Your Guide To Switching Baby Formula (2022)

Sometimes, the baby formula you start with isn’t the one you stick with. While all baby formulas marketed and sold in the United States must meet the same federal nutrient standards, ingredients differ. Learn some reasons pediatricians recommend and parents choose to switch, plus a guide to making the transition from one formula to another easy on your baby.

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6 Signs You Might Need to Switch Baby Formulas

Parents should start their babies on a standard milk-based formula unless they have a medical condition, such as an allergy to cow’s milk, that warrants the use of a specialized variety, says Jessica Gust, a pediatric dietitian and founder of Element Nutrition Co. for Kids in Arroyo Grande, California.

If their baby isn’t tolerating a standard formula, the best formula to change to depends on the symptoms, she says. There are several potential signs a baby isn’t tolerating their current formula well.

Excessive Spit Up

All babies spit up due to their underdeveloped digestive systems. As long as your infant is steadily gaining weight—about 6 ounces a week—and wetting diapers at least once every six hours, there’s often little to worry about. But when spit up amounts to more than 2 tablespoons at each feeding, it could be a sign of a formula intolerance.

Very Slow Weight Gain

Tracking weight gain and diaper output can be useful in gauging a baby’s overall well-being. When infants are gaining weight properly, parents may note the following:

  • Babies reach their birth weight again 10 to 14 days after birth.
  • Between birth and 3 months of age, they gain about 1 ounce a day.
  • By the time they reach 6 months, babies gain .67 ounces a day.

If your baby doesn’t gain weight as expected, discuss it with your child’s pediatrician.

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Extra Fussiness Following Feedings

There are countless reasons a baby might spiral into a crying fit, but when your child is inconsolable during or following a feeding, formula intolerance may be the culprit. A study of 256 babies between 1 and 3 months old who were prone to excessive crying and fussiness reported a “substantial decrease” in symptoms following a 14-day switch from a standard milk-based formula to a partially hydrolyzed 100% whey or whey-enriched protein formula.

Bloody Stool

There’s no way around it—finding blood in your baby’s diaper can be a scary sight. While there are several reasons for bloody stools—all of which necessitate a call to your pediatrician—one culprit may be an allergy to cow’s milk, which is the protein source for standard baby formulas.

Severe Constipation

Formula-fed babies generally have at least one bowel movement a day, though going up to two days without one is no cause for concern.

However, if your baby is straining, producing hard, small stools, or suffering from painful stomach cramps, it’s likely they’re constipated. A diet change could provide some relief. Babies who use a formula without palm oil may have softer stools.

Be aware that switching to a low-iron formula in an effort to ease constipation isn’t recommended. Infants require iron intake for proper growth and development, and the amount present in baby formulas shouldn’t cause constipation.

Allergy Symptoms

An estimated 2% to 3% of babies develop a milk allergy within their first few months (though most outgrow it). They can show symptoms either immediately following a feeding or up to 10 days later. These symptoms include:

  • Eczema or skin rashes
  • Loose stools (which may contain blood)
  • Vomiting or gagging
  • Refusing bottles
  • Fussiness
  • Wheezing
  • Swelling
  • Hives
  • Anaphylactic shock (though more common with other food allergies)

If your baby experiences any of these symptoms of an allergic reaction, contact your pediatrician.

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(Video) How to Switch Formula Safely to Minimize Reactions? - Happy Hour w/ Dr Young

The Best Method for Switching Formulas

If you suspect your formula-fed infant is struggling with an intolerance, you may consider trying something new. Follow these steps for a successful formula change.

Consult Your Baby’s Pediatrician

While parents know their babies best, a recentBioMed Centralreport found they often confuse normal infant behavior for allergies or intolerances, switching formulas to little benefit. The study underscored the importance of consulting your child’s pediatrician before making any dietary changes.

Consider Each Formula’s Protein Type

There are four main types of baby formula. Talk to your pediatrician about which makes sense for your baby.

  • Milk-based:This standard formula contains intact cow’s milk proteins casein and whey. Cow’s milk proteins are larger than human milk proteins (breast milk) and can be difficult for some babies to digest. Some milk-based formulas have added whey to make the casein-whey ratio more similar to breast milk, thus easier to digest.
  • Partially or fully hydrolyzed:Rather than fully intact, the milk proteins in this formula are broken into smaller pieces. Some types include 100% whey protein while others are a casein-whey blend with added whey. Hydrolyzed formulas are often recommended for babies with a family history of eczema and for babies with reflux symptoms.
  • Extensively hydrolyzed:Often referred to as “predigested” or “hypoallergenic,” the milk proteins in this formula are almost entirely broken down or removed completely (free amino acid-based). It may be recommended for infants allergic to cow’s milk.
  • Soy-based:Because milk and soy allergies often go hand in hand, soy formulas are not recommended for babies who can’t tolerate dairy. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), there are few circumstances in which soy formula should be chosen instead of milk–based formula.

Transition Properly

There are two accepted methods for switching formulas, says Amber Rodenas, a pediatric dietitian in Harker Heights, Texas.

  • One-step transition:If your baby switches from a standard formula to one made to be easier to digest, such as a hydrolyzed option, no transition time is necessary. “There should be few side effects,” Rodenas says. “However, monitoring changes in the baby’s bowel movements or other signs of tolerance is still recommended.”
  • Slow transition:For babies transitioning from a specialized formula, such as a hydrolyzed option, a gradual change gives parents time to monitor side effects. This method requires mixing the two formulas together, decreasing the amount of the original formula incrementally.

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Because the formula aisle is enough to make any sleep-deprived parent’s brain hurt, we analyzed the price and nutritional components of more than 80 baby formulas to determine the best products. Product details and pricing are accurate as of the publication date. See how popular baby formulas stack up in our list of theBest Baby Formula 2021.


Questions & answers for consumers concerning infant formula. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Accessed 4/24/2021.

Spitting up in babies. Accessed 4/24/2021.

Spitting up self-care. Medline Plus. Accessed 4/25/2021.

Slow weight gain in infants and children. Boston Children’s Hospital. Accessed 4/25/2021.

Formula feeding faqs: some common concerns. Kids Health. Accessed 4/25/2021.

Vivatvakin B, Estorninos E, Lien R, et al. Clinical response to two formulas in infants with parent-reported signs of formula intolerance: a multi-country, double-blind, randomized trial. SAGE Journals. 2020.

Infant constipation. Accessed 5/8/2021.

Stool — blood in. Seattle Children. Accessed 4/24/2021.

Dehghani S-M, Ahmadpour B, Haghighat M, et al. The role of cow’s milk allergy in pediatric chronic constipation: a randomized trial. Iranian Journal of Pediatrics. 2012.

Constipation: infant. Nationwide Children. Accessed 4/26/2021.

Patient education: Constipation in infants and children (beyond the basics). UpToDate. Accessed 5/7/2021.

Choosing an infant formula. Accessed 5/25/2021.

Anxious parents misdiagnose milk formula intolerance. ScienceDaily. Accessed 4/25/2021.

Sauser J, Nutten S, de Groot N, et al. Partially hydrolyzed whey infant formula: Literature review on effects on growth and the risk of developing atopic dermatitis in infants from the general population. Int Arch Allergy Immunol. 2018;177(2):123-134.

Meyer R, Foong RX M, Thapar N, Kritas S, Shah N. Systematic review of the impact of feed protein type and degree of hydrolysis on gastric emptying in children. BMC Gastroenterol. 2015;15:137.

Padial-Jaudenes M, Castanys-Munoz E, Ramirez M, Lasekan J. Physiological impact of palm olein or palm oil in infant formulas: A review of clinical evidence. Nutrients. 2020;12(12):3676.

(Video) Should I Change the Baby's Formula – Mums Worried About Changing ❤️


Can you just switch baby formula? ›

1 Switching between formula brands is not a problem, even though many parents wonder if doing so may cause fussiness or stool changes in their baby. In fact, you can even mix different brands of the same type of formula together if you feel that your baby responds better to a mixture of one brand with another.

What happens if you switch baby's formula too much? ›

Signs your baby may not be tolerating their formula:

Typical allergy symptoms such as wheezing, hives, excessive vomiting. Bloody diarrhea. Severe constipation. Excessive fussiness after eating.

How long does it take to see results from switching formula? ›

Most of the time babies only need a week to fully transition to a new formula but for some, it can as much as 6 weeks. Your baby's reaction to the new formula may include gas, constipation, and changes in your baby's stool.

How do I go about switching formulas? ›

Swanson advises the following: "You can gradually make the switch by mixing three parts old formula and one part new formula. If the baby drinks it, move to half-and-half and then 1/4 old and 3/4 new. Following that would be a full bottle of the new brand.

Can you switch formulas without mixing? ›

Formula Feeding Myth #2: You can't make a straight switch from regular formula to specialty formula. There's no need to gradually mix in a new formula with your baby's current formula. Both regular and specialty formulas have the nutrients babies need to support their growth and development.

How long should you try a baby formula before switching? ›

Make sure you give your baby enough time to try the new formula, usually 3 to 5 days. Some babies will adjust right away. Others may have slight changes in stool pattern, gas, and/or spit-ting up until they become accustomed to the new formula. If you have questions or concerns, check with your baby's doctor.

How do you know if formula isn't agreeing with baby? ›

There are several potential signs a baby isn't tolerating their current formula well.
These symptoms include:
  1. Eczema or skin rashes.
  2. Loose stools (which may contain blood)
  3. Vomiting or gagging.
  4. Refusing bottles.
  5. Fussiness.
  6. Wheezing.
  7. Swelling.
  8. Hives.
18 May 2022

Can babies have 2 different formulas? ›

Most babies will do just fine with different brands of formula, including store brands, as long as they're the same type, like cow's milk-based, soy, hypoallergenic (extensively hydrolyzed), or elemental (amino acid-based).

Can I switch formula cold turkey? ›

Just because it's safe for your baby to switch formulas cold turkey, though, doesn't mean your baby will like it. The taste may vary slightly – some formulas are sweeter than others, for example, and your baby will probably have gotten used to the flavor of their previous formula.

Can I switch formula straight away? ›

Unless there is an issue, moving onto the next baby milk shouldn't be done suddenly. Your baby will need about a week to adjust to a new formula, so introduce it gradually.

Can I change formula without asking Doctor? ›

Always Ask a Physician for Advice

Your health professional is the only one who can truly say what your baby needs, and you will need their support if you have trouble with the switch. Never change the baby's formula on your own without your doctor's knowledge or advice.

Can I switch from Enfamil to Similac? ›

Most babies do just fine and make an easy transition when switching from one formula brand to another, like from Enfamil Infant to Similac Advance. Every baby is different. Most babies will tolerate Similac just fine.

Which formula is closest to breast milk? ›

Enfamil Enspire

Enfamil's Enspire is the brand's closest formula to breast milk, thanks to the inclusion of proteins found in colostrum, like lactoferrin. (In fact, Enspire is the first and only infant formula in the U.S. to include lactoferrin as an ingredient, according to the brand.)

What does milk allergy poop look like? ›

Your baby's stools may be loose and watery. They may also appear bulky or frothy. They can even be acidic, which means you may notice diaper rash from your baby's skin becoming irritated.

How can you tell if a formula is correct? ›

Correct common formula errors one by one

Select the worksheet you want to check for errors. If the worksheet is manually calculated, press F9 to recalculate. If the Error Checking dialog is not displayed, then click on the Formulas tab > Formula Auditing > Error Checking button.

How can I tell if baby is lactose intolerant? ›

Lactose intolerance symptoms include wind, stomach pain, bloating, rumbling tummy and diarrhoea. Babies with lactose intolerance might also have nappy rash. Most breastfed babies with lactose intolerance can still breastfeed. See a GP about formula-fed babies.

Does warm formula help with gas? ›

Let the formula settle

Why? The more shaking and blending involved, the more air bubbles get into the mix, which can then be swallowed by your baby and result in gas. Try using warm (but not too hot) water compared to cold or room temperature water.

What did babies drink before formula? ›

Although artificial or formula-feeding of infants is presently much safer than it has been in decades, breastmilk is still considered the best source of infant nutrition (Leung & Sauve, 2005). Throughout the ages and until the end of the 19th century, animal's milk was the most common source of artificial feeding.

What formula is best for gassy baby? ›

If a formula change is deemed necessary, one of the following sensitive, gentle, or "comfort" baby formulas may help with gas:
  • Enfamil Gentlease.
  • Enfamil ProSobee.
  • Enfamil Reguline.
  • Gerber Good Start Gentle.
  • Gerber Good Start Soothe.
  • Gerber Good Start Soy.
  • Parent's Choice Gentle Formula.
  • Parent's Choice Sensitivity Formula.
2 Nov 2022

What's the difference between Similac and Enfamil? ›

Gentle baby formulas: The Similac and Enfamil formulas that are specifically designed for fussy babies rely on different protein sources—Similac's Pro-Total Comfort contains 100% whey protein while Enfamil's Gentlease uses 60% whey and 40% casein.

Which baby formula is easiest to digest? ›

Gerber Good Start GentlePro is our top infant formula pick because it contains easy-to-digest proteins, all necessary vitamins and minerals, and added DHA and AA, which may support brain health.

Which formula is gentle on baby's stomach? ›

Similac Total ComfortTM, our tummy-friendly and easy-to-digest formula may help. With gentle, partially broken down protein, Similac Total ComfortTM just might do the trick. †Similar to other infant formulas. Similac® Sensitive® Lactose Sensitivity could help if your baby's discomfort is due to lactose sensitivity.

Can Cold formula upset baby's stomach? ›

It's fine to feed your baby cool or even cold formula. It's all up to your baby's preference – they may prefer it warm, at room temperature, or even chilled, and all of those options are just fine. Some parents like to give their baby warm formula because it's closer to the temperature of breast milk.

Do I need to talk to pediatrician before switching to formula? ›

It's important to consult your pediatrician before switching formulas for your infant to ensure you find the right formula for their specific nutritional needs.

Why is WIC switching to Enfamil? ›

WIC gets a lower price for formula, and uses the money saved to help pay for the other WIC foods. Mead Johnson (Enfamil) offered the best price for cow's milk- based formula and won the contract. WIC will continue offering Similac Isomil (Abbott) for soy-based formula.

What formula is closest to Similac? ›

For Similac advance powder alternative brands include Enfamil infant, Gerber good start gentle, H-E-B baby HMO advantage, Wal-Mart parent's choice infant non-GMO or Wal-Mart parent's choice advantage non-GMO.

How often can you switch a baby's formula? ›

This can be done by replacing one scoop of the old formula with the new formula every two days. This transition schedule can be done with less than a can of formula. How can I tell if baby is not tolerating the new formula? Most babies will accept the gradual change to a new formula.

Can changing formula cause upset stomach? ›

Other causes in formula-fed babies

Using a certain formula or changing formulas can cause diarrhea in babies. Some babies just find many formulas harder to digest, though this is uncommon. It might take them a little while to get used to a new formula. This can lead to tummy cramps, gas, and diarrhea.

Can switching formula cause colic? ›

In fact, many times, switching to formula can make colic worse. Colic — the term for extended periods of unexplained crying or fussy behavior — can have several different causes.

Can you over mix baby formula? ›

Measure Precisely: Too much powder might cause an upset tummy for baby. Check for Clumps: Eyeball the formula after mixing to look for clumps.

What are signs of formula intolerance? ›

What are the Signs of Formula Intolerance?
  • Diarrhea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Blood or mucus in your baby's stool.
  • The baby often pulls her legs up toward her belly because of pain.
  • Difficulty with weight gain or noticeable weight loss.
  • Constant crying and signs of discomfort.

Can I mix 2 formulas in the same bottle? ›

It's safe to mix and match infant formulas if you are following standard mixing instructions. Really. Although spitting up or gassiness is usually not due to the protein in formula (cow's milk versus soy versus hypoallergenic), sometimes changing formula helps new babies and their parents who worry.

Do you put formula in first or water? ›

Use the amount of water listed on the instructions of the infant formula container. Always measure the water first and then add the powder.

What did parents do before formula? ›

Before the era of "modern" medicine, breastfeeding was the preferred method of feeding infants, just as it is today. But if a mother's milk supply was inadequate or she chose not to nurse, the family often employed a "wet nurse" to nourish infants.


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