Ask EWG: Which formula is best?

Question: I am unable to breastfeed for medical reasons. How can I choose the best possible formula for my child?

Answer: Your situation isn't unique. According to the Centers for Disease Control, most babies in the US receive some formula during their first year of life, with 70 percent of babies receiving some formula by 3 months of age. When breastfeeding isn't an option, there are several steps you can take to make formula-feeding as healthy as possible.

The number one most important step to take when selecting a formula is to choose powdered. A toxic chemical called bisphenol A leaches from the lining of the aluminum cans that baby formula is distributed in, and liquid formulas have more BPA in the lining. Ready-to-feed liquid formula, which doesn't get diluted at all before feeding, has the highest levels of all. Choosing powdered formula lowers your infant's exposure to BPA through formula.

Whether they're feeding formula or pumped breast milk, it's important for parents to know that BPA also leaches (to a lesser degree) from polycarbonate plastic baby bottles. Avoid hard, clear plastic bottles which are sometimes marked with the number 7. Instead, choose glass bottles or bottles made from BPA-free plastic. Use a clear silicone nipple and filtered water without added fluoride. Don't use soft plastic bottle liners, which create more waste. Warm bottles in a pan of hot water instead of in the microwave, which can heat unevenly and cause chemicals to be released into the formula.

There are many reasons why a family may rely on formula for some or all of their baby’s diet. These babies need a safe and healthy source of food, and formula should be manufactured in a way that avoids contamination with hormone disrupting chemicals. For more detailed information about bottle-feeding your baby, and to find out what action is being taken to make formula safer, visit

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