Generic Baby Formula and Name Brands

Updated on August 05, 2010
B.L. asks from Columbia Falls, MT
19 answers

I'm having such a hard time with breastfeeding and I'm thinking about going to formula. Is the generic basically the same as the expensive stuff, such as similac?

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answers from Dallas on

When I asked my doc about generic she said they are not the same! And with my daughter having a bad stomach I just bought the Enfamil like she said.

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answers from Denver on

I'm really surprised that no one has mentioned high fructose corn syrup... and the dangers related to it. When my twins were transitioning to formula, I had a very hard time trying to find a formula whose first 3 ingredients did NOT include high fructose corn syrup. Soy isn't much better, as far as long term health effects. If there is ANY way you can continue to breast feed, I definitely would. That being said, when you are looking for a formula, be aware of their main ingredients... and there long term effects on our children. Good luck and God bless.

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answers from Minneapolis on

They are the same. I use target brand and it is the exact same as simalec. They are the same ingredients, the same amount and the same manufacturing company. The only difference is the label, and they are like 10 bucks cheaper. It works great for my daughter and i love not having to spend quite so much.

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answers from Denver on

Hi BKL - breastfeeding never came easy to me either. I was finally successful for 6 mos with my second (after a hard start) but then required some surgery and after that it was just gone.

Lots of people say the generics are just as good but I never quite trusted that. I used Enfamil with DHA/ARA for a few reasons. It had the DHA/ARA needed for good brain development, it mixed easily (the similac clumped), and mostly because my sons took it well and it digested easily.

I didnt choose a generic formula mostly because what generic makers do is reverse-engineer the name brands. This is great on some things but they dont always get the formulas exactly right. Also, I would never ever buy a formula that was made in China - they have too terrible of a track record of health violations.

If you try out different formulas, be sure to give your little one some time to adjust. Trying out different brands and different types too quickly can give their little tummies some problems.



answers from Provo on

I would first try and find out if there are any tips to help you nurse easier. But if you are switching, I think they are basically the same, but not really. I started my son on formula at about 6 or 7 months. He was really sensitive to dairy in my diet and would spit up a lot. He still spat up on formula and then we decided to try different formulas. Some were definitely better than others (to more expensive name brands helped him a lot more) and finally our pediatrician told us to try Gentlease by Enfamil. It is hands down the best and he doesn't spit up AT ALL anymore!! So if your baby isn't having any problems, it might not make a huge difference what you use, but they are obviously different. We used similac for a while and then Gerbers Good Start Gentle Plus after that and actually liked that one better than the similac. Maybe you can just try one and if your baby is too gassy or fussy on one, then try another. (It's really not a big deal to switch them.) Good luck!!



answers from Chicago on

If you are having a hard time breastfeeding, please do contact a local LLL leader before giving up on it. It is the best start you can give your baby and is recommended for 12 months. Breast feeding is hard, but well worth it.



answers from Indianapolis on

Great response, Melissa.

Though they have the same ingredients (usually in the same order), it doesn't mean they're in the same proportions, the same grade of ingredients, etc.

We had to switch to formula at 3 months with my daughter so I could start chemo. I would have thought, under the circumstances, that Similac/Enfamil would have provided a few samples. Similac sent 12 $1 off coupons.

We asked our pediatrician - he said the clinical studies done by the brand names prove their formulas do what they claim to. But, he can't make that promise for generics.

Our daughter thrived. After a few months, we did switch to the Kirkland brand at Costco because of cost. She's always been above the 75th percentile in height and weight.

Good luck!



answers from Missoula on

Our ped. said the store brand was fine to use as long as it contained iron. I compared the nutrition content from the expensive brand with the store brand to help me decide which one to use. I don't remember which specific type I used but it was Walmart brand. A friend of mine who is rather particular supplemented her last baby with Target brand. Both kids are 3 now and doing great. Go with what you are comfortable with but compare labels. Also you might see if you qualify for WIC. They help buy formula.



answers from Pocatello on

I'm sorry nursing isn't going well. :( It would be great to see an IBCLC (board certified lact cons) before throwing in the towel. A couple other thoughts... buying a quality breast pump and using your own milk in a bottle is a healthier choice and more economical in the long run. A pump usually pays for itself in a couple months, whereas formula is a weekly bill for a year. Also, if you decide to add some formula to the mix, remember that breastfeeding isn't all or none. Your baby will continue to reap MANY benefits of breastfeeding (or your milk in the bottle) even if you are using some formula, too. Some is always a better choice then none. See the website for ideas.



answers from Salt Lake City on

First of all, don't let anyone make you feel bad about giving up on breastfeeding. It's supposed to be the most natural thing, but sometimes it is the hardest thing and believe me, if you feel like making the change is the best thing for you and your baby, then it is!
My first was preemie and never did get the hang of nursing so I pumped until she was 5 1/2 months old and then switched her to formula, one of the generic brands, and she did ok but had severe reflux until she was almost a year old. My 2nd nursed exclusively until he was 9 months old and then we started to wean and supplemented with name brand formula, which is when his severe reflux stopped. My 3rd is 9 months old now and nursing never worked with him. I pumped until he was 3 months old and he's been on Similac ever since. He has not had the severe reflux that my other children have had. I don't know if the formula has had anything to do with it, but he is a much happier baby and I have been much happier since I made myself ok with the fact that nursing wasn't going to work this time around. I buy my Similac at Costco and it saves a little bit of money, but it is expensive, it's the one reason I can't wait for my little guy to turn 1!
Good luck and be happy with the choice you make!


answers from Milwaukee on

I switched from breastfeeding to formula due to my daughter's sensitivity to dairy. I was very sad I could not breastfeed but I knew it was better that my daughter got what she needed and stopped throwing up (it was not just the typical spit up, it was all that she had just eaten all the time). At first we used name brand but actually found that Parent's Choice lactose free (got it from Walmart) worked the best for my daughter. I think partly you have to just get the very tiny cans and try to find what works best for your baby. They do have different tastes which means some babies may not like the taste of one but like another. I would just look at what they are made of and what "special" thing they promote. If you talk to your pediatrician they should be able to help out and might even give a few different free samples to try.



answers from Boise on

How old is your baby? The first few weeks are hard, and then it gets much easier. And I agree, it doesn't have to be all or nothing. If you need a break, give your baby a bottle and then try nursing again later.

I just had to switch to formula for my 8 month old because I have to take some medication. I am using the Costco house brand. It's $16 for a can that's double the size of the Enfamil can at Costco, which costs $34!!! I can't believe that Enfamil costs 4 times more! The Costco can makes 121 ounces. My baby's a piggy piggy, sometimes drinking 12 oz. at a time, and it still lasts us about a week (probably a little longer).

And while I think the corn syrup thing is bunk--breast milk has sugar in it, and sugar is sugar, whether it came from corn or not--there is no corn syrup in the Costco formula.



answers from Denver on

Go to Costo or Sam's Club and get their generic version. If you compare the ingredients to Similac, they are virtually identical. Your baby will be just fine on the cheaper stuff.



answers from Grand Junction on

They compared the Walmart brand (Parent's Choice) to Enfamil in Parenting magazine and the Walmart brand won in nutrition and value! I got Enfamil from WIC but when I had to purchase it on my own, I bought the Walmart brand. It's considerably cheaper.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I had a hard time breastfeeding my 2nd boy but I bought a pump when he was born. I pumped my milk for about 4 months and was able to put the milk in the freezer. He took it from the bottle, when the milk supply ran out I started off with the Simalac Advance and bought that for awhile until I noticed it had the same stuff as the bigger can of the Sam's Club brand and cheaper. I would just try which ever one you think and see if it works for your little one. Good luck!



answers from Fort Wayne on

What are you issues with breastfeeding? There are a lot of women on here that can help! Your local La Leche League would be able to help you also. Your hospital should have a lactation consultant on staff, call the Labor And Delivery Floor and see if you could speak to her. Breast is best!
That said...generic brands are the same. Many times they are manufactured by the same companies. Formula is a regulated product, so they have to be the same. My pediatrician said there is no difference. If you do decide to formula feed, sign up on the formula companies websites (Similac and Enfamil both have them) They'll send you sample cans and coupons. If you have family that lives close, sign them up to then have them give you the coupons. Enfamil mails out really good ones.



answers from Columbus on

I had to stop breastfeeding and formula is SOOOO expensive. We had our daughter on Similac for the first few months and our pediatrician suggested (unprompted) that we switch her to something a little bit cheaper. She said that they are the same and she had her own children on store brand formula. We switched to the Target brand (Up&Up) which was only about $11 a can- woohoo! She never noticed a difference and is a happy healthy almost-two year old. :)



answers from Denver on

Nutrition-wise, yes. Formulas are controlled by the FDA so they have to have a certain minimum nutrition. And most generics have the nutrition comparison to the expensive stuff right on the packaging. Now, as far as foamy-ness and other factors go, that's a different story. But someone posted almost your exact same question just last week or the week before, so you might want to go through those responses.



answers from San Francisco on


I am sorry to hear that you are having trouble. I am not sure what your issue is regarding. There is lots of help available though. I would contact your local La Leche League-- they can help you! Please don't give up hope yet-- see if you can get some help with lactation consultants. They are free, the hospital provides them and as I said before, la leche can really help. In terms of formula, yes, they vary. If you do choose formula I would suggest Similac with DHA & ARA. The blue can- it is easy on baby's tummy and has the closest makeup to breastmilk. Good luck!


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