What to Know When Choosing a Baby Formula
My babies both hung off my breasts until 18 months. Beautiful and bonding yes, it also meant I was committed to being with them all the time and that often I felt like a cow. For me it worked, I loved the experience- the good and the bad- and I believe if possible it is the best option for your child for nutrition, for ease (no washing bottles etc), cost (although I was eating huge amounts of food) and immunity. However it doesn't run smoothly for everyone. Lucky for me I had two of my most loved woman next to me while raising a young baby, who both bottle fed their babies. It woke me up to my often over idyllic view of the ways "should" be done, to realise sometimes the way we can is perfect. Had my friend who was a single mum breastfed, for her, it may have pushed her over the edge; instead she was and still is committed, loving patient and forever an inspiration to me. The other found it made her too hormonal with her first child and knew her limitations for her second.
As mothers, as woman, we HAVE to do what it is WE can do to stay sane in the process, AND to support our fellows mothers on the journey; even when their way is different to our way.
Through watching them I also saw that it is often a confusing session of roulette to find not only the best nutritional formula but also one that the baby can tolerate and thrive on. So here is a run down of my opinion on baby formulas.
To choose organic
For me it would be non-negotiable that I would feed my baby an organic formula. As the baby's organs are not yet fully developed, there is absolutely no reason to expose him or her to having to process residue pesticides, aka poisons.
- Organic farms cannot use genetic engineering or ionising radiation and the cows must be fed organic feed and be raised without antibiotics or growth hormones.
- All crops must be grown without chemical pesticides, petroleum-based fertilisers and sewage sludge fertilisers (used in the product or fed to animals for the product)
The cost difference is only a couple of dollars these days, (if the price difference is more than that in your local shop then I recommend shopping online). The other issue is for me is to make decisions that are cruelty-free and the commercial dairy industry is one that causes suffering in masses to cows, with the organic industry having higher welfare standards to abide by.
(Unfortunately whether organic or not bobby calves are always killed as they are a "waste product" of producing milk. )
My two favourite brands in Australia for baby formulas are:
"Lactose-free" or "Dairy-free"?
If you find your baby doesn't do well on a cows milk formula then before going to a "dairy-free" I would try a goats milk formula as the protein is more similar to the humans and is better tolerated.
The dairy-free options are made from soy milk. While I include soy in my diet in fermented form, I would not feel comfortable having it as the primary nutrition source for my baby because of the phytoestrogen effect it has in the body and the possibility of it effecting hormonal development. If you do choose a soy range then make sure it is NOT GM soy.
There are "lactose-free" formulas either on the shelf or via prescription which are made from cows milk and then deconstructed and had enzymes added and/or lactose replaced with another "sugar". Personally I don't feel comfortable with this amount of intervention for a food source. If you do go down this road I highly recommend coming off the formula when the baby is eating solids. It can be tempting to keep children on formulas long-term but the sooner they are eating real, whole foods over "science experiments" the better.
Check the Ingredients.
Even if you do not feel concerned about feeding your child residue pesticides, many mainstream formulas are full of junk. I personally feel upset that there are not stricter guidelines-as many mothers simply do not know and trust the food companies.
I implore you to check the ingredients and make sure glucose or corn syrup isn't one of their main ingredients. While breast milk is naturally high in sugars, it is not refined, as that will have an adverse effect on moods and physical health. No one wants a moody baby!!!
Also make sure they don't use artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives, all of which have a wide range of diverse health and mental effects recorded on thousands of individuals. You will be sadly surprised to find a huge range of formulas use all of the above.
Watch for added DHA or ARA ( ‘extra’ fatty acids) as they are often produced using a potential neurotoxin known as hexane.
Worth noting is Natural News has called for a stop to using genetically modified (GM) ingredients in baby products. Abbott Laboratories (Similac), Mead Johnson Nutrition (Enfamil) and Nestle (Gerber Good Start) powdered formulas are all full of corn and soy byproducts and sugar and with 90% of corn, soy and sugar crops planted in the U.S. grown GMO it is most likely babies on these formulas are consuming high amounts of them. Unfortunately labels in USA do not indicate this, so unknowing mothers don't get the chance to make an informed decision.
Ultimately remember that we are all doing the best we can..spend some time researching it for yourself so you can make educated choices for your child- they deserve it- but then be soft on yourself... try breastfeeding support but don't beat yourself up if it doesn't work....and know this too shall pass.