · Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Dec 15, 2021

How To Choose the Best Formula Milk for Your Baby

Infant formula is a huge part of many Filipino parents’ lives when they have a growing infant in their care. This is because as much as mothers want to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months, they may be unable to due to reasons like the need to wean their baby early to return to work, or the lack of milk supply. As the baby will get most of their nutrients from milk, choosing the best milk formula should be a priority. But what’s the best formula milk for baby when they are just 0 to 6 months old?

Breastmilk Is Still Best

Please remember that breast milk is still the best for babies as proven by a large number of scientific investigations. However, there are cases when doctors do not advise breastfeeding. Examples of these instances are when:

  • Baby has galactosemia, a metabolic disorder that makes it difficult for them to digest galactose sugar
  • Mother has certain conditions such as HIV infection or Ebola virus disease
  • Mother uses illicit drugs

There are also cases when mommies only need to stop breastfeeding temporarily and scenarios where they can’t breastfeed but can feed their baby expressed milk. The doctor will of course determine these conditions.

What Is Infant Formula?

Before we delve into the discussion on how to properly choose the best formula milk for baby, let’s briefly define an “infant formula.”

Infant formula is a special milk preparation with a calculated carbohydrate, fat, and protein content that aims to resemble breastmilk. Additionally, to encourage your baby’s optimal growth and development, most formula milk is fortified with other nutrients like vitamins and iron.

formula milk

Please note that infant formula is the only accepted breastmilk substitute for babies. Parents should refrain from using plain cow, sheep, goat, or rice milk when feeding their infant as they do not have the correct balance of nutrients that are suited for the baby’s needs. Doctors are also against the use of toddler milk as well as the homemade formula.

According to the World Health Organization, the recommendation for the best formula milk for baby should be based on their medical needs. Hence, consulting a pediatrician is an important step.

What Are the Available Formula Milk Preparations?

Filipino parents are highly aware of the powdered formula preparation. In this preparation, you need to measure the powder by the scoop and mix it with water. By far, this is the least expensive option.

However, did you know that there are other available preparations? They are:

  • Concentrated liquid formula. It may come in liquid form, but you still need to mix it with water.
  • Ready-to-use formula. This is the most convenient preparation as you do not need to mix it with water. However, it is also the most expensive.

How To Choose the Best Formula Milk for Baby

When choosing the best formula milk for baby, you must consult your doctor as formula milk is recommended based on your baby’s medical and nutritional needs. For this reason, consider the following types when shopping for formula milk:

Cow’s Milk

First on our list is cow’s milk. It accounts for 80% of formula milk in the market. Some mothers may choose this as the best formula milk for baby if they do not have an underlying condition such as milk allergy.

Cow’s milk is generally safe because of its following attributes:

  • Its proteins are more “digestible.” Manufacturers achieve this through heat treatment and other methods.
  • Manufacturers add more lactose (milk sugar) to cow’s milk so it will resemble breastmilk more.
  • The butterfat in cow’s milk, which is difficult for infants to digest, is removed. In its place is vegetable oil, which is not only more digestible but also better for growth and development.

Soy Milk Formula

Unlike the typical milk-based formula, preparations with soy milk have a different composition. For instance, its proteins come from soy and its carbohydrates are in the form of either sucrose or glucose, and not lactose.

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, “There are few occasions in which soy formula should be preferred over cow milk-based preparations.”

Soy milk could be the best formula milk for baby if:

  • They cannot tolerate or are allergic to lactose in cow milk-based infant formula.
  • You want to exclude animal proteins in your baby’s nutrition.

Hydrolyzed Milk

Hydrolyzed milk is also called  “pre-digested” formula, because it contains proteins that are already broken down into smaller forms for easier digestion. It may be the best formula milk for baby if they cannot tolerate both cow milk and soy milk.

Some reports claim that if your baby has a high risk of developing allergies, feeding them hydrolyzed milk may delay the onset of conditions like atopic dermatitis. However, experts also mentioned that they need more studies to confirm the claim.

What Should You Look For in an Infant Formula?

Two of the most important things parents must look into when choosing the best formula milk for baby are its nutrient contents and integrity.


When shopping for formula milk, check for its nutrient content.

For instance, experts emphasize that parents must look for iron-fortified milk formula. This is because some babies do not have natural reserves of this nutrient that is vital for normal growth and development. Additionally, having iron in milk reduces the risk of iron-deficiency anemia.

Some parents would also like their baby’s formula to have docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). The reason for this is that in several studies, these two fatty acids are shown to promote not only the baby’s eyesight but also their brain development.

Finally, some preparations have probiotics and pre-biotics in them to promote the balance of healthy bacteria in the intestines. This is done to mimic breastmilk’s immune-boosting ability,

Please note that most cow-milk infant formula is fortified with iron, DHA, and ARA.


When shopping for the best infant formula milk for your baby, check the expiration date. The case of expired powdered milk displayed in stores is rare, but it’s still possible. Remember that you can never be sure of the quality and safety of an expired formula.

Finally, assess the condition of the container. It must be sealed and in good condition. Refrain from buying formula milk in containers that have leaks, rust spots, or puffy ends.

Final Reminders

Choosing the best formula milk for baby is best done after consulting a doctor or a pediatrician.  After all, it’s only after their thorough assessment that you will know if your infant has certain conditions that may require them to have hydrolyzed milk or another specialized formula.

Finally, don’t forget to consider if your baby was born full-term or prematurely. Typically, that also affects the type of formula milk for them.

Learn more about Baby Nutrition here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Mary Rani Cadiz, MD

Obstetrics and Gynecology

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Dec 15, 2021

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