Now, here’s a bit of a modern-day problem for you – breastfeeding vs. baby formula? Using organic all natural baby formula has many benefits, yet moms that do use it still face criticism for not being “all-natural” and not nursing the child properly. But, the truth is that organic formula can be a great alternative to breastfeeding and there are a lot of good things about it. So, let’s break this topic down and see how breastfeeding relates to using baby formula.
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Well, the first and the most obvious benefit is that this approach is natural. Breast milk cannot be replicated by baby formula, though it can be closely mimicked. Breast milk is the single best source of nutrition for an infant, and no formula can come close to providing as much as real breast milk does. Let’s look at some of the most important benefits, but also some difficulties, that breastfeeding provides.
One of the most important things breastfeeding provides is bonding. The skin-to-skin contact between mother and child can and will bring them closer. Therefore, most doctors are strong proponents of breastfeeding, especially in the early months of a baby’s life. It is proposed that breastfeeding persists as long both the mother and the infant are willing and comfortable with it, thus securing the emotional connection between the infant and mother.
However, breastfeeding isn’t prevalent for bonding. A mother can bond with her child even when using a baby formula. Not only that, but using a bottle can help the father or caretaker bond with the baby as well.
Building up the immune system
Even more important benefit than bonding that breastfeeding provides is various antibodies. Breast milk is filled with important antibodies that will deter the many illnesses your child might contract. These antibodies are transferred from mother to child, preventing diseases like ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and meningitis.
Furthermore, breast milk also protects the babies from various allergies and asthma. Breastfeeding your child may also reduce the chances of diabetes and obesity. Some studies have shown that breastfeeding can reduce the rate of the dreaded SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
Babies and infants have sensitive digestion tracts. Naturally, a month-old baby cannot digest solid food and requires liquid sustenance. Breast milk is the perfect food, as it is very gentle and perfectly attuned with the baby’s digestion.
Breast milk ensures that your child receives a lot of proteins and nutrients. it also supplies fats and lactose, and various other vitamins that are vital for a healthy growth of your child. It also ensures that the infant does not suffer diarrhea and constipation, which is more likely if you use baby formula.
Beneficial for Mothers as Well
Not only is breastfeeding beneficial for your little one, but it’s beneficial for you too. There are scientific studies that confirm that mothers that breastfeed are less likely to contract breast cancer. There are studies that show that breastfeeding also reduces the risk of high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, and diabetes. Lastly, breastfeeding burns calories, making it much easier to return to your pre-pregnancy weight.
Benefits of Baby Formulas
As we have seen, breastfeeding is great in so many ways. It lessens the chance your child will get sick, is gentle on its digestion and is beneficial for the mother herself. However, organic formula also provides your baby with the sustenance she needs to grow strong and healthy.
One of the best things about using baby formulas is that they’re convenient. Sometimes, you cannot breastfeed, due to being away for whatever reason. However, if you use a baby formula, anyone can feed the baby, so you don’t have to be with your child all the time. This will also help your partner bond with your child by feeding it.
The thing that makes breast milk so unique is that it is produced by the mother individually for her child. However, this also means that the milk is influenced by your diet and general health. With baby formulas, there is no need to worry about what you eat and how it may be affecting your baby.
Sometimes a baby formula is necessary. Some women are unable to breastfeed due to various factors. A transferable disease, certain medications, not enough glandular tissue. Maybe your baby has been born with tongue tie? Also, breast surgery can also impede on breastfeeding, as women who had breast reduction may find that their ducts have been severed which may cause problems and infections. There are other personal reasons a mother may choose not to breastfeed. In this case, you will need to switch to baby formula.
Before we get into finding a suitable formula we should touch on two other methods for feeding your infant.
Homemade Baby Formula
The first is Homemade Baby Formula. We are not scientists, or pediatricians, or lobbyists for the baby formula industry. That being said – we can never, and will never recommend feeding your baby homemade baby formula. There is simply too much that can (and quite often does) go wrong. Are you using unpasteurized cow or goats milk? This is dangerous according to a 2015 report from the CDC. In fact, animal dairy is a no-no for the first 12 months of an infants life. How will you know if you are getting the right balance of vitamins and nutrients? Who is the authority prescribing the ingredients for you? Kristen Cavallari? Enough said?
Tipper Gallagher can shed more light on the topic at The Scientific Parent
The second is milk donations. I will admit that I do not know enough about the process to advise one way or the other. I will say that their can be risks involved. Please do your research and ask you pediatrician and please stick to Milk Banks and try to avoid peer to peer milk networks.
Choosing The Best Infant Formula
Conventional formula (though safer than homemade baby formula), is full of GMO’s, dairy from cows injected with antibiotics and/or hormones, vegetation sprayed with pesticides, etc… Not good at all! Organic formula is not perfect though either (again, the best formula is mothers milk). Lets break down the organic formula market a bit.
The three (that’s right 3!) players in the USA Organic Baby Formula market are Perrigo, Abbott Laboratories, and Nature’s One.
Perrigo makes Vermont Organics, Earth’s Best as well as their “store brand” choices which include Walmart’s Parent’s Choice, Sam’s Club, Target, Kroger’s Comforts For Baby, Whole Foods, CVS and Walgreens Well Beginnings.
Abbott Laboratories makes Similac Organic
Nature’s One (last but definitely not least) makes Baby’s Only Organic. We should note that Nature’s One is the only family owned company out of these three U.S. companies.
Lets start with the easy one – Soy.
Trypsin Inhibitors. These are prevalent in Soy beans and hinder digestion. This is bad.
Phytoestrogens. These little suckers are estrogen like hormones that can disrupt your child’s hormonal balance for life. This is really bad.
All three companies make Soy base organic formula and all three should be avoided. The three companies all offer alternatives to soy, namely dairy.
Preservatives And Nutrients.
Synthetic beta carotene and ascorbic palmitate is used to keep DHA and ARA (We’ll get into these soon) from spoiling. The National Organic Standards Board does not approve of them but The USDA allows them. These are yucky and toxic. Any Non DHA and ARA formulas should not have these synthetic preservatives in them either. Like Baby’s Only.
The synthetic nutrients included in baby formula is down right scary. Lycopene? L-Carnitine? L-Methionine, Lutein? Nucleotides? How about Taurine? Naturally occurring, these nutrients are needed in the human body, but the processes to synthesize these nutrients reads like it is from a movie. Take L-Methionine for example. Materials used to synthesize it are acrolein and hydrogen CYANIDE. Hydrogen cyanide is used for, among other nasty business, chemical weapons. All of these synthetics are banned in Europe, but again the USDA allows them.
Breast milk is deliciously sweet by nature. Lactose is the ingredient that makes it so tasty. Unfortunately, lactose is expensive. There was a time, not too long ago that most organic formula was sweetened with lactose. But accountants, got involved and things had to change. So what are our three manufactures using these days?
Perrigo uses Corn Syrup and Maltodextrin. I know that I try to avoid corn syrup when ever I can, so I want to avoid giving it my kids if I can. There is a recent study that points to corn syrup being more toxic than table sugar. Yikes! Maltodextrin is a highly-processed starch that is combined with artificial sweeteners to sweeten products. Its glycemic index is higher than table sugar.
Abbott Laboratories uses Sugar and Maltodextrin. What to say here. Would you want to feed your kid a spoonful of sugar for breakfast? I don’t think so.
Baby’s Only uses Organic Brown Rice Syrup. Best of the worst again. Brown rice syrup got a bad rap about 5 years ago when research revealed high levels of arsenic found in formulas that used brow rice syrup. To Nature’s One credit, they created a filter removes inorganic arsenic to levels undetectable. These levels are lower than what you may find in your drinking water.
Though the brown rice syrup is the best of the worst, these ingredients are all banned in Europe for infant formula. Because of the sweetness, babies tend to over feed. This causes concerns for diabetes and obesity.
Palm oil is in many of the infant formulas on the market. All the ones produced by Perrigo, anyways. This is awful on a couple of different sides. First of all, it does not absorb properly in your baby’s intestine. This means that overall fat is lower which can reduce bone mass. The second issue is the environmental impact. Kate Newman talks about the impact in detail. 60 million tonnes of palm oil is exported from Asia every year. This has been responsible for the destruction of 90% of the Orangutans habitat.
Abbott Laboratories and Nature’s One seem to steer clear of Palm Oil, thankfully.
DHA and ARA
Here is the kicker of them all. “Added DHA and ARA” Let’s step back and take a look at what DHA and ARA are. DHA is an omega-3 fatty acid while ARA is an omega-6 fatty acid. These are naturally occurring fatty acids in breast milk. These are helpful in brain development and sight development. Great let’s get the formula with added DHA and ARA, right? Not so fast. The DHA and ARA that most brands of formula use is derived from algae and fungus that has never been in the human diet. NEVER. There is no clinical evidence that adding DHA and ARA to infant formula provides any developmental benefits. I’m going to stand on a mountain and shout this so everyone can hear it.
THIS IS JUST A MARKETING PLOY!
Oh yeah, and remember the synthetic preservatives we spoke about earlier, ascorbyl palmitate and beta-carotene? It is the bad stuff that gets added to preserve useless stuff that humans have never digested. Send your emails to DSM
Nature’s One is the only company that doesn’t use this type of DHA ARA. They use a water-extracted product that comes from eggs. That doesn’t make it any more beneficial, just less harmful. They also have DHA and ARA free formula.
All in all, there is no need to be reluctant to use an organic all natural baby formula. It may not be as good as a real breast milk, but it comes close. As we have seen, breastfeeding is largely beneficial for the child, but commercially produced baby formula is the next best thing. Some women prefer formulas because the child won’t latch on, or they experience discomfort. Some women suffer from medical conditions that prevent them from breastfeeding, which makes the baby formula a necessary alternative.
Please do not make your own formula. All evidence leads us to believe this is a bad idea. Also, if you are going to look at milk donation, please research this properly. Speak to a professional and stay away from peer networks that do not do any kind of screening or pasteurizing.
If you are going to do both breastfeeding any formula feeding, please speak to your pediatrician. They may want to put you on a schedule so that you milk doesn’t dry up.
In the end, make sure you get a second opinion from your doctor about breastfeeding and baby formulas. Be sure you check any anomalies with your child when breastfeeding, or using a formula to avoid potentially dangerous situations. Remember, the safety and health of your infant should be your number one priority.