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Enfamil vs Similac: Is Similac or Enfamil Best?

Enfamil vs Similac: Is Similac or Enfamil Best?
Latest posts by Keith Lindner (see all)

Formula is a common substitute for breastfeeding among mothers who either can’t or don’t want to breastfeed.

It’s also an option for children who are lactose intolerant (or with lactase deficiency), have trouble gaining weight, or who are adopted and don’t have access to a mother who can breastfeed them.

Formula feeding is a practice that is sometimes frowned upon by parents who believe that breastfeeding is the healthiest option for babies, but the reality is, not every mother has the ability to breastfeed and not every baby has access to a breastfeeding mother. 

Main Differences Between Enfamil vs Similac

The main differences between Enfamil vs Similac are:

  • Similac typically uses more sugar in their formula, whereas Enfamil minimizes sugar in the table of contents
  • Enfamil is generally more expensive than Similac
  • Enfamil currently has 15 formula products, whereas Similac has 20
  • Enfamil tends to have more natural and fewer ingredients compared to Similac

The question of which formula is better is more than just which brand is the best. You have to account for the different types of formula each brand makes, including a formula for sensitive tummies, formula made from soy, and much more.

Types of Formula

Both Enfamil vs Similac make several different types of milk formula.

This includes a formula for babies who have upset stomachs, babies who are lactose intolerant (lactose intolerance), hypoallergenic formula, infant formula, and toddler formula.

Enfamil Formula Types & Varieties

Similac Formula Types & Varieties

With so many options, it’s tough to know which is best. Similac (owned by Abbott Laboratories) has more varieties than Enfamil, but which offers better nutritional value or meets the needs of your child the best? Sometimes it’s tough to know until you try it.

With any formula, study the labels to make sure you’re comfortable with the ingredients before feeding it to your child. If your child has special nutritional needs, choose a baby formula that’s specially formulated for those calories and nutrition.

Unless your child has an adverse reaction to the formula you choose right away, continue feeding with that baby formula for a week or two to see if it works before putting your child’s tummy through a lot of unnecessary changes.

About Enfamil

Through extensive research, we found that the Enfamil formula brand emphasizes the importance of nutrition, brain boosters, and less added sugar (sugar calories).

Enfamil contains about 50% more AHA and DHA oils (docosahexaenoic acid) to promote eye development and neural development. However, there are plenty of options from Enfamil to choose from, and some have added nutrition while others do not.

Gentlease [Gentle Formula]

Enfamil offers a Gentlease product line for babies who are fussy, gassy or tend to spit up frequently. They offer NeuroPro Gentlease with brain and eye development nutrients, Enfamil Enspire Gentlease that contains a baby formula closest to breast milk, PREMIUM Gentlease for easing the transition to NeuroPro Gentlease, and the traditional Gentlease product that is the basic baby formula for sensitive tummies.

This product offering is best for reducing crying, gas, and fussiness while providing your child with the nutrition they need to maintain their health during the first year of life. It has the necessary fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals (e.g. vitamin D, B vitamins, etc…), carbohydrates, fatty acid nutrients, and water. It uses corn syrup to help your baby digest the cow’s milk more easily.

Unlike the Similac sensitive tummy variety (sensitive formula), this Enfamil variety contains additional whey protein concentrates from soy and partially hydrolyzed nonfat milk to help sensitive tummies digest cow’s milk and add in reducing fussiness and gas.

This product should be compared to Similac Sensitive but wins out with the added ingredients for aiding digestion (specifically if the issue is cow milk). It can help babies with sensitive tummies more than the Similac variety can. You can also compare this one to Gerber Good Start Gentle or Gerber Soothe.

Buy it directly here on the Enfamil website (save in bulk).

Has This Product Been Recalled?

Yes. The Enfamil Gentle Formula has been recalled in July 2019, because the formula with LOT (BMJ19,) is suspected to contain metal particles.

Enfamil A.R.

It’s reasonable to believe that babies who spit up regularly might have sensitive tummies, but that’s not always the case. An infant’s digestive system is not yet fully developed, so the valve that allows food to pass through the esophagus to the stomach doesn’t do an effective job of keeping the food down.

This leads to excessive spit-up in babies, but it doesn’t always mean your baby will be fussy or gassy, it just makes messy work of being parents. If you find that you’re struggling with this type of spit-up, Enfamil A.R. can help.

Enfamil gives an extensive list of reasons why their A. R. formula is clinically proven to reduce your baby’s tendency to spit up by over 50%. It contains probiotics for digestive health and the solution is thicker, which makes it heavier and harder to spit up.

Enfamil uses extra sugars in their A. R. formula to settle fussy tummies and uses rice to help make it thicker. It has a similar mix of vitamins and minerals to comparable varieties like Similac Spit-Up.

The main ingredients in this Enfamil formula are vegetable oils, rice starch, maltodextrin, lactose, and nonfat milk. When compared to Similac, Enfamil has more prebiotics and much less sugar, so it promotes better overall gut health. Shop Now with The Baby Swag (save in bulk).

Has This Product Been Recalled?

Not to this date, however, the company has issued an allergy alert for milk protein back in 2001 and also a warning for changing the label of the formula, so parents know what they are getting into.

Enfamil Nutramigen

This alternative is great for babies who have an allergy to cow’s milk or experience colicky symptoms when they drink baby formula with cow’s milk in it. Because of the proteins in cow’s milk, it can be hard for a baby to digest.

Nutramigen can help reduce the colic and other symptoms that come from a cow’s milk allergy. It gives your infant the nutrients they need while providing a hypoallergenic formula that can help reduce the chances of them struggling with the same allergy later on in life.

While it’s not a synthetic or soy formula, it does contain smaller milk protein that is more easily digested by most babies. Sugar aids in the digestion of the milk proteins, and it contains glucose instead of lactose, which breaks down a bit differently.

Shop Now with The Baby Swag (save in bulk).

Has This Formula Been Recalled?

Yes. In 2001, this baby formula has been recalled in some countries due to incorrect preparation instructions which can cause seizures, incorrect heartbeat, and other health problems in babies.

Enfamil Infant

This variety of Enfamil formula provides the basic nutrition your baby needs from birth to twelve months. It’s a milk-based formula that has lactose, nonfat milk, whey protein, soy oil, coconut oil, and high oleic safflower oil. It also contains the fatty acids Palm Olein oil (sometimes just referred to as palm olein oil or olein oil), which is similar to breast milk.

It does not have added sugars, but it does come with Choline, DHA, and Vitamin K as well as a prebiotic. It’s one of the better amino acid-based baby formula types out there. Buy it directly here on the Enfamil website (save in bulk).

Has This Product Been Recalled?

This product has not been recalled, however, the Enfamil Newborn formula with LOT (ZP1K7g) was recalled from Walmart after a 10-day old boy has died.

Enfamil NeuroPro

This Enfamil formula is specially designed to closely mimic breast milk and boost overall health in your infant. It contains MFGM, or Milk Fat Globule Membrane, which is a DHA fat-protein that is only found in breast milk.

The NeuroPro line is frequently recommended for preterm infants (sometimes referred to as premature infants), due to the unique nutrient combination.

Because fat is so important for brain growth and development, this baby formula doesn’t a great job of simulating the fat found in breast milk. This formula uses lactose, nonfat milk, soy oil, coconut oil, and oleic safflower oil without added sugars. Buy it directly here on the Enfamil website (save in bulk).

Has This Product Been Recalled?

There are no recalls for this product so far.

Enfamil ProSobee

This is the only Enfamil formula that is completely milk-free. For babies who can’t digest the proteins in cow’s milk, this is a soy formula that gives them the nutrients they need while helping to avoid the gas and discomfort they may feel when they eat cow’s milk proteins.

While it would be smart to try the Nutramigen first, if your baby still has trouble with digestion or fussiness, this is a great alternative. It uses corn syrup as the primary ingredient with soy protein isolate to avoid milk-based ingredients. Corn syrup is really one of the more problematic syrup options as it pervades so many processed foods (and corn is already hard to process).

It has all of the fats, vitamins, and carbohydrates your baby needs. Buy it directly here on the Enfamil website (save in bulk).

Has This Product Been Recalled?

No recalls as of March, 2022 from Mead Johnson (parent company of Enfamil).

About Similac

Similac tends to add a bit more sugar to their infant formula than Enfamil doesn’t. It may sound like a bad thing, but it’s not all bad. In fact, sugar aids in digestion, which can be beneficial for infants who have developing digestive systems.

Sugar also makes the baby formula taste better, so Similac seems to be preferred for its taste over other brands. However, infants don’t have anything to compare the taste to, so they likely won’t demonstrate a preference in infant formula brands, and they’ll develop their sweet tooth when they try fruits and other foods.

The added sugar will bother some people, and to others, it won’t matter, so this added ingredient is a personal preference and may depend on how your baby tolerates or takes to a specific formula.

Similac Sensitive

The equivalent of Enfamil Gentlease, Similac Sensitive is for babies are fussy, gassy, or spit up more than normal. It’s for sensitive tummies and can help reduce gas and crying. It has all of the nutrition your baby needs in the first year.

While it uses corn syrup solids and has a non-GMO version just like Enfamil, it contains Linoleic Acid (olein oil) and more sugar that can be a powerful prebiotic. It also contains milk protein isolate, which can cause allergic reactions or indigestion, so while many babies are just fine, it’s something to be aware of. it does not contain any palm-based olein oil.

Given that this is supposed to be a baby formula for sensitive tummies, that last ingredient may not have been the best choice by Similac, but if Enfamil Gentlease doesn’t work, it’s another alternative to try.

Has This Product Been Recalled?

Yes. This baby formula has been recalled in large batches due to potential contamination by beetles.

Further Read: Enfamil Gentlease vs Neuropro Compared

Similac Spit-Up

This formula is for babies who spit up regularly. While Similac doesn’t give a lot of detail about their reduced spit-up formula, we do know it uses rice starch to make it thicker than their traditional formula, which helps it stay down. It also contains corn syrup, milk protein isolate, a prebiotic, and vegetable oils. It does not contain GMOs.

There are no recent recalls for this baby formula.

Similac Alimentum

Both Similac Alimentum and Enfamil Nutramigen are very similar. Alimentum is great for colic due to cow’s milk sensitivity because Similac uses hydrolyzed casein, which is still from cow’s milk but is easier to digest than lactose. This casein hydrolysate is made of smaller proteins, just like what’s in the Nutramigen.

Similac uses the sugar maltodextrin to aid digestion, making the milk product even easier to digest. However, the Similac variety has added sugar on top of the maltodextrin and it has more Linoleic Acid. 

Has This Product Been Recalled?

Yes, back in 2006 this formula has been recalled because the bottles are missing a layer that keeps air out of the bottle.

Further Read: Similac Alimentum Review

Similac Advance

The Similac Advance formula has everything your infant needs for nourishment from birth to twelve months. It has lactose, nonfat milk, whey protein, soy oil, coconut oil, and oleic safflower oil, with no added sugars. It also has a prebiotic, Choline, DHA, and Vitamin K.

Where the Similac formula differs from Enfamil is in the Lutein added for vision. Enfamil focuses more on Palm Olein oil similar to what’s in breast milk, but it can be hard on undeveloped stomachs. 

Has This Product Been Recalled?

Yes. In 2010, the formula was recalled because of possible contamination with insects.

Further Read: Similac Advance Review

Similac 2’-FL HMO Pro Advance [Similac Pro Advance]

This brain-boosting formula is similar to the Enfamil NeuroPro. It effectively mimics breast milk by adding fat-proteins combined with DHA. The ingredients in the Similac variety have excellent immune system enhancers and prebiotics to foster the growth of healthy bacteria so the GI tract remains healthy.

While Enfamil NeuroPro is great for brain development, Similac 2’-FL HMO Pro Advance is great for gut development and the immune system. For babies who are otherwise healthy, Enfamil is the better choice, but if you have problems with immune concerns, Similac is a winner. Check it out on Amazon!

Similac Pro-Advance Formula | Amazon

Similac Pro-Advance is the first infant formula with 2’ FL HMO designed to be closer than ever to breast milk. 

Buy at Amazon Buy at Target
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Similac Soy Isomil [Similac Isomil]

For babies who have intolerances to lactose (lactose intolerence or lactose sensitivity) or have trouble digesting even the Alimentum, Soy Isomil is a better choice. It is soy-based with no milk ingredients at all, making it easier to digest and eliminating fussiness and gas.

Like the Enfamil ProSobee, Similac uses corn syrup as the primary ingredient with soy protein isolate. It has all the nutrition baby needs including proteins, fat, vitamins, and carbohydrates. The primary difference is once again the added sugar in Similac as well as Linoleic Acid. Shop Now with The Baby Swag.

Similac Soy Isomil Infant Formula with Iron

Similac Soy Isomil Infant Formula is a nutritionally complete, soy-based infant formula that is iron-fortified and naturally lactose-free.

Buy at Amazon

Has This Product Been Recalled?

Yes. This formula was also recalled due to the potential contamination of insects and larvae.

Similac & Enfamil Alternatives to Consider

Bobbie Non-GMO Formula

Bobbie is a USA based baby nutrition startup, focused on disrupting the (messy) big formula conglomerates (of which Similac and Enfamil are most certainly a part of). 

The Vermont-based Bobbie was founded by moms & employs 100s of moms for customer service and support! 

All of their ingredients meet both FDA AND EU standards, meaning it’s a good substitute for importing European formula (high quality, but only meets EU standards as most haven’t been FDA approved). 

The only sweetener used is lactose (no added sugars) and uses organic milk from pasture raised cows (cows milk). DHA omega-3 is added (with water fully extracted). 

Holle Organic Formula 

Holle is a European based formula brand that’s been in business for almost 100 years. All of their products are Non-GMO, organic, and compliant with the much stricter EU standards. 

Holle has a variety of pasture raised cows milk formulas, as well as A2 milk, and even goat milk formula (great non cow dairy option for sensitive bellies). 

Interestingly, their US-based formula is not FDA approved for infant formulas (due to some arcane “big industry” regulations), BUT their “toddler formula” is available directly via Holle USA here

If you are looking for their newborn and infant varieties, I shop at The Milky Box here for bulk orders (from Europe). Use code TBS10 to take 10% off your entire order. 

Further Read: Holle Organic Formula Review.

Happy Baby Organic Formula

If you’re really passionate about breastfeeding and only need a little bit of formula to help get you by, consider the Happy Baby Organic Formula.

Happy Baby Organic formulated its formula after breastmilk, so it contains lactose, ARAs, DHAs, prebiotics, vitamins, protein, and minerals.  Plus, all of the ingredients in this formula are organic!

There are several stages of formula offered by Happy Baby Organic. Of course, they offer a ‘Stage 1’ formula, which is perfect for babies under a year old. However, they also offer a sensitive formula that caters to babies who have lactose problems

Enfamil and Similac Formula Recalls

While recalls for formula and baby food are rare, they happen on occasion. Recently, both Abbott (more publicly as the parent company of Similac brand) and Enfamil have had recalls.

If you are concerned about this (I know, I am), check out our other baby formula brand guide, so you can rest assured that no matter which one you choose, your baby will be safe.

Have You Considered European Formula?

While a bit outside of the mainstream, non-GMO, organic European baby formulas are quickly gaining traction in the U.S (although they haven’t been rated by the American Academy of Pediatrics yet).

This is largely due to the different – some argue more stringent – quality standards enforced in some European countries compared to American Academy standards.

Here are a few to check out:


Question: Which formula should I pick?

Answer: That’s a loaded question because it depends on a lot of factors including budget, dietary needs, restrictions, health concerns, availability, and much more. You need to review the baby formulas we discussed above as well as the other product offerings out there before you decide. No one can make that determination for you, but your child’s pediatrician can be instrumental in helping you figure it out.

Question: Why is there corn syrup in the formula?

Answer: Many moms of older children have now become overly cautious about the ingredients in their child’s food, and rightfully so. One of those ingredients is corn syrup. However, because the primary ingredient in breast milk is lactose, formula types need a way to mimic that recipe. Most formulas use lactose from cow’s milk to beef up the sugar in the table of contents, but others use corn syrup or palm olein oil to help mimic.

The primary concern is not whether your baby’s formula contains sugar, but how many different sugars it contains. As we’ve already discussed, Similac tends to add extra sugars, which isn’t necessary in all cases. However, that’s a determination you can make based on your child’s specific needs.

Question: Can I give my baby water?

Answer: While you are supposed to mix milk powder formula (powdered formula) with water, you shouldn’t give a baby under six months any water at all otherwise. Infants get all of the nutrients and liquids they need from breast milk or formula. You can start introducing water when your baby begins eating solid foods.

Your baby has a very small belly that fills up quickly. You should be cautious of the amount of water you give because it could take up valuable space for other nutrients your child needs to thrive and be healthy.

Question: How can I tell if my baby doesn’t like it?

Answer: If your baby doesn’t like the formula, they will refuse it. It will be easy to tell whether or not your baby likes it. If your baby is only taking enough formula to quell the hunger, but not finishing a bottle, or if your baby is fussy soon after he eats, it may be time to make a switch. Keep in mind that sometimes the issue is actually the bottle, not the formula, so try a few different bottle options.

Question: How will I know if I need to change the formula?

Answer: Excessive spit-up, gas, fussiness, and other signs of discomfort may indicate you need to try a different formula. You may also need to switch if your baby has a rash because it could be a sign of an allergy.

Question: Is Non-GMO better?

Answer: While some people are worried about GMOs, others aren’t. GMOs are foods that have been modified at their genetic level to make them strong and more resistant to pests. However, GMOs can add bacteria to infant formula just like they can to your food. Because GMOs haven’t been tested very thoroughly yet, we’re not really sure of the effects.
If you’re worried about it, you can get formula without GMOs. These baby formulas don’t have any genetically modified foods in them and are certified organic. They contain foods that were grown without pesticides and other modifiers.

Question: Can I add anything to the formula?

Answer: Don’t ever add anything to your infant’s formula. Always mix it as indicated on the packaging. Adding extra water can fill your child up and prevent them from getting the nutrients they need. Adding rice or other baby cereal before your child is ready could also cause difficulty eating.

Question: Can I make a homemade formula?

Answer: Before we had access to infant formula, mothers would use Caro Syrup and cow’s milk to supplement for infants who didn’t have the access to breast milk that they needed to survive. While these babies were able to live and grow, they were deprived of the essential nutrients they needed to baby thrive as infants.
Enfamil, Similac, and other formula companies have been perfecting their recipes for years, attempting to mimic breast milk and give babies the nutrients they need. The formula still only contains some of the same ingredients of breast milk because you simply can’t replicate it all in a lab.
However, it’s much, much safer for your baby than a homemade formula. It really is the best alternative to breastfeeding.

Question: What about generic brands?

Answer: Of course, you can always look into a generic brand. As a matter of fact, many of the store brands you find are actually manufactured with the same ingredients and in the same facilities as some of the name brands, but at a fraction of the cost.
Look at the ingredients and do some intense research and you’ll find that the store where you normally shop may be made by a name brand. Generic formula types work well for many people and are a great cost-saving alternative.

Question: Can my baby have pure cow’s milk?

Answer: Never. Human babies need human milk, not cow’s milk. Breast milk and formula are specially formulated to include the nutrients your baby needs. They cannot get everything they need from cow’s milk.
Not sure which site s are most trusted to buy your baby formula? Check out our review of the best site s to buy baby formula online here.

Final Word: Similac vs Enfamil?

Both Enfamil vs Similac manufacturers produce a wide variety of recipes that are specially formulated with particular diets in mind.

Every formula has the nutrients your baby needs, but based on your baby’s development, health, and other factors, you may choose a certain recipe over another.

Enfamil doesn’t have as many added sugars as Similac, but babies tend to like the taste of Similac better. We can only assume that’s because they have added sugars. Unfortunately, babies can’t talk, so we don’t know.

Enfamil uses quality ingredients and we would recommend almost any Enfamil variety over the Similac, except in cases like the Similac 2’-FL HMO Pro Advance, Similac Alimentum, or Similac Advance, where the formula is almost identical.

In these cases, it comes down to personal preference, cost, and your baby’s taste.

Because they use higher quality ingredients, Enfamil tends to be more expensive, so that makes it less appealing to some. You get to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of ingredients and cost yourself.

While Similac uses extra sugars, you can always review the ingredients list to see how high on the list it appears. If it’s farther down the list, you may feel more comfortable feeding it to your baby.

Similac also tends to avoid GMOs, which may be another deciding factor for you. Now it’s time for you to choose which you think is right for you.

Remember, parents should always check with their pediatrician if ever in doubt as a qualified medical professional will be able to make a specific recommendation for your situation! 

Recommended reads on the best baby formula:

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