Quality Comparison of Name-Brand and Store-Brand "Gentle" Infant Formulas

Updated on April 6, 2018
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As a mother to one beautiful baby boy, Tiffany is doing her best to navigate motherhood and make the best decisions for her baby.

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Background

Being a new mom often means being bombarded with a ton of information. You will be getting advice from your pediatrician, family, friends, neighbors, and strangers. Some advice good, and most advice bad. It's difficult to take all of this information and determine which is best to use with your baby.

When I need information, I often begin with Dr. Google. I search news articles, research studies, and parenting forums just to see what kind of information is out there. I'll move on to asking family and friends about their experiences. If I am really uncertain about the advice I am getting, I always ask the pediatrician.

Due to the high cost of formula-only feeding, I have been looking into switching to a less expensive store-brand. Some people may just switch formulas - no questions asked. I, however, have to do the research first and ask important questions.

  • Is there a store-brand equivalent to what I feed my baby now?
  • Are there any major differences in ingredients or nutritional value?
  • What is the price difference?
  • Will it be harder to find the store-brand in stock?
  • Are there any recalls or major complaints about the store-brand?

In this comparison, I will take an in-depth look at the differences in ingredients, nutrition, and costs of three different brands:

  • Enfamil Gentlease
  • Parent's Choice Gentle
  • up & up Gentle

I chose to look into the "gentle" versions of these brands because that's what I use for my baby. So while this research is primarily for my own benefit, I think it can help others as well.

Ingredients

Let's take a look at the ingredients and see if there are any notable differences.

Enfamil Gentlease

Corn Syrup Solids, Partially Hydrolyzed Nonfat Milk and Whey Protein Concentrate Solids (Soy), Vegetable Oil (Palm Olein, Soy, Coconut, and High Oleic Sunflower Oils), and Less than 2%: Mortierella Alpina Oil (a Source of Arachidonic Acid [ARA]), Crypthecodinium Cohnii Oil (a Source of Docosahexaenoic Acid [DHA]), Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D3, Vitamin E Acetate, Vitamin K1, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Vitamin B6 Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12, Niacinamide, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Chloride, Inositol, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Sodium Selenite, Sodium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Taurine, and L-Carnitine.

Parent's Choice Gentle

Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Palm Olein, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Coconut Oil, Soy Oil, High Oleic (Safflower or Sunflower) Oil, Less than 2%: Mortierella Alpina Oil*, Crypthecodinium Cohnii Oil**, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Chloride, Calcium Hydroxide, Cupric Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Hydroxide, Potassium Iodide, Potassium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Selenite, Zinc Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Choline Chloride, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid, Inositol, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E ((dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Vitamin K (Phytonadione), *A source of Arachidonic Acid (ARA), **A source of Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA)

up & up Gentle

Corn Syrup, Nonfat Milk, Palm Olein, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Coconut Oil, Soy Oil, High Oleic (Safflower or Sunflower) Oil, Less than 2%: Mortierella Alpina Oil*, Crypthecodinium Cohnii Oil**, L-Carnitine, Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Taurine, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Chloride, Calcium Hydroxide, Cupric Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Hydroxide, Potassium Iodide, Potassium Phosphate, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Selenite, Zinc Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Choline Chloride, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid, Inositol, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin E ((dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate), Vitamin K (Phytonadione)

Differences

You'll notice a slight difference in the ingredients, such as Corn Syrup Solids vs Corn Syrup and Partially Hydrolyzed Nonfat Milk vs Nonfat Milk. As I am not a medical professional or nutritionist, I can't say if these are significant differences.

Nutrients

Nutrients
Enfamil Gentlease
Parent's Choice Gentle
up & up Gentle
Protein g
2.3
2.3
2.3
Fat g
5.3
5.3
5.3
Carb g
10.8
10.8
10.8
Water g
133
134
134
Linoleic Acid mg
780
800
800
Nutrients are per 100 calories, which is 5 FL OZ when diluted normally.

Nutrient Differences: Water and Linoleic Acid

Here you will see that Enfamil less water and less linoleic acid as compared to the two store-brand versions. Are either of these so important that you would choose one over the other? Let's find out. We know what water is and why it's important, so let's go straight to linoleic acid. The Code of Federal Regulations requires at least 300mg, but does not have a maximum listed (Souce). After doing some searching, it seems that the recommended amount of linoleic acid is a debated topic.

Vitamins

Vitamins
Enfamil Gentlease
Parent's Choice Gentle
up & up Gentle
A IU
300
300
300
D IU
60
60
60
E IU
2
2
2
K mcg
9
9
9
Thiamin (B1) mcg
80
80
80
Riboflavin (B2) mcg
140
140
140
B6 mcg
60
60
60
B12 mcg
0.3
0.3
0.3
Niacin mcg
1000
1000
1000
Folic Acid mcg
16
16
16
Pantothenic Acid mcg
500
500
500
Biotin mcg
3
3
3
C (Ascorbic Acid) mg
12
12
12
Choline mg
24
24
24
Inositol mg
24
6
6
Vitamins are per 100 calories, which is 5 FL OZ when diluted normally.

Vitamin Differences: Inositol

As for vitamins, the only difference found is in the amount of inositol. Enfamil Gentlease contains 24mg, four times more than the amount found in Parent's Choice Gentle and up & up Gentle (6mg). Now you may be asking yourself, "What is inositol and why is it important?" Inositol is a vitamin which is believed to be beneficial for brain development. The Code of Federal Regulations requires all infant formulas contain no less than 4mg, but does not list a maximum amount (Source). All three formulas contain more than the minimum amount of inositol.

Minerals

Minerals
Enfamil Gentlease
Parent's Choice Gentle
up & up Gentle
Calcium mg
82
82
82
Phosphorus mg
46
46
46
Magnesium mg
8
8
8
Iron mg
1.8
1.8
1.8
Zinc mg
1
1
1
Manganese mcg
15
15
15
Copper mcg
75
75
75
Iodine mcg
15
15
15
Selenium mcg
2.8
2.8
2.8
Sodium mg
36
36
32
Potassium mg
108
108
108
Chloride mg
63
63
63
Minerals are per 100 calories, which is 5 FL OZ when diluted normally.

Mineral Differences: Sodium

As you can see in the table above, up & up Gentle contains less sodium than Enfamil and Parent's Choice. Is this good or bad? Well, the Code of Federal Regulations states that formula must contain at least 20mg, but no more than 60mg. The up & up brand has 4mg less than the other two.

The Cost: A Major Difference

Enfamil Gentlease

21.5oz tub: $26.95

32.2oz refill box: $36.95

Additional discounts: Enfamil often runs promotions on their website if you purchase directly from them. If you sign up for Enfamil Family Beginnings, they typically send a lot of samples and coupons for $3 and $5 off.

Parent's Choice Gentle

21.5oz: $14.98

36.6oz: $19.98

Additional discounts: None.

up & up Gentle

21.5oz: $15.99

33.2oz: $21.99

Additional discounts: Target usually runs promotions such as receiving a Target gift card if you purchase a certain quantity or spend a certain amount. You can also get 5% off if you purchase the formula with your Target Red Card.

Differences

As you can see, you will usually save $10-$15 if you purchase a store brand. This makes a HUGE difference if your baby is only formula fed.

Conclusion

It seems to me that all three formulas have the same nutritional content overall, but there is a big gap in the price differences. You will pay much more for name-brand formula.

You don't always have a big choice in which formula you have to feed your baby though. It will usually end up being what the baby will tolerate. Some parents say their baby can only handle a certain brand, while others say their baby will take any brand. Therefore, you must consider what the baby will drink, what the doctor recommends, and what you can afford.

I hope this information is beneficial to you and your little one. As for me, I have switched to up & up Gentle since my baby tolerates it well and it is much cheaper for us.

Disclaimer

This information is current as of April 2, 2018. I am not a medical professional nor am I associated with any companies mentioned in this article. All information regarding ingredients, nutrients, vitamins, and minerals were sourced from product labels. Information regarding product prices was pulled from the retailer website. The Code of Federal Regulations was used to obtain nutritional requirements for infant formula. Please consult your pediatrician to decide which infant formula is best for your baby.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Tiffany

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