Organic baby food brand Happy Family has come out with an infant formula, Happy Baby, that it says is modeled after breast milk. We asked CEO and founder Shazi Visram over email what exactly that means—here’s what we learned.
The main difference seems to be Happy Baby’s emphasis on prebiotics, because of the role that breast milk plays in encouraging healthy gut bacteria in infants. "Prebiotics (they are called human milk oligosaccharides but function as prebiotics) are the fourth most predominant component of breast milk after water, fats and carbohydrates. And while babies are not able to digest prebiotics, they serve as vital food for beneficial gut bacteria (or probiotics)," Visram said, adding that company's prebiotic mix of GOS and FOS mimics the function of what naturally occurs in breast milk. "Over the past four years, we have worked to deeply understand the organic infant formula market in the U.S. and have identified that prebiotics are an important ingredient present in breast milk (about 8 to 9 percent of the composition) and not very prominent in organic infant formula."
Visram said Happy Baby contains up to four times more prebiotics than other organic infant formulas on the U.S. market. It also contains organic lactose (the main carbohydrate in breast milk); the essential fatty acids DHA/ARA; key vitamins and minerals such as calcium, vitamin D and choline; and no corn syrup, taurine, nucleotides or lutein.
The company recognizes that breastfeeding is still optimal—it says it's just seeking to provide a best-for-baby alternative when breastfeeding isn’t an option. "While we recommend breastfeeding as the best option for newborns, we recognize it’s not always an exclusive option for all families," said Visram. "We know the incredible impact that nutrition has during the first year of a baby’s life. It’s during this vital window that a baby defines his or her wellness blueprint, both physically and mentally."
The formula, which is part of a larger new Infant Feeding platform—the brand now offers online support from its "Happy Mama Milk Mentors" lactation consultants, as well as breastfeeding support products—is available in both the natural and mainstream channels, with retail partners including Whole Foods, Babies-R-Us, Buy Buy Baby and soon Target, in addition to online sales through Amazon.