UPDATED: 9/19/2020. A very common question is “What is the best formula milk for babies with eczema”? This question is frequently asked after breastfeeding a child and their eczema gets worse. Many mothers assume that the breastmilk is inherently bad and that it is the culprit for their child’s eczema. Inevitably, they look for alternatives such as formula. This was the case for my first child. Being the newbie I was, I stopped breastfeeding and started formula. It was not easy because many different formulas caused my child’s eczema to flare. Just like anything related to eczema, it was a trial and error process. Read on to find out what helped my child. Don’t forget to consult with your pediatrician before starting any new formula.
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There are various types of formulas including dairy, soy, partially hydrolyzed, extensively hydrolyzed and amino acid based formula.
The best formula for eczema are:
- extensively-hydrolyzed formula (Nutramigen, Alimentum, HiPP)
- amino acid formulas (Neocate, Elecare)
Other hypoallergenic formulas to consider include European brands such as Kabrita and HiPP. Read on for more information about European brands.
This type of formula has cow’s milk protein broken down into such small pieces to the point that the body does not cause an allergic reaction. This is considered a hypoallergenic formula.
- No sucrose used
- Probiotics added
- DHA added (type of omega 3 that is good for brain development)
- contains corn syrup
- contains palm oil (can cause constipation)
Many mothers attest that these formulas helped their children with eczema. Sometimes children may need a few days to get used to this formula when trying for the first time.
- No corn syrup used
- No palm olein (so stools after softer)
- contains sugar
HiPP Hypoallergenic Formula
HiPP is a European brand that has introduced a hypoallergenic formula with hydrolyzed milk proteins.
- no sugar (corn syrup, rice syrup, glucose syrup, fructose, table sugar)
- prebiotics and probiotics added
- No bad smell like other hypoallergenic formula
This product is not available on Amazon, but it’s available through Organicbestshop.com. They have a Trustscore of 4.7 and a very responsive team if you have questions. Many children who could not tolerate Nutramigen/Alimentum have tolerated HiPP instead.
Kabrita Goat Milk
There is some research stating that goat milk is an alternative for those with cow milk allergies. Some have found formula made from goats milk to help children with eczema.
- You can click here to try a FREE sample of Kabrita’s Formula
- Contains prebiotic, DHA
Amino Acid-Based Formulas
This type of formula has been broken down to the smallest component possible, amino acids. Proteins are made up by individual amino acids. They are more expensive than hydrolyzed formulas (such as Alimentum, Nutramigen, HiPP), so try those first before Amino Acid based formulas. Brands include: Neocate® or EleCare®
Many mothers have found these formulas to help with their children’s eczema and allergy symptoms.
These formulas are made from cow’s milk protein, but unfortunately, they can cause many children with eczema to flare up since these children also commonly have dairy allergy.
Brands that are dairy based include:
Similac® Advance® or Enfamil® Lipil®
These formulas are made from soy. Many children with eczema have food allergies and another common allergen is soy.
Brands that are soy based include:
Isomil®, Prosobee® or Nestlé Good Start Soy®
Partially Hydrolyzed Formulas
This type of formula is made from cow’s milk. There are two types of protein in cow’s milk and one of them is whey (other being casein). Whey is broken down into smaller pieces to help with easier digestion. Unfortunately, because it’s still based on dairy, this type of formula can cause issues for children with eczema.
Brands that have partially hydrolyzed formulas include:
Carnation Good Start®
Can breastmilk or baby formula cause eczema?
This is the right question to ask. Breastmilk or baby formula itself doesn’t cause eczema. They can cause eczema to flare up in those who HAVE eczema. This way of thinking is important because the quest to find ways to not flare up eczema is probably the most sought out solution by mothers with eczema.
The food allergens that mothers consume can cause eczema to flare up. Likewise the milk protein in formula can cause eczema to flare up as well.
Does breast milk help eczema in babies?
See the question above. The breastmilk itself isn’t the culprit for causing or helping eczema. It’s what the mother consumes that gets passed down to the child. If the child has eczema or food sensitivity, then eczema will result.
How do I know my baby has allergies or is not tolerating breastmilk or formula?
Usually, it’s based on what we can see- the skin. My children developed dry red patches on their cheeks and body. Sometimes, they present as things we CANNOT see, such as issues in the gut. Babies may be more fussy after drinking milk or spit up.
Is Breast Milk the Best?
The short answer is “YES”. This is not to condemn or make any other mothers feel bad if they decide not to breastfeed. There are many reasons why mothers choose not to breastfeed. There are many benefits to breastfeeding, which is why pediatricians encourage breastfeeding, BUT, many children who are formula-fed grow up to be healthy and strong as well. I personally breastfed my first child for several weeks, but stopped and started formula for many reasons. It was definitely a struggle finding the RIGHT formula milk because my child’s eczema flared up so much.
Formula Options for Infants with Food Allergies
Of all the options I discussed above regarding the various types of formula, the extensively hydrolyzed formula and amino acid formulas are considered hypoallergenic. These formulas have broken down cow’s milk proteins into such small pieces that your child’s body should not react to them. As great as they are, they are expensive! (1), (2)
Cow Milk Alternatives (1 Year Old and up)
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends against giving cow milk under 1 year of age. Most children with eczema and food allergies cannot tolerate cow’s milk so they need to look elsewhere.
Soy milk is an alternative, but not a good one because most children with eczema/food allergies will have a sensitivity to soy. Personally, soy formula made my baby very constipated.
Some options that may be ok for your child (again, discuss with your pediatrician first) include tree nut milk such as cashew or almond milk (if your child doesn’t have allergies to nuts). Rice, oat, hemp milk are also ok as well. Generally, these milk are recommended to be started after 1 year of age. I personally gave my children hemp milk because it was a healthy (though expensive) alternative at the time. In recent years there has been a surge of many options. (3)
Deciding between breastfeeding and formula is a tough decision. I’ve been there so I feel for you. It’s important to have a good discussion with your pediatrician before deciding what to do. I hope this article provides you information that allows you to make an informed decision and have a thoughtful discussion with your doctor. There are many types of formula, but in general, amino acid and extensively hydrolyzed formula are considered to be hypoallergenic. The taste is bland (I tasted it to see what it’s like). My daughter did not breastfeed for long so I don’t think she had anything to compare to and drank it readily. My youngest is still breastfeeding and I’m trying to wean him, but he isn’t taking the formula very well.