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  • Writer's picturevancevoetberg

Ditch The Formula. Breast is Best.

Updated: 9 hours ago

"It's not poison!" says a mom on TikTok as she scoops Enfamil, a popular baby formula, into her daughter's bottle. "I feel like there's such a negative connotation around formula feeding." The top comments on the viral post read as follows:


  • "I've always used formula!!! My kids are fine!! Do what's best for you."


  • "I've always used formula because I didn't want to BF [breastfeed]. They survived just fine 🤷🏻‍♀️"


  • "BF and pumping are so much harder than people make it seem, tbh."


  • "Yes! Fed is best, and a happy mama is all that matters. The stress of pumping 😫"


 

Known as the #FedIsBest campaign, the notion that formula is coequal to breastmilk has infiltrated the social media algorithms of new and expectant mothers.


The objective reality is that no formula can ever mirror the nutrition of a mother's milk, regardless of what the $54 billion formula industry claims.


The relativistic mantras of "do what's best for you!" and "a happy mama is all that matters!" are not grounded in science or wisdom. You see, fed is not best.

 

On the back of formula bottles, a mom sees an extensive list of essential vitamins and minerals. Along with the Pediatrician Recommended label on the front, the listed nutrients bring peace of mind to the mother.


"Wow," she might think, "this formula will give my baby the nutrients he needs to develop and thrive." What the label fails to tell the mom, however, is the quality of the vitamins and minerals used in infant formula.

 

Vitamins & Minerals In Infant Formula?

Most formula makers (including Enfamil) use petroleum-derived synthetic vitamins rather than nature-made vitamin compounds.


Our bodies have a much more challenging time recognizing, utilizing, and storing synthetic vitamins as compared to vitamins found in their natural form. In addition to being less bioavailable, research indicates that synthetic vitamins like folic acid may damage DNA and harm neurodevelopment.


Turns out petrochemicals don't provide the most quality nutrients for babies. Shocking, I know.


Multiple studies have found that the concentrations of minerals in popular infant formula brands are actually higher than the recommended daily intake. More minerals, healthier babies? Not quite. Excessive mineral intake is associated with all sorts of serious health consequences.

 

What the Research Says

There have been hundreds of studies comparing the health, development, and welfare of breastfed children versus those who've been formula-fed. There's not a single study that has found formula feeding to be equally beneficial as breastfeeding. (I even searched "infant formula healthy as breastmilk" and "benefits of infant formula" in the PubMed database to try to find one. No luck.)


The research consistently, overwhelmingly, and unequivocally reaffirms breastmilk's superiority.

 

Skinny Babies, Fat Kids

Interestingly, researchers have repeatedly observed that from the 0-12 month range, breastfed children are chubbier while formula-fed babies are leaner. But at about 1 year, this trend reverses, with formula-fed babies taking on additional weight while the breastfed babies start to lean out.


Formula feeding makes babies lean when it's optimal for them to be round, and kids chubby when it's optimal for them to shed their baby fat. In conjunction with this unfortunate trend, studies have found that babies who were only formula fed are more likely to be obese through childhood and adolescence.


This is high-key foreseeable, considering that many formula makers employ corn syrup and seed oils as staple ingredients.

 

Breastmilk's Immune-Building Powers

Unlike formula, breastmilk is bioactive and dynamic, continually adapting to the baby's needs. As one 2023 study  published in Nutrients notes, "During a mother’s infection, the abundance of some immune cells in her milk increases significantly, which enhances the baby’s ability to protect itself against infection."


Protection against infections during lactation against acute and prolonged diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, urinary tract infection, neonatal septicemia, and necrotizing enterocolitis, is well-documented.


Breastfeeding reports lower risks of asthma and autoimmune diseases.


A 2024 study published in JAMA Pediatrics found that babies who are exclusively breastfed up to six months are 20% less likely to develop cancer, including leukemiathe most common childhood cancer.

 

Breastmilk Makes For Smarter Kids

As reported in a 2019 study, breastfeeding is positively associated with several outcomes reflecting early brain development and cognitive functioning. "Brain neuroimaging studies have shown that exclusively breastfed children have increased white matter and subcortical gray matter volume compared to formula-fed children," the report noted.


A separate meta-analysis of 11 studies found that breastfeeding was associated with "significantly higher scores" for cognitive development than was formula feeding.

 

Breastfeeding Is Hard

I won't claim breastfeeding is easy, because it's not. I don't know this from personal experience, of course🫃🏻. But I've had many conversations with my mother and four sisters about the challenges that come with breastfeeding.


Despite the discomfort and feelings of frustration and inadequacy, my mom and sisters have breastfed all their babies thus far. (Mom, I am forever grateful for your perseverance and selflessness!) Below are some words of inspiration from my mom and sisters:


I breastfed 10 children and I loved it! But the first two weeks after the birth of my first child were very challenging. I was thankful for help from the hospital’s lactation specialist before I was discharged. Without my husband’s support to honor my desire to breastfeed (and not make the midnight run to the 7-11 to buy the formula I was requesting) I may have quit. I try to tell moms about the unexpected pain and possible frustration of those first couple of weeks postpartum. For subsequent births, my husband would let me be alone on the day my milk came in, helping me just focus on my latching baby and managing the pain of engorgement. - Lisa, my superhero of a mom.
Breastfeeding my twins for over a year required all my focus, as I ate and drank to produce milk for two little boys. But it was worth the sacrifice and effort. - Brice, mother of nine.
Breastfeeding my first born was so much more painful and difficult than I ever expected. I didn’t realize how much help I would need. I received support from several lactation consultants as well as other experienced mothers and was able to overcome a difficult latch and low milk supply. I understand that caregivers don’t want new mothers to feel extra pressure or fear that they are failing their babies, but I feel that if more mothers were told the truth about the disadvantages of using formula, they wouldn’t be so quick to give up on the effort of learning to breastfeed. It is worth the effort, even if it requires lots of support and hard work! - Liddy, mother of five.
The key to a good milk supply is quality nutrition and lots of it. I'm so thankful I breastfeed my babies. It's so important for their health as well as mine. - Annie, mother of two.
"I chose to breastfeed my babies because I love them. - Lilja, mother of four.
 

Something I can attest to is how cool my mom and sisters are. Each one of them is beautiful, intelligent, healthy, and truly joyful. This is to say that breastfeeding doesn't stop you from being all those things.


Ditch the formula. Breast is best.

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1 Comment


Kevin Munson
Kevin Munson
Jun 20

Good info V.

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