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August 09, 2022 9 min read
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You are probably familiar with infant formula at this point, but have you ever wondered how and where it originated? Each brand has a unique origin story, all stemming from thousands of years ago when the first breast milk alternative was used.
Just like today, there are many reasons why a baby had to be fully or partially formula fed. Historically, there were multiple solutions if a baby could not be breastfed by their mother. From wet nursing to the use of animal milks, parents found innovative ways to nourish their infants.
Keep reading to learn about the origin of infant formula and the history of great brands like HiPP and Holle, who have been feeding happy babies for over 50 years!
The use of formula as a breast milk substitute goes way back! Although it wasn't nearly as safe as it is today, as far back as 4000 years ago, women were using alternative milk sources such as animal milk as a replacement for breast milk.
The safest and most common alternative when a mother was unable to breastfeed was wet feeding, a practice where the child would receive human breast milk from another milk producing woman. This became less common as time went on due to the negative way society viewed wet feeding and wet nurses, and it was eventually replaced by the use of baby formula or animal milk as the most common practices.
The most popular source of milk was from a cow, but because this wasn't always readily available, other animal milks such as goat milk, sheep milk, horse milk and donkey milk were also used.
The use of animal milk as an alternative eventually evolved to include synthetic formulas which resemble human milk. In 1865, the first patented infant food entered the market and by 1883 the number of products on the market had skyrocketed. Advances in food preservation allowed formula to become popularized as a convenient, cost effective product, and it still is today!
One of the main differences between early brands of baby formula and modern formula today is the nutritional content. In the mid 1800's evaporated milk formula was created and sold as one of the first infant foods. Although, evaporated milk formulas were high in sugar and fat content and weren't an ideal choice for infants.
Early brands would provide infants with the calories they needed, but lacked other essential nutrients such as vitamins and minerals. It wasn't until 1929 that the American Medical Association began to monitor the quality of formula, and by 1940, with support from the medical community, baby formula became a mainstream healthy alternative to breastfeeding.
There has been a conflicting history regarding the debate between baby formula and breast milk and how they both affect the health of a developing baby. Intense marketing from formula manufacturers led to an overall decrease in breast feeding until the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) made a statement explaining how commercial infant foods had negatively impacted the practice of breastfeeding. Today, the APP still recommends breastfeeding infants from birth until they are 6 months old.
This does not mean that formula feeding isn't perfectly healthy and a wonderful substitute for breast milk. Baby formulas today are fortified with an abundance of healthy nutrients to meet an infants nutritional needs at all stages of development.
Learn more: European Baby Formula Stages Made Simple
Today, baby formula regulations are still being updated as science evolves to better understand the nutritional needs of infants. As of February 2020, there is a new EU legislation that affects all infant formulas. This new legislation has updated rules surrounding composition changes, nutrition labelling, compliance and communication.
There are innovative brands on the market, who are constantly seeking ways to improve their baby formula recipes and provide parents with infant foods created with top quality ingredients that are beneficial for both babies and the planet.
One of these innovative brands is HiPP, which, like many successful companies, began with a revolutionary idea. When his wife struggled to nurse, Joseph Hipp began feeding his children cereal made from crushed rusks and milk made at his pastry shop in Pfaffenhofen. Joseph founded his own company in 1932 and launched HiPP jars in 1959. Eventually, he began taking an interest in organic-biological agriculture, which prompted the ecological evolution of HiPP products.
Today, HiPP has further developed a philosophy that promotes ecological agriculture and sustainable values. Despite its growth over the years, HiPP continued on this path, leading the way in ecological welfare while curating top quality products.
To name just a few of HiPPs eco-accomplishments, they have successfully created a system where 97% of waste is recycled and water and energy consumption have been cut by over 50%.
Their products speak for themselves! Here are a few reasons why they are one of the best formula manufacturers out there:
They Only use untreated seeds
They produce European Union certified-organic formulas
They use preventive measures to protect plants
They Keep livestock according to breed and species
They Prohibit the use of mineral nitrogen fertilizers
Hormones are prohibited in their products and antibiotics are only permitted when necessary for animal health
Their products are free of GMOs, artificial colors and preservatives, aromas or flavor enhancers
Another one of our favorite brands is Holle. Holle was founded in 1933 in Arlsheim, making them not only one of the first organic baby food manufacturers in all of Europe, but also one the first certified Demeter companies on the market. Holle creates clean biodynamic baby food that is packed full of nutrients. Initially Holle products were only available in Switzerland, but due to popular demand their products are now enjoyed all over the world!
Holle, being a pioneer of organic baby products, took it a step further by prioritizing sustainable practices within their company. Since 2016, all Holle baby porridges and milk cereals and goat milk products are CO2e neutral. This means that Holle has been offsetting their carbon footprint while still producing high quality, delicious products for your little ones!You can feel good supporting a company that prioritizes the health of your baby and the environment. Here are a few more reasons to love Holle.
Highest Organic Standards in Europe: Demeter
Made with Premium quality milk from happy cows
Made with Simple ingredients that support healthy development
They prioritize Chemical & hormone-free agriculture and manufacturing
Holle’s formulas are free of artificial sweeteners and GMOs.
Kendamil is another top quality formula manufacturer, relying on a local supply chain to source ingredients for their products. Sourcing ingredients from the English Lake District holds the company accountable during every step of the process, and allows them to support local family farmers. Founder Ross McMahon emphasizes the importance of animal welfare, while relying on ingredients that are close to nature.
Kendamil is unique! They are the only British baby milk brand, manufactured entirely in Britain. Their products are formulated with breast milk in mind and use full cream nutrients to pack their products full of milk fats to provide a growing baby with energy.
There are so many reasons to nourish your little one with Kendamil formula, here are a few reasons that we love their products!
They are EU Organic & Red Tractor Certified
They use ARA (Omega-6) & plant-based DHA (Omega-3)
They are Vegetarian friendly
Many of their products are enriched with prebiotics
They use a breastmilk-like formulation
Their products are free from soy, gluten, and palm oil
Their products are made without the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics, or GMOs
While HiPP, Holle and Kendamil each have over 50 years of experience behind them, there are newer brands with products on the market that are worth mentioning when discussing high quality infant formula. Each of these companies have a compelling or unique way that their products are created, and are loved by many parents!
If you are interested in a goat milk formula, then Jovie is for you! Jovie is a Dutch brand with products made from full-fat goat milk. They consist of a team of experts and parents who thrive to make a product that they are proud of, one that consists of quality, nutritious ingredients.
They are one of the few brands on the market who exclusively use goat milk in their formulas, which is a great alternative to breast milk or cow's milk. Goat milk is known for its many nutritious qualities. One being that it is digested up to 2x faster than cow's milk.
On top of using goat milk in their formula, there are so many other ways that Jovie is putting attention and care into their formulas. Here are a few reasons you will love their products:
Their products are EU organic certified
Their formulas are easier to digest
Their formulas are less allergenic
Their products contain only whole goats milk without maltodextrin or palm oil
Their formulas are enriched with prebiotics
They are made without the use of harmful chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics or GMOs
We told you about Holle above, but have you heard about their sister company Lebenswert Bio? This company was introduced to the European market in 2009 and has skyrocketed in popularity since. If you are already a fan of Holle, you can expect the same great quality in Lebenswert Bio's products. The purpose of creating Lebenswert Bio was to offer parents a more cost effective formula that did not compromise on quality or taste.
They only use untreated seeds when producing ingredients
They use preventive measures to protect plants
They use natural compost in place of chemical or synthetic agents
Hormones are prohibited and antibiotics are only permitted when necessary for animal health
Made with simple ingredients that support development
Made with premium quality milk from happy cows
Löwenzahn Organics is one of the newer brands on the market, which was founded by two parents out of Germany. As parents themselves, they strived to make a formula that would support the healthy development of infants. They focus on gut health, believing that this is the most important part of determining a baby’s physical and mental development.
Their products are EU Organic certified
Many products Contain ARA (Omega-6) & plant-based DHA (Omega-3)
Many products are enriched with prebiotics
They are made without harmful chemicals, pesticides, antibiotics or GMOs
Women have been breastfeeding since the beginning of civilization, but there have always been cases where in certain situations this is not possible. Humans have come up with innovative ways to nourish infants such as wet nursing, using cow or goat milk and by creating synthetic formulas meant to resemble human milk.
While formula has not always been what it is today, since 1980, The Infant Formula Act allowed the Food and Drug Administration to monitor and control the quality of formula. This ensures that when being fed formula, your infant is receiving nutrients such as fats, proteins, vitamins C, A, D, E, K, B1, B2, B6, and B12, calcium, iron and more!
While formula fed infants are being given all the yummy ingredients they need to support their growth and development, if possible, most pediatricians recommend exclusively breastfeeding your little one for the first 6 months.
There is an extensive history behind infant formula, and manufacturers have come a long way to ensure your growing baby is getting all the nourishment they need as they progress from infant to toddler. You can feel good feeding your little one formula, knowing that the science behind it is constantly being updated and regulations are continuously being put into place to ensure the health of growing babies all over the world.
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 to 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.
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