Which is Better – Enfamil or Similac?
As a new parent, there’s nothing more important than ensuring your baby receives the best nutrition possible so they remain happy and healthy. Choosing the right baby formula is essential to providing your bundle of joy with the proper nutrients. However, there are lots of factors to consider when shopping for formula.
Some formulas are cow-milk based, others are soy-based. Some baby formulas are amino acid-based, which are less likely to cause an allergic reaction. And still, some formulas are hypoallergenic, which are the most expensive, but the least likely to trigger an allergic reaction. Some formulas come as powders, while others come pre-mixed. Some are less likely to cause your baby to spit up.
As you can see, there are a lot of decisions to be made in regards to which type or brand of formula is best for your baby. And even within the all the formulas described above, there are subsets of specific formulas for different ages, and health concerns.
You could spend weeks scouring online communities, forums and FAQs, but we’ve done the hard work for you, compiling all the information you need to know. With all these different options, we’re going to focus on two of the leading brands: Similac and Enfamil.
Produced by Abbott Laboratories, Similac is a play on words of “Similar to Lactation.” According to a 2013 Nielsen study, Similac is the #1 infant formula brand on the market. Similac has twice the nucleotides as comparable Enfamil products, which help strengthen the immune system. The formula is marketed as having similar DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid that improves motor skills, ocular health and aids mental development) levels as U.S. breast milk. This statement has been met with some derision, as U.S. DHA breast milk levels are far below that of much of the rest of the world.
If you’re concerned about your baby spitting up after meals, many parents who use Similac say the formula does not typically cause this. Some parents found the packaging of Similac to be superior to competitors because it is easy to open and close, without a mess.
Similac offers an organic formula, which uses sucrose, natural table sugar. This is the more natural option, but some critics argue the sugar breaks down too quickly, leaving your baby hungry sooner. And although the sucrose has not been proven to cause health problems, some doctors believe the extra-sweet sugar can cause rapid weight gain in children, a common indicator of childhood obesity. The non-organic version of Similac uses cow’s milk treated with growth hormones.
Similac is available as a pre-mixed liquid or as a dissolvable powder. The powder comes in large resealable tubs, or in single-serve packets. A 24-pack of 8 oz. pre-mixed Similac costs about $40. A 139.2 oz. tub of powder costs about $145. The Similac lineup is vast, consisting of products for prenatal care, supplementals, routine feeding, sensitive tummies, expert care and toddler nutrition.
- Similac Prenatal – goes beyond the essentials with Lutein and DHA in addition to 22 essential vitamins and minerals
- Similac for Supplementation – for breastfeeding mothers who choose to introduce formula
- Similac Advance – designed with breast milk in mind, has a Lutein and DHA blend
- Similac Advance Organic – Lutein and DHA blend. Certified USDA Organic
- Similac Sensitive – for fussiness and gas due to lactose sensitivity
- Similac Total Comfort – for persistent feeding issues
- Similac Soy Isomill – a soy-based formula for fussiness and gas
- Similac for Spit-Up – for less frequent spit-up in healthy infants
- Similac Expert Care Alimentum – for food allergies and colic due to protein sensitivity.
- Similac Expert Care NeoSure – for babies who are born prematurely, this formula has a blend of Lutein and DHA for brain and eye development
- Similac Expert Care Diarrhea – For the dietary management of diarrhea in infants older than 6 months and in toddlers
- Similac Go & Grow – Balanced nutrition for your older baby’s growth and development
- Similac Go & Grow Soy – Balanced soy-based nutrition for your older baby’s growth and development
- PediaSure – Nutrition support to help kids grow and gain
- Pedialyte – designed to prevent dehydration due to diarrhea and vomiting more effectively than sports drinks or water
Produced by Mead Johnson since the 1950s, Enfamil is a play on words of “Infant Meal.” Enfamil is patterned after regular breast milk, with the same whey to protein composition. It uses lactose as its primary carbohydrate. Enfamil has high concentration of DHA (almost twice that of Similac), an omega-3 fatty acid that improves motor skills, ocular health and aids mental development.
Some parents have observed Enfamil is responsible for consistent, natural stool and rarely causes constipation. However, some parents feel that Enfamil causes their babies to spit up more often.
When it comes to the powdered version of Enfamil, most users find it to be one of the easiest brands to mix and dissolve into liquid. Some powders clump up as you stir them. It is also available in pre-mixed containers. For price points, a 24-pack of 8 oz. pre-mixed formula sells for around $40. The powdered version, weighing in at 133.2 oz., costs around $140-$145.
Enfamil touts itself as providing “nourishing milestones at every stage,” referencing their extensive lineup of formula products suitable from pre-natal to toddler stages. There are Enfamil soy formulas specifically designed for babies with milk allergies, as well as formulas to cut down on gassiness and spitting up. The Enfamil product lineup includes:
- Expecta R LIPIL – supports baby eye and brain development during pregnancy
- Enfamil PREMIUM R NEWBORN – for newborns through 3 months
- Enfamil PREMIUM R Infant – supports infants overall development
- Enfamil R Gentlease R – designed to reduce fussiness and gas
- Enfamil A. R.- reduces frequent spit up
- Nutramigen R with Enflora LGG– manages colic quickly, often within 48 hours – enriched with easily digestible hypoallergenic proteins
- Enfamil R Prosobee– soy-based, milk-free formula
- Enfamil R EnfaCare– for premature infants or infants with low birth weight
- Enfamil R Premature– for rapidly growing premature infants or infants with low birth weight who do not receive human milk
- Enfamil R Human Milk Fortifier Acidified Liquid– fortifies breast milk with proteins and nutrients for feeding low-birth-weight infants
- Pregestimil R– for infants who have trouble absorbing fat and who may also be sensitive to intact proteins
- Nutramigen R AA TM – for infants with severe cow’s milk protein allergy or multiple food protein allergies not effectively managed by an extensively hydrolyzed formula
- Enfagrow Gentlease R Toddler– nutrition tailored for toddlers 9+ months who are transitioning from formula or breast milk
- Enfagrow Soy Next Step– soy based formula for children age 9–24 months
- Enfagrow TM PREMIUM TM Toddler– an alternative to whole milk for toddlers
The long and short of this is every baby is different. Babies react differently to differently formulas. The best bet is to go for the formula that addresses whatever digestive or nutritional concerns you have for your baby, and adjust formulas accordingly.