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3 Problems With Baby Formula Ingredients & What To Do About It

7 minute read

If you’re thinking about formula feeding your little one, you’re not alone. In fact, 83% of parents in the U.S. will turn to formula. 

The fact is, sometimes breastfeeding doesn’t work out. Sometimes switching to formula or supplementing with formula is the best choice.

Your baby’s health means the world to you… So it’s only natural that you’ll want to find the best and healthiest baby formula for your little one. 

You may think that you can trust the name brands that make baby formula… That they would only use the best and healthiest ingredients for your growing baby…

But sadly this isn’t always the case. It’s actually surprising — even shocking at times — what ingredients are found in even the best-selling brands. From preservatives to arsenic, unhealthful oils to boatloads of sugar…not all baby foods are created equally.

So how do you know which formula is best

I know how stressful it can be to find a nutritious baby formula that doesn’t contain potentially dangerous ingredients…That’s why I’ve simplified things for you! 

Here’s where you learn about the unnecessary, unhealthy, and downright harmful ingredients that may be found in your baby’s formula. Avoid these 3 common problems with baby formula and you’ll be good to go!

Plus I’ll share my top tips for finding the right formula for you and your sweet bundle of joy.

This knowledge will give you peace of mind that you’re choosing the best product for your little one. Let’s take a look! 

3 Problems With Baby Formula And What To Do About It

This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. I participate in the Amazon associates program . I am an independent Bodi coach and work with other brands I love.

Problem 1: Unnecessary Ingredients In Baby Formula: 

Let’s start with the smallest offenders — the unnecessary ingredients that get added to some baby formula. 

These include: synthetic flavors or colorings. 

Many brands add these unnecessary ingredients to help their product more closely match breastmilk…to “improve” the taste, consistency…even the way the formula looks.

 But your baby doesn’t care what color their dinner is! 

And the fact that these ingredients are synthetic — instead of natural — can lead to problems for your little one. Your baby has a brand-new immune system that’s just developing. Unnatural chemicals and additives in your baby’s food may lead to problems down the road. Some babies have developed hypersensitivity and behavioral disorders from these unnecessary ingredients. 

Problem 2: Unhealthy Ingredients In Baby Formula: 

There are also some unhealthy ingredients to look out for in many popular baby formulas. 


You guessed it! It’s hard to avoid sugar in most of the processed foods we eat these days and baby formula is no exception. 

Breast milk is naturally sweet, so it’s not surprising that many types of formula contain added sugars. But there’s a difference between good, natural sugars — like the ones you find in fruit — and processed and refined sugars. 

The best and most natural sugar that most closely mimics that found in human milk is lactose, found in cow’s milk. 

But the problem is…cow’s milk-based sweetener is expensive!

So instead, many brands turn to corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, and other added sugars. 

The problem with these unnecessary sweeteners? 

  • They’re addictive;
  • They cause unhealthy weight gain;
  • They develop a natural desire for sugary foods from a very young age. 

That’s why it’s best to choose a formula that’s low in sugar. 

Vegetable Oils: 

Many organic baby formula brands are making positive changes and using lower quantities of cheap, problematic oils — like  soy and canola. And instead they’ve increased the amount of healthier oils — like coconut and olive. 

This move is following one of the recent health trends we’re seeing today: the increase in healthier oils on our grocery store shelves. In the old days you’d only see olive, canola, and other vegetable oils. But today, there are much healthier alternatives like coconut, avocado, grape seed, etc. 

But, many products still rely on hydrogenated and industrial vegetable oils — like canola or palm oil. These oils are cheaper but are also more unhealthy for your baby. The processing of industrial vegetable oil may contain bleach, deodorizers, and solvents too. Yuck! 

Many of these unhealthy oils are high in trans-fats and can be hard for adults to digest…let alone babies! You’ll definitely want your little one’s formula to stay clear of these unhealthy oils to set your baby up for success. 

Genetically Modified Ingredients: 

Many parents and pediatricians are concerned about GMO’s (genetically modified organisms) these days — and for good reason! 

There really hasn’t been enough research on the health impacts of GMOs on humans and infants. 

Babies are especially vulnerable when it comes to consuming GMOs because their digestive and immune systems are not fully developed. And GMO crops usually have very high exposure to dangerous pesticides and herbicides such as Roundup. These dangerous chemicals can have serious consequences including brain damage and stunted development.

But some of the top baby formula brands — like Similac, Enfamil, and Gerber Good Start — are actually exposing babies to harmful genetically modified ingredients . And the scary part? These top brands account for more than 90% of all infant formula sales in the U.S. Yikes! 

And the biggest problem is… Unlike more than 60 countries around the world, the United States does not require companies to label and reveal their GMO ingredients to consumers! This can be so infuriating for parents. 

Try to avoid the biggest culprits with GMO’s: non-organic formulas, especially those that are soy based. 

Problem 3: Harmful Ingredients In Baby Formula: 

Let’s take a look at the ugliest of all the culprits in your baby’s formula… These are the ingredients you’ll want to be most mindful of as you select your brand of choice!


Preservatives are pretty hard to avoid these days. Unfortunately they are found in most non-organic baby foods to extend the shelf life of the product and prevent certain oils from spoiling. 

But even some organic brands have snuck these chemicals into their products despite it being against the law! (The Organic Foods Production Act, passed by Congress in 1990, bans the use of synthetic preservatives in organic food.) 

The problem is that preservatives, like beta carotene and ascorbic palmitate, are artificial substances. These additives can create toxins in your baby’s body that may lead to them failing to meet developmental goals and cause negative effects on their vision and hearing.


Carrageenan is an additive that continues to be used in the U.S. despite being outlawed in infant formula by the European Union. 

Carrageenan is actually organic, as it’s derived from seaweed. But research has shown that it can lead to devastating health problems like IBS, rheumatoid arthritis and colon cancer. 

Sadly, this ingredient is found in both conventional and organic baby formulas in the U.S. because it functions as a stabilizer to ensure the nutrients are well-mixed. Ready-made varieties of formula tend to have the highest levels of carrageenan. 

Toxins (Arsenic, Lead, Cadmium, and Aluminum)

Toxins like arsenic, lead, and cadmium are chemicals you’d expect to find in rat poison and batteries…not baby formula!

But a study by the Clean Label Project, found that in the U.S.’s baby formula products: 

  • 80% contained arsenic which can cause cancer, heart disease and even death (WHO). 
  • 36% contained lead which can cause behavioral problems and lower IQ’s (Environmental Defense Fund). 
  • Cadmium was also detected at alarming levels — which is used in batteries and as a plastics stabilizer (Eco Watch).

Aluminum is found in breast milk and tap water, but at much lower levels than many baby formula’s. Soy formulas tend to have higher concentrations of aluminum that can lead to cancer and Alzheimer’s disease later in life.

How To Choose The Best Baby Formula

I know how stressful it can be to try to find quality baby formulas that are still nutritious and don’t contain potentially dangerous ingredients. 

If you see these ingredients listed above in your baby formula, it’s time to make a switch. 

But when the list of  ingredients on the back of the baby formula container is a mile long and full of words you can hardly pronounce… It’s easy to feel overwhelmed, confused, and unsure of what to do. 

Here are 3 simple things to keep in mind as you shop for the perfect baby formula: 

  1. Opt for organic ingredients — These will have fewer GMO’s and contaminated ingredients.
  2. Look for “whole” foods — Choose natural carbohydrates, fats, and protein that aren’t synthetic. 
  3. Carefully consider the extra ingredients to decide what’s right for you — Do you want your baby to have probiotics, Vitamin D, and/or DHA/ARA?

Following these easy tips will help you find the best baby formula for your little one!

One Important Way To Make Formula-Feeding Safer: 

If I can offer one extra piece of advice to help make your formula even safer for your baby: Filter your water!

Depending on where you live, tap water may be contaminated with all kinds of chemicals that we’re not aware of…Chlorine byproducts, weed killers, insecticides, solvents, lead, BPA, phthalates…the list goes on. 

And if fluoride is present in infant formula and your tap water, your baby may be exposed to levels that can exceed safe amounts. 

So, consider investing in a good water filter! This will benefit your baby’s — and even your own! — health and wellbeing. 

Where To Buy Baby Formula (Eurpoean):

It can be a little frustrating to try to shop for baby formula at your local grocery store. Most likely they will only carry a few name brands that may have some of the harmful ingredients we’ve talked about. Even a health food store may not have all the options that you’d like. 

That’s why I love Organic’s Best.  Organic’s Best is a family-run company out of Europe that has gone above and beyond to offer the safest organic baby formulas out there. 

I especially appreciate that they have a secure supply chain, so you can have peace of mind that you are getting the best ingredients possible for your little one. 

And they ship all over the world! 

If you’re open to shopping online, definitely give them a look. 

Organic’s Best: https://organicsbestshop.com/ 

My Top Baby Formula Recommendation (U.S. Made):

My top pick for baby formula is Bobbie hands-down. This is one of the most trusted products out there and I love their commitment to purposefully sourced ingredients. 

Bobbie is made in the U.S. and they’ve truly done the proper legwork to ensure their product, manufacturer, and ingredients go through the highest scrutiny to ensure maximum safety. 

If you want a product created by mom’s for moms that want the best for their babies, take a look at Bobbie!

Bobbie Infant Formula: https://www.hibobbie.com/ 

Key Takeaways About The 3 Problems With Infant Formula

Like many parents, you may have started out on your feeding journey intending to breastfeed exclusively. But you may have met emotional and physical challenges. 

Or maybe you prefer formula feeding and this was your plan from the get-go. 

Either way, you want to give your baby the safest and most nutritious food. 

Good health starts from day one, and the habits your little one picks up as an infant and toddler could stick with them for life.

But sadly, some of the “top” baby food manufacturers don’t choose the most healthful ingredients. If you’re a new mom, you may not have time to read all the ingredients on the packaging, but you should. 

If you don’t have the time, shop from trusted companies like Organic’s Best and Bobbie. This will give you peace of mind and comfort knowing that you’re giving your baby the best food possible every single day!