Baby Feeding

Supplemental Formula vs Regular Formula – What’s the Difference?

Whether you simply can’t breastfeed or you’ve chosen not to, don’t worry – there are so many alternatives on the market today that are all designed to mimic the effects of breastfeeding to give your child the best start in life. The main two you’ll come across is a standard baby formula and supplemental formula. Not sure what they are? Then read on as we’ve got you covered.

Standard baby formula is typically made from cow’s milk and contains all the key nutrients that your baby would otherwise get from breastfeeding. It’s probably the most popular type of formula as it’s the most understood. You can use it alongside your breast milk or as a complete replacement.

It may sound obvious, but the supplemental baby formula is perfect for moms who choose to introduce baby formula into their baby’s diet. There might be many reasons why you need to start supplementing – your baby could be losing weight, your milk supply might be starting to dwindle or your nipples might be too sore for you to keep on breastfeeding. If you’re in this situation then the biggest thing to remember is you absolutely do not need to feel guilty. It happens. The best thing you can do is to begin supplementing to ensure your baby is getting enough milk to help them grow.

Right now it might seem like a bit of a minefield navigating your way through the two formulas but stick with us as we want to make life easier for you. Hopefully, by the end of this guide, you’ll have a better understanding of what they both are so you can make the decision on what might work for you and your baby.

The Main Differences Between Supplemental and Regular Formula

You might be wondering what the differences actually are between supplemental and regular baby formula. Well, there may be more than you think. We’ve rounded up the key differences between the two so you can see them in one easy-to-read place. Hopefully, this will make it just that little bit easier to understand.

  • A supplemental formula can be fed through a tube attached to your nipple, which helps to continue a breastfeeding routine. Regular formula tends to be fed through a bottle.
  • The supplemental formula usually contains a probiotic to help with digestion.
  • The supplemental formula tends to be more expensive than regular formula.

FAQ’s About Supplemental and Regular Formula

Is it safe to supplement my baby’s diet with formula?

Yes, it’s perfectly safe. Formula typically contains all the key nutrients your baby needs to grow and develop. You may need to supplement because your baby’s not getting enough breast milk, or because you need family members or outside help to feed your baby. Either way, don’t worry – formula (whether supplemental or regular) is a great way to give your baby the best start in life.

I still want to breastfeed. Will formula affect my supply?

This is a bit of a tricky one as everyone is different. Generally speaking, if you only supplement a few times a week then there’s unlikely to be much effect on your breast milk supply. However, if you begin to do it more regularly, say once a day, you may find that your supply starts to diminish. If this starts to happen, you might find it useful to pump your milk and store it in the fridge/freezer for use later on.

When can I start using formula?

Experts recommend waiting until at least a month before feeding your newborn formula. This will allow your body to get used to your breastfeeding routine, and to ensure that routine is not disrupted. When your baby is at least a month old, feel free to start using formula at a routine that suits you both.

What can I expect once I start supplementing?

At first, it’s perfectly normal for your baby to start refusing breast milk. They might eat faster, but also go longer between feedings. Something that might concern you is they may not pass a stool for a few days. All of these are completely normal symptoms while your baby is getting used to the formula. However, if you’re concerned in any way consult your doctor straight away.

Supplemental Formula vs Regular Formula – Which Is Better For Your Baby?

Palm Oil vs Coconut Oil in Baby Formula

Both supplemental and regular formulas have their place and there are definitely benefits to both. We’ve researched both extensively, reading reviews from real-life mom and dads to see how each one worked for them. This means you can trust our reviews as they’re tried and tested. We’ve also got a selection of our favorite products which you can find online and in-stores, so read on to discover more.

Supplemental Formula

Supplemental formula essentially means you are giving your baby formula milk as well as breast milk. This can be beneficial if you or your baby are struggling with breast milk on its own, and it also gives you some much-needed recovery time.

Like we’ve already mentioned, there might be plenty of reasons why your baby needs extra milk. Your baby might be too small or unwell to breastfeed on their own at first. Also, if not enough milk is removed after birth, there’s not a strong enough signal to increase the milk supply your baby needs. Don’t give yourself a hard time over this. It’s perfectly normal and just means you need a supplemental formula to help. More simply though, you might need to start using formula because you’re going back to work.

There are many things you need to consider before using supplemental formula. If you’re using a cow’s milk formula, your baby might develop a sensitivity to it. They also might start to prefer to use a bottle and get frustrated at feeding from the breast instead. And if you don’t breastfeed alongside the bottle, it’s likely your breast milk supply will start to drop.

Don’t let all of this put you off though. Some of the leading brands have all tapped into the supplemental formula market, from Similac to Enfamil, which are tried and tested brands that have earned a solid reputation with moms and dads all over the world. All contain top quality ingredients (more on that below) to aid in your baby’s growth and development.

Best supplemental formulas on the market

The following supplemental formulas can be found on the market:

Similac For Supplementation Non-GMO Infant Formula with Iron

Blemil Plus 1 Forte Baby Supplement

Baby’s Only Organic Whey Protein Toddler Formula (12.7oz)

Features of typical supplemental formula:

  • Most sweeteners come from lactose.
  • Typically includes MGFM and Lactoferrin – both nutrients found in natural breast milk.
  • No genetically modified ingredients.
  • FDA approved, so perfectly safe.
  • Typically contain intact proteins, which help with digestion.

Pros:

  • Top quality nutrients included to help with growth and give your baby a good diet
  • Reliable brands have tapped into the market, so you know they’re popular
  • Supplemental formulas tend to use non-GMO ingredients, so they’re not genetically modified
  • Contains ingredients found in breast milk
  • Supplemental formulas are a great way to combine the nutrients of formula with breast milk
  • Can give you a break if your nipples are feeling sore

 Cons:

  • Can smell quite strong
  • At first, you might notice your baby’s stool become more firm. This is normal, but consult your pediatrician if you find it doesn’t get softer
  • The taste isn’t for everyone

Parents’ popular opinion on supplemental formula

Parents who use supplemental formula seem to love it, as it really helps them deal with a lack of breast milk supply. These are some real-life reviews:

  • The supplemental formula helped one mom’s underweight daughter gain weight in a short space of time, making her healthy again.
  • One mom was delighted that supplementing helped her husband bond with their baby.
  • Supplementing was a great help for one mom, who couldn’t pump her breast milk at all times.
  • Other parents were really happy that they were safe in the knowledge that their children were getting all the nutrients they needed.

Regular Formula

baby formula

Regular baby formula has been specially developed to mimic the effects of breast milk. It’s packed with nutrition that helps your baby to grow, develop and thrive, and is available in either a powder, liquid or ready-to-drink form. The regular formula generally tends to be used as a replacement for breast milk, or as the next step once you’ve decided to move on from breastfeeding. You can find formula suitable for newborns right up to the toddler stage.

Regular baby formula is packed with iron and vitamin D, which helps to keep the teeth, bones, and muscles healthy. It also makes it easy to regulate how many calories your baby is consuming, so if they’re currently underweight you can get them back to a healthy size in no time. There’s loads of choice when it comes to the type of formula you can buy. From non-GMO to soy and dairy-free variations, your child’s needs are almost certain to be catered for.

Not only are there loads of health benefits, but feeding using formula is incredibly convenient, especially if you’re heading back to work or rely on family or friends to look after your child. Breastfeeding is simply not always the best option. It’s great to know there are other options out there that will give your child exactly what they need.

Best supplemental formulas on the market

These are some of our favorite baby formulas, which can be found on Amazon:

Enfamil Enspire Infant Formula 

Gerber Good Start Gentle Powder Infant Formula 

Earth’s Best Organic Dairy Infant Powder

Features:

  • Available from birth to the toddler stage.
  • Features plenty of vitamins vital for your child’s growth.
  • Packed with omega acids found in breast milk.
  • Variations available, like dairy and soy free options to cater for allergies.

Pros:

  • Formula helps your baby feel fuller for longer.
  • It’s a convenient option when you’re on the go.
  • Easy to digest.
  • There are lots of formulas available with no genetically modified ingredients.
  • Comes in a liquid, powder or ready-made bottle format, so plenty of choices when it comes to what works best for you.

Cons:

  • Like supplemental formula, the taste can be hard for some babies to take to.
  • Some contain synthetic ingredients, which may be off-putting. Check the ingredients list carefully before you buy.

Parents’ popular opinion on regular baby formula

We’ve taken a look at some real-life review from mom and dads who use baby formula regularly, and this is what they had to say:

  • Many moms are pleased that their baby took easily to the formula and enjoyed the taste.
  • Parents noted that they noticed reduced gassiness and discomfort in their children when using a baby formula with organic ingredients.
  • One parent raved that with their chosen formula, their child “took to it quite easily and loves it. No real gas issues and is poops regularly.”
  • Others loved that it was so easy to transition from breastfeeding to using formula.

The Verdict

Do you want to know the honest truth? We don’t think one’s better than the other. Both contain pretty much exactly the same ingredients and both are packed with the necessary good stuff your baby needs to thrive. What makes the difference is how you intend to use the formula. Whether you’re supplementing or switching to baby formula completely, it’s really important you find something that works for both you and your baby.

The great thing is most well-known brands offer both a supplemental and regular baby formula, so if there’s one you really like then there should be a variety of options for you to try. Do your research, read the reviews and make sure the one you choose feels right. Don’t just go for one your neighbor or work colleague recommends – go and speak to your pediatrician to talk through your options and to get some professional advice.

Final Thoughts

As you’ve hopefully learned from our guide, the choice really is yours… While that might seem a bit of a cop-out, there’s so much information to weigh up and factors to consider that we really can’t make the decision for you – we can only arm you with the information so you have a better understanding of what might work for you.

First things first, make sure you have a solid idea of what your baby reacts well to and what you should avoid. This might be cow’s or goat’s milk – in which case soy is a good alternative. And keep an eye on how their health or weight is changing. A positive reaction shows that your chosen formula is working. Any undesirable reactions is probably a good indication that you need to switch to something else. If you’re worried about anything – whether big or small, always check with your pediatrician.

We hope this guide has helped you learn a bit more about both baby formulas. If you have any questions then feel free to pop them in the comment section below – our expert moms and dads are more than happy to help! And if you have anything else you’d like us to review, let us know and we’ll see what we can do.

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