How to Choose a Baby Formula

The help you need to navigate through the endless options formula

Let's face it - when it comes to choosing a baby formula, the options can feel downright overwhelming. With what seems like 17 gazillion different types of formula lining the shelves, it's easy to get lost in a sea of choices.

But fear not!

We're here to help you navigate through the endless options formula and find the right one for your baby. Sure, it might involve a bit of trial and error, but with our guidance, you'll be well on your way to picking the perfect formula for your baby.

Types of Formula

Did you know there are different types of formula that come in different forms?

Yes, seriously!

Formula comes in three forms: powdered, liquid concentrate, and ready-to-use.

  • Powdered formula is the most economical choice and requires mixing with water before feeding.

  • Liquid concentrate formula is a bit more convenient as it only requires dilution with water.

  • Ready-to-use formula, as the name suggests, is pre-mixed and doesn't require any additional preparation. While ready-to-use formula may be the most convenient, it is also the most expensive option.

Now that we've talked about the forms of formula, let's talk types. Now there are a million things we could cover, so here's a quick overview!

Cow milk-based

One of the most common types of formula is cow milk-based formula. It's formulated to mimic breast milk and contains a blend of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats that provide essential nutrition for your baby's growth and development. Many babies tolerate cow milk-based formulas well, but if your baby has a cow milk allergy or sensitivity, you may need to explore other options.


For babies who can't tolerate cow milk-based formulas, soy-based formulas can be a suitable alternative. These formulas are made from soy protein and are lactose-free, making them a good choice for babies with lactose intolerance or cow milk allergies. However, it's important to note that some babies who are allergic to cow milk may also be allergic to soy, so it's always best to consult with your pediatrician before making the switch.


These specialized formulas are specifically created for babies who have digestive issues or allergies. They contain proteins that have undergone a process of breaking them down into smaller fragments, which makes them easier for delicate tummies to digest. Hydrolyzed formulas come in two main types: partially hydrolyzed and extensively hydrolyzed. If your baby has mild digestive discomfort, your healthcare provider may suggest a partially hydrolyzed formula. However, if your baby has more severe allergies, an extensively hydrolyzed formula is often recommended. These formulas can provide the necessary nutrition while being gentle on your baby's sensitive system.

Specialized formulas for medical needs

In some cases, babies may require specialized formulas due to specific medical conditions or dietary restrictions. These formulas are typically prescribed by a healthcare professional and may include hypoallergenic formulas for babies with severe allergies, elemental formulas for babies with malabsorption issues, or formulas fortified with additional nutrients for premature babies.

Picking a Formula

Now that you know the different types and forms of formula available, let's dive into the process of picking the right one for your baby. There are a few different things you’ll want to consider, such as:


When considering which formula to choose, you’ll want to take cost into account. Different types of formulas come with different price tags, and it's important to find options that fit within your family's budget.

While brand-name formulas may be more expensive, there are often generic or wholesale brands that provide similar nutritional benefits at a lower cost. Don't be afraid to explore these more affordable alternatives while ensuring that they meet the necessary nutritional standards.


Another crucial factor to consider when choosing a baby formula is its availability. It's important to select a formula that you can easily obtain, especially in case of emergencies or unexpected situations.

Imagine running out of formula in the middle of the night and not being able to find your baby's specific brand at your local store.

That's why it's a good idea to choose a formula that is widely available and stocked in many stores, if possible.

Opting for a formula that is popular and commonly used by other parents can increase the likelihood of finding it easily when you need it the most. So, while it may be tempting to go for a super specific or niche formula, it's worth considering the convenience factor and ensuring that you can always keep an adequate supply on hand.

Our Favorite Bottles

Our Favorite Bottles

You want only the best bottle for your pumped milk. For breastfed babies, we love Comotomo bottles.

How Do I Know Which Formula is Right for My Baby?

First and foremost, talk to your pediatrician. they know baby's health history can provide valuable guidance based their individual needs. might recommend a specific formula or help you eliminate certain types any known allergies sensitivities.

It can also be helpful to talk to other parents, friends, or family members who have gone through the formula selection process. They can share their experiences and insights, but remember that what worked for their baby might not work for yours. It's still a process of trial and error, so be open to experimentation.

Signs That Your Baby's Formula Isn't the Right Fit

As you start feeding your baby with your chosen formula, it's essential to monitor their reactions and look out for signs that it might not be the right fit.

Keep in mind that some mild discomfort or adjustments, in the beginning, are normal as your baby's digestive system adapts. However, if you notice any of the following persistently, it might be an indication that the formula isn't the right choice for your baby:

Frequent reflux or spit-up: While some spit-up is normal, excessive reflux or spit-up after every feeding could be a sign of a formula intolerance or digestive issue.

Changes in bowel movements: Pay attention to your baby's bowel movements. If you notice constipation or unusually hard stools, it could indicate that the formula isn't providing enough hydration or fiber. On the other hand, if you notice frequent loose stools or see blood in your baby's stool, it might be a sign of an allergic reaction or intolerance to certain ingredients.

Frequent rashes or skin irritations: If your baby develops persistent rashes, eczema, or other skin irritations after starting a particular formula, it could be a sign of an allergic reaction or sensitivity to certain ingredients.

Let Willow Help Empower Your Feeding Journey

Feeding a baby, whether through breastfeeding or formula, is undoubtedly hard work. The process of choosing the right formula can feel overwhelming, but remember that you're not alone. With a little bit of research, consultation with your pediatrician, and the willingness to try different options, you'll find the formula that suits your baby's needs. At Willow, we understand the challenges of feeding and want to empower you on your feeding journey. We're here to support you with helpful resources, information, and a range of high-quality formula options. Remember, no matter how you choose to feed your baby, what matters most is their health, happiness, and your love and care.

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
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