We all know what babies do. Even those of us who aren’t parents know that babies mostly eat, sleep, and poop. But what happens when they seem miserable, especially after feedings? Breastfeeding is recommended by World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics, but it isn’t always possible for every mother. Infant formula is the next best option, but some babies develop digestive difficulties or other tummy problems. Fortunately, Enfamil has many formula options for infants who are sensitive to their standard formula types. Here, we will discuss two of these options: Enfamil AR and Enfamil Gentlease. Which is better? Depending on your baby’s needs, they both can help AND are affordable.
But, how do you know which one is right for your little one: Enfamil AR or Enfamil Gentlease? Well, to be honest, it depends on what type of problem your baby has. Enfamil AR is made for babies with reflux issues who spit up more than they should. Enfamil Gentlease is for those with sensitive tummies for which regular formula causes gassiness and irritability.
Enfamil AR is for babies with normal reflux and gastro-esophageal reflux disease (AR means anti-reflux). Spitting up can be normal for most babies. However, when a baby spits up large amounts more that five times a day or is not gaining weight, this is cause for concern. Enfamil AR has a thicker consistency than other formulas to reduce the amount and number of spits up per day. Alternatively, some parents may choose to thicken regular formula with oat cereal at the recommendation of a doctor (source).
Just like the standard versions of Enfamil, AR is adequate nutrition for a baby’s first year of life. It meets the reflux reduction guidelines established by the North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition. It also includes two prebiotics for digestive health and immunity. Enfamil AR is available in both powered and liquid forms. Its price is very similar to the regular Enfamil formulas, making it worth a try if your baby is struggling with reflux or spits up.
Enfamil Gentlease is a cow’s milk-based infant formula designed to reduce colic symptoms. The secret is its partially hydrolyzed, easy to digest proteins. According to its manufacturer, Enfamil Gentlease is the “#1 recommended formula for gassy and fussy babies.” They claim that, after just 24 hours of feeding your baby this formula, the issues decrease. If you have a fussy or gassy baby, you have probably tried lots of things. Relief in 24 hours may sound too good to be true.
Like other infant formulas, Gentlease provides all the essentials needed for the first 12 months of life. It is also available in powdered and liquid forms. Remember that feeling you have after eating foods that make you gassy (refried beans, deviled eggs, broccoli)? The discomfort makes me want to cry, so no wonder babies cry because of it. The price of Gentlease similar the standard Enfamil formulas (thank you Enfamil)! Its affordability makes it worth trying before gas drops or other remedies.
Do these formulas really work?
As a mom, I always read reviews before I buy anything, even gummy snacks (I hate to admit that one, but it is true.) Every dollar spent on something that doesn’t work or lacks what I need is one that could’ve paid for something better. The parent reviews for Enfamil AR and Gentlease formulas are pretty incredible. Here is a breakdown of the overall ratings from four major retailers that I trust:
- 4.1/5 Stars with 475 reviews on the Enfamil website
- 4/5 Stars with 464 reviews from Target
- 4/5 Stars with 476 reviews from Wal-Mart
- 4/5 Stars with 331 reviews on Amazon
- 4.3/5 Stars with 944 reviews on the Enfamil website
- 4.1/5 Stars with 948 reviews from Target
- 4/5 Stars with 963 reviews from Wal-Mart
- 4/5 Stars with 874 reviews on Amazon
If you read through the hundreds (actually thousands) of reviews for both products, the majority of the feedback is positive. While there is no perfect infant formula to stop the crying and spitting up, Enfamil AR and Gentlease can reduced the frequency of these problems. Here are key points that were frequently mentioned in verified user reviews, and based on my own personal experience.
- A negative aspect is, when preparing the AR powdered version, it becomes foamy and bubbly. This is due to the thicker consistency intended to reduce reflux. The instructions recommend allowing it settle for five minutes before feeding. It may be better, however, to let it settle even longer so that the bubbles deflate. Also, the powder may clump and get stuck in the nipple of the bottle if not well blended.
- Instead of the powder, the liquid may be easier and more convenient to use. Because it is already prepared, no wait time is needed prior to feeding it to your infant. When you have a hungry baby, waiting a few minutes can feel like forever!
- If you have previously shopped for specialty formulas, you have seen their exorbitant prices. Fortunately, Enfamil AR formula is both effective and comparable in price to the regular formula versions which is pretty awesome.
- Unfortunately, it is unlikely that this formula will completely eliminate all spit ups. You should, however, notice a decrease in the amount and frequency.
- AR can be difficult to find in stores, so online ordering from websites such as Amazon may be more reliable. It may also be helpful to order this formula in bulk in case you cannot find it when your supply is running low!
- Enfamil AR helps babies with failure to thrive to gain weight because more formula remains in their stomachs instead of in spit ups. My son had a hard time gaining weight for a few months. I remember feeling as if it was my fault, and that I was doing something wrong. That is a terrible feeling!
- This specialty formula’s affordable price is appreciated by me as well as other parents. There are other formula brands with gentle and sensitive options that are super expensive. (If you haven’t priced formula yet, get ready for a huge shock.)
- Many parents, me included, test several formulas in an effort to ease their baby’s tummy problems before finding one that helps. Discussing possible infant formula intolerances with your baby’s doctor can help guide you to the best option.
- In my opinion, Gentlease actually does ease tummy issues within 24 hours, just as the company claims.
- Gentlease is a great supplemental formula if having difficulty breastfeeding, or when transitioning to solely formula feeding. When I supplemented my son between six to nine months due to a dwindling breastmilk supply, he didn’t even notice a difference between breastmilk and Enfamil Gentlease. We had no stomach issues either which was incredible.
- This formula is easier to find in stores than Enfamil AR, so you don’t have to worry about stocking up. However, it is always a good idea to have extra on hand in case of emergencies.
Enfamil vs Similac Formula Brands
If you are brand loyal to Enfamil, you may not have considered other options. To see a product comparison with Similac, however, take a look at Enfamil vs Similac Formulas.
General info on formula feeding a baby
If you are new to formula feeding, it is important to know that infants digest it and process the nutrients differently than breastmilk (source). Common problems associated with formula feeding include spitting up, gassiness, constipation, or fussiness. It may just take a few days for your baby’s tummy adjust to a new formula, or you may need to try another one. It really just depends on the issue. Unfortunately, TONS of infant formulas are sold in stores or online which can be confusing for parents. Enfamil AR and Gentlease, however, may help many parents experiencing similar infant feeding struggles.
Note: Enfamil AR and Gentlease are NOT for babies with cow’s milk protein allergy.
Some general tips for formula feeding:
- Use feeding as a bonding time. Make eye contact, and hold your baby close to you.
- Pick a quiet, non-distracting area to feed your baby. Even I can’t eat when there is too much going on around me, and I never refuse food.
- Always accurately measure the water and formula powder when preparing it. You want a precise amount per the instructions on the package (source).
- Don’t microwave the formula. This could result in unintentional burns inside of the mouth. Many babies prefer formula at room temperature, so a bottle warmer or submerging a bottle into warm water will heat it up evenly. Be sure to test the temperature before giving it to your baby!
- Burp your baby after every 2 to 3 ounces. This can help reduce gas accumulation in the stomach that increases spit ups.
As I mentioned earlier, there is no perfect infant formula that will completely eliminate gas, spitting up, or colic. Enfamil AR and Gentlease can help ease these problems and make them more manageable, providing comfort and peace for both you and your baby. I know the struggles; my second child was colicky. My husband and I often look back at those days, and wonder how our marriage and sanity survived them. Since these formulas are affordably priced, speak to your pediatrician, and give them a try if appropriate. I highly recommend both of options to parents who are looking for solutions.
FAQ’s About Enfamil AR and Gentlease
Can I mix Enfamil AR with Enfamil Gentlease?
Combining infant formulas is not typically recommended. The ratio of combined nutrients may not be what is optimal or safe for your baby. Speak to your pediatrician first, especially if a particular formula has been prescribed.
Does Enfamil AR cause gas?
It is possible. Some parents have reported infant gassiness, especially when Enfamil AR is fed to infants younger than four months old. Enfamil AR contains rice starch which can be difficult for these infants to digest. Also, if you are feeding Enfamil AR powdered formula too soon after mixing it with water, air bubbles may still be present. The rice starch seems to be the culprit for this as well. It is best to either let your freshly-mixed formula settle for a few minutes before feeding, or to use the ready-to-feed option.
How long should it take a baby to adjust to a new formula?
Patience may be required. Most babies will adjust within 2 weeks (or even sooner), but it may take as long as 6 weeks for others.
Can newborns take Enfamil AR?
Yes, but only if recommended by a neonatologist or pediatrician. Infants who are born prematurely are more prone to reflux (source). While, theoretically, premature infants may benefit from this formula, expressed breastmilk and extensively hydrolyzed or amino acid infant formulas are preferred. In full-term infants, reflux typically does not appear until two to three weeks old, so Enfamil AR is unnecessary during the newborn period.
Do baby formulas taste different?
Yes, they do. For example, Enfamil Gentlease, because it contains corn syrup solids instead of lactose, may taste sweeter than regular Enfamil formulas.
Should I try my baby on Enfamil AR or Enfamil Gentlease?
Enfamil AR is for reflux (excessive spitting up/vomiting), and Enfamil Gentlease is for excessively gassy, fussy babies. It is always best consult your pediatrician first.
How long should I keep my baby on Enfamil AR or Gentlease?
If your baby is doing well on Enfamil Gentlease, there is no need to change his or her formula. Most infants with reflux show signs of outgrowing it by age six to nine months (source). If so, Enfamil AR may no longer be necessary, and your baby should tolerate a standard infant formula.