Baby Formula Ingredients: What’s in European Formula?

Understanding the components that compose baby formula can assist you in making informed decisions about nourishing your little one and selecting the right products. Within the EU, stringent guidelines dictate the assessment of nutritional content for infant formula.

Depending on the specific formula type, the ingredients' diversity and quantity might differ to cater to particular dietary constraints while still maintaining an overall similar nutritional foundation. These standards rely on recent scientific discoveries that strive to determine optimal methods for supplying infants with sufficient nourishment to bolster their well-being and growth.

Continue reading to discover more about the various baby formula options at OBF24 as we delve into their makeup and explore the advantages and rationale behind incorporating some of the most prevalent elements.

Varieties of Baby Formula

  1. Cow's Milk Formula

The majority of infant formulas utilize cow's milk as a base, adjusted to mimic breast milk nutritionally. Cow's milk formula contains two primary proteins (whey and casein) both providing essential amino acids. The whey-casein ratio can influence digestibility, varying among brands and products. Cow's milk boasts higher levels of vitamin B12, selenium, and folic acid compared to goat's milk. Nonetheless, cow's milk and goat's milk formulas have relatively comparable nutritional values.

  1. Goat's Milk Formula

Goat's milk formula, such as those offered by Holle, has gained popularity in the European baby food market. Since 2012, the European Food Safety Authority has endorsed goat's milk infant formulas as a safe and healthy option for babies. Goat's milk features naturally elevated protein levels, linoleic acid content, and faster digestibility due to smaller fat molecules that break down swiftly. Notably, goat milk's protein profile more closely resembles human breast milk, making it suitable for those with mild lactose intolerance (excluding cow's milk allergy).

Specialized Baby Formula Categories

Reserve specialized formulas for scenarios where standard options aren't suitable for your baby due to allergies, sensitivities, digestion issues, or other concerns. Always consult your pediatrician before altering your child's diet.

  1. Hypoallergenic Formula

HiPP Hypoallergenic formulas feature hydrolyzed proteins derived from casein or whey. Hydrolyzation breaks down complex milk proteins into more digestible and allergen-reduced hydrolyzed protein. This formula aims to minimize allergy risks in sensitive infants.

  1. Comfort Formula

HiPP Comfort formulaalso include hydrolyzed protein while reducing lactose content to alleviate various digestive problems.

  1. Anti-Reflux Formula

HiPP Anti-reflux formulas incorporate natural thickeners, like carob fruit gum, promoting food retention in the stomach to minimize regurgitation and vomiting.

Formula Nutritional Composition

All the previous formulas share fundamental macro and micronutrient components - proteins, fats, carbohydrates (macros), and vitamins, minerals (micros). These elements provide vital energy for your baby's growth and development.

  • Protein

As mentioned earlier, milk formulas primarily contain whey and casein proteins. Initially, breast milk has higher whey content, vital for quick absorption and energy for newborns. The whey-casein ratio levels out to around 60% whey and 40% casein, mirrored in cow's milk formulas like.

  • Fat

Breast milk and formulas contain saturated, monounsaturated, and polyunsaturated fatty acids, essential for energy, brain development, and infection defense. Popular European formulas include fatty acids like palmitic, oleic, linoleic, stearic, and alpha-linolenic acids, aiding vitamin absorption.

  • Carbohydrates

EU regulations mandate that at least 30% of infant formula carbs be from lactose, akin to human milk. Carbs provide energy and regulate fat and protein utilization for essential bodily functions. Some brands may substitute or supplement lactose with ingredients like maltodextrin, glucose, glucose syrup, and starches, all approved by EU guidelines. Notably, European formulas steer clear of corn syrup.

  • Vitamins and Minerals

Essential vitamins and minerals in breast milk are also added to formulas, including Vitamins A, D3, E, K1, C, B1, B6, B12, plus zinc, manganese, iodine, copper, and selenium. Notable vitamin benefits include:

Vitamin A: Aids skin, eye, hair health and bolsters immunity.

Vitamin B1: Supports energy conversion and prevents complications across systems.

Vitamin B6: Fosters brain development and the immune system.

Vitamin B12: Nurtures nerve health and blood cell production.

Vitamin C: Guards against infections and promotes healing, bone, and muscle development.

Key Baby Formula Ingredients

We've delved into valuable nutrients within European formulas, but let's explore main ingredients and why they're included.

  • Iron

Iron is vital for oxygen distribution in red blood cells and early neurological development. ESPGHAN recommends 4 to 8 mg of iron in formula for healthy infants, introducing iron-rich foods as they grow. Premature or low birth weight babies might require extra iron in their diets.

  • DHA

Starting in 2020, the European Commission mandated the inclusion of the polyunsaturated fatty acid DHA (Omega-3) in all infant formulas. This isn't required in American formulas. DHA carries numerous potential benefits, from nurturing nervous system growth to supporting retinal development. Studies suggest that adequate early-life DHA intake can positively impact long-term health and development.

  • Probiotics and Prebiotics

Prebiotics enhance gut health and collaborate with probiotics to cultivate healthy microflora, boosting the immune system's protective capabilities. Probiotics, small beneficial microorganisms, stimulate healthy intestinal microflora growth, bolstering digestion and immunity.

  • Soy

Soy's benefits for infants have spurred debate. Soy-based formula typically contains isoflavones, akin to estrogen, but no conclusive findings suggest harm to infants. Soy is also employed in milk-based formulas. It's a source of fiber, protein, omega-3 fats, and soy lecithin for emulsification.


European formulas provide comprehensive nutrition backed by recent scientific insights that bolster infant development. Brands like Holle and Lebenswert strive for natural formulas, while HiPP aims for organic formulas emulating breast milk. Regardless of the chosen formula, it contains vital ingredients for your baby's early life!

You might also be interested in reading: "Baby Formula Ingredients Comparison Chart 2024." We break down the top formulas in key categories, ensuring you can make an informed choice that suits your baby's needs. Say goodbye to confusion and hello to confident parenting choices!

Author: Laura
👋 Hey,  I'm a proud mother of two wonderful children. I've been working at OBF24 for 6 years as a formula expert and am part of the customer support team. I love being able to help customers find the perfect formula for their little ones and provide support with any questions they may have. Drop me a message ›