Aptamil: Review of Europe’s #1 Formula Brand Now in the U.S.!

baby formula formula review infant formula Sep 07, 2022
Mom holding baby while they touch noses with Aptamil formula container in foreground and FDA permitted banner in upper right corner

I cannot express how grateful I am that we’re starting to see more formula on grocery store shelves after months of really low stock. It’s been a stressful season for many families and I am thrilled to see new options, including international imports like Aptamil, become available for parents and babies alike.

Some of these new international formulas might be unfamiliar to you as a U.S. consumer and that’s because we didn’t have access to them prior to this summer! Given the formula shortage, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended “enforcement discretion” to qualified international formula manufacturers in order to provide formula to our American market.  It is no surprise that Aptamil, the #1 formula brand in Europe,* was among the formula brands allowed into the U.S. to help with the formula crisis.

Let’s get into Aptamil’s imported products and why their presence is such great news for American families feeding with formula!


About Aptamil

Well known and trusted around the world, Aptamil belongs to the Danone family of brands which also includes Happy Family Organics (maker of Happy Baby infant formula) and Nutricia (maker of Neocate and Pepticate specialty formulas). Danone is the #2 global maker of infant formula and a global leader in infant nutrition research– they launched the very first infant nutrition research facility more than 75 years ago! The Danone Nutricia Research group has contributed to over 600 publications on nutrition, immunology, microbiology, and allergy in peer-reviewed academic journals.

Given this history, parents can trust that Aptamil formulas are founded from decades of research in early life science. Aptamil formulas are nutritionally–complete, contain key ingredients that help support gut health and the developing immune system of babies, and have been clinically shown to support growth— and you know we love a research-backed product around here!

As a side note, I was also thrilled to learn that Danone boasts the first formula manufacturing facility to be certified carbon neutral by the Carbon Trust which is powered by 100% renewable energy! This plant, located in Ireland, is one of 18 facilities that Danone has worldwide dedicated to the production of infant formula.


Aptamil’s Imported Formulas

Like many brands allowed for import via FDA enforcement discretion, Aptamil has received clearance for more than one of their infant formula products! While similar in composition (both SKUs are standard, intact protein, milk-based formulas), there are some key differences that parents should consider when deciding between the two Aptamil products they might see on the shelf.

Let’s break this down!


Aptamil First Infant Milk

Key features:

  •  Uses 100% lactose as the carb source (no corn syrup or maltodextrin)
  •  Has intact milk proteins
  •  Added whey protein to mimic the whey/casein protein ratio in breastmilk
  •  Prebiotics GOS and FOS to help support the digestive system
  •  3’GL HMO**
  •  Contains DHA levels consistent with requirements in Europe to support brain and eye health
  •  No palm oil
  •  No soy oil

Aptamil First Infant Milk is ideal for full-term babies who have no known allergies or milk sensitivities.  Aptamil First Infant Milk formula contains lower iron than formulas that are normally available in the U.S.  This is typical for European formulas. Families should note that this formula is classified by the FDA as “low iron” and additional iron may be needed for preemies/former preemies, low birth weight infants, or those with low iron levels at birth, Given this lower iron level, Aptamil First Infant Milk is not eligible for WIC participants at this time.

Aptamil First Infant Milk is a great option for families who want a trusted, high-quality European formula to substitute for common U.S. choices such as Kirkland Pro-Care, Similac Pro-Advance or 360 Total Care, Enfamil NeuroPro, or Happy Baby Organic. This is also a great choice for parents who have been importing European formulas such as Loulouka or HiPP from 3rd party retailers!


Aptamil Gold+

Key features:

  •  Uses 100% lactose as the carb source (no corn syrup or maltodextrin)
  •  Has intact milk protein
  •  Added whey protein to mimic the 60/40 whey/casein protein ratio in mature breastmilk
  •  Prebiotics GOS and FOS to help support the digestive system
  •  Probiotic B. breve, found naturally in the gut of breastfed infants
  •  Contains DHA levels consistent with requirements in Europe to support brain and eye health
  •  Fat blend includes palm olein, coconut, sunflower and rapeseed (no soy oil)

Aptamil’s Gold+ is a great option for full-term babies who have no known allergies or milk sensitivities, and for families who want a formula that has prebiotics as well as a probiotic included. Gold+ has a higher iron level than Aptamil First Infant Milk and is not classified as “low iron” by the FDA! Aptamil Gold+ is also available to WIC participants– please check with your local WIC office for waiver information.

I recommend Gold+ for families who are looking for a high-quality formula to substitute for common U.S. choices such as store-brand Infant, Enfamil Infant or NeuroPro, Happy Baby Organic, and Earth’s Best Organic. This is also a great choice for parents who have been importing European formulas such as Holle or HiPP from 3rd party retailers!


Aptamil Formula FAQs:


1. How does Aptamil compare to U.S. formulas?

Aptamil offers complete nutrition using ingredients that American families are familiar with, such as skim milk, lactose, and a blend of vegetable oils to provide essential fatty acids. Both Aptamil products are high-quality formulas that are nutritionally comparable to name-brand U.S. formulas while offering a more affordable price point! Aptamil First Infant Milk provides 800g of formula for $34.99, while Aptamil Gold+ provides 900g for $38.99.

For comparison, the same amount of formula would cost more than $40/container for Enfamil NeuroPro or Similac 360, and more than $50/container for Enfamil Enspire. Aptamil offers a great product at a truly great price point!


2. Should I be concerned about the lower iron level in Aptamil First Infant Milk?

The U.S. is an outlier among developed countries with formulas that contain higher iron content. Formulas that are available in Canada and throughout Europe typically contain lower levels of iron, but at levels that provide more than what most young infants need.  Breastmilk contains very little iron and much lower iron content than found in formula, including the lower iron formulas available in Europe.   

Given that infants retain iron stores from pregnancy and are encouraged to consume iron-rich solids beginning at 6 months, Aptamil’s lower iron level in their First Infant Milk product is sufficient for full-term, healthy infants who were not low birthweight and did not have low iron levels or require blood products at birth. If you’re unsure about the product’s appropriateness for your child, please consult with your pediatrician!


 3. Do I need to make these formulas with boiled water?

The preparation instructions on these formulas follow European and New Zealand guidelines which are different than instructions on typical U.S. labels. You may notice that the instructions ask you to boil water to mix with the formula and to make each bottle fresh versus preparing in advance and storing in the fridge. Please know-- there is nothing inherently more dangerous about these formulas that would necessitate this prep! This is simply how they are required to label their cans according to their local health guidelines.

If you have not been boiling water (i.e. you've been using tap water, distilled water, etc.) to prepare your U.S. formula, you can continue to use whatever water you've been using! Likewise, if you were preparing batches (using the Dr. Browns Formula Mixing Pitcher or something similar) before using Aptamil, you can continue to do so. You won't increase your risk to keep doing what you've been doing, though I always recommend discussing with your child’s doctor to confirm if you choose not to follow the stated label instructions.


4. Are there any special instructions for mixing or preparation?

Great news! Both Aptamil First Infant Milk and Aptamil Gold+ have mixing instructions in English. Be aware that while Gold+ follows a 1 scoop per 50 mL mixing ratio (NOTE-- this is not the same a 2oz!), the First Infant Milk follows a 1 scoop per 1oz (30mL) mixing ratio, as is common in Europe. As with any new formula, be sure to follow the mixing instructions on the back of the container to ensure proper preparation! Learn more on how to prepare on Aptamil’s site.


5. Where can I find buy it?

Aptamil is currently available in-store at Target and Walgreens, some Albertsons/Safeway locations, as well as online at Amazon.com and Target.com. You can check availability locally via Aptamil’s U.S. website at https://us.aptamil.com/store-locator.


6. Will Aptamil formulas be available in the U.S. long-term?

While the initial enforcement discretion period is scheduled to end in November 2022, FDA has made it clear that they are working with manufacturers to ensure that families can continue to use imported formula products with minimal disruption long-term. Additional insight is expected to be released by FDA in September! Given that Danone has introduced Aptamil into the U.S. and has established retail partnerships for other formula brands, including Happy Baby and Neocate, I hope Aptamil will remain on the shelf long-term.

Be sure to follow Aptamil on social media for updates as well at @aptamil_us!


7. Do I recommend Aptamil as The Formula Mom?

Yes! Aptamil formulas are a great option for families who are struggling to find their typical formula or who want to switch to a trusted, high-quality new option. As Europe’s #1 formula brand, Aptamil comes highly-regarded with years of great parent feedback. I’m excited to start to hear from what parents in my community think, and I expect that they’ll have good things to say!


Planning to try Aptamil?

I love to hear how families are liking these new formulas to market. Leave a comment below or send me a DM on IG @theformulamom with your feedback!

Need help finding the right formula for your little one? I've got you covered. Check out my Store page for a variety of free and paid resources to help you have a confident and successful formula feeding journey!


* Source: Euromonitor International Limited, 2021 edition, value sales RSP, 2020 data

** not derived from human milk

NOTE: This post was sponsored by Aptamil and may contain affiliate links. This means I may receive a small commission for recommending them at no additional cost to you. Views are my own!