Feeding your baby is the first, and most important, decision you’ll make as a parent, and like everything else in the parenting world, it’s not one-size-fits-all. It’s true that breast milk is considered the golden standard in infant nutrition, but breastfeeding doesn’t work for every family and it’s crucial that all parents feel confident in whatever path their infant feeding journey takes.

Whether you’re a first-time parent or strolling through the formula aisle with your next child, it’s important to feel confident and informed in your choices, because let’s face it—shopping for baby formula can feel overwhelming, and not all formulas are created equal. Some may offer easy digestion while others boast cognitive development. Many cow-milk-based formulas use skim rather than whole milk, and many contain soy, corn syrup, GMOs or palm oil.

We all strive to make the best choices for our little ones, especially when it comes to their nutrition—and we shouldn’t have to compromise. That’s where ByHeart’s focus on quality ingredients comes in. Here are six things parents should keep in mind while shopping for baby formula.

What to look for when shopping for baby formula

1. What are the primary sources of protein?

Byheart formula and bottle on kitchen counter

Alpha-lactalbumin and lactoferrin are the two most abundant proteins in breast milk, but they’re not found in many formula recipes. When ByHeart was founded in 2016, their goal was to get as close to breast milk as possible—and they succeeded when they came to market in 2022. Their patented blend incorporates these important proteins with broken-down, partially hydrolyzed proteins for easy digestion. Many other cow-milk-based formulas use skim milk, but ByHeart uses organic, grass-fed whole milk, which has healthy natural fats, like naturally-occurring milk fat globule membrane (MFGM), that helps support infant cognitive and physical growth. ByHeart prides itself in being the only US-made* infant formula to use organic, grass-fed whole milk.

*With globally sourced ingredients. 

2. Is it easy to digest?

Breast milk is easy to digest, and formula should be too. However,  up to 50% of babies end up switching formula because of perceived digestion issues. “Gentle” formulas may contain only broken-down proteins, which may make digestion easier but don’t deliver all the benefits of whole protein.

ByHeart’s patented protein blend of alpha-lactalbumin, lactoferrin and partially hydrolyzed cow milk proteins is combined with prebiotics and the 80:20 whey-to-casein ratio that’s found in early breast milk, offering the best of both worlds: it’s clinically proven to be easy-to-digest and gentle on tiny tummies without sacrificing benefits. That also means less spit up, softer poops, more efficient weight gain and enhanced nutrient absorption, compared to a leading infant formula. 

3. What types of ingredients are (and aren’t) in it?

family surrounding baby drinking a bottle

When it comes to your infant’s nutrition, it’s important to sweat the details, starting with ingredients. ByHeart directly sources its ingredients from trusted suppliers and is the first formula company to be awarded Clean Label Project’s highest-tier Purity Award. They also test for 700 contaminants, which is nearly double than the required 400. What’s not in the formula is just as important as what’s included, and ByHeart’s doesn’t contain soy, corn syrup, GMOs or palm oil. They’re not in breast milk, so they don’t need to be in formula, either.  

4. How is it made?

ByHeart uses a small-batch blending process, which minimizes the time it takes to produce the formula in order to protect the integrity of (healthy!) fats. In addition to nutrient retention, fats that are exposed to high heat for an extended period of time can also impact other factors of the finished product, like the color.

5. What kind of research was put into it?

mom helping baby drink a bottle

Many formula brands on the shelf today work with the only contract manufacturer in the country, which relies on existing formula recipes that are based on decades-old science and data. ByHeart decided that it was worth the time and money to innovate within the formula industry and ran the largest clinical trial by a new brand in 25 years, including 311 babies over a six-month period (two months longer than required!). Their study also featured something no other new brand was willing to do: a comparison of their formula to breast milk.

6. Will it be affected by an infant formula shortage?

The 2022 U.S. infant formula shortage, triggered by a large product recall and worsened by supply chain issues, was a significant crisis that affected many families across the country. This crisis exposed vulnerabilities in the highly concentrated infant formula market and prompted governmental actions to increase formula imports and production oversight. ByHeart owns three production facilities throughout the country, and because it oversees its end-to-end manufacturing, it diversifies (and subsequently strengthens) the industry’s supply chain, making supply more consistent and reliable.