In 2017, the Clean Label Project tested baby formulas for toxins — and the results were shocking. More than 70 percent of infant formulas tested positive for arsenic, and 60 percent of baby products advertised as “BPA free” tested positive for BPA. Organic baby foods contained twice as much arsenic as non-organic foods. Soy-based baby formulas averaged seven times more cadmium than other formulas.1

If you don’t know what these ingredients are or why they’re dangerous for your baby, we have some information that may blow your mind. Babies are highly susceptible to illness from toxins, and exposure to toxins in early life can lead to health problems later.2 All parents and guardians should research formulas online to find truly healthy products.

Ingredients to Avoid

The Clean Label Project is an eye-opening resource for parents because it highlights 130 toxins that are present in many formulas and baby foods. Let’s look at some of the most dangerous toxins that may appear on the label of the formula sitting in your home right now.


This is a metal used to make batteries because it doesn’t corrode easily. It’s a known carcinogen that also causes bone softening, severe kidney dysfunction, and possible kidney failure.

Glass cups from McDonald’s offered to kids were recalled because they contained a small amount of cadmium. That still hasn’t stopped manufacturers from including cadmium in infant formulas. In fact, the Clean Label Project found cadmium in nearly 60 percent of baby foods and many formulas.3


This toxin is readily found in the earth’s crust. It travels from rocks into the soil and then into drinking water and foods that are grown in the soil. All humans are vulnerable to arsenic exposure through drinking water, so consumption through formula and food puts babies at even higher risk.4 Arsenic can cause dysfunction and disease in the nervous, respiratory, immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems. It may also impact the skin.

Artificial DHA and ARA

DHA and ARA are essential fatty acids extracted from oil. They’re marketed as close representations of amino acids naturally found in breast milk, so many new mothers think they’re nourishing for babies. Some also believe that they will make their babies smarter.

Unfortunately, these artificial amino acids are known to cause gastrointestinal distress. Medical experts are also concerned that they may cause an imbalance of fatty acids, which may lead to complications with brain development and sensory functioning.5 The DEA requires all manufacturers of formula with DHA and ARA to complete testing to ensure safety, but they haven’t complied with that order.


These environmental pollutants are easily absorbed into the fat cells and can remain in the body for years. All humans consume them through their food, but high exposure and ongoing consumption contribute to hormonal changes, immune system damage, and dysfunction in the reproductive system. Dioxins are also known carcinogens.6

While dioxin levels in baby formula are decreasing, this is still one ingredient that parents should watch.7

Healthier Alternatives Your Baby Will Love

There are some baby formula brands that have the best interests of your little one in mind.

In particular, Similac is leading the charge by creating formulas that support the development of growing babies. They use fresh ingredients that maximize nourishment for pregnant women, babies, and toddlers. Holle, a European baby formula that’s becoming increasingly popular in the U.S., is also taking strides to make sure its baby formula is as safe as can be. Holle creates formula that’s sourced from grass-fed organic cattle and relies on plant-based sweeteners to make it flavorful yet less sweet than many U.S. brands8.

Let’s take a look at some of the most beneficial baby formula ingredients to look for.

Probiotics and Prebiotics

Probiotics are live microorganisms that contribute to a healthy gut. Prebiotics are nutrients that feed those microorganisms, so they survive in the gut. Researchers have connected an unhealthy balance of gut flora to heart disease, autoimmune disease, and many other serious illnesses. Formulas fortified with probiotics help babies maintain a healthy gut microbiome, and that could lead to greater health in childhood and adulthood.9

You’ll find a prebiotic in Similac Pro-Total Comfort and Pro-Sensitive. This prebiotic is similar to the prebiotics found naturally in breast milk.

Hydrolyzed Protein

This is another ingredient found in Similac’s Pro-Total Comfort baby formula.

Hydrolyzed protein refers to cow’s milk proteins that are partially broken down. This allows babies to process the proteins easier, relieving gastrointestinal distress. These formulas are highly recommended for babies with excessive vomiting, gas, or diarrhea.10

Grass-Fed Cow’s Milk

This is the ingredient that makes Similac’s Pure Bliss formula extremely popular with parents. Fresh milk from grass-fed cows maximizes nutrient availability while minimizing toxins. Pure Bliss contains no genetically modified ingredients, gluten, antibiotics, or artificial growth hormones. It’s one of the most natural baby formulas on the market today.

Buy Healthier Baby Formula Online

You now know that many baby formulas contain toxins that could harm your baby today or in the future. This makes selecting your baby’s formula a bit more complicated because you can’t judge a product on price or packaging alone. If you find yourself standing in the baby aisle of your local store in complete confusion, you should try shopping for baby formula online.

You can look up Similac, Holle, and other good-for-baby formula brands online to determine the ingredients in each product. The Internet also allows you to compare prices between stores without wasting gas and time traveling back and forth. If you look for sales, coupon codes, and other discounts, you can save money while ensuring that you only put the healthiest ingredients into your baby’s tummy.

Some online retailers also offer discounts for shoppers willing to have their formula auto-delivered each week or month. That is a great way to ensure that you never run low on formula.