The Truth About Formula

By Shannon Gosney
In Blogging Randomness
October 31, 2009

Medical and scientific communities both agree that breast milk is best for babies.  The American Academy of Pediatrics even recognizes breast milk as the gold standard in infant nutrition.  I am a mom of 3 boys and was very blessed to have the opportunity to breastfeed each one of them.  However, not all moms out there are able to experience this.  Some babies are not able to latch on correctly, some moms do not produce enough milk, others must work during the day, and some can’t breastfeed due to medications they are taking.

Infant formula is a safe alternative for those women who are unable to breastfeed and they should not feel guilty about doing so.  “Many women are unable to breastfeed for the duration of the first twelve months, especially if they are on medication, have multiple births, or must return to work during these difficult economic times,” said Dr. Barbara Levine, Weill Cornell Medical College. “These moms often experience feelings of guilt if they choose not breastfeed, so they purchase expensive formula. But very few really know the truth about infant formula.”

“Buying a heavily marketed, expensive, brand-name infant formula from a big pharmaceutical company does not get your baby any closer to human breast milk than a store brand formula,” added Dr. Levine. “Mothers can choose to supplement their breast milk with any formula because all formulas are regulated by FDA and nutritionally equivalent.”

The store-brand message is set to become even more important for many mothers because of changes in the Women, Infants and Children program. As of October 1, 2009, a new WIC initiative aimed at increasing breastfeeding rates among families reallocates funding for all currently provided foods, including infant formula, baby foods, juices, and fresh fruits and vegetables. This program could mean a reduction of up to 20 percent in infant-formula subsidies; parents who previously had most of their formula paid for by WIC may now have to purchase formula on their own.


About Has 4152 Posts

Shannon Gurnee is the author of RedheadMom formerly "The Mommy-Files", a national blog with a loyal following. She has a Bachelor's Degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development with a Minor in Business Management. Shannon and her husband, Frank, have a large family with 6 awesome kids and love living on the Central Coast near San Luis Obispo, California, as well as traveling around the world. A full-time Social Media and Professional Blogger, Shannon also serves as a National Brand Ambassador for many well-known companies. Her blog focuses on motherhood, family fun activities, traveling, fashion, beauty, technology, wedding ideas and recipes while providing professional opinions on products, performances, restaurants, and a variety of businesses.

12 Responses to “The Truth About Formula”

  1. Mami2jcn says:

    While I agree that formula isn’t the same as breastmilk, I would disagree that all formula is the same. There are definitely some brands of formula that cause less gas than others (Enfamil Gentlease is one brand that comes to mind).

  2. I always wondered about the difference in formula then I read the cans they are almost all the same

  3. denise says:

    We had to use the expensive kinds for my twins and there definitely was a difference. They would get sick and upset with the normal kinds.

  4. Lori Brown says:

    I think it’s wrong for WIC to do this. Women in low-income families are generally employed in low-wage jobs (duh!), where it is impossible to pump milk at work. I was blessed to work for an employer that offered a medical department with private pumping rooms when my 2 oldest were babies. I stayed home with our youngest, as we moved to the suburbs. I now work in retail in order to have some money coming in without paying for childcare (I work evenings). I don’t see my current employer being too interested in allowing someone extra time to pump. And even if they did, I can’t think of even one appropriate location in our large store…

  5. I agree some women have to supplement with formula for one reason or another (including myself) but I don’t trust formula companies.

  6. Brittany says:

    I didn’t even know that there was store brand formula. Neither of my kids would take formula but I was glad that they recieved all the extra immunity and benefits from breast milk. My 4 month old hasn’t had any formula yet but I’m glad to have that option.

  7. Aileen says:

    I don’t think it is such a good idea to cut back on access to infant formula by WIC. My husband and I are foster parents and we have dealt with many babies whose moms are barely able to cope with their own lives let alone their kid’s lives. I can’t imagine these moms opting to breast feed their children when many neglect to bottle feed their children with available formula. Making it harder for these moms to get food for their babies might increase the amount of neglect we see in the foster care system.

  8. I love you posted this, so many times you get the you didn’t breast feed. And not always wanting to go into the whole why it didn’t work, I rather just slap them … just playing :). Formula is not as good as breast milk but I believe it helped the boys. Great post my dear!

  9. Stephanie says:

    I haven’t had any kids yet but being a planner, this is something I think about quite a lot. And frankly, I’m still not sure where I stand. It’s nice to know that formula is the same nutritionally as breast milk. And I, too, am unsure of how well the WIC’s movement will make more people breastfeed because like many others before me said, most of the time it’s just not practical. I wonder if the goal is really to save money rather than force more families to breastfeed because that seems like a given result.

  10. LeMira says:

    I think that WIC should supplement formula on a need basis. I could not breastfeed my son since he was in the hospital for 5 1/2 months, and my milk never fully came in. I didn’t feel comfortable pumping at work (I was an elementary school teacher), and so I decided to not nurse my son. When he was released from the hospital, he had to have low-iron formula, which is very expensive and hard to find. Luckily, we qualified for WIC, and they helped us pay for the expensive low-iron formula for the few months my son needed it. My son is fine, very healthy, and intelligent. I wish I could have nursed him, but just didn’t work out with our situation. I’m sad to hear that WIC may not cover formula anymore. Besides, what about adopting mothers? What would they do then?

  11. Shannon this is such a fantastic article. I actually cried when I read it, as I was unable to nurse my boys. I tried with the oldest, but was only able to – with VERY little success – for 2 weeks, much of it spent crying (both of us) and throwing up of blood on his part. Then when people heard I was giving him formula, I would get terrible comments, or looks, or questions. It made me feel like a horrible mother… Then it happened again with my second child – the same looks, questions, and comments.
    Thank you Alexis, for your comment… I always know I can count on you.
    Then you hear comments from people who try to pass on these terrible stories from the internet about companies who are “killing babies” by pushing unsafe formula on women, it’s just awful. They don’t even have legitimate resources, and they scoff at what you have to say, when you have legit sources (i.e. the FDA) and reasonable arguments.
    Thanks for always having wonderful topics with terrific insight, and for letting me vent.
    Have a great night. (Sorry I babbled – hope I didn’t offend anyone, it was not my intent.)


    I wanted to breastfeed my son but my milk dried up after the 1st few months. Now I use Gentle Ease! It does get really expensive!

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