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  3. 10 Best Baby Milk Formulas 2023 | UK Paediatrician Reviewed
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10 Best Baby Milk Formulas 2023 | UK Paediatrician Reviewed

Baby milk formula is a great way to provide your baby with the necessary nutrients to help your child develop and grow. There are many reasons why breastfeeding may not be suitable or even possible, so we have worked alongside specialise paediatrician, Dr J Henderson, to bring you a comprehensive guide to the best baby milk formula in the UK.


When opting for the formula route, choosing the best product for your newborn or toddler may seem daunting. To help you to understand what to look out for, we'll cover important factors like ingredients and methods of preparation. Then we'll share reviews of our favourite products, including dairy-free alternatives for little ones with allergies, from the UK's biggest brands like Kendamil, Aptamil, SMA, and Cow & Gate.

Last updated 07/06/2023
Dr J Henderson
Expert
Consultant Paediatrician
Dr J Henderson

Dr Jonathan Henderson is a consultant paediatrician who practices for the NHS and his award-winning private practice. His medical qualifications (MB, BAO and BCh) were all completed at Queen's University Belfast in 2007. He then obtained his membership with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in 2012 and later became a college fellow in 2019. In addtion to his clinical work, he contributes to e-learning programmes and teaches paediatrics internationally to other healthcare professionals. Dr Henderson, who is on the speciality register of the General Medical Council, has a keen interest in promoting quality improvement in paediatrics and has presented work both regionally and nationally.

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Table of Contents

With Specialist Consultation From Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

With Specialist Consultation From Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

Dr Jonathan Henderson is a consultant paediatrician practising for the NHS, as well as privately. His medical qualifications (MB, BAO and BCh) were all completed at Queen's University Belfast in 2007.


He then obtained his membership with the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health in 2012. In addition to his clinical work, he contributes to e-learning programmes and teaches paediatrics internationally to other healthcare professionals. Check out more about him on his website.

How to Choose a Baby Milk Formula in the UK

Key Points to Consider
  1. Check Which Base Ingredient Will Be Suitable for Your Baby's Diet
  2. Understand the Preparation of Formula
  3. Always Consider Which Stage Your Baby Is At
  4. Look Out for Added Nutrients Like Iron, Prebiotics, and Omega Fatty Acids
1

Choosing the Right Base Ingredient for Your Baby

Choosing the Right Base Ingredient for Your Baby

Dairy-Based Formulas Are the Most Common and Trusted Option

Around 80% of baby milk formulas on the market are made from cow's milk; as we mentioned earlier, dairy-based milk is treated to make it more suitable for infants. Proteins are adapted to make them more digestible, certain fats are removed, and lactose is added so that the amount is closer to the quantity found in breast milk.

 
Cow's milk formulas are generally a parent's first choice and tend to be recommended by paediatricians, midwives, and GPs. However, some babies are allergic to dairy or intolerant to lactose, in which case you'll want to avoid a formula based on this ingredient.

Dr J Henderson
Consultant Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

There are many reasons for choosing formula feeds. As a paediatrician, I have seen many infants over the years with many feeding difficulties. Both the mother and baby must be supported. Cow's milk protein formulas are typically used for standard formulas that provide nutritional and energy requirements to match breast milk as best as possible.

Know What to Give to Infants With Allergies

Sometimes little ones have an allergy to cow’s milk, usually because they're unable to break down lactose. Although, this is less common among babies than it is in adults, it can lead to painful symptoms like diarrhoea, abdominal pain, and bloating.


If, after speaking to a doctor, you believe that this is the case for your baby, you should look for hydrolyzed cow's milk.

Dr J Henderson
Consultant Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

Some infants present with symptoms in keeping with allergies (called non-IgE or IgE mediated allergies). These can be difficult to diagnose in some cases. For example, early signs can include symptoms of gastroesophageal reflux or a flare-up of the skin in infants with eczema. 


A 4 week trial of a hydrolyzed cow's milk protein formula where the milk protein is broken down can sometimes help. Most of these feeds are lactose-free.

Milk Allergy? Soy Milk Provides an Environmentally-Friendly Alternative

Great for those with lactose intolerance or allergies, baby milk formula made from soya beans instead of cow's milk may be the best option for you. Additionally, parents who follow a vegetarian lifestyle and want to avoid using as many animal products as possible will prefer to buy a dairy-free formula for their little one, though there are currently no vegan options in the UK market. 


There are some concerns about the fact that soy milk contains high amounts of glucose though, which could harm your baby’s teeth in the long run. To avoid this, you should always check the glucose content on the back of the packaging.

Dr J Henderson
Consultant Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

This is especially true in infants over six months if breast milk is unavailable and the infant has a confirmed milk allergy. This is also a go to alternative if your family prefers a vegan diet.


However, soya-based protein formulas should not be used for preventing food allergies or feeding those at risk of an allergic reaction. Those infants who have inflammation of the bowels with cow's milk protein may need to consider a hydrolyzed formula rather than soya-based as they can be just as sensitive to soya.

2

Think About How the Formula Is Prepared

Think About How the Formula Is Prepared

Powdered Formula Is the Most Affordable Option but Must Be Used Quickly

Powdered formula is, without a doubt, the most common type of formula available. It’s also the best value for money so we would strongly recommend it for those on a budget. 


Preparation involves mixing equal parts formula and water in a bottle. This means that you'll need access to water if you're planning to feed your infant while out and about.


However, it's important to note that baby milk formula should always be used within an hour of being mixed. If you have a fussy eater, this might cause issues and you may prefer to bring a bottle of ready-to-feed formula with you instead!

Dr J Henderson
Consultant Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

It is essential to read the manufacturers preparation on the side of the tin for your chosen powdered formula. All formula preparations have almost identical nutritional compositions. Standard powdered formulas generally require 1 scoop to 1 to 2 oz of water with the water added to the bottle first. 


A made-up bottle of powdered milk should be ingested within 2 hours of preparation but ideally discarded after 1 hour of preparation to reduce the risk of bacteria growth, increasing the risk of infection to the infant.

Although Ready-To-Feed Bottles Cost More, They're Incredibly Convenient

Ready-to-feed formulas offer the ultimate convenience as they don’t need to be mixed - like a carton of juice, they can be thrown into your bag and used when needed. However, they're more expensive than powdered formula and, considering you’ll be using bottles several times a day, some families may struggle to keep up with the cost. 


On the plus side, if the formula you choose is available in both powdered and ready-to-feed formats, then you could alternate between the two depending on whether you're at home or out in public. 

Dr J Henderson
Consultant Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

Great for on the run if the local store doesn't have the powdered feed you are using or a short supply issue. The number of tins of powdered milk allowed to be bought can be restricted, so always good to have a backup.

3

Check That the Stage Is Appropriate for Your Infant's Age

Check That the Stage Is Appropriate for Your Infant's Age

This is a pretty simple point but it's one that's certainly worth mentioning: not all formulas are suitable for all ages. Baby formulas will be described as either stage 1, 2, 3, or 4. What do these stages mean? We'll break them down for you here.


  • Stage 1: Newborns aged 0-6 months 
  • Stage 2: Babies aged 6-12 months
  • Stage 3: Infants aged 12-24 months
  • Stage 4: Toddlers aged 24-36 months

While each stage will generally contain the same nutrients, they're provided in different quantities - so we advise sticking to the suggested guidelines in order to give your baby with the appropriate nourishment for their age.

Dr J Henderson
Consultant Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

For infant feeding, stage 1 formulas are recommended up to 6 months of age. At that point, changing to stage 2 can support nutritional requirements when introducing solids ("weaning"). Moving to a stage 2 formula is not always essential, however. The difference is between the type of protein used. Stage 1 has whey protein predominately, while stage 2 has more casein protein which is less easily digested.

4

Look Out for Added Nutrients Like Iron, Prebiotics, and Omega Fatty Acids

Look Out for Added Nutrients Like Iron, Prebiotics, and Omega Fatty Acids

Many formulas have added nutrients - some are included because they address specific deficiencies or needs, whereas others are used to give your little one a general health boost.


Iron is a beneficial mineral that is required by our bodies for healthy blood and the development of the body's brain. Prebiotics are handy if your little one has a sensitive stomach, as they'll help to soothe the digestion process. DHA and ARA (better known as Omega 3 and Omega 6) are fatty acids, usually found in breast milk, that are important for a healthy brain and also eye development.


Opting for a formula with one or more of these added nutrients can therefore help your baby to stay healthy and to grow even stronger!

Dr J Henderson
Consultant Paediatrician Dr J Henderson

Omega-3 fatty acids help to encourage the development of the brain. Iron supplementation is not really required with formula-fed infants and can cause stomach upset but be sure the chosen formula is fortified with iron. 


Prebiotics help stimulate the growth of healthy gut bacteria to match that of breastfed infants to support a healthy developing gut and the immune system in infants.

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10 Best Baby Milk Formulas in the UK

This ranking has been compiled by the writing team at mybest UK via careful evaluation of the points made in the buying guide and thorough research of each product and comparing multiple verified customer reviews across the EC sites used.
Popularity
Products
Image
Price
Click to purchase
Key features
1

Kendamil

Follow-On Milk

Kendamil Follow-On Milk 1枚目

£10.00

Mid

Popular With the Royal Family and Proudly Produced in Britain

2

SMA

Soya Infant Formula

SMA Soya Infant Formula 1枚目

£13.00

Mid

A Soy Formula That's Suitable for a Range of Needs

3

Nutramigen

Hypoallergenic Milk

Nutramigen Hypoallergenic Milk 1枚目

£19.99

High Mid

Designed to Soothe Delicate Tummies

4

Kendamil

First Infant Milk

Kendamil First Infant Milk 1枚目

£10.00

Mid

Proudly Produced in Britain With Full Cream Milk

5

Cow & Gate

Growing-Up MilkPack of 6

Cow & Gate Growing-Up Milk 1枚目

£49.50

High

Save Money by Buying This Popular Brand in Bulk

6

SMA

Advanced Follow-On Milk

SMA Advanced Follow-On Milk 1枚目

£14.45

Mid

Enriched With Iron to Support Growth

7

SMA Pro

First Infant Milk

SMA Pro First Infant Milk  1枚目

£10.75

Mid

Suitable for Newborns and Easy to Digest

8

Aptamil

First Baby Milk FormulaPack of 12

Aptamil First Baby Milk Formula 1枚目

£19.07

High Mid

A Conveniently Sized Bottle to Have on Hand

9

SMA

Lactose Free Formula

SMA  Lactose Free Formula 1枚目

£7.45

Low Mid

Nutritionally Complete, With Added Omega 3

10

Cow & Gate

Hungry Baby Milk Formula

Cow & Gate Hungry Baby Milk Formula 1枚目

Provides Additional Protein for Hungry Bellies

If you don't see the product you're looking for, you can request that it be listed.
No.1

KendamilFollow-On Milk

Follow-On Milk Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£10.00
Mid
Reference price
£10.00
Mid

Popular With the Royal Family and Proudly Produced in Britain

Kendamil is the only company on our list that produces its baby milk formula in Britain, using full cream milk sourced from the Lake District. Plus, this recipe is free from palm oil and fish oil so you can rest assured that this is a pure, healthy, and absolutely vegetarian formula for your little one. 


We've given you the choice of one or two 900g containers, which is pretty exceptional value for money, either way, especially considering that each tub will yield about 29 bottles. As this baby milk is vegetarian society approved and packed with goodness, we knew it had to take the top spot. Kendamil is even popular with the Royal Family.

Was this Ranking helpful?
No.2

SMASoya Infant Formula

Reference price
£13.00
Mid

A Soy Formula That's Suitable for a Range of Needs

This soy formula by SMA is nutritionally complete, halal, lactose-free, and suitable for vegetarians. Plus, it can be mixed with suitable foods when you start to wean your baby.


It's around the same price as a tub of cow's milk formula too, so you're not spending more for the sake of ethics. This formula is beneficial for your baby, your bank balance, animals, and the environment: a really brilliant product! 

No.3

NutramigenHypoallergenic Milk

Hypoallergenic Milk Image 1
Source:ebay.co.uk
Reference price
£19.99
High Mid
Reference price
£19.99
High Mid

Designed to Soothe Delicate Tummies

An extensively hydrolysed, hypoallergenic formula, perfect for babies with mild to moderate milk allergies, Nutramigen is a soothing cow's milk formula that has broken down milk proteins, meaning your baby's immune system will no longer perceive it as a threat.


As babies who are allergic to cow's milk are also more susceptible to other kinds of allergies as they grow older, this hypoallergenic formula will keep your little one happy and healthy from now on!

No.4

KendamilFirst Infant Milk

Reference price
£10.00
Mid

Proudly Produced in Britain With Full Cream Milk

Born right here in Britain is Kendamil's stage 1 baby formula, which is suitable for use with newborns. Setting themselves apart, this unique formula contains no fish oil, no palm oil and is as nutritionally complete as you can get.


First infant milk is vegetarian society approved with DHA and ARA for healthy development, as well as prebiotics to encourage healthy digestion. In fact, Kendamil is a popular choice with the Royal Family!

No.5

Cow & GateGrowing-Up MilkPack of 6

Reference price
£49.50
High

Save Money by Buying This Popular Brand in Bulk

If you've been using formula since your baby was born, then you'll know how much they can get through! To help you out, we've included this wonderful multipack deal. It contains 6 x 800g packs of Cow & Gate's popular drink, which should yield around 170 bottles in total.


Not only are these tubs great value for money, but we can't fault the formula either. Enriched with iron, calcium, and vitamin D, it supports cognitive development and bone growth. We wholeheartedly believe that this product is worth buying in bulk! But just in case you only want the one, our Boots link gives you that option.

No.6

SMAAdvanced Follow-On Milk

Reference price
£14.45
Mid

Enriched With Iron to Support Growth

The main selling point of this follow-on formula by SMA is the added iron. Babies with a lower iron count can develop more slowly than their peers, both mentally and physically. This product is therefore a simple way to make sure that your little one won't encounter these issues later in life.


Iron-rich products can cause constipation in some babies, so you'll want to avoid this formula if your little one has existing digestive issues. Otherwise, it's a budget-friendly option that's packed with nutrients.

No.7

SMA ProFirst Infant Milk

Reference price
£10.75
Mid

Suitable for Newborns and Easy to Digest

This classic cow's milk formula is not only enriched with DHA and ARA but it's also full of vitamins D, C, and A. These will all help with the steady growth of your child as well as boosting their immune system. 


This product is designed to be easy to digest and can be used straight from birth. The long expiry date is handy too, although we're sure your little one will finish it in no time!

No.8

AptamilFirst Baby Milk FormulaPack of 12

First Baby Milk Formula Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£19.07
High Mid
Reference price
£19.07
High Mid

A Conveniently Sized Bottle to Have on Hand

Ready to serve whenever your baby gets hungry, this pack of 200 ml bottles from Aptamil is perfect for families who need a convenient option on hand. It's suitable as a source of nutrition for babies that are 0-6 months and as part of a weaning diet for infants ages 6-12 months. 


As we've mentioned before, these liquid formulas are unfortunately not as economical as powdered products, so you'll be paying more per feed - but this product will be very useful when you're out all day without access to fresh water.

No.9

SMA Lactose Free Formula

Lactose Free Formula Image 1
Source:amazon.co.uk
Reference price
£7.45
Low Mid

Nutritionally Complete, With Added Omega 3

SMA's lactose-free baby formula is nutritionally complete, so your infant won't miss out on anything they need to grow and thrive. This product can be used from birth and contains fish oils, which are a fantastic source of Omega 3.


It's a shame that this product is only available in the rather small container size of 400g, compared to cow's milk formulas which usually come in bigger tubs. Still, it's very affordable considering the high quality of the ingredients.

No.10

Cow & GateHungry Baby Milk Formula

Provides Additional Protein for Hungry Bellies

First up, here's a ready-to-feed drink from one of the UK's best-known baby food manufacturers. It contains extra casein, which is the main protein in cow's milk, so it'll keep your little one fuller for longer.


While 80p doesn't initially sound too expensive for a single serving, each bottle is only 200ml and it'll add up fast when you consider the amount of milk your baby will get through each day!

Tips - Be Sure Not To Overfeed Your Baby

Tips - Be Sure Not To Overfeed Your Baby

Formulas need to be given to infants in volumes varying from 150-180ml/kg per day in order to provide recommended vitamins, minerals and energy requirements. Be sure not to overfeed your baby - it is very easy to fall into the habit of feeding to stop a baby crying, for example, resulting in treatment for conditions that are not present and can be managed by altering the volume of feed alone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Mix Baby Milk Formula?

While you can mix different brands of baby formula together, you must ensure that you prepare them separately first and follow the instructions of each brand so that the concentrations are accurate before combining. In addition, make sure that you are using the same type of formula i.e. cows' milk or soy-based.

Why Is My Baby Rejecting Formula Milk?

Reasons as to why your baby might be rejecting formula include weaning, the formula tasting different to the last one you made, distractions in the environment, or overfeeding. Consider if there have been any changes in their routines that they may be struggling to adapt to. Never force your baby to take the bottle if they are resisting, instead we recommend speaking to your nurse or paediatrician. 

Top 5 Baby Milk Formulas

No. 1: KendamilFollow-On Milk

No. 2: SMASoya Infant Formula

No. 3: NutramigenHypoallergenic Milk

No. 4: KendamilFirst Infant Milk

No. 5: Cow & GateGrowing-Up MilkPack of 6

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The descriptions of each product are referenced from content available on manufacturer, brand, and e-commerce sites.
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