Category Archives: Baby Milk & Formula

Vegetarian Baby Milk & Infant Formula

Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Infant Follow On Formula 2 are the only organic vegetarian baby milks currently available and approved on the UK market.

Vegetarian baby milk and vegetarian infant formula are frequent topics in my email inbox. Many parents who would like to bring up their baby to be vegetarian are concerned that they cannot feed their newborn or older baby a baby milk or infant formula that is suitable. This isn’t a new topic here on the Ulula blog (I wrote about vegetarian baby milks a few years ago now) and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we address this issue. This article, however, provides an important update.

Holle goats milk is the only organic vegetarian baby milk on the UK marketHolle goats milk is the only organic vegetarian baby milk on the UK market

Vegetarian Baby Milks – the Journey to Wider Approval

In 2012 the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published an opinion on the suitability of goats’ milk as a nutrient source for baby milks and follow-on formula. This opinion drew on all relevant and available scientific evidence and examined not just compositional data but considered studies relating to health and development outcomes of babies fed goats milk based formula.

The panel concluded that babies fed on goats milk formula did not show statistically significant or clinically relevant differences on major health and development ‘markers’ compared to babies fed on cows milk formula. The panel further concluded that protein from goat milk can be suitable as a protein source for baby milks and infant formula, provided the final product complies with the compositional criteria laid down in the exisiting strict regulations governing the manufacture of baby milk.

As a result, the EU’s infant formula and follow-on formula directive was amended in February 2014 permitting goats milk based baby milks (suitable from birth) and follow-on formula (suitable from 6 months) to be sold on the UK market. Previously, manufacturers such as Holle were only permitted to produce ‘goats milk nutrition’ labelled as suitable from 12 months old and onwards. Other countries permitted the sale of such milks as suitable from 6 months onwards – much to the joy of many vegetarian parents who wanted to buy vegetarian baby milk and infant formula.

Vegetarian Baby Milk – Now Available in the UK

Holle’s goats milk products have always been suitable for vegetarians. As I wrote previously, while Holle have and continue to make every effort to ensure their cows milk based baby milks are suitable for vegetarians they cannot always guarantee the source of the whey that they use in the high organic standard they demand. Consequently, they do not claim their cows based infant formula are suitable for raising vegetarian babies.

With their goats milks on the other hand, for technical nutritional reasons their ingredients lists are a little different and the same issue does not occur. Hence, both the Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Goats Milk Infant Follow On Formula 2 are suitable for vegetarians. We have been in touch with the company nutritionists and quality control departments and have been assured that both of the Holle baby milks are suitable for vegetarians and, of course, meet all the strictly regulated compositional criteria for baby milks and infant formula as laid out in the relevant EU regulations.

I know, for many parents, the availablilty of properly regulated and manufactured vegetarian baby milk is an enormous relief. And, as the major Holle supplier here in the UK I am both pleased and proud to stock both the Holle Organic Goats Milk Baby Milk and Goats Milk Infant Follow On Formula 2.

Goats Milk Based Baby Milks and Dairy Allergies

The EFSA paper referred to above looked at the scientific evidence for the suitability of goats milk as a baby milk for babies with no other health issues, that is ‘normal, healthy babies’. Subsequently the regulations were amended to allow the manufacturer of goats based baby milks and formula from birth onwards (and hence Holle’s vegetarian baby milk).

The opinion paper also looked at the suitabilty of goats based baby milks for the 1.9% to 4.9% of babies who the World Health Organisation estimate as having a cows milk protein allergy. As you can imagine, this is a complex issue for an article about vegetarian baby milk and infant formula to go into any detail here. It is important though that I tell any parent who wishes to feed their little one a vegetarian baby milk based on goats milk that, if their baby has a known allergic reaction to cows milk, then they should seek medical advice before starting to feed any goats milk based formula. I can’t do better to highlight this issue than to quote directly from Holle:

The composition of Holle Organic Goat Milk Follow-On Formula 2 corresponds to a follow-on milk which is suitable for infants from 6 months of age who are already taking one solid meal a day. Should a child have an allergic reaction to cow’s milk, he or she may be able to tolerate goat’s milk as an alternative. Goat’s milk can, however, also cause allergies since some of the protein structures contained in cow’s and goat’s milk are the same. Key here is which protein the child has an allergic reaction to. This should, in all cases, be diagnosed by a doctor in order to clarify whether Holle Organic Infant Goat Milk Follow-On Formula 2 is a suitable alternative for your child.

Similar advice applies for goats based baby milk from birth. For the reasons outlined above the UK’s Food Standard Agency (FSA) in March 2014 issued advice that “goats’ milk infant formula and follow-on formula is not suitable for infants with a cows’ milk protein allergy, unless directed by a healthcare professional.”

I should emphasise to parents wanting a vegetarian baby milk that, unless your baby has such a cows milk protein allergy, you can feed him or her the Holle goats based baby milk or infant formula with peace of mind – it meets all evidence based EU regulations and is the only approved organic vegetarian baby milk on the market.

Best Quality Vegetarian Baby Milk

Not only are the Holle goats based baby milk and infant formula certified organic, they use milk from biodynamically raised goats on farms and smallholdings in the German Black Forest region. So, not only can your little one have vegetarian baby milk but you can rest assured that it is produced from only the best quality goats milk. Biodynamic agiculture is considered the highest form of organic and there are stringent regulations that govern both growing and production methods. The starting point is a healthy soil that is full of vitality. Biodynamic farmers use compost, hand made herbal and mineral preparations as well as green manures to strengthen and enrich their soil. Plants grown in such a healthy environment thrive, just as nature intended. They are able to take up the maximum amount of nutrients which, in turn, are passed on to your baby. Not only that, mums and dads consistently tell me their baby’s milk taste delicious – “just like milk should taste”.

The use of chemical and synthetic pesticides and fertilisers and GM technology are strictly prohibited in biodynamic agriculture. Biodynamic agriculture generally is proven to be extremely environmentally friendly and the Holle vegetarian baby milks are, as I mentioned, derived from goats raised in the Black Forest and so do not have all the high associated negative environmental footprint impacts that lesser quality milks flown in from across the other side of the world might have.

To summarise, mums and dads looking for a vegetarian baby milk for their little one now no longer need to compromise their ethics. Holle currently produce the only organic vegetarian baby milks available and approved on the UK market. Goats based baby milks are approved for all babies except for those with a medically diagnosed cows milk allergy. So, if you are rasing a vegetarian baby who has such allergies then there are still some difficulties – I said at the beginning that this won’t be the last time I’ll need to address this issue. If you would like any further information please feel free to get in touch and I’ll gladly answer any questions.

Lactose and Maltodextrin in Baby Milks

I have recently been asked by a parent about the use of maltodextrin in baby milks and infant formula. It seems there are a number of misconceptions about maltodextrin generally and the use of maltodextrin in baby milk in particular, often fed by misinformed articles elsewhere on the internet.

I approached the Holle team of nutritionists and asked them to set the record straight about just what maltodextrin is and about the use of maltodextrin in Holle baby milks. What follows is a bit ‘sciency’ but provides the definitive statement on the subject. As usual, there is often more to a particular nutrient appearing on a label than whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Some Background on Baby Milks and Formula

Breastmilk is composed of a number of nutritional elements such as proteins, carbohydrates and fats plus vitamins, minerals and trace elements. Breastmilk has, of course, the optimum nutrient composition to meet the special nutritional needs of babies. Baby milks and infant formula are strictly regulated according to currently available scientific evidence in order to fulfil developmental and growth needs.

Baby milks and baby foods generally are some of the most highly regulated ‘foodstuffs’ in the European Union – and that is just the way it should be. These evidenced based regulations are regularly reviewed and amended and all manufacturers, including Holle, must meet their requirements. Quality assurance is strictly applied.

Carbohydrates, Lactose and Maltodextrin in Baby Milk

Carbohydrates are a group of nutrients that contains sugars and starches. A sugar is a simply structured collection of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen chemical elements that form molecules that are generally soluble and are sweet tasting. In its simplest form it is known as glucose but occurs in many forms, both naturally and artificially. Starch is a poly-sugar, mainly built out of lots of glucose-like units in chains and with a more complex, tree like structure.

An important point to bear in mind is that a glucose ‘unit’ itself tastes sweet while glucose structured as starch doesn’t. For example, the classic dietary carbohydrates potatoes, pasta and bread are made to a large extent from starch but are not considered as ‘sweet’ foods in themselves.

When carbohydrates contain 1 to 2 glucose-like units and taste sweet they are called ‘sugar’. Of which lactose is one of many examples:

  • Glucose = dextrose = grape sugar
  • Fructose = fruit sugar
  • Sucrose = white sugar (one glucose and one fructose molecule combined)
  • Inverted sugar = artificial, (honey = natural) = mixture of glucose and fructose in equal parts, these taste sweeter than the same amount of sucrose
  • Lactose = milk sugar (one glucose and one galactose molecule combined)

The more sugar units are connected with each other the less sweet a carbohydrate tastes. Usually carbohydrates with 3 to 4 sugar units no longer have any sweetening properties.

Maltodextrin and Lactose in Baby Milk

All baby milks naturally contain lactose – that is the naturally occuring sugar in milk. To ensure their milks have sufficient energy content manufacturers are, according to the regulations, able to add either lactose or maltodextrin. The Holle brand uses maltodextrin.

Maltodextrin is a modified starch, which means the length of the glucose chains in the carbohydrate is shorter than the one from the original starch. The basic properties remain those of starch. There are many varieties of maltodextrin, depending on the structure present.

Holle uses a maltodextrin that has starch like properties and yet doesn’t taste sweet. Because of the shorter chain length it is easier for babies to digest than the starch itself would be, while still serving its purpose of providing energy.

Starches, including maltodextrin, release their energy slower than sugars. This means that two different baby milks with the same amount of energy per portion can release that energy at different rates. Holle uses a maltodextrin that is slower releasing which means that their formula can help a baby feel satisified for longer.

Certain internet sources often suggest that maltodextrin is used merely as a ‘filler’ and that it is a sugar or sweetener – neither of which is necessarily the case. Holle uses maltodextrin in their baby milks, not just because it is easy for babies to digest and releases energy at a slower rate, but for another very specific and very sensible reason.

Avoiding Excessive Sweetness in Baby Milks

Breastmilk naturally contains a lot of energy, much of which comes from its naturally occuring milk sugar, lactose – and so this essential nutritional element is reflected in baby milks and formulas. As in breastmilk, the sugar in Holle baby milks naturally comes from the milk itself in the form of lactose. A small amount of energy also comes from starch in the form of maltodextrin. If Holle didn’t use maltodextrin they would need to add more lactose in order to comply with the legal requirements for energy levels. That would, in fact, make the baby milks and formulas much sweeter in taste. Holle want to avoid having their milk taste too sweet. Not encouraging a lifetime tendency to having a sweettooth from the beginning, seems to me, to be a very sensible thing to do.

When I try the Holle milk myself I agree with the many, many parents who tell me that the Holle baby milks are one of the few on the market that taste just like ‘ordinary’ milk. They don’t have that ‘chemical set’ tang that so many brands do and they aren’t overly sweet. If you have the opportunity, try the Holle milk yourself and you’ll taste the difference too.

Easy to Make up Bottles

An additional benefit that Holle gains from the use of maltodextrin in their baby milks is that maltodextrin helps to make the milk powder more soluble in water. Holle baby milks are definitely easy to prepare – many mums tell me that. While this is not the reason for Holle using maltodextrin in their baby milks and infant formula, it certainly gives busy parents wanting to quickly make up a bottle an added benefit.

Using the Best Raw Ingredients

As I mentioned, baby milks and baby foods generally are, rightly, highly regulated. Holle doesn’t just want to meet those regulations – just like all the other baby food manufacturers. They want to go even further. Whenever they can see an opportunity to do so they surpass the regulations.

One way Holle baby milks distinguish themselves are by using biodynamically produced and certificated milk – the highest organic quality. They take the view that using the best quality raw materials and using the gentlest methods of production is better than adding too many isolated ingredients later. For mothers who cannot or do not wish to breastfeed, using a high quality baby milk or infant formula that contains an easy to digest and non-sweet maltodextrin is an advantage. Baby milks that are not excessively sweet may help avoid getting babies hooked on the really sweet flavours that come from sweeteners such as sugar.

If you would like any further information please feel free to get in touch and we’ll gladly answer any questions.

Holle Organic Baby Milk Now CO2 Neutral

Holle organic baby milks are now certified CO2 neutral, a unique achievement for the environmentally aware baby food company.

Holle organic baby milk CO2 neutral

Holle’s organic baby milks are now CO2 neutral

The only baby milk in biodynamic quality is now CO2 neutral.

The complete life cycle of Holle baby milk formula – from the cows’ feed, the complete production process through to the transportation of the formula to wholesalers such as Ulula –  has recently been certified CO2 neutral. Which means every time you buy Holle baby milk you can be assured you’re not only giving your baby the best formula but are minimising your impact on the environment. Look for the logo on every Holle baby milk carton and read on to learn more…

Helping Parents Reduce their Carbon Footprint

Parents who have the highest expectations when buying their baby’s food often chose products in biodynamic quality. Here at Ulula we’re particularly pleased to be offering such a large range of Demeter, as well as organic, certified baby foods. This environmentally aware direction pioneered by Holle baby food is now being taken to its next step by moving to carbon neutral production as a way of helping parents reduce their carbon footprint – one product line at a time.

 Biodynamic Baby Milk for a Naturally Lower Carbon Footprint

The CO2 balance of Holle baby milk formulas – the summary of all global warming gas emissions which result directly or indirectly from the products – is already significantly less than when compared with conventionally produced foods.

This is because 50% of the emissions caused through biodynamic milk production are absorbed in the soil. The cows graze on biodynamically grown pastures which increases the soil hummus and binds carbon. Furthermore, the cow’s fodder is produced on the same farm and is free from synthetic pesticides. This means that no soya-based feed needs to be imported from outside because the cows feed on native grass, lucerne and hay. All this taken together significantly reduces the CO2 balance. Also, Demeter farmers work the arable land with much gentler methods, which also has a positive influence on the balance. For example, ploughing methods prevent soil erosion and better binds carbon.

Holle baby milk’s CO2 balance was calculated on the basis of the Greenhouse Gas Protocols put together by the certification body TÜV Nord Cert GmbH and fully complying with the requirements of the United Nations. The total of all global warming gas emissions for Holle baby milk formula production is just 3,250 tons CO2 per year. This compares roughly with the CO2 output of around just 100 families in Germany within the same period.

Socially and Environmentally Responsible Carbon Offsetting

To offset these remaining emissions from the production of its baby milk formulas, Holle supports an international composting project in a 350,000 square metre area of Egyptian desert, converting the land for organic agriculture. I’ll tell you more about the Seekam project in a future post and show you some photos of the miracle project that is converting desert to arable land – all powered by Holle baby milks.

Whenever possible seasonal, regional, CO2 neutral and, of course, biodynamic are for Holle simply the best choice for healthy and sustainable baby foods. Their 80 year history is testament to their continuing drive to provide the best quality organic baby food. Ulula is proud to partner with Holle to bring you baby milk and baby food you can trust to help your little one thrive. Naturally.

Vegetarian Baby Milk and Holle Infant Formula

UPDATE – 10TH AUGUST 2015. Organic vegetarian baby milk and infant formula is now available from birth onwards. After approval by the European Food Safety Agency goats milk based baby milks and infant formula are now approved for sale within the EU and have enabled holle to produce the only approved organic vegetarian baby milk on the market. Click to read more on this important update on vegetarian baby milks.


I receive several enquiries every week asking whether the Holle organic baby milks are suitable for vegetarians, so I thought I would publish a quick article letting everybody know the situation.

It is currently impossible to source vegetarian baby milk derived from cows milk. The only fully suitable vegetarian baby milk is the Holle Organic Goats Milk Formula, which is also the only certified organic goats milk for babies on the market.

Whenever I talk to Holle about this situation they tell me that they would desparately like to make their baby milks and formulas suitable for vegetarian babies and families. As a caring and ethical company they have enormous sympathies with animal welfare issues. The organic full cream milk used in Holle baby milks and formulas comes from cows raised biodynamically in the organic fields and pastures of Germany and Austria. The superior quality of their infant formulas derives from the traditionally high quality farming and the expert care the animals receive, as well as the naturally lush vegetation available to the cows.

Vegetarian Baby Milks – The Difficulties

As a company, Holle has a policy of working to make their baby milks suitable for vegetarians and, as such, do not add any fish oils to their baby milks – unlike some other baby milk companies.

However, they are not yet able to source sufficient quanitities of  whey powder, which they are required to add by the strict EU baby milk and formula regulations, from strict vegetarian sources. Whenever they can source the whey from vegetarian sources they do so, but it is currently almost impossible to get vegetarian whey powder in the amounts baby food manufacturers would need to offer a consistent supply.

The company is constantly talking with its trusted biodynamic and organic farmers and suppliers as to how to work towards a more reliable supply of vegetarian whey powder for use in its baby milk. As soon as we hear any news we will post further articles on this blog and update our product descriptions.

Your Views on Vegetarian Baby Milks

I also pass on all your enquiries about vegetarian baby milks to Holle so that they continue to realise the importance of this issue to many mums and dads. So, if you would like to leave send me a message I can guarantee that your voice will be heard.

Do Babies Get Enough Iron When Raised on Baby Formula?

A concerned mum who has been buying baby formula 1 for her baby daughter and now has moved on to baby formula 2 recently emailed me with a question about iron in babies who are raised on baby formula. Her question was, because iron isn’t listed in the ingredients on either baby formula package, was her daughter actually getting an adequate intake of iron?

To be sure I was giving the most accurate reply possible I referred the question to the chief pediatric nutritionist at Holle, the manufacturer of both organic baby formula 1 and 2. I thought I would share the reply I got because it may be of interest to other parents raising their babies on the Holle organic baby formula.

Iron as such isn’t listed on our baby formula packaging but all our baby formulas contain iron in the form of ferrous lactate, which is actually listed in the list of ingredients. Ferrous lactate is a form of iron that is readily digestible by babies and is, in fact, a legal requirement in baby formula. The reason for that is that  raw cows milk alone does not contain the level of iron required by law for infant nutrition. The iron content for each baby formula is also listed in the nutritional value tables on each package.

All babies fed with baby formula milks are perfectly well provided with iron. A deficiency of iron should not be feared.

Breast milk contains much less iron than infant formula, but  breastfed babies also generally do not lack iron, if they are weaning onto solid foods from the age of approximately 6 months onwards.

Meat contains a high amount of iron in a form that is easily available to the body’s digestive system. Grains and vegetables together with a source of vitamin C can also supply a sufficient amount of iron for vegetarian and breast milk fed babies. Vitamin C helps the body to make use of the available iron in foods.

It is more important which iron content the food has and how well it is available for the body and not whether it is fortified with iron or not. Natural and organically produced foods are a good source of iron.

So, there is a legally prescribed amount of iron added to baby formula to ensure your baby has more than sufficient for all his/her needs. When weaning, as long as your baby continues to have the formula and a reasonably balanced intake of small amounts of foods, everything will be fine.

Holle Organic Baby Milks and Baby Food – No Added Fluoride

Twice in the last month I have received enquiries from customers asking whether the Holle organic baby milks and formulas have the chemical fluoride added during their production.

I have consulted Holle’s head of quality control and nutrition and can categorically confirm that the Holle organic baby milks and formulas do NOT have fluoride added. Furthermore, none of the organic baby food produced by Holle have fluoride added.

I am aware of the possible dangers of fluoride and am against ‘mass medication’ by adding it to our drinking water (luckily not everywhere in the UK or Europe) and to our toothpastes. When I first learned about fluoride many years ago I was indeed very shocked, especially considering that the aluminium industry tells us that their by-product is good for us humans while it is used to kill rats at the same time. I would recommend any parent look into the issue of fluoride in our food and drink and take action to protect their babies – who are, after all,extremely vulnerable and deserve a pure and wholesome diet.

Holle Baby Milks – The Nutritional Breakdown

When looking at the nutritional breakdown on any of the Holle organic baby milk packaging you will though find reference to fluoride in the list of nutrients in the formulas. So, what is going on – didn’t I just categorically state that fluoride isn’t added to the baby milks? I did, and that is perfectly correct. The fluoride trace content declared on the packaging is simply what naturally occurs in the milk derived from the biodynamically/organically raised cows that supply the milk to produce the baby formula. I should point out that fresh milk naturally contains traces of fluoride, as will most foods – just like many other trace elements.

How Do the Holle Baby Formulas Compare?

One customer also mentioned in his email another well known brand of organic baby milks and formulas and his concern at the levels of fluoride in their baby milks. While I will not mention the manufacturer, I have checked the figures and can confirm a huge difference in the levels of fluoride present between their organic baby milks and those produced by Holle. The figures are as follows:

  • Holle – 0.56 µg per 100 ml made up follow-on infant formula
  • Other brand – 36.0 µg per 100 ml made up follow-on infant formula

Compared with breastmilk one of our correspondents wrote:

One statistic I looked at after I sent my earlier e-mail was how the Holle milk compares with mothers’ breast milk in terms of natural fluoride content, and I found it was broadly the same amount.

Make an Informed Choice When Choosing a Baby Milk

As a concerned parent who, for whatever reason cannot or does not breastfeed, choosing a baby milk or formula is an important decision. I would always advise parents to check ingredients lists and lists of nutrients, and if you have any doubts ask questions – ask as many questions as you need in order to satisfy yourself.

At Ulula we are always happy to receive your queries and will do our very best to give you an open and honest answer so that you can make an informed decision.

Share your experiences with the Holle organic baby milks and formulas with other parents – tell us how your baby likes the Holle range.

Read more about the Holle range of organic baby milks and formulas >>

The Only Organic Goats Milk on the Market

Several weekends ago now the Ulula team headed off to the annual Organic and Natural Products exhibition at Olympia – it was a good, if tiring day.

The event gave us one of our regular opportunities to catch up with our suppliers, including Holle, manufacturer of organic baby food. I’ll post a few small entries over the coming days on plans and upcoming developments in the world of organic baby food.

The first is the announcement that the Holle Organic Goats Milk infant formula is the only goats milk for babies currently on the UK market that is certified organic. We are proud to be able to supply the Holle baby milk to parents whose babies require an alternative to cow’s milk – your feedback tells us how important that is to you.