Corn Maltodextrin in Baby Formula: Pros and Cons

By: Suzanne Renee' - June 3, 2024 - 11 Minute Read

Corn Maltodextrin in Baby Formula: Pros and Cons | The Milky Box

When selecting the right infant formula for your baby, you want to make the best possible choice. 

We understand that the list of ingredients on baby formula packaging can sometimes be confusing, and one ingredient that has so much varying information is corn maltodextrin.

This article will explore maltodextrin further and answer common questions and concerns. We will also discuss this ingredient’s role in the European baby formula and its benefits and drawbacks. Let's dive in!

What is Corn Maltodextrin, and Why is it in Baby Formula?

Let's start with the main questions: What is corn maltodextrin, and how is it used in baby formula?

Maltodextrin is a plant-based processed carbohydrate. Corn maltodextrin is often added as a thickener to increase the volume of processed foods and is commonly used as a gluten-free food additive that adds a smooth, creamy texture.

What is Corn Maltodextrin? | The Milky Box

Understanding Carbohydrates in Baby Formula

Now that we've discovered that maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate let’s take a closer look at the various types of carbohydrates and their significant role in infant nutrition.

It's important to understand that providing the right carbohydrates for a growing baby is crucial. 

The good news is that our bodies have a natural way of ensuring this balance through lactose. Lactose is a carbohydrate found in breast milk, and it helps to provide the nutrients that a growing baby need.

What are Carbohydrates? | The Milky Box

Simple Terms: Carbohydrates are chains of simple sugars of hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen. They are one of the four groups of biomolecules that play an essential part in biological processes. The four groups are amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, and nucleic acids.

Carbohydrates are the most abundant biomolecules and a significant source of nutrition. Sugars, starches, and fiber are the three main types of carbohydrates.

Expanded Terms: Simple sugar molecules combine to form more complex sugars, such as lactose, the primary source of sugar found in breast milk, which is made of two simple sugars.

Polysaccharides, such as starch, are larger chains that are higher in fiber than their simpler counterparts and less likely to spike blood sugar levels.

The body breaks down carbohydrate molecules from the foods we eat into glucose, the bloodstream's primary energy source. The bloodstream then carries glucose to our cells.

Types of Carbohydrates in Baby Formula

Carbohydrates are infants’ primary source of energy, essential for their growth and development. Various types of carbohydrates, including maltodextrin, are present in infant formulas.

Types of Carbohydrates in Baby Formula | The Milky Box


Lactose, or milk sugar, is the most common primary ingredient in European formulas. These formulas are regulated differently than American formulas and have stricter standards for using additives and other ingredients.

Many European formulas use lactose as their primary carbohydrate source and do not contain any other added sugars, including corn syrup. It is recommended that infant formulas contain at least 50% of carbohydrates in lactose.


Some formulas contain plant-based processed carbs like maltodextrin, essential nutrients, and energy sources for your baby's healthy growth and development.

Corn Maltodextrin in Baby Formula

Maltodextrin is a type of dietary polysaccharide that is different from naturally occurring sugars. It is produced by hydrolysis or adding water to corn, wheat, or potato starch.

European Infant Regulations ensure that the raw materials used to make maltodextrin are obtained from non-genetically modified crops.

After processing raw materials into powdered form, maltodextrin is added to infant formula.

Is Maltodextrin a Starch?

Maltodextrin is a type of carbohydrate derived from starch. However, it's important to note that there are different types of maltodextrins, and they are not all the same.

In European baby formula, dietary maltodextrin is used as a thickener or filler.

Are Corn Maltodextrin and Corn Syrup the Same?

Compared to corn syrup, maltodextrin has minimal sugar content and a neutral flavor, making it an ideal ingredient in infant formula due to its smooth consistency.

Is Maltodextrin Natural or Artificial? 

Maltodextrin is a white powder derived from starch. While starch is naturally occurring, maltodextrin is not considered natural because it is processed from starch through the addition of enzymes or acids such as alpha amylase. 

Corn Maltodextrin in Baby Formula | The Milky Box

Is Maltodextrin Safe for Babies?

Both the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) have thoroughly assessed the safety of maltodextrin for infants and have come to the conclusion that it is safe to use as directed and does not pose any risk to infants.

However, it's essential to keep in mind that individual sensitivities and known family allergies should be taken into consideration. It is always recommended to seek specific advice from a pediatrician.

Is Maltodextrin Safe? | The Milky Box

Maltodextrin vs. Lactose

If you're curious about the differences between Maltodextrin and lactose, particularly in the context of baby formula, here's a more detailed explanation:

Maltodextrin is a complex carbohydrate derived from starch, such as corn, rice, or potato. It is used as a food additive because it thickens, stabilizes, and sweetens foods. 

In baby formula, it acts as a source of carbohydrates, which provides the necessary energy for growth and development. Due to its high glycemic index, Maltodextrin provides fast-acting energy.

Lactose, on the other hand, is a natural sugar found in milk, including breast milk. It is the primary carbohydrate in breast milk and provides a source of energy for infants. 

Lactose is a disaccharide consisting of glucose and galactose, with a lower glycemic index than Maltodextrin. This means Lactose takes longer to digest and provides sustained energy over an extended period.

Both of these substances serve as sources of carbohydrates but have different properties and roles in infant nutrition.

Maltodextrin vs Lactose | The Milky Box

The Pros and Cons of Maltodextrin

When consuming maltodextrin, there are advantages and disadvantages to consider. If you're trying to decide whether infant formula containing maltodextrin is suitable for your baby, here are some key points to keep in mind.

Pros of Maltodextrin 👍

Gluten-free: Maltodextrin is a gluten-free ingredient commonly used in baby formula, making it a safe option for parents concerned about allergies.

Improved Texture and Consistency: When added to the formula, maltodextrin creates a smoother consistency, which babies enjoy.

Providing Energy for Growth and Development: We have established that this ingredient is a valuable energy source contributing to babies' growth.

Quick Absorption: Corn maltodextrin is easily absorbed by your baby's body, enabling them to utilize it quickly.

Replacing Lactose: Adding maltodextrin can be a safe and effective alternative if a baby needs lactose-free or lactose-reduced formula.

Maltodextrin Pros and Cons | The Milky Box

Cons of Maltodextrin 👎

Maltodextrin, like any other ingredient, has some drawbacks. It's essential to be aware of potential downsides before selecting your infant's European nutrition.

Allergies and Sensitivities: Maltodextrin consumption might pose potential concerns for newborns with food sensitivities or inflammatory bowel disease.

Increased Blood Sugar Levels: It's important to note that maltodextrin has a higher glycemic index than certain other carbohydrates, resulting in a similar impact on blood sugar levels as glucose.

Processing methods: There are concerns about the artificiality of processing methods.

Choosing the Right Baby Formula: Considering Corn Maltodextrin

Selecting the right formula for your baby can be daunting and require considerable time and research. Although maltodextrin is a common ingredient in many formulas, it may not be suitable for all babies.

Ensuring your baby's health and safety is our top priority. That's why we strongly recommend consulting with a qualified medical provider who can provide expert advice tailored to your baby's needs and any potential food sensitivities. They can also help you navigate the different formula options and ingredients.

Our team of European baby formula experts is here as well to help you choose from a range of high-quality organic formulas that fit your baby's needs and your family's wishes for nutrition.

Formulas with Maltodextrin and Maltodextrin-Free Formulas

At The Milky Box, we believe that every child deserves the best. That's why we carefully select only high-quality European formulas that have undergone several safety tests and contain premium ingredients.

We proudly offer many options to ensure every baby gets the perfect formula. Our selection includes EU organic formulas, formulas based on cow and goat's milk, and hypoallergenic and plant-based options.

Of course, we also have European formulas with maltodextrin and maltodextrin-free formulas.

The Milky Box Promise | The Milky Box

European Maltodextrin-Free Formulas 

The following is a list of maltodextrin-free baby formulas that we carry here at The Milky Box!

Cow Formulas 🐄:

Goat Formulas 🐐:

Special Formulas 👩‍⚕️:

European Maltodextrin Formulas

At The Milky Box, we are dedicated to helping you find the perfect formula for your infant. We have invested significant time researching formulas, examining scientific studies, and reviewing ingredient lists to provide dependable recommendations based on the most current scientific discoveries in infant nutrition.

We encourage you to review our Product and Review Procurement Process to learn more about our criteria for rating each product.

Corn Maltodextrin In Baby Formula | The Milky Box

Corn Maltodextrin in Baby Formula

Decoding the world of baby nutrition can be challenging, but with the proper knowledge, you can navigate it like a pro. Regarding maltodextrin in baby formulas, it's crucial to weigh all the factors carefully to make an informed decision.

According to regulatory bodies such as the FDA in the US and EFSA in the EU, families can be assured that maltodextrin provides a fast and safe source of energy for infants. However, it's important to consider its processed nature. Maltodextrin can benefit some formulas, particularly for babies with lactose sensitivities.

At The Milky Box, we know that every baby is unique, with individual dietary needs and potential sensitivities. We carry high-quality European formulas with and without maltodextrin to accommodate diverse nutritional requirements and family preferences.


Please be aware that this information is based on general trends in babies, and it is not medical advice. Your doctor should be your first source of information and advice when considering any changes to your child’s formula and when choosing your child’s formula. Always consult your pediatrician before making any decisions about your child’s diet or if you notice any changes in your child.

Breastfeeding is the best nutrition for your baby because breast milk provides your child with all the essential nutrients they need for growth and development. Please consult your pediatrician if your child requires supplemental feeding.

Suzanne Renee' is an accomplished professional with extensive expertise in the area of infant nutrition, dedicated to promoting the health and wellbeing of children. She started this journey as a foster parent. Suzanne has emerged as a strong proponent of the European baby formula and has become a full time writer of the subject. In her free time, she enjoys camping, hiking and going to church.

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Reviewed by Dr. Maria Cerino, MD

Dr. Maria Cerino is a medical doctor and a researcher from Mexico, her works being published in prestigious journals like the American Journal of Human Biology, among others. 

As a medical writer, Dr. Cerino focuses on infant nutrition and healthy neurological development in infants and children. 

In her free time, she enjoys going on walks, watching indie films, and cooking at home.