The Ultimate Debate Holle Stage Pre vs. Stage 1

Whats the difference: Holle Pre vs Holle Stage 1

As we all know, Holle baby formula works in stages. This simplifies life for us as parents, we know exactly when each formula should be given.

Holle Stage Pre: 0 - 6 months
Holle Stage 1: 0 - 6 months
Holle Stage 2: 6 - 10 months
Holle Stage 3: 10 - 12 months
Holle Stage 4: 12+ months

Simple right? Unless you look a little deeper. Go back and take a look at Pre and Stage 1! Did you think I made a typo ? Well I didn't. All of a sudden, it became a lot more complicated. But let us uncomplicate things, after all that is why you're here in the first place. 


Why does Holle have two Different formulas for the same age group?
What is the Difference between Holle Stage Pre and 1?

First things first! A little history, from the beginning the Holle company originally had 4 stages. Stage 1 to 4 (with out the pre) in which case the age groups corresponding to the stage number make sense. However, years later they decided to introduce a new formula for newborns from birth to 6 months and they called it stage PRE. With one slight but major difference this formula became very popular.

Now that we have that covered, what the difference between these two formulas?

Drum Roll Please........ it's CARBOHYDRATES !

The ONLY difference between Holle Stage Pre and Stage 1 is:
Holle Pre uses Lactose while Stage one uses Maltodextrin as its main source of carbohydrates.

Both of these ingredients are sources of carbohydrates. To give you a better picture as to why this slight difference is so important..... Human breast milk is composed of approximately 40% of just carbs.

In order to truly understand the importance and difference of these ingredients we need to break it down. And understand the functions of these ingredients on a molecular level. So let's get sciency!

What is a Carbohydrate? 

Carbohydrates are a group of nutrients that contain sugars and starches. 

Sugar is a simply structured collection of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen chemical elements that form molecules that are generally soluble and are sweet tasting. In its simplest form it is known as glucose but occurs in many forms, both naturally and artificially.

Starch is a poly-sugar, mainly built out of lots of glucose-like units in chains and with a more complex, tree like structure.

An important point to bear in mind is that a glucose ‘unit’ itself tastes sweet while glucose structured as starch doesn’t. For example, the classic dietary carbohydrates: potatoes, pasta and bread are made to a large extent from starch but are not considered as ‘sweet’ foods in themselves.

When carbohydrates contain 1 to 2 glucose-like units and taste sweet they are called ‘sugar’. Of which lactose is one of many examples:

  • Glucose = dextrose = grape sugar
  • Fructose = fruit sugar
  • Sucrose = white sugar (one glucose and one fructose molecule combined)
  • Inverted sugar = artificial, (honey = natural) = mixture of glucose and fructose in equal parts, these taste sweeter than the same amount of sucrose
  • Lactose = milk sugar (one glucose and one galactose molecule combined)

The more sugar units are connected with each other the less sweet a carbohydrate tastes. Usually carbohydrates with 3 to 4 sugar units no longer have any sweetening properties.


What Does This Have To Do With Baby Formula?

The primary carbohydrate found in human breast milk is lactose. – that is the naturally occurring sugar in milk. Lactose helps decrease a large number of unhealthy bacteria in the stomach, which improves the absorption of calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium. Holle Stage Pre uses this. 

Maltodextrin is a modified starch, which means the length of the glucose chains in the carbohydrate is shorter than the one from the original starch. The basic properties remain those of starch. There are many varieties of maltodextrin, depending on the structure present.

Holle Stage 1 uses a maltodextrin that has starch like properties and yet doesn’t taste sweet. Because of the shorter chain length it is easier for babies to digest than the starch itself would be, while still serving its purpose of providing energy.

Starches, including maltodextrin, release their energy slower than sugars. This means that two different baby formulas with the same amount of energy per portion can release that energy at different rates. Stage 1 uses a maltodextrin that is slower releasing which means that their formula can help a baby feel satisfied for longer.

Certain internet sources often suggest that maltodextrin is used merely as a ‘filler’ and that it is a sugar or sweetener – neither of which is necessarily the case. Holle uses maltodextrin in their baby formulas for a very specific and very sensible reason. Avoiding excessive sweetness in baby formulas. Not encouraging a lifetime tendency to having a sweettooth from the beginning, seems to me, to be a very sensible thing to do. 


Both Stage 1 and Pre are exceptional and it's hard to say one is better than the other. Its really up to you which you prefer because remember at the end of the day it's YOUR baby and YOU know best!




All stagesBaby formulaCarbohydratesHolleHolle preHolle stage 1Infant milk formula

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