Special Needs Formulas Offer Options for Sensitive Baby Diets

Special needs formula

Some babies have extra-sensitive tummies or other medical needs that require special formulas.

If your little one has certain medical needs, allergies or digestive problems, you may need to invest in a more specialized baby formula. Similac and Enfamil make a full line of special nutrition products, and the store brands are also developing more specialized baby formulas. Some of the special needs formulas contain an alternative protein source such as soy, and some are made with a different process to help babies digest it easier. While specific brands might have different names for the formulations, there are some general categories to look for in special needs formulas.

Soy Baby Formula

As an alternative to milk-based formulas, soy-based baby formulas cater to little tummies that cannot tolerate milk proteins. Because milk allergies are becoming more prevalent, almost every brand of baby formula makes a soy alternative.

Enfamil A.R.

Enfamil A.R.

Rice Formula

Got a frequent spitter-upper? By using a rice starch with a thicker consistency, rice formulas are designed to reduce spit-up. Some moms try to recreate this consistency by adding rice cereal to normal formula. Overall, moms with babies who frequently spit-up claim a rice formula worked great for them, but a small handful of reviewers also claim the rice formula made their baby gassy. Similac for Spit Up (previously Similac R.S.) receives a high 90/100 rating by reviewers with the major downfall being the cost. Enfamil A.R. is the Enfamil version of a rice formula which receives a slightly lower 88/100 rating.

Enfamil Gentlease

Enfamil Gentlease

Gentle Baby Formula

Virtually every brand provides a gentle baby formula. These are made with a lower lactose content, as well as milk proteins that are broken down further than regular formulas. This combination makes it easier to digest. Similac Sensitive receives an 89/100 rating. Enfamil Gentlease garners an 87/100 rating from reviewing moms. For both brands, many moms state the gentle formula was fantastic and solved baby’s fussiness. Those reviewers who gave it a lower rating said it didn’t work for their baby’s needs.

Hypoallergenic Formula

Similac Alimentum

Similac Alimentum

Babies with severe food allergies or digestive difficulties may need a more specialized baby formula to meet their nutritional needs. Hypoallergenic baby formulas are lactose and dairy free to avoid allergic reactions. The biggest con to a hypoallergenic baby formula is the price. A 16 oz. canister of Similac Alimentum can run close to $30, compared to $17 for a 12 oz. canister of the basic Similac Advance. Similac Alimentum receives a higher rating of 90/100, compared to Enfamil Nutramigen at 88/100.

As with any feeding decision, your pediatrician should give a recommendation as to which specialized baby formula will meet the specific concerns your baby has. While special needs baby formulas can be expensive and don’t work for all babies, most reviewing moms claim they have been the answer to their baby’s tummy problems.

Have you used any of these formulas? Help other moms pick formula by writing a review.

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Carrie Chance (63 Posts)

Carrie Chance has long been active in the consumer reviews space, as both a writer and a reviewer. She has a special interest in kids and family issues. Carrie works full-time as a pre-school administrator and is mom to three young children of her own. She and her family live in Lansing, Michigan.