Common Ingredients Found In European Infant Formulas


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If you look at the back of any infant formula to check the list of ingredients, chances are you will run across a few things that you may not recognize. Most European infant formulas have the same basic ingredients. Mommy Formula has put together a simple guide that explains more about these common ingredients. We always want you to know what is in your child’s food so that you can make the best decisions regarding their nutrition. 


European infant formula and all baby formula is created from a protein base. The most common are whey proteins and casein proteins. Whey us a compound protein, or rather a chain of amino acid proteins that are linked together. Whey is a protein that will stay in liquid form when milk curdles. Think along the lines of the excess watery milk that remains after making cheese. They are great for infant formulas because they are gentle on the stomach and digest quicker than casein protein since they remain in liquid form. 


Lactose is something you will find in both breast milk and infant formula. Specifically, lactose is a bigger sugar molecule made of glucose and galactose, which are two smaller sugar molecules. When lactose enters the body in the form of infant formula or breast milk, the body breaks it down into its smaller parts. This will allow the lactose to be absorbed through the intestines. Most infants are able to tolerate lactose without any issues, but some may struggle with lactose sensitivities or intolerance during the first months of their lives. 

Prebiotics & Probiotics (GOS)

Galacto-oligosaccharides, and other live organisms, better known as pre & probiotics (GOS) are gut boosters. They are often included in European infant formulas to help support digestive development and reduce digestive complications. They are generally made of chain-linked sugars from plants. Dairy products, root vegetables, and beans have them naturally. They feed the helpful bacteria that live in the intestine. Galacto-oligosaccharides as prebiotics while probiotics are live organisms such as saccharomyces, bifidobacteria, and lactobacillus. 


There is starch in virtually everything we eat, but it is also a popular additive in infant formula. The body gets most of its energy by converting polysaccharide carbohydrates, which is basically starch. Sugar is also a carbohydrate, but it is sweet. Other forms of starch used in infant formula provide energy without adding sweetness. Another purpose of starch in infant formula is to make it thicker and take longer to digest. 


Maltodextrin is a food additive often found in infant formulas. It is derived from vegetable starch and popular for use in infant formulas because it is easy to digest. Maltodextrin absorbs into the body faster than other types of sugars and is usually tasteless or mildly sweet. European infant formulas brands such as Holle and Lebenswert use this additive as a thickener to help keep babies full longer. 

Organic Palm Oil

Palm oil is a healthy source of fat included in many infant formulas. Babies need a high concentration of healthy fat to support rapid growth in the early years. Breast milk is 50% fat, and infant formulas are made to offer the same ratio of fatty acids. Palm oil is one of the most common followed by several other healthy oils. 

Omega-3 (DHA & ALA Oil)

Omega- 3 is an essential fatty acid that helps boost brain and system development in infants. Most formulas from Europe will have at least 0.2–0.4 % DHA fatty acids and 0.35–0.7 % ARA fatty acids. Both DHA and ARA are found in breast milk and have been linked to higher intelligence scores in toddlers. Most, if not all European infant formula brands also supplement DHA and ARA in the form of Omega- 3 oil in their infant formulas. Not only does this bring infant formula closer in simulation to breast milk, but it also supports healthy heart and brain development. 

Potassium Chloride

This ingredient is in most infant formulas. It is a form of salt which is basically a mix of potassium and chlorine. Not all infant formula brands use this ingredient, but it is included in most under various names. 


Similar to Omega- 3’s, AA omega-6 is also critical for proper infant brain development. Many mothers will increase their natural intake of both Omega- 3 and Omega- 8 foods during pregnancy. Omega- 6 is also found in a wide assortment of infant formulas both Stateside and in the EU. Omega- 6 has been shown to reduce the development of many common allergies while also reducing the risk of asthma from developing. 


Soy may seem like a trending buzzword used by those looking into maintaining alternative lifestyles. However, soy is a healthy ingredient often used in infant formulas. Some infants who are sensitive to animal proteins or who may have lactose intolerance may use a soy-based formula instead. Infants who are allergic to milk proteins also are able to consume soy-based infant formulas instead. Soy is a plant that is used as a source of healthy protein in place of cow or goat milk proteins. It is free of lactose and has a different sugar type than milk-based infant formulas. 

Added Vitamins & Minerals

The list of possible added vitamins and minerals is quite long. Most European infant formulas will contain added vitamins A, C, D, E, and K. In addition to those base vitamins, it is also normal to find added thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), Iron, B6, and B12 in infant formulas. These vitamins and minerals are added to help support proper immune support, bone growth, and development in infants. The exact concentrations and supplements will vary by brand and by infant formula stage. 

Get More From Your Milk With Mommy Formula

Here at Mommy Formula we only offer the best European infant formulas on the market. Brands in the EU follow strict regulations when creating healthy blends for growing infants. We hope the list above will help you better understand what you read on the labels. If have any questions or concerns, our customer service department is no more than a few clicks away via email.

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