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Baby Chunbao had a dramatic entry into the world and was only 4 pounds when he was born! Packing on weight for our underweight baby seemed like the sole purpose of my motherhood. Being health conscious parents ourselves, I wanted to give the best nutrition to my baby, more so to an underweight one. A family member introduced me to European infant formulas and swore it is the best out there. I diligently did on own research and what I found opened me to a completely different lens into the infant formula industry. Here are the main reasons why European infant formulas are superior to American ones.
Tighter regulation in Europe on infant formulas
The European Committee requires that infant formulas contain no detectable levels of pesticide residues. This means that all European infant formula is organic. There are also specific provisions on hygiene and the presence of contaminants that may be in contact with the infant formula. Additionally, the EU is much more conservative with additives in formulas than we do. These additives are banned in the EU that are often found in American formula: sucrose, maltodextrin, and carrageenan.
Banned ingredients commonly found in American infant formulas
Sucrose – Babies inherently crave for sweets because it is essential for their metabolic function. As such, breastmilk is naturally sweet. In order to make formula taste sweet, most American makers use sucrose in formulas so that baby will drink it. The problem here is that sucrose is plain table sugar. Would you give sugar to your baby? I wouldn’t. Too much sugar causes obesity, insulin resistance, diabetes, ADHD, and the list goes on. You will not find sucrose in European formulas. Instead, to make their milk sweet, European formulas use maltodextrin and lactose which are healthier alternatives than sucrose.
Carrageenan – Carrageenan is a “natural” ingredient derived from seaweeds. It is an increasingly common ingredient in many processed foods, as they act to thicken, emulsify and stabilize products. Some brands of nut milk, yogurt, and even Pediasure have it. Here is a list of foods that contain carrageenan if you’re interested. It is also in a lot of American infant formula. Numerous studies have shown that carrageenan causes inflammation which leads to gastrointestinal disorders and even cancer! Regardless of the numerous studies, FDA still approves this additive in infant formula. However, EU has banned carrageenan for this uses.
Why I made the switch to Holle infant formula
Holle is the first and only European brand I tried with Baby Chunbao because it is the gold standard in organic formulas. It has been around since 1933. I like Holle because it has different stages that are tailored nutrition. Here is a comparison table, courtesy of organicstart.com, for the different stages of Holle infant formula and its main ingredients. As you can see, each stage contains different key ingredients tailed for a baby’s needed. This is really important because the baby at different stages will require different needs for nutrients. A newborn’s need for milk will be different from a baby who is taking solids.
Baby Chunbao had stages 1 to 3 and I can clearly tell the difference between each stage of the formula when mixed. Stage 1 stinks and does not smell like milk at all (I think it’s because of its relatively high vitamins and minerals content). Stage 1 formula tastes a bit like the Enfamil formula Baby Chunbao was having. Stage 2 tasted a little bit better and stage 3 smells very creamy, just like a warm glass of milk.
Holle organic infant formula: positives and negatives
- Cows are raised on biodynamic farms that integrate all the living organisms within the system, including plants, livestock, and farmers. Cows are fed of herbs and grass naturally fertilized by the maneuver. It’s just a circle of life. This means no pesticides or chemical fertilizers.
- Demeter farm standard: Cows on Demeter farms are raised on a uniquely humane and caring environment. For example, they don’t remove a cow’s horns which is a painful procedure for the animal. Besides from being inhumane, horns are important for a cow’s digestion and metabolism. In return, the milk produced contains more nutrients and good fatty acids. Happy cows produce happy milk 😄
- Demeter biodynamic processing standard also delivers the highest purity of agricultural ingredients. This means no genetically modified ingredients, artificial flavors, colors, or preservatives. Oh, and this is the Demeter “stamp”. When you see this logo on the box, it means that the product is produced under Demeter biodynamic standards. AKA highest standard organic quality!
- Pediatrician acceptance: since Holle organic infant formula is not overseen by FDA standards, your pediatrician may not recommend formulas not produced in the US.
- Palm oil: In order to mimic fatty acid found in breast milk, you’ll often see palm oil in the ingredients list. Holle organic infant formula is no exception. This is a drawback because the palmitic acid from palm oil is not absorbed properly by the body. Research has shown that calcium and fat absorption is lower in babies given formula with palm oil. At first, I was hesitant about giving it a try due to the palm oil issue especially Baby Chunbao was very underweight. However, palm oil is not the only source of fat in the formula; it also contains Rapeseed oil and Sunflower oil. I’m also happy to report that Baby Chunbao is thriving with amazing weight gains so the palm oil in the milk has no effect on his health at all.
- Lack of DHA: DHA is the good fats necessary for brain development. It is found in brain-boosting foods like salmon and walnuts. The EU recently passed a new regulation that will require DHA be added to all infant formula! Companies have until 2020 to make this change. It could be a drawback if you’re really concerned about DHA in your baby’s formula. Luckily, a drop of Baby DHA in Baby Chunbao’s formula solved this problem for us!
- More expensive: Depending on the brand you are comparing, Holle infant formula can be $0.02 more per gram than American infant formula. The supplier I source from, see below, offers many ways you can earn rewards and redeem them towards your purchase. So in the end, these German infant formulas aren’t more expensive than its American counterpart.
- Finding the best supplier: These European organic formulas are not sold in the US. Therefore, you’ll need to find a supplier that can source it for you.
The best place to buy Holle Organic infant formula
Now that I’ve decided on Holle organic infant formula, how do I get on hands on them since they’re not sold in US stores? There are tons of suppliers online, but it is important to get a GREAT supplier because we’re talking about our baby’s food here. You don’t want to overpay and certainly not getting an authentic product. Besides from authenticity and reasonable prices, a great supplier to me is – has local inventory, ship via air, has a variety of products, some sort of loyalty program, and good customer service.
After days of searching, I decided to order from Organic Start. Their New York-based warehouse is stocked with thousands of products! They constantly get delivery from European manufactures by air and sea so the boxes are always fresh. Another perk is that they offer FREE expedited shipping! I usually receive my orders within 2 days via UPS and I’m in California, across the state from New York!
I love it that they personally write a “thank you” note on every shipment.
What is the price? Is it a good value?
Here is the current price per box for each stage.
|$30.99 / box||$25.99 / box||$31.99 / box||$31.99 / box||$31.99 / box|
|400g / box||400g / box||400g / box||400g / box||400g / box|
You also get discounts when you buy in bulk, trial packs, and transition kits. Check out their page on different purchase options. The cool thing about buying from Organic Start is that they have a loyalty program. You get 1 “nugget” for every dollar spent and you can redeem nuggets for credit, gifts, and other rewards. You can also earn nuggets by connecting with them on social media and referral to friends. Best of all, you can redeem nuggets with their wide range of baby-related products including organic infant formula, European organic snacks, organic clothes, natural toys, and much more!
To score some of the lowest prices when it comes to European infant formula, Organic Start offers its warehouse option. You can save up to 40% when buying in bulk. Since the biggest cost is shipping, buying in bulk slashes shipping costs and you get ridiculously low prices. The downside is obvious. The minimum purchase is about 16 boxes. However, if you have decided to give it a try, buying in bulk is the way to go!
I wish that I could tell every parent searching for infant formula that organic infant formula means a safer option without the added synthetic chemicals found in its conventional counterpart. I have no plan to switch formula again because I truly think that we’ve found the perfect one for my son. My heart is assured that Baby Chunbao is getting the best organic formula out there. Thinking about giving it a try? Get a trial sized version to try.