Choosing a formula that will help your baby thrive is a big decision for any parent and one that can be fraught with confusion. Not only are there various brands to consider, but each one offers multiple types of formula. Plus, you’ll notice differences in things like DHA and ARA content, prebiotics and probiotics, antioxidants, and the use of organic ingredients. It’s enough to make any parent’s head spin! Below we’ll discuss the two most popular formula brands – Enfamil vs Similac – as well as provide details on their many different formula versions.
First, it’s worth noting that there are no “right” or “wrong” formulas. All brands sold in the United States must meet the same content and safety guidelines, as well as nutritional requirements. Choosing a formula really comes down to your baby’s unique needs. Many parents try more than one before finding the best nutrition option for their child.
Although there are differences to consider, you can rest assured that all the options you see at the store are designed with the same basic standards in mind, with some variation in ingredients. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Enfamil and Similac brands and the nutritional offerings of each.
Unfortunately, powder formula is not one size fits all. Because of this both Enfamil and Similac both offer many different “types” to accommodate things like allergies and sensitive tummies. Below is a quick summary of what each brand offers.
Enfamil vs Similac: Cow’s Milk Formula
This is usually the first type of formula parents try, and many babies do well on it. Both brands include a prebiotic and leave out any extra sugars.
- Enfamil Infant: This is Enfamil’s most basic formula, meant to meet the average baby’s needs.
- Uses palm olein oil, which is not known to be gentle on tummies
- Enfamil NeuroPro: This is an amazing formula for improved development. It is made to bridge the gap between breastfed and formula-fed babies.
- The only brand with MFGM brain-building formula.
- Prebiotics for immune health.
- Similac Advance: This is Similac’s basic iron-fortified formula. It has everything your baby needs for the first year of development.
- Contains added lutein for vision health
- Similac Pro Advance: This formula is very similar to breast milk. It also provides balanced nutrition for the first year along with immune system support.
- Contains DHA, Lutein, and Vitamin E for Brain & Eye Development
- No Artificial Growth Hormones
Enfamil vs Similac: Gentle Formula
Gentle formulas are usually formulated with less lactose. They are often the best option for babies who suffer from gassiness, frequent spit-ups, or other tummy issues. These gentle formulas boast partially hydrolyzed proteins, making digestion easier. Both brands also offer a non-GMO version.
- Enfamil Gentlease: This formula is clinically proven to reduce fussiness within 24 hours, while also promoting brain development.
- Uses whey protein to aid in easier digestion
- Similac Pro-Total Comfort: This Similac option is not only easy on your baby’s tummy but contains an immune-nourishing prebiotic.
- Uses milk protein isolate, which can sometimes trigger allergies
Enfamil vs Similac: Lactose-Free Formula
If your infant is diagnosed with lactose intolerance or colic, you’ll need to use a lactose-free formula. Both brands are hypoallergenic, which will help hopefully soothe your baby. Keep in mind, they use added sugars to aid in digestion.
- Enfamil A+ Lactose-Free:
- Claims to reduce baby’s symptoms in two days
- Con: This option uses modified corn starch to thicken the formula, which some babies don’t tolerate well
- Similac Pro-Sensitive:
- Claims to reduce baby’s symptoms in one day
- It is hypoallergenic and contains no actual lactose, but it’s not completely lactose-free because it still contains milk products
- Con: Contains more added sugars
Enfamil vs Similac: Soy Formula
If your child suffers from a milk protein allergy or galactosemia, you’ll need to try a soy formula in order to achieve proper nutrition. These options are also great for vegan families.
- Enfamil Prosobee: This is definitely the most popular soy formula option on the market, and many parents absolutely love it.
- Contains fewer added sugars
- Con: Some babies do not tolerate the taste well
- Similac Soy Isomil: This is also a great option for babies that need soy-based formula.
- Contains OptiGRO to support your baby’s brain and eye development
- Con: Uses greater amounts of soy proteins and linoleic acid
Enfamil vs Similac: Added Rice Starch Formula
Some babies have difficulty gaining weight or struggle with acid reflux and spit-up frequently. Both issues can be helped by switching to a formula that is made a bit thicker using rice starch.
- Enfamil A.R.: This is the #1 selling brand of formula for spit-up. It can prevent spit up by up to 50% and will help your baby meet those important milestones.
- Includes two prebiotics
- Nutritionally balanced
- Similac for Spit-Up: This formula is also clinically proven to prevent spit-up, but by just a little bit more at 54%.
- Includes one prebiotic
- Con: Contains corn syrup
Enfamil vs Similac: Premature Baby Formula
Preemies have special nutritional needs. They require more calories and nutrients than full-term babies. These formulas offer enriched nutrition in those all-important early months. Enfamil Enfacare and Similac Neosure are both great options for your baby.
However, in the case of a preemie, it’s best to follow your pediatrician’s guidance on which formula to try first.
Enfamil vs Similac: Toddler Formula
If your child needs a bit of additional help meeting growth milestones after 12 months of age, they can be switched from infant to toddler formula. Both Enfamil and Similac have options for this.
- Enfagrow Toddler Next Step: This formula will help ensure that your toddler is getting all the nutrition that they need to grow strong and healthy. It also supports digestive health.
- Similac Go & Grow: Go & Grow also supplements your toddler’s table food and helps to ensure they are getting in all those vitamins.
Enfamil vs Similac: Nutritional Differences
As mentioned above, all formulas must meet specific standards for nutrition. However, there are some important variations in the brands.
Calories, Fats, Carbohydrates, and Protein
These are the four major building blocks of any baby formula, and each plays a role in helping your child grow and reach milestones. Let’s compare two of the most popular Enfamil and Similac varieties:
- Enfamil Infant
- 20 calories per ounce
- 11.2 grams of carbs per 100 calories
- 2.1 grams of protein per 100 calories
- 5.3 grams of fat per 100 calories
- Similac Advance
- 20 calories per ounce
- 10.7 grams of carbs per 100 calories
- 2.1 grams of protein per 100 calories
- 5.6 grams of fat per 100 calories
You can do a comparison like this of your own with any of the formulas above, as well! It’s a good way to make a decision if there are not any other notable differences in the formulas.
Vitamins and Minerals
Both Enfamil and Similac use the same amounts of Vitamin A, iron, and calcium. However, there are also a few notable differences when it comes to what the contain.
- Higher amounts of Vitamin D, thiamin, niacin, riboflavin and biotin
- Greater levels of copper
- More Vitamin B12, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Vitamin K
- Greater levels of folic acid, pantothenic acid, choline, and inositol
- Higher amounts of zinc, phosphorous, magnesium, iodine and selenium
Final Thoughts on Enfamil vs Similac
It’s easy to become overwhelmed with the minutiae of formula ingredient variations – especially when you’re probably sleep-deprived and stressed out, too! Remember that there is no right or wrong formula choice and that you can always switch if a particular brand or variation just isn’t working for your baby. Finding the perfect nutrition for your little one can require patience and fortitude, but by learning more about your options you’ll be ahead of the game.
As with any questions or concerns about your baby’s health and development, you should always follow the guidance of your child’s pediatrician.
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