Which milk powder does not contain sugar?

When choosing a milk powder for your baby or child, it’s important to read the ingredient labels carefully. Some milk powders contain added sugars like sucrose, fructose, glucose, maltose, or corn syrup solids. Babies under 12 months should avoid consuming added sugars, according to health organizations like the WHO. Luckily, there are many great options for sugar-free milk powders on the market today.

Why avoid added sugars for babies under 12 months?

The WHO recommends avoiding any added sugars for infants under 12 months old. There are a few reasons for this:

– Babies have low energy requirements – they only need around 60-70 calories per kg per day. Consuming added sugars can displace more nutritious calories from breastmilk or formula.

– Added sugars can increase the risk of dental caries once teeth erupt. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and produce acids that damage tooth enamel.

– Babies’ kidneys are still immature. Added sugars put extra strain on the developing kidneys to excrete the excess sugars.

– Added sugars may displace iron and zinc absorption. This could increase risk of iron and zinc deficiencies.

– Babies have low levels of gut enzymes needed to properly digest and metabolize sugars. Undigested sugars can cause gastrointestinal issues.

– Added sugars can cause rapid spikes and crashes in blood sugar levels. Babies have less ability to regulate blood glucose levels than adults.

– Excess sugar consumption early in life may increase preferences and cravings for very sweet foods later on.

So for optimal nutrition and health, babies under 1 year old should consume breastmilk or formula without any added sugars.

Common added sugars to watch out for in milk powders

Here are some of the most common added sugars that may be present in milk powders:

– Sucrose – This is regular table sugar made from sugar cane or sugar beets. It’s a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose.

– Dextrose/Glucose – Dextrose is chemically identical to glucose, which is one of the simplest sugars.

– Fructose – Fructose is a monosaccharide sugar found in fruits, vegetables and honey. It’s sweeter than sucrose or glucose.

– Lactose – While naturally present in milk, excess lactose is sometimes added to milk powders. Lactose intolerance is common, so excess amounts can cause issues.

– Maltodextrin – Maltodextrin is a highly processed starch used as a food additive. It has a high glycemic index and carbohydrate content.

– Maltose – Maltose is a sugar formed from two glucose molecules bonded together. It is made from starch and has a high glycemic index.

– Corn syrup/Corn syrup solids – Made from corn starch, corn syrups are common sweeteners in processed foods. High in fructose.

– Brown rice syrup – A sweetener made by cooking rice starch. High in maltose and glucose.

– Cane juice/Evaporated cane juice – These contain sucrose, glucose and fructose derived from sugar cane.

Tips for identifying added sugars on ingredient labels

To determine if a milk powder contains added sugars, look closely at the ingredient list on the nutrition label. Here are some tips:

– Scan for the above mentioned sugars like sucrose, glucose, maltose, corn syrup, etc.

– Watch out for multiple different types of sugars scattered throughout the list. This usually indicates added sugars rather than naturally occurring milk sugars like lactose.

– Note the order of ingredients. Ingredients are listed by weight, so sugars higher up likely indicate larger amounts.

– Beware of alternative sweetener names like “cane juice”, “evaporated cane juice”, or “fruit juice concentrate”. These are essentially added sugars.

– Be skeptical of health claims like “low fat”. Sometimes sugars are added to boost flavor when fat is reduced.

– Compare brands. Choose options with fewer types of sugars further down the ingredients list.

– Opt for “plain” or “pure” milk powder varieties without flavoring. Sugar is often added to flavored options.

Milk powders without added sugars

Here are some recommended milk powders that do not contain any added sugars:

1. Bob’s Red Mill Infant Milk Powder

– Made from whole brown rice and whole milk powder

– No added sugars

– Also free of soy, corn, nuts and gluten

– Provides carbs, protein, fat, 12 vitamins and 10 minerals

2. Kabrita Gold+ Premature Infant Milk Powder

– Goat milk-based powder specifically for premature infants

– Contains lactose but no added sugars like sucrose, glucose, etc.

– Higher protein and medium chain triglycerides than cow’s milk

– Probiotics to support digestive health

3. Nature One Dairy Infant Milk Powder

– Organic whole milk powder with added lactobacillus

– No added vegetables oils, corn syrup solids, or sugars

– Only 5 ingredients – nonfat milk, lactose, vitamins, minerals, and lactobacillus

4. Holle Organic Infant Milk Powder

– Made from whole organic cow’s milk

– Contains naturally occurring lactose but no added sweeteners

– Demeter certified biodynamic

– Produced in Germany with high quality standards

5. Lebenswert First Milk Powder

– Formulated for babies 0-12 months

– Contains whey, skim milk, and lactose but no added sugars

– Made in Spain from cows fed non-GMO feed

– High in DHA omega-3 fatty acids

6. Little Miracles Milk Powder

– Goat milk-based powder

– Only 5 ingredients: goat milk powder, lactose, whey protein, vitamin C, and zinc

– No added sugars, corn syrup, starch, or thickeners

– Made in the Netherlands

7. Pediacare Milk Powder

– Organic whole milk powder

– Contains lactose but no sucrose, corn syrup, maltodextrin, etc.

– Also free of soy, nuts, gluten and GMOs

– Made in the USA on a USDA Organic certified farm

Homemade sugar-free milk powder recipe

Making your own homemade milk powder is an easy way to avoid added sugars.

Here is a simple recipe:

– 4 cups (1 liter) fresh whole milk
– Equipment needed: food dehydrator or very low oven, blender

1. Pour milk into a blender and blend briefly until frothy, about 10 seconds. Frothing incorporates air to make the milk powder dissolve easily later.

2. Pour frothed milk onto dehydrator trays or baking trays lined with parchment paper. Spread into a thin layer no more than 1/4 inch thick.

3. Dehydrate at 115°F for 8-10 hours or until completely dried and crumbly. If using an oven, prop door open and set to lowest temperature, no higher than 115°F.

4. Once fully dried, break up the dried milk into smaller pieces and blend in a high speed blender into a fine powder.

5. Store in an airtight container in the fridge up to 6 months or freezer up to 1 year.

6. To use, mix 2-3 tablespoons powder with 1 cup water. Shake or whisk vigorously until fully dissolved.

Benefits of homemade:

– Contains only one ingredient – fresh whole milk

– No added sugars or other additives

– You control the quality of milk you start with

– Much cheaper than commercial milk powders

– Can customize nutrition by choosing raw, organic, grass-fed etc.

Tips for using milk powders

Once you’ve chosen a healthy sugar-free milk powder, here are some tips for preparation and storage:

– Follow label instructions carefully for mixing ratios. Generally 2-3 tablespoons per 1 cup water.

– Use cool boiled water around 70°F to prevent powder clumping. Do not use hot water.

– Thoroughly shake or whisk until powder fully dissolves into the water.

– For older infants, can premix measured powder and water in a bottle then refrigerate up to 24 hours.

– Do not add cereal, formula, or anything else to a bottle unless instructed by your pediatrician.

– Store opened powder in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. Consume within the expiry date.

– When formula feeding, only make enough for each feeding. Avoid waste and the risk of bacterial contamination.

– Bottles of mixed formula should be used within 1 hour if kept at room temperature or 24 hours if refrigerated.

– When out and about, bring pre-measured powder packets and clean water in a thermos. Mix on site.

– Sanitize all bottles, caps, and mixing equipment thoroughly before use to keep powder germ-free.

Potential concerns with milk powders

While milk powders without added sugars are generally very safe and nutritious for babies, here are a few potential concerns to know:

Contamination risk

– Powdered formula is not sterile. It can become contaminated with harmful bacteria like Cronobacter or Salmonella.

– To reduce risk, carefully follow preparation and storage instructions.

– Avoid using hot water to mix as this does not kill bacteria but helps breed bacteria spores.


– Putting too much powder can dangerously overconcentrate nutrients.

– Conversely, not enough powder dilutes nutrients.

– Accuracy is key – precisely follow label mixing instructions.

Masking illness

– Milk powders can temporarily mask signs of illness in babies like fever, vomiting, diarrhea. But dehydration continues.

– If any symptoms last >24 hours, see a doctor for assessment.

– May need electrolyte solutions or medical treatment.


– Cows milk allergy affects 2-3% infants. Symptoms are gastrointestinal, skin, or respiratory.

– If allergy suspected, transition to an appropriate hypoallergenic formula under medical guidance.

– Lactose intolerance is also possible, requiring a lactose-free or reduced powder.

Heavy metals

– Milk powders have been found to contain low levels of heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury.

– Amounts detected are currently below dangerous thresholds. But long term effects of low exposure are not fully known.

– Look for organic options produced in areas less likely to have heavy metal contaminations in soil and water.

Making your own infant formula is risky

The FDA strongly advises against making your own baby formula at home. Infant formula is highly complex and making your own puts your baby’s health at risk. Reasons to avoid DIY formula include:

– Inability to match exact proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals needed for growth. Recipes found online are often nutritionally inadequate.

– Contamination risk from bacteria like salmonella and cronobacter which can be fatal to infants.

– Over or under concentration of ingredients can lead to dangerous side effects.

– Lack of strict quality control procedures used by regulated formula companies.

The only exceptions are recipes and guidelines provided by a pediatrician or registered dietitian for babies with special medical needs. Never try to make formula without professional supervision. For healthy babies, choose a regulated commercially available formula. Speak to your pediatrician if you have concerns about ingredients like added sugars. With so many options available today, you can find a high quality formula without unnecessary additions like corn syrup or sucrose. Trust regulated brands over homemade concoctions.

Q&A on Milk Powder Without Added Sugars

Is lactose a sugar? Should I avoid lactose-containing milk powders?

Lactose is a naturally occurring milk sugar that provides carbs and energy for growth. It is generally fine for babies as they have the enzyme lactase to properly digest it. Problems only occur if baby has a lactose intolerance. Otherwise, lactose-containing powders without any added sugars are perfectly healthy.

Aren’t all milk powders unsweetened and sugar-free by default?

Unfortunately no. Many popular milk powder brands add sugars for enhanced sweetness and flavor. Always check the ingredients lists for added sugars or sweeteners. Don’t assume a milk powder contains nothing but milk.

Which sugars are OK for babies over 12 months old?

Small amounts of added sugars can be introduced after 12 months as long as baby is also eating a wide variety of other nutritious foods. Focus on natural sources like fruit rather than processed sugars. Limit added sugars to <10% of total calories.

Is dehydrated cane juice just a sneaky name for added sugar?

Yes, ingredients like cane juice, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, or organic cane syrup all refer to added sugars. Manufacturers use creative alternative names to make products appear healthier. But any type of syrup, juice concentrate or cane product indicates added sugars.

Why are corn syrup solids bad in milk powder?

Corn syrup solids are broken down into glucose and maltose which act as fast-digesting sugars. Babies’ immature gut and enzymes have difficulty properly digesting excess sugars from corn syrup. It can also feed harmful gut bacteria and potentially displace more nutritious calories.

Should I continue using sugar-free formula as my baby gets older?

At around 6-12 months, you can gradually transition your baby to whole cow’s milk fortified with iron. Toddler milk powders are another safe option. Added sugars at this age are less concerning, but still best limited to <25g/day from all sources.

Is it safe to buy imported European milk powder formulas online?

Potentially risky. Imported formulas purchased online are not FDA reviewed. Safety standards, ingredients, and manufacturing processes may not meet FDA regulations. Stick to major US formula brands purchased from reputable retailers. Consult your pediatrician.

The Bottom Line

Checking labels for added sugars is crucial when selecting a milk powder or infant formula. Babies under 12 months should not have any added sweeteners like corn syrup, cane sugar, rice syrup or fruit juice concentrates. Luckily, there are many healthy options for sugar-free milk powders both commercially and homemade. Look for just one or two basic whole food ingredients like whole milk powder or goat milk powder. Add any vitamins, fruits, cereals or other mix-ins yourself to control sweetness and nutrients. With diligent label reading and selective shopping, you can easily provide your baby with a sugar-free milk powder to support healthy growth and development.

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