Formulas: Are there nutritional differences?

I am pregnant and planning to breastfeed, but will be adding formula when I return to work. I notice a large price difference between formula brands. Is there a nutritional difference?

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Sue Gilbert

Sue Gilbert works as a consulting nutritionist. For many years she worked with Earth's Best Organic Baby Food, integrating nutrition and... Read more

Price difference is not a reflection of the amount of nutrition in the formula. All formulas must meet strict FDA guidelines for adequacy of nutrition content. From that perspective, all formulas will meet your baby's nutritional needs. (Make sure to use the iron fortified variety unless your baby is well established on an iron fortified cereal when you make the switch to formula.)

It could be that the source of protein is causing the price differential. As long as the nutritional requirements are met, the companies have the freedom to change the ingredients they use in their formulas. Ingredients can be a big factor in formula cost. According to the tables in the text published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the major protein source in Enfamil and Similac is casein. Carnation uses mainly whey protein. This may have changed since the date of publication (1993), so you will need to check the ingredient panels of each. The source of protein will not affect the nutritional content of the formula.

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