Here’s Why Parents Are Going to Great Lengths to Buy European Baby Formula

From paying high shipping costs to getting those inside connections, here’s how some American parents are getting European baby formula here in the states.

By: Amanda Mushro


Baby drinking milk.Others photographs of this baby in this lightbox:

Photo by: YsaL


If you walk down any baby food aisle in America, you’ll see dozens of formula brands lining the shelves. From the brands that many parents grew up on to formulas designed to help ease allergies, there are a lot of options. So why are so many parents going to extremes to have European formulas shipped from overseas?

For many parents, the first time they heard of the German baby formula brand Holle was when Amy Schumer mentioned it as the formula she feeds her son Gene. Schumer learned about the brand from her friend, tennis superstar Serena Williams.

Some parents are already big fans of Holle, as well as the brand HiPP, saying they choose to feed their babies these European formulas because they contain fewer artificial ingredients and use lactose instead of corn syrup as a sweetener.

So where can you find these formulas? This is where it gets tricky. Parents can’t simply head to their local grocery store and grab a few boxes. Since European baby formulas are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), American retailers cannot sell these brands.

Instead, parents who choose to use these brands have to search for online distributors and can expect to pay significantly more to get them for their babies. This can be troubling because many don’t know where these sites are obtaining the formula or how long they have been on shelves and in storage. Also, there is always fear that these sites will run out or that the FDA may shut them down before orders are shipped. Some parents have joined Facebook groups where they can share info about distributors and online sites that they recommend using. All of this can seem overwhelming when you are just trying to feed your baby.

According to the FDA, formulas made in America must have specific ingredients, must contain a minimum amount of 29 nutrients and max amounts for another nine. Recently, the FDA made a recommendation that parents do not use German formulas because they are too low in iron and have oversimplified listings and information about the nutrients. Since the ingredient lists are in German, most American parents don't know the language to check the nutrients in the formula.

However, parents using these brands feel their babies are doing really well on the formula and say they will continue going out of their way to find it. How you feed your baby is a very personal decision – fortunately, there are many options.

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