Bottle feeding

If you can’t breastfeed or choose not to, selecting the right formula milk is a task not to be taken lightly. This is particularly tricky if you’re visiting or moving to Australia with an older baby who has been used to one brand of formula since birth.

Mum’s article on buying disposable nappies in Australia is the most viewed and commented on article at Mum’s gone 2 Aus, it’s great to be helping so many people. Based on similar research i.e. it’s not ground-breaking or Australia-wide but it’s a great indication of what you’ll find in Aus, Mum has put together a list of Australian baby formula brands, what they cost, and where to get them. We hope this eases some of the stress of your planned visit or relocation, if it has, hasn’t or you’ve got tips to share, please do so in the comments below.

What baby formula brands are sold in Australia?

The first thing that struck me when I looked at the baby formula shelves in Australian supermarkets is how many options there are. Not only are there more brands than we have in the UK but the brands that dominate have a standard and GOLD version. The GOLD or GOLD+ versions are more expensive.

The cynic in me thought this is clever marketing by the baby formula people but as far as I can work out, the GOLD bit serves a purpose. It implies that the product is newer than similarly named versions, and contains more of the latest ingredients that have been found to be good for babies. For example, the Wyeth S26 GOLD branding coincided with the addition of Omega fats to their S26 formula.

Below are the brands I found in supermarkets and pharmacies in Sydney. Nestle NAN H.A. 1 GOLD and Wyeth S26 were the dominant brands. Most brands have stage one (0 – 6 months) and stage two (6-12 months) versions, some have follow-on options.

  • Nestle ‘s most common products are NAN H.A. 1 GOLD and Lactogen
  • Heinz produce baby formula called Nurture and Nurture GOLD
  • Wyeth has a standard and GOLD version of their S26 baby formula. Wyeth S26 also has a range of specialist products such as “for babies with reflux”, soy, and lactose free.
  • Karicare comes in a standard and GOLD + version. Karicare produce other options including; anti-reflux, soy, goat, and “for babies at risk of allergies”. UPDATE MAY 2011: Breaking News! Karicare Gold + renamed Karicare Aptamil Gold +,
  • Bellamy’s Organic is the only organic brand of baby formula I spotted; the brand didn’t dominate the supermarket shelves but was sold in most stores.
  • Novalac has been specifically developed to manage feeding problems in formula fed infants. For this reason, it is only available from pharmacies and depending on the type of milk, should only be used under medical supervision. Novalac have the following products; colic, constipation, diarrhoea, sweet dreams, reflux, and hypoallergenic.

Are baby formula brands sold in Australia the same as the UK?

The quick answer is NO. In the UK, the brand of baby formula recommended by my health visitor when I stopped breastfeeding was Aptamil. Other brands you’ll find on supermarket shelves are Cow & Gate, SMA and Hipp (Organic). These brands aren’t available in Australian supermarkets, but there is some good news.

  • Aptamil equals Karicare – I have it on good authority (from an Aptamil customer care advisor whose parents live in Perth) that in Australia Karicare is the closest thing to Aptamil. Both brands are owned by the same parent company (Nutricia) so it stands to reason that they’d be the same. UPDATE MAY 2011: Breaking News! Karicare Gold + renamed Karicare Aptamil Gold +.
  • Wyeth produces a version of SMA in Australia, but their customer care advisor confirmed that SMA First Infant Milk sold in the UK is most similar to S26 GOLD in Australia.

The nitty-gritty

With the brands covered let’s get down to the cost. I’ve based my research on the store shelves in Woolworths, Coles, Big W and Pulse Pharmacy.

When comparing like for like products I found Pulse Pharmacy to be cheaper than the supermarkets. Woolworths was usually cheaper than Coles. Big W prices were mid-range but on some brands they had a two for $40 offer that made them cheaper than the supermarkets.

Prices provided are for 900g tins (or boxes) and prices are for the version suitable from birth.

Example costs;

  • Nestle NAN H.A. 1 GOLD – $23.75 (Pulse) – $26.99 (Coles)
  • Nestle Lactogen – $14.74 (Big W) – $16.99 (Coles)
  • Heinz Nurture GOLD – $22.42 (Woolworths) – $23.49 (Coles)
  • Wyeth S26 – $20.27 (Coles)
  • Wyeth S26 GOLD – $26.29 (Coles)
  • Wyeth S26 Soy – $24.27 (Big W)
  • Wyeth S26 Lactose Free – $23.87 (Big W)
  • Karicare – $16.95 (Pulse) – $20.63 (Coles)
  • Karicare GOLD + – $26.20 (Coles)
  • Karicare Goat – $30.08 (Woolworths)
  • Bellamy’s Organic – $22.99 (Woolworths) – $24.19 (Coles)
  • Novalac stage 1 (0 – 6 months) – $19.95 (Pulse)
  • Novalac colic, reflux etc. – $22.90 (Pulse)

250 ml cartons are also available – If you’re a formula feeding mum on the go, you’ll be pleased to know that some brands are sold in ready mixed 250 ml cartons. Wyeth S26 Gold cartons cost around $2.50.

Desperate for your home brand?

Finally, if you are desperate to travel or relocate to Australia with your home brand of baby formula here’s some useful information.

Expat Essentials offer an online shopping and shipping service from the UK. The products they are able to send include baby formula, their website indicates that they can send up to three months supply to Australia, at a time.

If you’re travelling to Australia by air, what you’re allowed to pack in your suitcase will depend on your country of origin. In most cases, and if you’re travelling from the UK, you’re allowed to travel with infant formula, in sealed containers, but you must declare it at customs. You’re allowed to travel from the UK with up to 10kg of baby formula, per infant.

As well taking baby formula with you when you travel, you can post up to 10kg of baby formula from the UK to Australia (without needing an import permit). If you choose to send baby formula, you should write “Attention Quarantine – this product contains dairy from the UK” on the packet. Amounts over 10kg will need an import permit which can be arranged via the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service.

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