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Formula - FAQs

Why did Plum launch infant formula?

As an organic food company, we’ve always admired nature’s complex, built-in, and beautiful way of nourishing baby. know thatbelieve breast is best. But we’re also a team of parents who know firsthand that life – and parenting – doesn’t always work out as planned. For many of us, breast milk isn’t always an option. Which is why our goal was to design an organic formula we can feel good about feeding our babies and yours.

It also made a lot of sense, coming from us. Giving little ones a healthy start with quality, organic food is what we do. It’s all we do. And that includes giving all parents an opportunity to feed their babies in the best way possible.

So, here’s to keeping our babies well fed. And here’s to compassion. You know what’s best for your baby and for your family. Whether it’s all breast or some breast or no breast at all. We get it. We’re on this journey, too.

What is Plum's position on breastfeeding?

Breast milk is amazing stuff. It’s the perfect first food for baby, and we firmly believe it should be every parent’s first choice, whenever possible.

Still, for all kinds of reasons – medical, emotional, logistical – feeding baby only breast milk isn’t always an option. The reality is that formula is baby food. And, as a baby food company, we want to support every parent, and every parenting style, by offering an organic infant formula we can all feel good about.

What does it mean that Plum's formula is organic?

We’re proud to say our infant formula is the only one on the market certified by Oregon Tilth. Their seal of approval signifies that our formula meets USDA’s high standards for organic foods.

So what does that mean?

Think of it this way: Formula is food. In fact, it’s primarily cows’ milk, broken down into components and fortified with critical nutrients found in breast milk.

For those of us who loyally buy organic dairy, we want the dairy in the food we’re feeding our littlest ones to be organic, as well. So the milk in our formula is certified organic – meaning it comes from cows fed a diet of organic grain and hay grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, and never treated with rBST*.

The organic certification means some other things, too. It means no genetically modified ingredients (GMOs) can be included and that 95% of the contents must be organic.

*Side Note: While no significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST treated cows, we chose to make our formula with milk from non-rBST treated cows.

Why does Plum's formula include DHA & ARA?

After extensively reviewing the research and consulting several industry-leading experts, we ultimately determined it was important to include DHA & ARA in Plum’s formula.

Here’s a little more on why:

DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) are two long chain fatty acids found naturally in human breast milk.[1] These fatty acids are the major long chain fats in baby’s brain and nerve tissue.[2] DHA is an important structural component of an infant’s brain and eyes.[2],[3]While not conclusive, some studies have demonstrated that visual acuity, visual attention, cognitive function and potentially other benefits are positively impacted when DHA and ARA are included in an infant’s diet.[4][5][6][7][8][9]

Can we combo feed with Plum's formula?

Absolutely. Any breast milk is beneficial, so if combo feeding is an option for you, we think that’s great.

Our formula is completely safe to use in addition to breast milk. We suggest reaching out to your pediatrician or lactation consultant for advice on the right quantities and mix for your little one.

Is Plum's formula non-GMO?

Yes. Plum’s formula is certified organic and does not contain any genetically engineered ingredients.

Is Plum's formula kosher?

Yes. Both the formula and the manufacturing facilities are Kosher certified by the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregation of America. Our formula is also Passover Qualified.

Is Plum's formula gluten free?

Yes. There is no source of gluten introduced into our formula. Also, the manufacturing facility processing areas and equipment do not contain gluten. Our formula is tested to ensure it meets the FDA criteria for gluten free.

Is the formula tub made with BPA or BPS?

No. All our packaging materials are manufactured without BPA and BPS.

Is Plum's formula gentle on my baby's digestive system?

All infant formulas, including ours, are created with the intent to be gentle on baby’s digestive system. But all babies are different. Some may have special dietary needs. If it’s clear your baby is having an issue with any formula, or you think your child has a special need, check with your pediatrician to determine the best type of formula for your little one.

Why is the first ingredient lactose?

All babies need carbohydrates for energy, and lactose is the most abundant carbohydrate found in breast milk. [12] In fact, carbohydrates make up 40-45% of baby’s energy, and this is especially important for their rapidly growing brains.[13][14] Some formulas use a combination of lactose and corn-derived sugars like corn syrup solids, glucose syrup solids and maltodextrin, but ours is just organic lactose.

I hear a lot about lactose intolerance. Should I be concerned?

Lactose intolerance in adults is common among the world population, especially among certain ethnic groups. It’s the inability to digest lactose because of a lack of the enzyme lactase in your small intestine. It is actually more common in adults because your body’s ability to make the enzyme lactase decreases over time. Babies and kids are less likely to be lactose-intolerant early in life.[15] If there is sensitivity to cow’s milk, it’s more likely that it is an intolerance or allergy to the protein.[16] Breast milk contains lactose as its most abundant carbohydrate[12], so we are naturally hard-wired to be able to digest it.[15] Though rare, it is possible for babies to be sensitive to lactose, so if you suspect your baby might be, please consult your pediatrician.

Why does Plum’s formula contain soy?

On our ingredient label you will see both soy lecithin and soy oil. Soy lecithin is an emulsifier, which helps keep the plant oils in the infant formula and the added water together in the bottle. Without it, they would separate (remember: oil and water don’t mix). Soy oil is part of a blend of oils that together provide energy for baby and help with the absorption of vitamins and minerals.[17][18]

We know some parents are concerned about soy allergies. If you are, it might be helpful to know that the allergy component of soy is in the protein and there is very little protein found in soy lecithin and soy oil.[19]However, because soy lecithin is derived from soy, we do label it as an allergen. If you do have concerns, consult with your pediatrician.

Our organic formula does not include genetically engineered soy.

Why does Plum’s formula contain palm oil?

Plant-based oils are included in infant formula because they’re used to achieve the appropriate ratio of unsaturated and saturated fatty acids. Oil types and ratios are carefully adjusted to mimic the pattern of fat in human breast milk. We include palm oil as a component of our plant-based oil blend as it is the closest oil that mimics the palmitic acid found in breast milk.[20]

There have been studies regarding the digestion of palm oil and how that can supposedly lead to decreased calcium absorption (and therefore decreased bone density) in babies.[21] However, other studies showed no difference in longer-term outcomes between formula-fed and breastfed babies. For example, a study that followed kids up to age 10 who drank formula containing palm oil as babies showed similar bone mass as breastfed infants.[22] Another study with tots who drank formula containing palm oil as babies showed no significant difference in bone content and bone mineral density compared to breastfed infants.[23] In fact, the way the body processes calcium is a highly regulated biological process and much of the calcium in infant formulas (with or without palm oil) is excreted in the infant’s urine.

Our organic palm oil is Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certified.[24]

Does Plum’s formula contain antibiotics?

No. Our formula is made with milk from cows that are not treated with antibiotics, as per required for our organic certification.

We believe strongly in the advantages organic food brings to our families and to Mother Nature.

Does Plum’s formula contain hormones?

No. Our formula is made with milk from cows that are not treated with growth hormones.* This is necessary for organic certification.

We believe strongly in the advantages organic food brings to our families and to Mother Nature.

*No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST treated cows. Our formula comes from cows that are not treated with rBST.

Does Plum’s formula contain pesticides?

No. Our formula is made with milk from cows that are not fed anything that has been grown using synthetic pesticides or fertilizers, as required for organic certification.

We believe strongly in the advantages organic food brings to our families and to Mother Nature

Does Plum’s formula contain carrageenan?

No. Our formula does not contain carrageenan.

Does Plum’s formula contain l-carnitine?

No. Our formula does not contain l-carnitine.

Who should I call with a question or concern related to your infant formula?

For questions or concerns regarding Grow Well Organic Infant Formula, please call us at (800) 410-9630 from 7:30am – 8:00pm Eastern Time, Monday through Friday.

What is the whey to casein ratio of Grow Well® Organic Infant Formula?

Our Formula has a 30:70 whey to casein ratio. Some babies do better on different ratios, especially those with specific stomach problems. If you suspect your baby would do better on another ratio, by all means discuss it with your pediatrician.


  1. Brenna JT, et al. Docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid concentrations in human breast milk worldwide. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007; 85:1457-1464.

  2. Martinez, M. Tissue levels of polyunsaturated fatty acids during early human development. J Pediatr. 1992;120: S129-138.

  3. Makrides M, Neumann MA, Byard RW, Simmer K, Gibson RA. Fatty acid composition of brain, retina, and erythrocytes in breast- and formula-fed infants. Am J Clin Nutr. 1994;60:189-194.

  4. Fleith M, Clandinin MT. Dietary PUFA for preterm and term infants: review of clinical studies. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr 2005; 45(3):205-29.

  5. Colombo J, Carlson SE, Cheatham, CL, Shaddy DJ, Kerling EH, Thodosoff JM, Gustafson KM, Brez C. Long-term effect of LCPUFA supplementation on childhood cognition. Am J Clin Nutr. 2013;98:403-412.

  6. Hoffman DR, Boettcher JA, Diersen-Schade DA. Toward optimizing vision and cognition in term infants by dietary docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid supplementation: a review of randomized controlled trials. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids. 2009;81:151-158.

  7. Birch EE, et al. The DIAMOND (DHA Intake And Measurement Of Neural Development) study: a double-masked, randomized controled clinical trial of the maturation of visual acuity as a function of dietary level of docosahexaenoic acids. Am J Clin Nutr. 2010;91(4):848-859

  8. Foiles AM, Kerling EH, Wick JA, Scalabrin DM, Colombo J, Carlson SE. Formula with long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids reduces incidence of allergy in early childhood. Pediatr Allergy Immunol 2015 dio: 10.1111/pai. 12515.

  9. Koletzko B, Carlson SE, van Goudoever JB. Should infant formula provide both omega -3 DHA and omega-6 ARA? Ann Nutr Metab. 2015; 66(2-3) 137-138.

  10. Martins AD et al. Alternative sources of n-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids in marine microalgae. Mar Drug. 2013;11:2259-2281.

  11. Merritt RJ, Auestad N, Kruger C. Buchanan S. Safety evaluation of sources of docosahexaenoic acid and arachidonic acid for use in infant formulas in newborn pigs. Food and Chem Tox. 2003;41:897-904.

  12. Vannucci RC, Vannucci SJ. Glucose metabolism in the developing brain. Seminars Perinatology. 2000;24(2):107-115.

  13. Mepham TB. Physiology of Lactation. Milton Heynes. UK Open University Press; 1987

  14. Kalhan SC Kilic I. Carbohydrate as a nutrient in the infant and child: range of acceptable intake. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1999;53(Suppl 11):S94-S100.

  15. Heyman MB. Lactose intolerance in infants, children, adolescents. Pediatrics. 2006;118:1279-1286.

  16. Bahna SL. Cow’s milk allergy versus cow milk intolerance. Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2002;89;(6);56-60.

  17. Kleinman R, Greer FR. Policy of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Guidelines for length of exclusive formula feeding and supplementation with solid foods. Pediatric Nutrition. 7th Edition.

  18. The National Academies Press. Dietary Reference Intakes for Energy, Carbohydrate, Fiber, Fat, Fatty Acids, Cholesterol, Protein and Amino Acids 2005. Accessed February 6, 2016.

  19. Crevel RW, Kerkhoff MA, Koning MM. Allergenicity of refined vegetable oils. Food Chem Toxicol. 2000;38(4):385-393.

  20. Lammi-Keefe CJ, Jenson RG. Lipids in human milk: a review. 2. Composition and fat-soluble vitamins. J Pediatr Gastroentrol Nutr. 1984;3:172-198.

  21. Nelson ST, Rogers RR, Frantz JA and Ziegler EE. Palm olein in infant formula: absorption of fat and minerals by normal infants. Am J Clin Nutr. 1996;64:291-296.

  22. Fewtrell MS, Kennedy K, Murgatroyd PR, Williams JE, Chomthos S, Lucas A. Breast-feeding and formula feeding in healthy term infants and bone health at age 10 years. Br J Nutr.2013;110(6):1061-1067.

  23. Young RJ, Antonson DL, Ferguson PW, Murray ND, Merkel K, Moore TC. Neonatal and infant feeding: effect on bone density at 4 years. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2005;41(1):88-93.

  24. Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil. Accessed on February 5, 2016.