The Formula Decision
a mother considers giving formula to her baby,
• Formula is not to be used without good reason! It causes abnormal changes in a young baby's intestines - changes that last for several weeks after a single bottle. A single dose of formula before about 6 months of age can trigger allergies that might have been avoided, and increases the risk of diabetes, colitis, and other illnesses. Despite reassuring advertising, formula is not "almost" human milk, and even one use has consequences.
• Smell some formula. Taste it. Under a microscope, formula looks...white. Human milk is full of dots, blots, and blobs. It actually teems with life, like a tiny city with one manufacturing goal: the baby's health. And the taste? Melted ice cream!
• Babies need to eat. If human milk is not available - through the mother expressing her own milk or through human donors - and a baby is not thriving on breastfeeding alone, commercial formulas are considered the fourth best food. Babies need to eat.
• Some day, our milk banks will be large enough, and insurance coverage will be good enough,that every baby can receive human milk, whether or not his mother breastfeeds him. Until then, formula has a very necessary place for some babies.
• Call a breastfeeding specialist before giving formula to a young baby. There may be a surprisingly simple way to avoid exposure.
• The healthiest, brightest children in the world are those who breastfeed successfully for about 6 months with no other foods or drinks, and who continue to nurse well into toddlerhood or beyond.
• Most adults today were formula-fed, and we're leading bright, healthy, active lives.
• We also have more vision problems, obesity, allergies, intestinal problems, colds and flu, dental problems, diabetes, heart problems, and cancer than we need to. And we're a few IQ points lower than we would have been if we had been breastfed.
• If formula is used, the older the baby is when it is introduced, the better he will be able to handle it and the less it will interfere with longterm health or with happy breastfeeding.
• Even a little breastmilk or breastfeeding is better than none, for as long as you can provide it.
No two families balance all this the same. When you've made a decision that feels right for you, it is right for you, no matter what decision another family makes. So there!
©2008 Diane Wiessinger, MS, IBCLC www.normalfed.com