After receiving numerous questions about which may be the better EU certified organic baby formula, we wanted to create an informative list by comparing these two major EU certified organic baby food manufacturers from Germany. Both have been in the organic formula business for over 50 years while always providing excellent quality. To help you navigate through the differences, we have created this comparison guide: HiPP vs Holle formula.
HiPP vs. Holle:Formula comparison chart
Many of the formulas are solely lactose-based; HiPP German contains starch as well
Lactose-based and long-chained organic maltodextrin
Balance is adjusted to mimic breast milk. Proteins in special milk formulas are gently processed suitable for sensitive tummies
Adjusted to mimic breast milk. Holle Goat can be suitable for cow’s milk intolerances.
According to latest law regulations
According to latest law regulations
Natural probiotics and prebiotics added (Lactobacillus fermentum hereditum®)
No added prebiotics or probiotics
Organic according to strict European standards
Demeter quality; biodynamic and the highest organic certification in Europe
HiPP HA; HiPP Special Milk, HiPP Anti-Reflux
Organic goat milk formula
Just like breast milk, infant formula contains carbohydrates as a supply of energy. The sources of these carbs may include lactose, starch or maltodextrin. Corn syrup and sucrose can be sources for carbohydrates in baby formula as well, however they are considered more unhealthy options and should be avoided. In Europe, the use of sucrose in baby formula is banned per law.
All stage PRE baby formulas are lactose-based (the main carb source is lactose derived from cow's milk) and no other carbohydrate like starch or maltodextrin is added. The reason for this is that lactose is more easily digestible than other carbs such as starch. Newborns have very sensitive tummies that often can't tolerate complex carbohydrates well. In formulas of higher stages, you might come across plant-based carbohydrates such as starch or maltodextrin. These starches are added in age-appropriate amounts to help provide an additional source of energy for your baby and some parents find they help their little one to sleep through the night better. Starch and maltodextrin are common ingredients in formula. Formulas contain starch or maltodextrin as a thickener and as a source of energy. Starch is a complex carbohydrate that can help your baby to feel satisfied longer because it takes longer to digest than lactose. Therefore it releases energy more slowly. Maltodextrin is a starch that has been broken down through hydrolysis and can be digested a bit more easily.
HiPP German formulas from stage 1 onward contain organic starch as source of energy, except for Bio Combiotik stage 2 "no starch", Anti-Reflux, UK and Dutch, which contain neither starch nor maltodextrin and are fully lactose-based formulas (similar to PRE, however with age-appropriate levels of nutrients). Another exception is HiPP Comfort special formula, which contains organic maltodextrin instead of starch. Maltodextrin is suitable for children with a more sensitive tummy, as it is a short-chain polysaccharide whereas starch is long-chained. This means that it is less complex and more easily digestible than starch.
Holle relies mostly on organic maltodextrin as a source of energy in its organic baby formula. Holle baby formula stage 1 contains only maltodextrin and lactose as energy sources, whereas stages 2-4 contain starch as well. This is also true for Holle Goat: Stages 1-3 all contain lactose and maltodextrin, and only stage 1 does not contain starch.
Proteins in cow milk differ from proteins found in breast milk. Especially the ratio of casein proteins and whey proteins differ immensely. Cows milk has about 80% casein and 20% whey, and in early lactation breast milk contains 40% casein and 60% whey. Casein proteins are bigger and more complex and is, therefore, more difficult to digest. Whey is more easily digestible and therefore more suitable for newborns. Because cow s milk is Casein dominant, you should not feed a baby pure cow s milk until they are ready to digest it, which is around 12 months of age (if you have questions or concerns regarding feeding regular cow’s milk, talk to your pediatrician).
To make cows milk more suitable for use in baby formula, proteins are either removed or broken down. Gentle processing and age-appropriate amounts of protein ensure a formula of excellent quality that makes babies’ tummies happy.
Both HiPP and Holle adjust the nutritional composition of their formula in a way that mimics breast milk. This includes protein content (~2g per 100kcal in stage 1 for both) and protein ratios.
Goat's milk naturally has a different protein composition than cow's milk. It contains roughly 89% less casein. Therefore, Holle Goat (and goat milk formula in general) can be an alternative for some babies that cannot handle cow's milk well, as the protein composition in goat's milk is a bit easier on babies' tummies due to the decreased amount of casein. However, goat and cow milk have partially the same proteins, therefore a reaction that your baby may have to protein in cows milk cannot be ruled out when switching to goat's milk. Please consult your pediatrician for formula alternatives if you suspect a milk protein allergy or intolerance.
The HiPP special organic formulas HA and Comfort are adjusted specifically for babies with milk protein sensitivities. In these formulas, the proteins have been extensively hydrolyzed (broken down) to make them more easily digestible. Therefore these special formulas are less likely to irritate your baby's digestive system. Before choosing a specialty formula such as HiPP HA and comfort, it is important to consult your pediatrician first to find out if these are suitable options for your baby.
DHA (or Docosahexaenoic Acid) is a long-chained polyunsaturated fatty acid (LCP) and essential for physical and mental development. It belongs to the class of Omega 3 fatty acids and is part of the human breast milk composition. In nature, these fatty acids are produced by microalgae and can therefore be found in all animals that consume these algae. The most common source of DHA in the human diet is fish or fish oil.
The amount of added DHA in baby formula is regulated by European law. Therefore, there isn’t much of a difference between HiPP and Holle. Both, HiPP and Holle use a mix of vegetable and fish oil as the source of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Only Holle Goat does not contain fish oil. Instead, the DHA is derived directly from organic algae oil.
Prebiotics & Probiotics
Pre and probiotics are especially important because they boost the immune system by helping to build a healthy gut bacteria. Probiotics are considered good bacteria because they are helpful for the body and can have health benefits, especially for digestion and the immune system. Prebiotics are indigestible food components (fibers) that stimulate the growth of probiotics.
Pre and probiotics appear naturally in human breast milk. Babies are born with a sterile gastrointestinal (GI) system, meaning no bacteria at all. Over time the bodies build them up and additionally they are consumed via breast milk or formula, which can help add them to the gut more quickly. Through these bacteria and fibers, babies develop a stronger digestive and immune system which helps to prevent infections.
Some manufacturers of formula, such as HiPP, emphasize the importance of prebiotics and probiotics in formula. The German Combiotik line of HiPP formula contains the bacteria “lactobacillus fermentum”, which they cultivate from real breast milk. Thus, the added probiotics make the formula even closer in composition to breast milk. Holle keeps its list of ingredients short. Therefore, no probiotics and prebiotics are added. However, they can be purchased individually and used as a supplement alongside any formula.
Among other vegetable oils, palm oil is used in many infant formulas to match the human breast milk fatty acid profile, more specifically to mimic the characteristics of palmitic acid. For this purpose, both European formula manufacturers HiPP and Holle use organic palm oil as part of a combination of vegetable oils (therefore the total amount of palm oil contained in the formula is rather low). Holle Goat milk formula is the only exception, it does not contain palm oil and only uses a mixture of sunflower and rapeseed oil.
HiPP vs. Holle: Organic certification
All infant formulas we sell always contain organic ingredients according to European law, which is generally stricter than organic standards in the United States. But if you are looking for a little extra, Holle cows milk formula holds the Demeter biodynamic label, which exceeds the standards of conventional EU organic farming. This is the strictest organic certification in Europe. The holistic, biodynamic approach ensures self-sustaining farming, production on a high organic level, and as little processing as possible. Demeter products are required to stay close to their original form as possible. Furthermore, all products are farmed without the use of pesticides and are GMO-free. Thorough and regular controls are in place to help make sure rules are followed and production must meet strict quality standards.
Just as well, HiPP takes the high quality, organic production and sustainability of their products very seriously. The products have the EU certified organic label, but by introducing their own organic label (HiPP Bio) they guarantee even better conditions for all beings involved in production and even higher quality standards. According to HiPP, their organic label controls what the EU organic certification does not: including quality of the product in regards to pollutants from the air or soil that can contaminate crops and end up in the farmed product. HiPP states that they do not allow for any residues in their baby food meaning all products with the HiPP Bio label are pesticide-free and have gone through strict quality controls.
HiPP special milk formulas (Comfort, AR and HA) require a little more processing (e.g. breaking down proteins) to make them easier-to-digest organic formulas for your little one. Because of this extra processing, they do not formally qualify for the European organic certification. Despite this, all ingredients are still sourced from organic production meaning it is still an organic formula.
Special milk formula
Although regular organic formula is suitable for most babies, some might need a little more adjusted formula when struggling with frequent digestive issues and sensitivities. Aware of how nerve-wracking the search for a suitable formula that your baby tolerates well can be, HiPP has introduced multiple formulas that address different problems: HiPP Hypoallergenic, HiPP Anti-Reflux and HiPP Comfort.
HiPP HA has extensively hydrolyzed milk proteins and therefore is low in allergens to meet the special nutritional needs of babies who are at risk of allergies or have allergies. If you suspect your child has a milk allergy, talk to your pediatrician to see if this formula might be right for your baby.
HiPP Comfort is similar to HA, however, additionally, it has a reduced lactose content and a special fat structure, which makes it more digestible to sensitive tummies. HiPP Comfort is intended to be used for the diet management for flatulence, lactose-related 3-month colic, and constipation in infancy.
HiPP AR is composed specifically to counter reflux. It contains locust bean gum, a thickening agent that has been proven to have reflux-reducing effects. With these three formulas, the product range of special formulas by HiPP is well adjusted to fit different babies' individual needs and counter digestive problems.
Holle does not offer a range of special formulas. To meet the needs of babies with intolerance for cow milk or parents with a preference for goat milk, they offer the Holle Goat formula. Importantly, while some babies with an intolerance to cow's milk may do well with this formula, for others the protein structure may be similar enough to evoke a reaction.
When it comes to switching any special or goat milk formula due to intolerances, you should always consult your pediatrician first.
The bottom line is: HiPP and Holle formula are both of exceptional quality and among the best organic formulas available to feed your baby. Many decades of experience have helped these two European manufacturers to find the best nutritional composition adjusted to the needs of infants. The biggest difference is Holle’s short ingredient list and biodynamic farming methods, whereas HiPP focuses more on designing a formula that comes as close as possible to the composition of human breast milk while staying true to their promise of organic quality according to German and EU regulations.
Which European baby formula may be the best formula for your baby is up to your preferences and your baby’s individual needs. No matter which formula you choose, Organic's Best provides you with the best organic European formulas.
We hope this HiPP and Holle comparison guide has helped you in finding out which may be the best option for an EU certified organic baby formula that suits the needs of your little one. If you have any further questions please send us an email or leave a comment.
Please be aware that this information is based on general trends evidenced in babies, it is in no way medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes with your child’s formula, and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician prior to making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.
Disclaimer: Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby, because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.