Soy Formula: The Best Dairy-Free Formula Alternative for Babies

Published by 
Jess Miller
Last updated: 
December 13, 2021
Baby with soy formula in baby bottle

For many parents, soy formula is the ultimate solution to gas, fussiness, and dairy-related allergies. Gentle on the stomach yet still nourishing enough to support healthy growth and development – there is a whole lot to love about soy formula!

Should you make the switch to a soy-based formula? I’ll teach you everything you need to know about introducing soy formula to your baby’s diet.

Why use soy formula?

If for whatever reason you can’t give your baby breast milk or cow’s milk formula, soy is the next fallback.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests the following as the only reasons you should choose soy formulas over cow’s milk-based formulas.

  • Your baby is lactose or milk protein sensitive
  • Your baby has a true milk allergy
  • Your baby has congenital galactosemia
  • You are raising your baby in a vegan or vegetarian family

If none of the above apply to your baby, then you have nothing to gain by swapping over to soy formula and should stick to breast milk or cow’s milk formula – As recommended by the AAP.

But if it is necessary to use soy formula on your baby then there is nothing to worry about. Studies have shown that healthy babies grow just as well on soy as they do on cow’s milk formulas.

Pros and cons of soy formula

Soy formula mixed in baby bottle

The thing to remember is that each baby responds to soy formula differently. There is no guarantee that your baby will experience the advantages or disadvantages listed below. As always, it is recommended that you consult your pediatrician before introducing new foods to your baby.

Pros

  • It's considered safe - A 2001 university study compared the difference in 811 adults - 248 who were fed soy formula with 563 who were fed cows milk formula as infants. No statistically significant differences were found across 30 outcomes in regards to general and reproductive health. The researchers concluded that the findings were reassuring in regards to the safety of infant soy formula.1
  • A great alternative to allergies - If your baby has a lactose intolerance, milk protein intolerance, or true milk allergy then a soy-based formula can provide an alternative.
  • Relief from constipation - Many parents report that swapping over to reduced or eliminated constipation in their baby.
  • Prevent reflux and gas - If your baby’s gas and reflux are linked to a dairy intolerance then swapping over to
  • A plant-based formula option - While there are no 100% vegan baby formula options, soy formula is dairy-free, which means you can avoid supporting ethically dubious dairy industry.

Cons

  • Soy allergies - It is not suitable for infants with a soy allergy.
  • High in sugar - As I will discuss below, soy baby formula typically contains more sugar than cow’s milk formula.
  • Can contain corn syrup - Check the ingredients! Some brands of soy formula use corn syrup as the sweetener, which is not suitable for babies with a corn allergy. Fortunately, there are many soy formulas available that use allergy-friendly sweeteners.

Despite the pros and cons, many healthy adults have been raised on it without any issues. If it works for your family then go for it!

The sweet side

If you currently have soy formula sitting in your pantry, take a look at the first ingredient. Chances are that it’s a sweetener.

Common sweeteners:

  • Glucose Syrup
  • Glucose Syrup
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • checkCorn Maltodextrin

And they actually make up a large part of the overall formula. Check out the ingredients from Enfamil ProSobee Soy Formula.

Are you shocked? I am. Over 50% of the formula is a sweetener.

And Enfamil is actually one of the more honest soy formulas around because they actually state the percentage of the major ingredients!. Other brands of soy formula leave you guessing, but it’s highly likely the ratios are similar.

Only a few soy formula brands chose to list the amount of sugar in each serving of formula. And it was a whopping 4g per serve. That’s a teaspoon of sugar in EACH baby meal.

Now you may be asking yourself…

Why all the sugar?

It’s simple – Sweetener is added to improve the taste.

Soy has a pungent and unusual flavor. Many adults find the taste disgusting. And your infant's brand new taste buds would too.

But if there is one thing that adults and babies both love, it’s sweet. So manufacturers of soy-based formula add a boatload of sweetener to reduce the chance of your baby rejecting the soy formula.

There is no way around it. If you want to make the switch to a soy formula, you will have to come to peace with all

Best soy baby formulas

Below I will cover some of the best and most popular baby formulas on the market.

Note: Just because one soy formula doesn’t work for your baby doesn’t mean that another will do the same. The ingredients of each brand can differ dramatically with many parents reporting that one brand worked better for their baby than another. YMMV.

Premium soy formula – Similac Soy Isomil


Ingredients

Corn Syrup Solids, Soy Protein Isolate, High Oleic Safflower Oil, Sugar, Soy oil, Coconut Oil, C. Cohnii Oil, M. Alpina Oil, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Fructooligosaccharides, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Salt, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Chloride, L-Methionine, Taurine, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ferrous Sulfate, M-Inositol, Mixed Tocopherols, Zinc Sulfate, D-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, L-Carnitine, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Potassium Hydroxide, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Sodium Selenate, Vitamin D3, and Cyanocobalamin.

While it may be a little more expensive, many parents report that Imilac Soy Isomil worked better than any other soy Powder on the market, especially in babies that have previously rejected soy formula because of the taste.

Similac is also the most commonly used formula in hospitals. A claim that no other soy formula can back up.

Similac believes they have the perfect formula and have actually trademarked it under the name OptiGRO. You will not find this specific blend of ingredients in any other soy formula, designed specifically to nourish the brain, eyes and support growth.

A premium soy formula that comes can be expensive.

Most popular soy formula – Gerber Good Start Soy


Ingredients

Corn Maltodextrin, Vegetable Oils (Palm Olein, Soy, Coconut, and High Oleic Safflower or High-Oleic Sunflower), Enzymatically Hydrolyzed Soy Protein Isolate, Sucrose, Less than 2% of: Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Citrate, M. Alpina Oil, C. Cohnii Oil, Magnesium Chloride, Calcium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Copper Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenate, Soy Lecithin, Sodium Ascorbate, Choline Chloride, Inositol, Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Acetate, Riboflavin, Thiamine Mononitrate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Biotin, Phylloquinone, Vitamin D, Vitamin B, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Mixed Tocopherols, L-Methionine, Taurine, L-Carnitine

Gerber is one of the best-known baby food brands in existence. With brand recognition like this, it’s unsurprising that Gerber soy formula is the most popular on the market.

Many parents swear by Gerber Good Start Soy as the formula that stopped their baby’s gas and fussiness.

Gerber is also one of the few brands to offer both a baby formula and a soy formula for toddlers. The Gerber Good Start Soy Stage 3 is suitable for 9 -24 months, to accommodate your baby’s changing dietary requirements.

Organic Soy Formula – Earth’s Best Organic Soy


Ingredients

Organic Glucose Syrup Solids, Organic Soy Protein, Organic Palm Olein Or Palm Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic High Oleic (Safflower or Sunflower) Oil, Organic Soy Oil, Mortierella Alpina Oil, Crypthecodinium Cohnii Oil, Ascorbyl Palmitate, L-Carnitine, L-Methionine, Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate, Soy Lecithin, Taurine, Calcium Chloride, Calcium Phosphate, Cupric Sulfate, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Hydroxide, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Citrate, Sodium Selenite, Zinc Sulfate, Ascorbic Acid, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Calcium Pantothenate, Choline Bitartrate, Cyanocobalamin, Folic Acid, Inositol, Niacinamide, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Thiamine, Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Cholecalciferol, Dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, Phytonadione.

One of the few organic options on the market. USDA certified organic, only organic soybeans are used that have been produced without prohibited pesticides or synthetic fertilizers.

Earth’s Best rounds out the formula by adding Omega-3 DHA and Omega-6 ARA fatty acids, special nutrients that are found in breast milk and clinically shown to boost mental and visual development in babies.

Pediatrician recommended soy Formula – Enfamil ProSobee


Ingredients

Corn Syrup Solids, Vegetable Oil (Palm Olein, Coconut, Soy, and High Oleic Sunflower Oils), Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Calcium Carbonate, Magnesium Chloride, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Mortierella Alpina Oil, Crypthecodinium Cohnii Oil, L-Methionine, Choline Chloride, Ascorbic Acid, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin D3, Riboflavin, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Vitamin B6 Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Vitamin K1, Biotin, Vitamin B12, Inositol, Taurine, Vitamin E Acetate, L-Carnitine, Vitamin A Palmitate.

Another premium soy formula, Enfamil is actually the leading formula brand recommended by pediatricians.1 However, I could not find whether this specifically referred to the ProSobee soy formula or the range of Enfamil formulas in general.

That said, there is no denying that Enfamil’s soy-based formula is popular with many parents because it is gentle on the stomach, helping to reduce gas and fussiness.

Like Similac, Enfamil has trademarked its own unique soy-based formula mixture. Specifically formulated to help boost the 4 areas pediatricians check for most – cognitive, motor, communication, and social skills.

Cheapest soy formula for babies – Parent’s Choice


Ingredients

Corn Syrup, Soy Protein Isolate, Palm Olein, Coconut Oil, High Oleic Oil, Mortierella Alpina Oil, Crypthecodinium Cohinii Oil, Lutein, Fructooligosaccharides, Calcuium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Magnesium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Bitartrate, L-Methionine, Taurine, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Ferrous Sulfate, Inositol, Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate, Zinc Sulfate, dl-Alpha Tocopheryl Acetate, L-Carnitine, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Hydrochloride, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine, Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Potassium Iodide, Potassium Hydroxide, Phytonadone, Biotin, Sodium Selenite, Beta-Carotene, Cholecalciferol, Cyanocabalamin, Monoglycerides, Soy Lecithin, Trivasic Calsium Phosphate, Calcium Carbonate, Manganas Sulfate, Potassium Bicarbonate.

If you are on a tight budget then cost will play a huge part in which soy formula you buy. When it came to low-cost soy formula, Walmart’s own Parent’s Choice was by far the most affordable.

Working out to be just over 8 cents per fl oz, Parent’s Choice soy formula makes for one economical baby meal.

And the best part is that you can grab it off the shelf of your local Walmart. Don’t live near a Walmart? Order it online!

Sample soy formula - Baby’s Only Soy Organic

Ingredients

Organic Brown Rice Syrup, Organic Soy Protein Concentrate, High Oleic Sunflower Oil and/or Organic High Oleic Safflower Oil, Organic Soybean Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Calcium Phosphate, Organic Vanilla, Organic Soy Lecithin, Potassium Phosphate, Magnesium Sulfate, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Ascorbate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Calcium Citrate, Choline Bitartrate, L-Methionine, Taurine, Ferrous Sulfate, Inositol, Zinc Sulfate, d-Alpha Tocopgeryl Acetate, L-carnitine, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Thiamin Hdrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Copper Sulfate, Folic Acid, Phylloquinone, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selentate, Biotin, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalmin.

At first Glance, Baby’s only looks like the cheapest soy formula available. However, if you look closely at the weight you will notice that this soy formula is about half the size of a regular formula canister.

But if you were considering making the switch to soy formula and didn’t have it in your budget, then Baby’s Only is a good sample size.

And it’s good stuff too, no GMO ingredients and USDA organic approved, just the stuff your toddler needs.

A common misconception of soy formula

Soybean alone isn’t enough for your baby.

While full of goodness, soybean cannot provide complete nutrition to your growing baby. As a result, soy formula will have additional ingredients added in order to provide a fully nourishing meal for your baby.

These additional ingredients include essential fatty acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. These are necessary for continued growth and development.

Soy formula and baby poop

Before I wrap up my guide on soy formula, I just wanted to quickly cover how it can affect your baby’s stool.

Soy formula can cause constipation.

But so can any other formula. It all depends on your baby. Some babies experience chronic constipation while others poop as normal.

After making the switch to soy formula, you may notice that your baby’s poop is thicker and firmer. If so, you are not alone – many other parents have experienced the same.1

To avoid constipation with soy formula, you are going to want to ensure that you are using the correct measurements. Using more than the recommended amount of soy formula is a good way to block your baby right up.

The problem is, the instructions on the formula tin can be pretty vague. My interpretation of “One unpacked scoop” differs from my husband's. The easiest way to ensure you are using the right amount is to pull out your kitchen scales and set it to grams. This will ensure you give your baby the perfect amount and minimize the chances of constipation.

Soy formula deals

Looking for discount soy infant formula? I have gathered up the hottest deals so that you can save big!

Do you use a soy-based formula to feed your baby? Let me know in the comments below.

Our Purpose

Simple: To write awesome guides. Kids don’t come with instructions. We are not afraid to dive right in and get messy. The result? The most detailed guides on the internet; from gear guides to parenting advice.
Copyright © 2022 parent.guide All Rights Reserved