Newborn formula vs. regular formula

While it’s true that both formula feeding and breastfeeding present their own unique challenges, walking down the formula aisle of the grocery store is an easy way to make the decision to formula feed or supplement with formula feel a whole lot more complicated than it should.

Besides the questions of brands, and of cow’s milk versus hemp versus soy, there’s the added challenge of labels, sometimes from within the same brand, advertising infant formula and newborn formula as recommended for the same age-range.

Is newborn formula necessary?

The fact that the vast majority of formula companies do not offer a newborn formula that is separate from their infant formula is an argument that newborn formula does not necessarily need to be different.

For those marked as newborn formulas though, the main nutritional difference between the two is that newborn formula has a higher concentration of vitamin D.

The idea behind newborn formula is that switching from it to regular infant formula better mimics the changes breast milk goes through as a baby gets older. However, there is no evidence that a lack of newborn formula causes any drawbacks for formula-fed babies.

Premature formula-fed babies in particular may have different nutritional needs than full-term newborns, and their doctors may have some input about which type of formula is best for them in particular. You should always talk to the pediatrician or other healthcare provider if you have more questions about newborn formula.

  • Mayo Clinic Staff. “Infant formula: Your questions answered.” MayoClinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, Jan 2016. Web. Accessed 6/28/17. Available at
  • “Questions & Answers for Consumers Concerning Infant Formula.” FDA. US Department of Health and Human Services, Jun 2015. Web. Accessed 6/28/17. Available at 

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