Spit-up No More or Mixing Chore?
Many infants spit up or develop normal reflux after feedings as early as two to three weeks old. This is due to the immaturity of the muscle at the top of the stomach, called the lower esophageal sphincter. In young infants, this muscle doesn’t function well to keep breastmilk or formula inside of the stomach. At birth, it is very relaxed, and gradually tightens between ages six to 12 months. Until then, some infants spit up a few times a day, while others do it with every feeding. Large volumes of milk may also be expelled with burps. Although this lost milk can be distressing for parents, most babies gain weight appropriately despite their reflux. In addition to upright positioning after feedings, some doctors may recommend thickening expressed breastmilk or infant formula with cereal. Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula is a special formula for babies who have issues with normal reflux. It is already thickened with rice starch, so there is no need to add anything. But will it help your baby? Or, will it just be a futile exercise of trying to mix it properly, and get it to flow through a nipple?
Note: Normal reflux differs from GERD which is associated with pain, crying, difficulty feeding, and poor weight gain. Thickened formula may be one of several remedies suggested for this condition.
Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula has solid 4-star reviews across many retailers. In general, parents seem very happy with this product. It seems to fulfill its promises without causing too many issues.
- 4 stars, 445 Reviews- Walmart
- 4.5 stars, 359 Reviews- Diapers.com
- 4.2 stars, 446 Reviews- Target
- 4.6 stars, 176 Reviews- Babies R Us
- 4.2 stars, 431 Reviews- Walgreens
Our Best Baby Formula article has other baby formulas reviews with ratings even higher than those of than Enfamil AR.
Key Features of Enfamil A.R.
#1 Seller: Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula is the “number one best seller for infants with spit up” or reflux. Perhaps this is because it is one of only two commercial infant formulas that contain rice starch. Enfamil AR meets the reflux reduction guidelines of the North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition (NASPGHN). According to Enfamil, it is also recommended by pediatricians to help reduce reflux. This can be a huge help for parents, especially when spit up soiled baby laundry is accumulating.
While experts agree that reflux is common and usually harmless, in severe cases, weight gain and growth can be impaired. Feedings may take more time, and spit up can create a huge mess to deal with.
Reduces Spit Up By 50%: The manufacturer claims that Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula reduces reflux by 50 percent. This claim is based on a double-blinded study performed on infants who regularly spit up more than 5 times per day. The researchers found that approximately half of these babies spit up less when fed Enfamil A.R formula than with their previous formulas. The difference was because of the rice starch. Thickened infant formula is “heavier” and, therefore, easily stays inside of the stomach. As a result, these infants experience at least two fewer spit up episodes daily (source).
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends adding small amounts of infant oat cereal to expressed breastmilk or formula to help reduce reflux (source). The amount is typically determined by a gastroenterologist or feeding specialist to be sure the mixture is a safe texture. Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula, however, includes the thickening agent for you. Just add water, and mix it into a bottle. A ready-made version is also available. Ideally, the thickened formula will reduce the severity of your baby’s reflux, helping them to feel better.
Cow’s Milk Based Complete Nutrition: Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula is a cow’s milk-based formula that has been modified to mimic breast milk. It has all of the essentials: protein, fats, and carbohydrates as well as vitamins and minerals.
It contains important nutrients such as iron, calcium, folic acid and much more. Cow’s milk is what is used for most standard infant formulas, and is appropriate for most babies per the Mayo Clinic. If your baby, however, has been diagnosed with cow’s milk protein allergy or galactosemia, he or she should take a different infant formula. In addition, this formula is not an option for families who follow a plant-based diet.
Probiotics: Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula contains a mix of two important probiotics that aid your baby’s digestion. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that live in the intestines. These little guys can offer up a lot of health benefits such as boosting the immune system.
Ready-to-Feed or Powder: Another nifty feature is that Enfamil AR is available in small pre-made bottles or in a powdered format. The Ready Made option is obviously more expensive, but less time-consuming. This is particularly helpful for middle of the night feedings, or carrying in your diaper bag when away from home.
Price: Because this formula is designed for babies with special feeding needs, it can be pretty pricey at your local grocery store. Specialty formulas always are. The good news is that Amazon sells it for much less money! My recommendation is to purchase the larger box of Enfamil A.R. to have an ample supply, and reduce the need to order frequently. Purchasing it this way allows you to use the amazing Subscribe and Save feature, too. Seriously, you’ll be saving oodles of money! Click the picture below to see the greatest savings!
Enfamil A.R. Preparation: A Video How-To
Cautions: What to Watch for With This Formula
Difficult to Mix: Because powdered Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula is created to be thicker to help with spit up and common reflux, it can be more difficult to mix into water. Most infant formulas dissolve pretty easily in water with minimal shaking or stirring. However, because this formula is fortified with rice starch, it may require some additional tricks to get it to blend smoothly and without clumps. One method to try is to stir as you add the water. Warm water tends to blend better as well. At last resort, simply shake the bottle a bit longer to ensure it is properly mixed.
Flow Issues: It stands to reason that a thicker a formula will cause more issues getting through those tiny nipple holes. Your first thought may be to just make the holes bigger, or buy a different nipple. Although this is one a solution, you may end up with a whole bunch of new nipples, but still have the same problem.
Clumpy formula that is not well blended will plug the nipple hole and impair feeding.
Ready Made and Powder Identical?: Like many infant formulas, Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula has pre-made and powdered options. However, some parents have noticed differences in which version their baby enjoys, even though they are supposed to be identical.
Expiration Date: As with any other perishable product, checking the expiration date is important. Unfortunately, when you buy a product online, this information cannot be visible. This leaves the possibility formula bought in bulk may expire in just a few short months, rendering your year long supply useless. Always check the date on any formula before feeding it to your infant.
Gassy Baby: Parents complain that Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula makes babies gassy. While it is helpful in reducing reflux, the added rice thickener promotes gassiness. Infant intestines are not ready to fully digest foods prior four to six months old. Recent studies also show that early food introduction disrupts the infant gut microbiome which can lead to future health problems (source). This is why “first foods” are not recommended until later.
It’s also possible that air accumulates during the formula mixing process, creating gas bubbles inside of the bottle. This is avoided by using the ready made Enfamil A.R. formula.
Damaged Container: When purchasing Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula online, you may have the unpleasant surprise of it arriving in a damaged box. In addition, the container may be damaged as well, causing air or moisture to contaminate the formula. In this situation, the formula is unsafe to give to your baby, and a complete waste of money and time.
- Reduces Spit up and Normal Infant Reflux
- Complete Nutrition
- Ready Made and Powder Options
- Difficult to Mix
- Potential Flow Problems
- Expiration Date
- Damaged Container
FAQ’s About Enfamil A.R. Baby Formula
Does Enfamil AR help with spit up?
Yes. Enfamil AR is a formula with added rice starch, a solution that many parents have found to be helpful over the years. The formula can reduce reflux in the majority babies who experience it several times a day.
Does Enfamil AR cause gas?
Some parents do say that Enfamil AR makes their baby gassy (perhaps because of an increased number of air bubbles introduced by the more vigorous mixing required). ExperiencedMommy recommends the premixed version if gassiness is a problem for your baby.
Is Enfamil AR a good formula?
Yes, Enfamil AR has met the same FDA requirements of all other infant formulas manufactured in the United States. It is a modified cow’s milk formula with a ratio of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins similar to breast milk. It is nutrient-rich, and also contains probiotics to aid digestion. It’s a little thicker than standard formula, so you will need to mix carefully (if using powder). Enfamil AR is also available in a premixed (liquid) form. Because it contains intact cow’s milk proteins, infants with an allergy will not tolerate it.
Does adding rice to other formulas help with reflux?
Yes, and some parents do choose to mix in their own rice cereal. However, the AAP, FDA, and other authorities no longer recommend using rice cereal because of arsenic. Unfortunately, this contaminant has been detected in both white and brown rice infant cereals (source). Instead, oat cereal is considered a safer alternative.
What is the difference between Enfamil Gentlease and Enfamil AR?
Enfamil Gentlease is a partially hydrolyzed infant formula for gassy or colicky babies. Enfamil AR is for babies with reflux (spitting up).
What formula is best for reflux?
It depends on your baby, and your should discuss options with a doctor. A few of the best are listed below:
- Enfamil AR
- Similac Spit up (also has rice starch)
- Enfamil Nutramigen with Enflora LGG
- Enfamil Premium Gentlease Milk-Based
- Gerber Good Start Gentle Non-GMO
- Similac Sensitive Non-GMO
- Parent’s Choice Gentle
- Enfamil Alimentum
- Enfamil Pregestimil
- Enfamil Nutramigen
Note: Enfamil AR and Similac Spit Up are the only two infant formulas created specifically for reflux.
My Overall Recommendation
Enfamil AR is a safe, tested, and respected formula. Most moms try many different formulas in an effort to the find the right one for their situation and baby.
I definitely wouldn’t choose this option unless a baby has significant spit up or reflux because it is harder to use than regular formulas.
However, most of the issues with this one are things that you could encounter if adding cereal to any infant formula. They aren’t huge deal breakers in my opinion. Overall this product has good reviews, and is well liked by most parents who have tried it.