5 Myths About Baby Formula and ‘Formula Babies’ Parents Should Ignore
Baby Formula Myth
#1: Formula-Fed Babies Don’t Bond as Much With Mothers
While it’s true that breastfed babies spend a great deal of time experiencing skin-to-skin contact with their mothers, that does not mean that formula-fed babies are somehow deficient in parental bonding. The idea originally surfaced from old studies suggesting long-term damage to the bonding relationship if a child was not held or breastfed within the first few hours of life.
I don’t think anyone would suggest that there’s scientific evidence that babies fed at the breast do not bond with mothers or fathers appropriately.”
In fact, there are plenty of times for mothers and fathers to bond with babies fed formula from the bottle. And there is simply no reason skin-to-skin contact can’t happen while bottle-feeding. Parents just need to get topless. You’re welcome.
Baby Formula Myth #2: Formula Is Nutritionally Inferior to Breastmilk
There are differences between breast milk and formula, but they have little to do with a child getting the appropriate amount of nutrition. The protein, energy, vitamins and mineral content of formulas has been closely regulated since the 1980s. Any formula sold is required to meet the same nutritional requirements to meet the needs of growing babies.
“Modern formulas are designed to ensure adequate growth,” Abrams explains. “There isn’t a concern about that.” Breast milk does provide immune support that can’t be replicated with baby formula, which is why pediatricians say that breast milk is best for babies. But that doesn’t mean that formula is a bad choice
The increased risk of communicable diseases, allergies or other medical conditions are small enough that baby formula is far from dangerous. “We live here in the United States where many of the conditions associated with immune problems are less common,” Abrams says. “Not breastfeeding is not ideal, but doesn’t fall anywhere near the parenting problem that not immunizing would be.
Baby Formula Myth #3: Expensive Organic Formulas Are Closer to Breastmilk
Because all formula is tightly regulated by federal law, all formulas have to meet specific nutritional requirements. Formula makers, then, need to differentiate their products. This has given rise to organic, GMO-free formulas, and formulas supplemented with additives like supposedly brain-boosting DHA. All of these difference comes with a price, of course.
“For that reason, I tell people when picking a formula, routinely to pick the cheapest one,” Abrams explains. “Some of the things advertised in infant formula, I don’t think provide added value to families.”
Baby Formula Myth #5: Formula Is Never a Good Idea
There are times when formula feeding is important. Sometimes, a mother is simply unable to produce enough breast milk for an infant. Other times there could be health issues around infectious diseases like HIV. Maybe she has to go back to work sooner than she’d like or finds breastfeeding painful. Some women are simply unable to breastfeed or find it too difficult due to surgeries, inverted nipples, pain or social issues that make breastfeeding or pumping a non-starter.
“Mothers should not be hesitant to formula-feed if that’s what their caregiver or pediatrician believes is best for the baby,” Abrams says. “It’s not even close to the end of the world.”