Simply put, babies up to age of 12 months need milk. For this, you have two choices, breastmilk or formula. Breastmilk is without question the best way to feed babies and in particular newborn infants, however understanding that this is not always possible or desired, infant formula is the only safe alternative during baby’s first year.
Whether you plan to formula feed exclusively or mix feed part breastmilk and part formula, you will be keen to make the right choice in formula to ensure your baby not only receives the best in nutrition but also stays happy with as few issues with digestion as possible.
Australia has very strict standards and regulations in place regarding the safety and sale of infant formulas as governed by Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ), and you can be completely confident that any Australian formula will be safe and suitable for your baby’s consumption.
Infant formulas are fortified with all of the essential nutrients required in order for baby to grow and thrive, and all aim to replicate the goodness of breastmilk as closely as possible.
Having said this, there are differences between the different infant formulas available, and some may suit you and your baby over others.
Mums in your mother’s group may rave about a particular formula but it’s important to remember that formula can be very particular to each individual child. What is perfect for one baby may not be for the next. Likewise, the formula your baby may have been given at hospital may not be the best match for you as you come home, as hospitals tend to only stock a few different types.
Let’s go through our top 10 best baby formulas currently available in Australia and then follow with a handy and informative “how to choose” guide.
1. Nestle NAN Comfort 1
Popular and affordable baby formula
Price AUD: $13.50 ($1.69 / 100 g)
A cow’s milk based formula from trusted brand Nestle, Nan Comfort 1 offers a nutritionally complete start to life for healthy newborns up to the age of six months.
Backed by over 150 years of infant nutrition research and expertise, it’s gentle on tiny tummies whilst delivering all the essential nutrients baby needs to grow and thrive.
The unique packaging of the formula features a see through panel which allows you to see how much formula is left without opening the tin and a separate storage area for the scoop, for the highest level hygiene.
This formula mixes easily and evenly so you’ll be able to prepare bottles quickly and with ease, ideal for the middle of night. Nan Comfort 1 is consistently one of the most popular baby formulas in Australia for its affordability and reliability.
2. Blackmores Newborn Formula
Made from all natural ingredients and super gentle on tiny tummies
Price AUD: $29.99 ($3.33 / 100 g)
Containing 25 essential nutrients including vitamins, minerals, prebiotics and probiotics and boasting no added sugars or artificial sweeteners, Blackmores Newborn Formula is super gentle on even the tiniest of tummies.
Created especially for newborns as a result of over 85 years of experience in natural health, you can be sure your little one is receiving the very best from Australia’s leading natural health brand.
Partnered with Tatura Dairy, this formula is Australian made with only the freshest, highest quality Australian cow’s milk. Dominant in whey protein over casein, it’s therefore easy to digest, reducing the chance of digestion problems like wind and gas to ensure your little one plays and rests well.
This formula contains both cow’s milk and soy proteins which can make it easier for baby to transition smoothly between formula types.
Best For Breastfed Babies
3. Aptamil Profutura 1 Premium
Our best formula for breastfed babies
Price AUD: $38.50 ($4.28 / 100 g)
Suitable for either exclusive or partial/mixed feeding, Aptamil Profutura 1 Premium is a premium, cow’s milk based formula containing a unique and patented synbiotic blend for optimal gut health.
Supporting the immune system as well as brain function, this formula is the result of forty years of Nutricia’s research of baby development and nutrition and contains high quality nutrients in perfect measure.
This formula has been described as pleasant smelling compared to some other formulas and is slightly sweeter in taste, meaning high acceptance rate as babies prefer sweet flavours.
Easy to prepare, you may notice a lot of bubbles and foam appearing after being shaken however these will dissipate naturally with a little time.
4. Aptamil Gold+ 1
Premium product enriched with gut friendly prebiotics
Price AUD: $24.69 ($2.74 / 100 g)
Aptamil is a premium, research driven name in infant formulas so you can be sure that any Aptamil product will be the result of careful research, consideration and testing.
Suitable from birth up to 6 months of age, Aptamail Gold+1 is a premium formula containing a unique blend of ingredients that have been extensively researched by over 30 scientific papers, including research on breastmilk for the closest resemblance possible.
Enriched with prebiotics, it’s easy on baby’s tummy with no harsh additives and lays the perfect foundations for future growth and development.
As well as the handy 900g tin, this formula is also available in individual sachets for easy transportation. It dissolves quickly in room temperature water resulting in a silky smooth texture with a pleasant smell.
Best For Newborns With Gas
5. Karicare Plus 1
Free from artificial flavours and added preservatives, 100% recyclable packaging
Price AUD: $17.99 ($2.00 / 100 g)
Proudly made with New Zealand cow’s milk, Karicare Plus 1 offers a nutritionally balanced start to life for your newborn, also containing added omega fats to best support your baby’s brain development and prebiotics for a happy healthy and settled gut, making it our best formula for newborns with gas.
It’s also completely free from artificial flavours and added preservatives so there are no hidden nasties, just the goodness your baby deserves. It mixes smoothly and its neutral odour won’t offend you or baby.
With a 100% recyclable tin, lid and scoop, this is a good option for environmentally minded families.
Best For Colics
6. Novalac Colic Premium
Specially formulated blend of ingredients calms the tummy and eases colic
Price AUD: $31.99 ($4.00 / 100 g)
Bloating and wind commonly seen in infants suffering from colic is often due to the undigested lactose that can remain in the gut after a feed.
Novalac Colic Premium aims to beat that with its specially formulated blend of ingredients which includes reduced lactose and carbohydrates that are easy to digest, which may help to reduce the build up of gas, wind and tummy pains to effectively calm a colicky baby.
From the makers of Elevit, this nutritionally complete cow’s milk based formula is suitable for use in babies from birth right up to 12 months of age and is suitable even after symptoms of colic have eased, so there’s no need to go to the trouble of transitioning to another product.
When mixed, the texture of this formula is a little thicker than most. We recommend choosing an appropriately sized bottle teat to allow for this so baby doesn’t have any trouble drinking it.
7. Oli6 Goat
Our pick for the natural benefits of goat’s milk
Price AUD: $32.00 ($4.00 / 100 g)
Developed and manufactured locally in Victoria, Oli6 Goat offers the goodness of goat’s milk with a high percentage of milk solids which naturally offers many essential vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A and C, magnesium and calcium.
Naturally easy to digest and gentle on tummies, the texture of this formula is smooth and dissolves easily with a flavour that’s been described as similar to breastmilk, so this may be a good option for breastfed babies.
Oli6 researchers are continuously working with health care and industry professionals to continuously improve their products so you can be confident that the Oli6 Goat formula you are feeding your little one contains optimal nutrition by blending natural goodness with up to date research.
The packaging is completely recyclable, including the tin, lid and scoop for an eco-friendly option.
Slightly more expensive than its cow’s milk counterpart, Oli6 Goat is a great choice if you’re after a high quality formula based on goat’s, rather than cow’s milk and all the natural benefits that go along with it.
8. Nestle NAN Supreme
Partly hydrolysed for super easy digestion
Price AUD: $23.99 ($3.00 / 100 g)
Nestle NAN Supreme is a partially hydrolysed cow’s milk based formula containing no casein, meaning that the proteins have been partly broken down to help your little one digest more easily.
It is not suitable for babies with diagnosed cows milk allergies however may be suitable for babies with wind and/or gas as the broken down proteins are less likely to exacerbate these issues.
Containing all the essential nutrients needed for healthy growth, NAN Supreme is suitable as a complete food for newborn babies. As this formula is richly fortified with iron, you should keep a look out for any possible constipation issues.
When mixed, it’s a little thicker than most formulas and could take baby a while to finish their bottle, however it has been described by mums as “very filling” and is a great choice for top ups if you are experiencing supply issues.
9. Nestle NAN Optipro
Added probiotics and fatty omegas with high whey content
Price AUD: $17.25 ($2.16 / 100 g)
Nestle NAN Optipro is a premium infant formula developed for well balanced nutrition throughout the first year of life. With its unique optimised protein blend, it additionally contains naturally active probiotics for gut health and special fatty omega acids to support brain development.
Backed by NAN’s extensive research in infant development and nutrition, you can be certain that your baby is receiving the very best start to life. As a cow’s milk based formula with a 70:30 whey:casein ratio, it’s incredibly easy for baby to digest so the chance of any tummy issues should be minimal.
The formula scoop sits neatly inside a separate compartment to the powder for hygiene purposes and to ensure it’s never lost. It mixes quickly and evenly to produce a sweet and attractive flavour for your baby.
Best For Constipation
10. Novalac Constipation Premium
Eases the symptoms of constipation in a formula suited for long term use
Price AUD: $31.99 ($4.00 / 100 g)
Novolac Constipation Premium has been specially formulated to best provide relief from constipation by combining a unique blend of ingredients, including natural stool softeners, to give fast acting relief and settle baby quickly.
Nutritionally complete and suitable for babies from birth right up to twelve months, Novolac Constipation Premium can also be used after the symptoms of constipation have resolved and is a great choice if constipation is an ongoing problem as it gently encourages and increases healthy stool frequency.
Fortified with omega fatty acids, this cow’s milk based formula has a pleasant smell and taste and although it’s slightly on the thicker side in texture, it doesn’t have any trouble passing through newborn bottle teats.
How to choose a formula for your newborn
Confused about all the different terms and variants of formula? Not sure which one is right for you? Let’s go through some handy information about the many different types and forms of formula available so you can better understand and be well equipped to make an informed choice. We also offer some useful tips on hygiene and preparation.
Types of baby formula
- Cow’s milk formula. The most common type of formula on the market is, as the name suggests, made of the proteins in cow’s milk. If your baby can tolerate it (no cow’s milk allergies or intolerances or family/cultural/ethical reasons) this is generally the most recommended type of formula as it is easily digested and naturally contains a good balance of nutrients. The proteins in cow’s milk can be divided into two types: whey, which digests quickly, and casein, which digests more slowly. Formulas suitable for newborns are sold as “stage one” or “first stage formulas”, and have been altered to be primarily whey based with a whey:casein ratio of at least 60:40. This is thought to be closer to the natural composition of breastmilk and is easier for a young baby to digest over formula intended for older babies which are based mostly on casein (with the purpose of keeping an older baby fuller for longer).
- Hydrolysed formula. Hydrolysed formula is cow’s milk based formula where the proteins have been broken down into smaller components for much easier digestion. It’s often given to babies who are at risk of developing allergies, and often marketed to relieve the symptoms of colic and wind. Extensively hydrolysed formula goes a step further than this and breaks down the milk proteins completely. It is often suitable for babies with mild to moderate cow’s milk protein allergies however if you suspect your baby may be at risk of allergies, please consult your health professional before use.
- Goat’s milk formula. There are claims that goat’s milk is much closer in composition to human breastmilk than cow’s milk and has more recently been commonly available as the base of some infant formulas. It tends to be smoother than cow’s milk and is said to cause less inflammation with easier digestion, though more research is needed to clarify this. Goat’s milk formula is usually not a suitable alternative to cow’s milk formula if your baby is allergic to cow’s milk proteins as these proteins in both types of milk are incredibly similar.
- Soy based formula. Soy based formula is currently the only non-dairy based formula available in Australia. It’s made with modified soy bean extracts and fortified with added nutrients to make it suitable for baby’s consumption. Soy based formula can be chosen over other types of formula for several reasons, including allergies and cultural and religious reasons however it should be noted that it cannot be considered vegan as the added vitamin D will sourced from sheep’s wool lanolin. It will be, however, the closest option to a vegan formula. As sweeteners are added to soy based formulas to make it more palatable, you should take extra care with cleaning any new teeth.
- Organic formula. Organic formula is any of the above formulas, except it will made without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and other agricultural chemicals, and certified as such. It’s worth keeping in mind however that all infant formulas, organic or not, are mandated by strict legal limits on the safe levels of chemical residues. Certified organic infant formulas naturally attract a higher price than non organic formulas, so you may want to consider whether or not organic formula is worth to you this extra cost.
Gold or Plus formulas. Formulas marketed as “Gold” or “Plus” contain approved, additional ingredients (in addition to the key nutrients specified by FSANZ that must be present) such as prebiotics, probiotics and omega fats, which may have further health benefits to your baby.
- Prebiotics and probiotics. Both prebiotics and probiotics have been proven to be safe for baby’s consumption. Babies who are given formula containing prebiotics have been found to have gut bacteria that is more similar to exclusively breastfed babies, and their poos are of a more similar consistency and frequency to breastfed babies, suggesting that there could be health benefits to the inclusion of prebiotics. Probiotics are thought to be beneficial in improving gut health and immunity, though further research on both of these points is required.
Different forms of formula
- Powdered formula tins. The most economical choice, most parents will opt for powdered formula for general use, generally sold in tins where one tin will feed your baby from days to weeks depending on the number and amount of feeds. It does take a little time to prepare each bottle but powdered formula has a long shelf life even once opened and takes up much less room in your cupboard and nappy bag.
- Powdered formula sachets. Sachets contain a single serve of powdered formula, eliminating the need for measuring it out – simply tear open and add to your bottle. Very handy to take out and about and taking up barely any space, the cost per unit is considerably higher than powdered formula tins.
- Ready-to-use formula. Super convenient with no measuring, mixing or sterilising needed, simply open and serve. Not surprisingly, this option is more costly and uses much more packaging than powdered formula, but it can be useful to have a few bottles on hand for emergencies or for when you might not have access to safe, sterilised water. It can also be a good idea if you want to buy a few bottles to sample the product before purchasing the entire tin.
Safe preparation and hygiene
It’s important to understand that although manufacturers have strict controls in place to minimise any risk of contamination, infant formula is not sterile and as such the correct storage, care and preparation of formula is paramount to reduce the risk of contamination and illness as much as possible.
When preparing baby formula, you should always carefully read and follow the instructions that come with your formula. It’s especially important to pay close attention to the ratios and to measure exactly as instructed to ensure your baby receives the appropriate nutrition. It’s best to only make bottles up as you need them, rather than making them in advance. For travelling, it’s advised to carry sterilised water and the powder separately, and only mix as you need it.
All bottles and equipment should be sterilised before each use in very young babies under six months of age. You can use a bottle steriliser for this, but the easiest way is to put all bottles, rings and teats into a large pot, fill with cold water, and bring to the boil. Boil for five minutes and then turn off the heat, allowing the water to return to a temperature cool enough that you can reach in without being scalded. At this point, your bottles will be safely sterilised and ready to use.
- Boil fresh tap water and allow it to cool down to your preferred, safe temperature.
- Measure the cooled boiled water into your sterilised bottle.
- Using only the scoop from your formula tin, measure the correct amount of scoops into the bottle, levelling off each scoop on the side of the tin or with a sterilised utensil.
- Seal the bottle and tap and swirl it gently so the powder is dispersed into the water, then shake vigorously to thoroughly mix the powder and water together to form an even consistency.
- Before giving to baby, test the temperature by squirting a little on the inside of your wrist. It should feel neither hot nor cold.
- If your baby doesn’t finish his bottle, always discard the contents. It can be tempting to save it for later, but bacteria and germs have already entered the product through the teat that your baby has been sucking on.