Organic Dairy-Free Formula: A Handy Guide To Choosing The Right One
Studies have shown that regular consumption of organic products may help reduce eczema in infants, allergic sensitization, and certain cancers, such as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. (1)(2)
Researchers believe that this may be due to the reduced intake of harmful pesticide residues and toxic chemicals. (1)
So, in choosing a formula, you can pick an organic option to keep your children away from pesticides, insecticides, and other harmful chemicals that may be present in conventional baby foods and products. (1)(2)
Aside from deciding whether you should buy an organic formula, you should also consider your child’s dietary restrictions. Dairy-free formulas may provide complete nutrition if your little one is allergic to cow’s milk proteins or sensitivity to dairy products.
What are the other benefits of choosing organic, dairy-free formulas and baby foods? Which formulas should you pick for your little one? Find the answers below.
Finding An Organic, Dairy-Free Formula For Your Baby
There are different kinds of formulas, but if you are searching for organic, dairy-free options, you can try the following for your baby:
Baby’s Only Organic Pea Protein Formula – 12.7 oz can: $14.99
- It’s the only organic pea protein formula available on the market.
- It’s free from potential allergens such as dairy, gluten, wheat, soy, tree nuts, or corn proteins.
- It doesn’t have palm oil, added glucose, or corn syrup.
- With its price of $14.99 for a 12.7 oz can, this formula is the cheapest among all the organic, non-dairy formulas on our list.
- It costs just $1.18 per oz, compared with $1.64 per oz for Else and $1.40 per oz for Earth’s Best.
Else Plant-Based Complete Nutrition for Toddlers – 22 oz can: $36
- It’s free from allergens like soy, gluten, dairy, and corn syrup.
- It doesn’t have highly processed ingredients.
- It contains a much higher iron content than most formulas.
Earth’s Best Non-GMO Soy-Based Infant Formula – 23.2 oz tub: $31.96
- It’s a soy-based formula that may help ease fussiness, reflux, spit-up, colic, and gas for babies with sensitive tummies.
- It has DHA from algal sources.
Learn more about each organic, non-dairy formula below. But always remember to check with your pediatrician before switching your baby to a new formula.
Baby’s Only Organic Pea Protein Formula
- 12.7 oz tub: $14.99
- 12.7 oz tub, case of six: $89.94
- 12.7 oz tub, case of 12: $179.88
Best Features & Safety
- It’s made from organic, non-GMO ingredients.
- It may be the only pea protein-based formula on the market.
- It’s free from soy proteins, dairy, and gluten.
- This plant-based formula can also be suitable for vegetarian and kosher diets.
- It contains essential fatty acids that can promote brain structure and eye development. (3)
- Organic pea protein concentrate
- Organic canola oil
- Organic brown rice syrup
- Organic high oleic oil (sunflower or safflower)
- Organic sunflower lecithin
- Organic linoleic sunflower oil
- Organic coconut oil
Each serving or 4 fl oz of this formula contains:
- Calories: 80 calories
- Total fats: 4 g
- Total carbohydrates: 9 g
- Proteins: 2 g
- Vitamin A: 70 mcg
- Vitamin D: 1.3 mcg
- Vitamin K: 7 mcg
- Choline: 10 mg
- Vitamin E: 1.1 mg
- Iron: 1.4 mg
- Calcium: 90 mg
- Potassium: 110 mg
Pros & Cons
- It may be an ideal choice if your child has food allergies or intolerance to dairy, gluten, wheat, soy, tree nuts, or corn proteins.
- It’s certified Kosher.
- It’s made from organic ingredients certified to be free from endocrine-disrupting pesticides, weed-killer glyphosate (herbicides), or insecticides.
- It doesn’t have neurotoxic hexane DHA (docosahexaenoic acid extracted using the toxic chemical hexane, which can damage the brain).
- It’s free from added glucose or corn syrups as sweeteners.
- It doesn’t have palm oil or palm olein oil. While this oil is common in many baby formulas, it can affect calcium absorption and lead to a lower bone mass. (4)
- It’s only suitable for kids who are over one year old.
- According to the brand’s website, their formulation meets all the nutrient requirements for formulas under the Infant Formula Act and is based on AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommendations. But pea protein-based formulas are yet to be approved for commercial use.
- It has brown rice syrup, an artificial, highly processed sweetener.
- It also contains questionable vegetable oils, including canola oil.
What Customers Say
“I started this formula when my son was 4months old and it has been great he loves it and… I love that the ingredients has most the nutrients needed for development without having harsh chemicals or dairy products!!!” – Reviewer on Nature’s One.
“My baby didn’t do well he had a skin reaction.” – Reviewer on Nature’s One.
Else Plant-Based Complete Nutrition for Toddlers
- 22 oz tub: $36
- 22 oz tub, pack of two: $70
- 22 oz tub, pack of four: $136
Best Features & Safety
- It’s a non-GMO, certified organic plant-based formula.
- It’s free from soy, gluten, dairy, and corn syrup.
- Each serving contains around 2.22 mg per 100 calories, higher than the FDA’s minimum requirement of 1 mg iron per 100 calories. (5)
- It doesn’t use hexane in chemical processing or solvent extraction methods.
- It doesn’t have highly processed ingredients.
- Organic almond butter
- Organic buckwheat flour
- Organic tapioca maltodextrin
- Organic sunflower lecithin
- Organic cane sugar
Each serving (4 fl oz) of this formula contain the following:
- Calories: 180 calories
- Total fats: 9 g
- Total carbohydrates: 19 g
- Added sugars: 2 g
- Dietary fibers: 2 g
- Proteins: 5 g
- Vitamin A: 145 mcg
- Vitamin C: 4 mg
- Choline: 40 mg
- Iron: 4 mg
- Calcium: 220 mg
Pros & Cons
- This soy-free formula can provide toddlers over a year old with whole food nutrients for natural digestion.
- It’s a sustainably made, plant-based formula that can be suitable for vegetarians.
- It doesn’t contain corn syrup.
- It may be mixed with breast milk or with other formulas.
- It can also be used as a nutritional boost for other baby foods, including smoothies, oatmeal, mashed potatoes, and other snack options for your child.
- This formula shouldn’t be used as your toddler’s sole source of nutrition. Instead, you can mix it with breast milk, cow’s milk (or other formula options), and solid foods.
- It contains tree nuts (almonds) and may not be a good choice if your child has nut allergies.
- It may be difficult to dissolve and prone to clumping.
- It’s not formulated for infants below 12 months of age.
- It has added sugars and maltodextrin.
What Customers Say
“We love else for my 18m old! He is quite the picky eater, refusing certain proteins like meats etc. but he LOVES his milk with else nutrition!” – Reviewer on Else Nutrition’s website.
“This product taste disgusting! my baby does not like and she starting to gag. I spent a lot of money for a chemical product.” – Reviewer on Amazon.
Earth’s Best Non-GMO Soy-Based Powder Infant Formula
- 23.2 oz tub: $31.96
Best Features & Safety
- It’s a formula option if your baby has lactose intolerance.
- It may help ease fussiness, reflux, spit-up, colic, and gas for babies with sensitive tummies.
- It may be an easy-to-digest plant-based infant formula.
- The brand claims that it meets all FDA (US Food and Drug Administration) requirements for infant nutrition.
- It’s made with non-GMO ingredients.
- Soy protein
- Organic soy oil
- Organic corn syrup solids
- Organic palm olein or palm oil
- Organic coconut oil
- Organic high oleic (safflower or sunflower) oil
- Mortierella alpina oil
- DHA algal oil (schizochytrium)
Each serving (5 fl oz) of this formula contains:
- Calories: 100 calories
- Total fats: 5.3 g
- Total carbohydrates: 10.6 g
- Proteins: 2.5 g
- Vitamin A: 300 IU
- Iron: 1.8 mg
- Calcium: 105 mg
Pros & Cons
- This gluten-free formula is Kosher certified.
- It has ARA (arachidonic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid), DHA (docosahexaenoic acid, an omega-3 fatty acid), magnesium, phosphorus, and linoleic acid. These nutrients can support brain and eye health. (6)
- Though it has dairy-free ingredients, this product is manufactured on dairy equipment.
- It contains corn syrup, palm olein, and highly processed vegetable oils.
- It also contains soy, a potential allergen.
What Customers Say
“My 8 month old likes this formula and I was really surprised because she turned down a lot of different formulas. This one isnt harsh on her stomach, she doesnt spit up, shes not gassy..” – Reviewer on Earth’s Best website.
“I’m this formula gave my baby the worst constipation! I felt so bad!! He has a dairy allergy. I know that many babies who are allergic to dairy are also sensitive to soy, but so many ppl said their baby was receptive to this formula I thought it was worth a try to switch him over to a non-GMO formula.” – Reviewer on Amazon.
Summary & Recommendation
There are plenty of organic formulas that you can pick for your baby, but most are dairy options.
If your child needs a dairy-free formula, here are our recommendations to help you find the right one:
- Baby’s Only Organic Pea Protein Formula – if you want your baby to try an organic pea protein formula that’s also among the cheapest dairy-free, organic options available
- Else Plant-Based Complete Nutrition for Toddlers – if you prefer an organic formula with a much higher iron content that’s also free from allergens like soy, gluten, dairy, and corn syrup.
- Earth’s Best Non-GMO Soy-Based Infant Formula – if your want an organic, non-dairy formula that may help ease fussiness, reflux, spit-up, colic, and gas for babies with sensitive tummies.
Organic Formula FAQs
What’s The Difference Between Organic And Non-GMO Formulas?
Non-GMO and organic formulas are often confused because of their similarities, but these two aren’t the same.
While neither have GMOs (genetically modified organisms), the non-GMO formulas can still come from non-organic sources. Here are some examples of non-GMO formulas that aren’t organic:
- Similac Pro-Advance
- Enfamil Neuropro Gentlease
But all organic formulas and foods are non-GMO. (7)
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) prohibits the use of GMOs in any organic product. It means that organic crops don’t use any genetically modified seeds or materials. (7)
Organic producers must always comply with the USDA guidelines and work with certifiers to implement preventative practices to keep their certification. (7)
So, if you’re looking for an organic formula, always check whether the product has the USDA organic label (if it’s produced in the US). (7)
Why Choose Organic And Non-GMO Formulas?
Some health providers, such as California-based pediatrician Dr. Michelle Perro, recommend choosing non-GMO infant formulas. These formula options may help your child avoid the risks of developing GMO-triggered autoimmunity, allergies, or certain medical conditions. (8)
Still, the FDA assures the public that GMOs are regulated and safe for public consumption because only products that passed the tests are released. (9)
On the other hand, some experts believe that choosing organic products shouldn’t be your top priority in picking your baby’s formula.
One of them is Rebecca Fett, the author of Brain Health from Birth, who has a molecular biotechnology and biochemistry degree. (10)(11)
While Fett agrees that organic food products and formulas can be a healthy option for your child, she recommends choosing a formula with a composition that’s as close to breast milk as possible. For Fett, this formula may or may not be organic.
She suggests picking a formula with the following ingredients that are abundant in breast milk:
- Whey proteins or partially hydrolyzed whey that may be easier to digest
- Lactose (primary carbohydrate)
- Prebiotics that can support a healthy digestive system (12)
- MFGM (Milk Fat Globule Membrane) that may help promote your baby’s cognitive development. (13)
Fett explains that: (11)
“The scientific evidence indicates that it is more important to choose a formula with the key ingredient shown to support brain and immune health, rather than choosing organic.”
She acknowledges that it’s also good to choose an organic option to give your baby formula that’s free from any toxic residue. But choosing organic might make your child miss out on some important nutrients often found only in regular formulas. (10)
For example, many organic formulas are missing MFGM (Milk Fat Globule Membrane), a breast milk component that can benefit your baby’s cognitive development. (10)(13)
Also, Fett points out that it can be difficult to find an organic formula with prebiotics based on whey. (10)
The nutritional values of organic food and regular products appear to be the same. It means that organic food consumption may not provide a significant nutritional advantage to a conventional diet. (2)
For organic formulas that might not contain enough nutrients, your pediatrician can help you decide whether it can be good for your baby and whether supplementing certain vitamins or minerals may be necessary.
Examples of these are European formulas such as HiPP and Holle. These non-GMO, organic dairy formulas have low iron content. Your pediatrician might recommend iron supplements to meet your baby’s iron needs. (5)
What’s The Difference Between ‘Certified Organic’ And ‘Made With Organic Ingredients’ Labels?
Not all products that contain organic ingredients can use the ‘Organic’ label, particularly the ‘USDA Organic’ seal. (14)
The USDA’s organic certification program requires all organic foods, including organic formulas, to meet strict government standards. As long as its certified organic, the producer or manufacturer may use the ‘USDA Organic’ seal. (14)
Products that can use the ‘USDA Organic’ seal:
- 100 percent organic – it’s for products made entirely from organic ingredients, excluding water and salt (14)
- Organic – it’s for a multi-ingredient product with at least 95% of ingredients coming from certified organic sources, but the non-organic products should be on USDA’s list of approved additional ingredients (14)
Products that can’t use the ‘USDA Organic’ seal:
- Made with organic – it’s for a multi-ingredient product that’s made with at least 70% of ingredients coming from certified organic sources; these products should identify the non-organic materials on their ingredient list (14)
- Organic ingredients – it’s for multi-ingredient products that contain less than 70% certified organic ingredients; the ingredient list can indicate the organic ingredients
The following are some of the materials or practices prohibited in organic farming: (14)
- The use of growth hormones for livestock
- Any genetic engineering, for whatever purpose (such as improving crop yield or disease and pest resistance)
- Sewage sludge as fertilizer
- Most synthetic pesticides
- Synthetic fertilizers
Are ‘Natural’ And Organic’ The Same?
No, these aren’t interchangeable labels. Organic foods and formulas are made from organic ingredients; they’re labeled because of the methods or materials used to produce their food ingredients. (14)
Natural products are foods and formulas made from natural ingredients that don’t have artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. Natural foods can be non-organic. (14)
What Makes American And European Organic Formulas Different?
There are plenty of American baby formulas, but some parents in the US prefer European organic options despite the higher costs of purchasing these products.
For them, European brands may be better because of the following: (15)
- These organic formulas come from organic farms that follow more rigorous requirements than American organic farms.
- The EU requires brands to be more transparent; they must also comply with stricter regulations, especially detecting toxic substances.
Still, American and European organic formulas also have many similarities because their respective agencies require the following: (15)
- Organic formulas must provide babies with all the essential nutrients to support proper growth and development.
- Organic formulas shouldn’t be sourced from cows given artificial growth hormones.
- Organic formulas should have at least 95% certified organic ingredients. (14)
Also, while they are perceived to follow more ‘lenient’ regulations than European formulas, American formulas meet the FDA’s requirements for nutritional content. (15)
For example, all American formulas must meet the minimum requirement of having 1 mg iron per 100 calories of formula. (5)
It’s a requirement to help prevent iron-deficiency anemia, a common medical condition that can cause irregular heartbeat, lack of energy, shorter attention span, and poor academic performance in children. (16)
Several European formulas fail to meet this iron requirement. (5)
Why Choose A Non-Dairy Formula?
There can be many reasons for choosing a non-dairy formula:
- Cow’s milk protein allergy, intolerance, or sensitivity
- Lactose intolerance (because many dairy formulas contain lactose)
- High risk of gas, reflux, colic, and spit-up
- Ethical concerns with milk and dairy products
- Preference to feed your child with a plant-based diet
Can I Pick Goat’s Milk Formula If My Baby Has Cow’s Milk Protein Allergy?
Although the proteins in goat’s milk are much smaller and are slightly different from those in cow’s milk, they still have similar structures. So, if your child has a cow’s milk protein allergy, their immune system might also react to goat’s milk protein. (17)(18)
Are Soy Formulas Safe?
Soy formulas have been available for babies for nearly 100 years. These formula options may account for as much as 25% of the US formula market. (19)(20)
But some parents are concerned that soy formulas might harm their babies. Aside from allergies, soy is believed to affect children’s neurobehavioral and sexual development. It’s also believed to negatively affect reproductive, immune, and thyroid function. (19)(20)
Despite these supposed safety concerns, many studies have conflicting results and may not conclusively confirm that soy formulas caused these health issues. (19)(20)
Still, you should always consult your pediatrician before choosing a new formula for your baby.
Is Formula Better Than Breastfeeding?
Breast milk can provide your child with almost all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients needed for growth, except vitamins D and K. (21)(22)
- Vitamin D can promote the growth and development of your baby’s brain, bones, and immune system. (22)
- Vitamin K is also necessary to promote bone metabolism, regulate blood calcium levels, and play a role in blood clotting. (22)
While breast milk lacks these vitamins, most commercially available formulas are fortified with these vitamins. (22)
Exclusively breastfed babies may even need vitamin D and K supplementation. (22)
It’s also possible for you to take these supplements if you breastfeed your child. But you’ll likely need at least 2,000 – 4,000 IU of vitamin D to have an ample supply of this vitamin in your breast milk. (22)
Can I Make My Own Formula?
No. You should never try to make your baby’s formula at home. Commercial formulas are approved and regulated by the FDA. They’re made through highly specialized processes and go through multiple tests before release. (23)
A homemade formula might cause an illness or nutrient deficiencies. (23)
Can I Give Pure Cow’s Milk?
No. You should never give pure cow’s milk to your child. It contains high sodium, protein, and potassium levels that your baby’s delicate systems won’t be able to handle. (22)
Non-Organic, Dairy-Free Formulas
These formulas are non-dairy, but they aren’t organic:
- Gerber Good Start Soy
- Enfamil ProSobee Soy-Based Infant Formula
- Similac Soy Isomil Infant Lactose-Free Formula
- Parent’s Choice Soy Infant Formula
- Similac Elecare (amino acid-based formula)
- Similac Alimentum Hypoallergenic Formula
- Enfamil Nutramigen with Enflora LGG (with probiotics)
Organic Dairy Formulas
The following are some organic formulas that you may pick if your baby doesn’t have allergies or sensitivity to milk and dairy products:
- Bobbie Organic Infant Formula – 14.1 oz can, pack of two: $24 each
- Simple Truth Organic (Kroger) Milk-Based Infant Formula Powder with Iron – 34 oz tub: $27.99
- Baby’s Only Organic Premium Dairy Toddler Formula – 12.7 oz can: $8.99
- Holle Bio Cow’s Milk Organic Infant Milk Formula – 14.1 oz box, pack of four: $26.99 each
- Holle Goat Based Formula – 14.12 oz can, case of four: $32.99 each
- HiPP Organic Formula – 28.22 oz can: $46.99
- Similac Organic Infant Formula with Iron – 20.6 oz: $30.49
- Loulouka Goat Milk Formula (Stage 1) – 14.1 oz box: $26.79
- Lebenswert Organic Baby Milk Formula – 17.64 oz, pack of four: $27.99 each
- Kendamil Stage 2 Organic Baby Formula – 28.22 oz can: $48.99 each
- Baby’s Only Organic Sensitive DHA/ARA Formula – 12.7 oz can: $14.99
- Earth’s Best Organic Low Lactose Sensitivity Infant Formula – 21 oz can: $27.54
- Löwenzahn Organics Infant Formula (Stage Pre) – 17.64 oz box: $34.99
- Amazon Mama Bear Organic Infant Formula – 23.2 oz tub: $27.83
- Happy Baby Organic Infant Formula, Stage 2 – 21 oz tub: $29.99
(10) Fett, Rebecca. 2019. Brain Health from Birth: Nurturing Brain Development During Pregnancy and the First Year.