Baby Formula Ingredients

Baby formula is a substitute for breast milk usually used when mothers don’t produce enough or any milk or as a supplement for baby’s regular feeding routine. The content of the infant formula has been perfected for decades and can therefore effectively replace breast milk altogether. Although breast milk will always have the upper-hand in feeding your baby, you can rest assured that babies raised on formula have no trouble growing up big and strong, too.

The baby formula ingredients are based on mother’s milk at its first stages which are the first three months after birth. Have you ever wondered what goes into baby formula? The composition of the ingredients tends to mirror the natural nutrients found in mother’s milk.

Formula will typically include protein, fat, lactose, vitamins and minerals. Other ingredients will vary depending on the product and manufacturer you choose. We have comprised a list of main ingredients and additional components for you to see how formula is made.


The source of protein in baby formulas is usually extracted from purified cow’s milk. The two types of proteins you can get from cow milk are whey and casein proteins. The main difference between the two is that while casein has a more significant concentration of protein whey is more easily digested.

Casein has a larger chance of causing an allergic reaction because it is more potent than whey.

Non-fat Milk

Although cow milk is in itself too strong for infants, it can be reprocessed to suit a baby’s needs. The potentially harmful ingredients are removed, and plant-based fats are added to mimic breast milk. This way, your baby will still receive the right amount of nutrients through some form of milk.


Fat can be derived from a number of ingredients. Manufacturers tend to opt for organic vegetable oils or plant-based oils rather than dairy fats because they are too potent for babies less than 12 months of age. Oils which are safe to use include palm oil, coconut oil, and soy oil.


Lactose contains a high level of carbohydrates which substitutes the carbohydrates typically found in breast milk. This ingredient helps babies grow and develop as it fuels almost 50% of their energy.


The primary minerals found in formula include iron, phosphorous, zinc, calcium and magnesium.

Update - 2019.01.22They are absorbed with the help of lactose. They are crucial for your baby’s healthy development.


Iron produces hemoglobin which helps distribute the right amount of oxygen throughout the body via blood flow. It maintains a healthy and active body and prevents the development of anemia.


This mineral assists calcium and works with other nutrients to make strong teeth and bones. It balances the levels of acid and base in the body and produces energy.


Zinc contributes to building a healthy immune system by regulating immune responses. In the long haul, it helps prevent infections and heal wounds. A zinc deficiency makes babies and adults more prone to illnesses.


This mineral is well-known for its contribution to developing healthy teeth and bones, but it also aids the growth of muscles and overall strength of the nervous system. Calcium helps the body remain functional and energetic.


Much like calcium, magnesium also regulates the development of bones, teeth, and the nervous system. Additionally, magnesium helps build a healthy immune system and is beneficial for balancing blood pressure, blood sugar, and heart rate.



Vitamin A

Vitamin A is crucial for the healthy development of vision and is a contributor to the formation of the immune system.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, otherwise known as ascorbic acid, works as an antioxidant which helps prevent damage to the cells. Additionally, it strengthens the immune system, prevents disease by helping the body absorb much-needed nutrients.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and therefore helps develop strong teeth and bones. Moreover, it supports the development of the nervous system.

Vitamin E

This vitamin deals with the blood flow in general. It regulates the healthy flow of the blood through the vessels. It also works as an antioxidant meaning it protects cells from potential damage.

Vitamin K

The vitamin K aids the baby’s blood to properly clot. It enables the healthy development of bones and muscles.

Riboflavin and Thiamine

Both of these vitamins fall into the category of B vitamins and serve the purpose of helping the baby grow and develop. Their main job is to process and absorb nutrients and transform them into energy.

Baby and the bottle


Folic Acid

Folic acid, otherwise known as vitamin B9, is key in synthesizing DNA, as well as, helping the baby’s overall growth and development.


Niacin or nicotinic acid represents a form of the vitamin B3. It regulates healthy brain functions and helps develop an active metabolism.

Linoleic Acid

Linoleic acid helps prevent skin diseases and infections and boosts the immune system by correctly absorbing and distributing nutrients.

Pantothenic Acid

Also known as vitamin B5, is part of the B complex group of vitamins. It aids the development of red blood cells, maintains a healthy digestive system, and helps process other vitamins.

Additional Ingredients

Sodium Chloride

Sodium chloride efficiently distributes fluids and nutrients through the body. Its central role is to keep the body sufficiently nourished.

Potassium Chloride

Potassium, much like sodium, distributes fluids in the body but it also handles the transmission of nerve impulses and balances out the nutrients inside the baby’s body.


This essential component of baby formula helps the baby grow and develop a healthy nervous system. It is typically acquired through breast milk, but baby formulas are also required to contain it.

Extra Tip

As a parent, your responsibility is to keep track of the additional ingredients by reading the baby formula labels carefully. The labels are required to list any potentially harmful ingredients or allergens so you will be able to obtain accurate information.

Close up of mother preparing baby formula


Infant formula is the only medically acceptable substitute for mother’s milk and is designed to be the primary source of nutrition for babies which are not getting enough or any breast milk. It has to contain protein, fat, lactose, vitamins and minerals, to provide the baby with a healthy array of nutrients.

A lot of parents dread the fact that they do not know the complete composition of baby formula. Luckily for them, we have listed all of the main ingredients and their purpose. In the right amounts, these ingredients will successfully serve their purpose and keep your baby healthy.

In order not to overlook any ingredients, never forget to read through the labels on products. This action will keep you informed and your baby safe.


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