Trying to pick a formula? You’re in the right place. If you’ve narrowed your choices down to Similac Advance vs Pro Advance, but just can’t make up your mind, let’s break down the differences so you can make an informed decision.
There are so many formulas out there to pick from, but when it comes to Similac Advance vs. Pro Advance, what’s the difference? Whether you are planning to formula feed or want to be ready in case you want to supplement your breastfeeding (we know that cluster feeding can be killer), choosing which formula to feed your baby can be a daunting task. So which do you choose between Similac Advance vs. Pro Advance?
Is Similac a good formula?
Similac is reportedly the most popular brand of formula according to Nielsen data and has been on the market for a long time now. In 1925 Moores and Ross developed the first Similac formula and now has been available for about 90 years.
As a whole, Similac formulas are very popular with moms and babies. A quick Amazon search will show that all their formulas are highly rated with 4.5+ stars for virtually all.
It’s also worth noting that all formula in the United States is regulated by the FDA. While formula companies don’t need FDA approval before marketing a product, “all formulas marketed in the United States must meet federal nutrient requirements and infant formula manufacturers must notify the FDA prior to marketing a new formula.”
So while Similac is a reputable brand, you can feel comfortable in whichever brand or type of formula you choose.
According to the Similac website, their Advance formula is “a nutritionally complete, milk-based, iron-fortified infant formula for baby’s first year. It has our exclusive blend of ingredients to support baby’s brain and eye development.”
- DHA blend
- Vitamin E
- No human growth hormones
Reading through reviews by parents who use or used Similac Advance with their babies, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. There is a poor review here and there, some saying it gave their babies gas, but the vast majority say their baby tolerated it really well and some reported great gut health for their baby with this formula.
Similac says on the container of their Pro-Advance formula that it is their “closest formula to breast milk.” A lot of this claim is based on the inclusion of the 2’-FL HMO, a prebiotic found in breastmilk. While the ingredient used in the formula isn’t actually derived from breast milk, it is the same chemical.
There have been a couple studies on how helpful 2’-FL HMO is, and there seem to be some benefits. However, those studies were done by Abbott Laboratories, the parent company of Similac, so take it with a grain of salt.
- 2’-FL HMO
- DHA blend
- Vitamin E
- No human growth hormones
- Non-GMO ingredients
Just like the Advance formula, the Pro-Advance also has glowing reviews from parents with most giving it a perfect score. A lot of mom who weaned from breastfeeding, or chose to supplement, went with the Pro-Advance formula and were very happy with the way their baby thrived on it.
What is the difference between Similac Advance vs Pro Advance?
Similac Advance and Similac Pro-Advance are very similar formulas. In fact, when you look at their ingredient lists, they are nearly identical. However, a few of the ingredients are different. There is only one ingredient in the top ingredients that is different.
Let’s break it down, and I apologize in advance for all the weird and long and confusing names for some of these ingredients. It can kind of feel like reading another language, but I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible.
Galactooligosaccharides vs. 2’-FL HMO
In Similac Advance there is galactooligosaccharides, which is a type of prebiotic. Prebiotics are good bacteria that aid in gut health.
Similac Pro-Advance also contains a prebiotic, but it is not listed in one of the top ingredients, but instead is less than 2% of the formula. The prebiotic used in Pro-Advance is called 2’-FL HMO.
So what’s the difference between those prebiotics in Similac Advance vs Pro Advance?
Galactooligosaccharides are plant sugars and are commonly used to treat various stomach and gut issues.
This ingredient has been shown in this study to effectively increase the amount of good gut flora in babies who were fed formula that included it. According to this study, the inclusion of this ingredient had no significant effect on the babies studied, but did show an increase on number of stools and the amount of gut flora found in them, which is encouraging and may be helpful for babies who tend to be constipated.
2’-FL HMO is a human milk oligosaccharide (HMO), which is one of the HMO’s found in human breast milk. Some studies have linked this ingredient in breastmilk to things like better cognitive function for babies.
However, breast milk contains 200 different HMO’s. So while this could be a beneficial advancement for formula, it is still modest compared to breast milk. According to this study, the inclusion of this ingredient had no significant effect on the babies studies.
It is also important to note that the 2’-FL HMO in this formula is NOT from human milk, so it is created by Similac.
GMO vs Non-GMO Formula
Another difference between the two formulas is that the Pro-Advance is non-GMO, while the Advance formula is not.
Whether this is important to you is a personal choice. However it is important to point out that organizations like WHO have determined that GMO’s are safe for human consumption.
This is a great article from Harvard breaking down different studies and current research of GMO’s and babies, and it says there have been no studies that show any risk in consuming GMO’s. In fact, many studies have been done that show no increased risks by consuming them.
For a TLDR version, check out this chart from the website:
Figure 1. Work from independent researchers has investigated various aspects of GMO safety, especially concerning consumer health and toxicity.
What about price?
The cost of the Similac Pro-Advance is slightly higher than the Advance formula, but not by much. On the Similac website, the Pro-Advance formula is only $2 more for a 1.45lb container than the Advance formula.
Looking around Amazon, it looks like the Pro-Advance vs Advance might actually be slightly cheape at $1.20 per ounce vs. $1.30 per ounce.
You can get either one for a significant discount on Amazon if you use the Subscribe and Save feature. This gets you 5-15% off depending on how much you order, and it is automatically delivered to you every month, so you don’t have to worry about running out. You can also stop or reduce the amount at any time.
Similac Advance vs Similac Pro Advance – Which one would we choose?
We are going with Similac Pro-Advance as our recommendation, and what we would choose.
While they are very similar formulas, the Pro-Advance is non-GMO and does include the prebiotic in it that is found in breastmilk.
We are a little suspicious about whether those two things truly make a difference in the overall health and wellbeing of your baby, but since the Pro-Advance formula is either very comparable in price to the Advance, or potentially even cheaper, it’s worth it.
FAQ’s about the Similac Advance and Pro Advance difference
What is Similac Pro Advance good for?
Similac Pro-Advance is a good formula for most babies who do not have any specific concerns, like food allergies or sensitivities.
According to the Similac website, their Pro-Advance formula is:
“…complete nutrition designed to strengthen your baby’s immune system, from the #1 brand for immune support.‡ It has our exclusive blend of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E to help support baby’s brain and eye development.”
Two of the most notable things that would entice parents to use Similac Pro-Advance are:
- It is made from non-GMO ingredients and doesn’t contain growth hormones
- It includes 2’-FL HMO, a prebiotic typically found in breastmilk (though this ingredient is not literally derived from breastmilk in this formula)
What formula is the same as Similac Pro Advance?
There are a couple of formulas that are nearly identical to Similac Pro-Advance, and some are significantly cheaper.
Before we discuss other options, if you are set on Similac Pro-Advance, there are some ways of cutting down on cost. For example, you could use the Amazon Subscribe and Save feature to have it delivered to your house on a set schedule. Using this method you could end up saving as much as 15% on your formula and other items.
But if you’re looking for an alternative to Similac, then these are some good choices, and they have virtually the same ingredients. All formulas sold in the United States must meet FDA guidelines, so all are safe and nutritious.
If Similac Pro-Advance is your number one choice, but are looking for a cheaper alternative, the Kirkland Signature ProCare formula is perfect for Costco members.
The ingredients are nearly identical, and it even contains the same prebiotics modeled after breastmilk that the Pro-Advance has.
The Gerber Good Start GentlePro has nearly the same ingredients as Similac Pro-Advance, including the 2’-FL HMO prebiotic. However, it does appear to be more expensive. But if your baby doesn’t like the taste of Similac or you need a similar alternative, it might be worth a try.
Are you an all-organic kind of mom? Whether it’s the Similac Advance or Similac Pro-Advance, neither are organic.
The ingredients are similar, but not identical to Similac Pro-Advance, but it does contain both milk and plant-based prebiotics, which is pretty cool.
Is Similac Advance good for newborns?
Yes. Similac Advance can be used for newborns as can Similac Pro-Advance. If you’re unsure if it is the best choice for your newborn check with your pediatrician and ask for their recommendation. This article also gives some advice on how to choose the best formula for your baby.
Side note: be sure you are pace feeding your baby whether they are breastfed, you’re supplementing, or totally bottle feeding.