Does choosing organic baby formula really make a difference? As a parent, it’s only natural for you to want the best for your baby, but is organic labeling simply a marketing ploy to suck you in? Or does it truly have advantages over regular baby formulas?
To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the most important factors to consider.
Organic vs. Regular Baby Formula: What’s the Difference?
What Is Organic Baby Formula?
Organic formula is formula sourced with at least 95% organic ingredients. This requirement is regulated by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and must be met in order for any formula or food product to be marketed as organic.
What does that mean? It means that the ingredients are sourced from farms which adopt an organic approach. As such, they refrain from using pesticides, fungicides and other potentially harmful agricultural products including synthetic fertilizers.
There are also certain requirements for livestock reared for organic products too. For example, all animals used to source the ingredients must not have been treated with antibiotics or growth hormones.
Is Organic Formula Better than Regular Formula?
The majority of people prefer to choose organic foods and organic baby formula as it’s a sure way to avoid many of the potentially harmful substances found in regular foods.
This includes common substances used during the production phase e.g. pesticide residues and synthetic fertilizers used in agriculture, as well as growth hormones and antibiotics sometimes given to livestock.
Are Pesticides a Health Concern?
Pesticides are substances used in the farming industry to eliminate certain pests responsible for causing crop damage and destruction. This has allowed society to yield more crops than ever before, yet unfortunately, there are a number of disadvantages to pesticide use.
The ideal pesticide would be one that is able to kill the target pest without any other impact on human health or the environment. Unfortunately, a number of studies have linked certain pesticides to a variety of health conditions.
For example, one study found a 50–90% increased the risk of ADHD in children with the highest urine levels of pesticides (1).
However, it must be noted that the study did not determine the source of the increased levels of pesticides and therefore, it is not possible to know whether it was related to food or proximity to pesticide activity.
It’s also worth noting that both organic pesticides and synthetic pesticides have been linked to higher rates of cancer (2).
Yet there has been no such link found with the low levels of pesticides present in most produce.
Do Organic Foods have Reduced Levels of Pesticides?
Since organic production restricts the use of synthetic pesticides, it’s not surprising to discover that they also have lower levels of synthetic pesticides compared to regular produce (3).
Is Organic Formula More Nutritious than Regular Formula?
Another common reason as to why people choose organic over regular formula is the idea that organic foods offer more in terms of nutritional value. They’re often bought as it is thought that an organic formula is closer to breastmilk.
However, the truth is that the debate is still open as to whether organic foods contain more nutrients than their non-organic counterparts.
According to the Harvard Health Blog, there have been some studies that have shown slight elevations in certain nutrients, specifically higher phosphorous levels in many organic foods, and a higher omega-3 fatty acid content in organic milk and chicken.
However, it worth remembering that these differences are noted as slight and are comparisons drawn from organic and non-organic produce and not baby milk formulas.
Therefore, you certainly shouldn’t let this be the main reason behind choosing organic baby formula and besides you can always make comparisons between the nutrient values of certain organic and non-organic baby milk formula brands by checking the product labeling.
Opting for organic foods is largely a choice to avoid the potentially toxic residues left from modern farming practices. Regardless of where the evidence is currently at, many people continue to vouch that organic foods, in general, taste better than non-organic options, so this is often another reason why people opt for organic.
Are Organic Baby Formulas more Expensive?
In general, organic baby milk formulas tend to be more expensive than regular formulas. Many sources state that this is due to the higher costs typically associated with organic production.
However, today there are usually some great offers on organic formulas, with differences in cost between organic and non-organic being very slight, so it’s certainly an affordable option. Whatever you choose, it’s always recommended that you seek the advice of your pediatrician or dietician prior to making a decision.
What else should you consider?
Many well intentioned parents buy certain brands of organic baby formula, only to discover that their infant does not actually like it. For this reason, it’s always sensible to purchase smaller sized portions to trial it out before investing in a larger and more expensive option. This certainly isn’t exclusive to organic baby formulas but is still something worth bearing in mind.
It’s also advised to always read the labels on organic formulas and if you have any questions about them to ask your pediatrician or dietician for direction.