That’s not the case.
Before you offer artificial infant formula to your baby, consider that when you buy formula, you are:
… buying into the myth that formula is “almost as good.”
For years, formula manufacturers have been selling us on the idea that their products are just as good as breastfeeding. (In some cases, they’ve worked hard to suggest that the formula is even better than breastmilk.) You won’t be surprised that I’ll tell you it’s not.
A mother’s milk is a miracle substance. It provides more than nutrition—it provides living cells! Through her milk, the mother provides a “remote control” immune system for her baby, one that is highly responsive to the germs in their shared environment. Formula cannot do that. There are no living cells in infant formula.
Infant formula is “almost as good” as a mother’s own milk in the same way that a 1-carat perfect cubic zirconia may be “almost as good” as a 1-carat perfect diamond, or a Rolls Royce is “almost as good” as a Volkswagon. Their basic appearance and purpose are the same, but that’s where the similarities end.
… giving your baby less than the best.
There are piles—and I’m talking piles that are perhaps 12 stories high—of scientific studies showing the superiority of human milk for human babies, in terms of growth and development. There’s no question about this. As Derrick Jelliffe said in the 1970s: “Breast is best”! By now, it’s a fact, not an opinion. (And we see that breastfeeding is important to babies’ health and mothers’!)
It may be uncomfortable to hear this, but if you are giving your human baby something other than human milk, you are giving him less than the best that you have available.
… disempowering yourself and your body.
For decades, I’ve heard concern that we shouldn’t talk about this breastfeeding, out of concern for “those women who can’t breastfeed.”
I know that there are mothers who cannot breastfeed. There are also mothers who have four kidneys, one arm, and bifurcated uteri. Yet, they produce and pass urine, pick up and carry items and babies, and conceive and bear children. With rare exceptions, women can breastfeed.
Those who say they “can’t” breastfeed are lacking either the internal motivation or the external support—or both. It may be negative feedback from others, labor practices that get breastfeeding off to a bad start, or lack of confidence or any of myriad other things that undercut breastfeeding, but in the vast majority of cases it isn’t that the mother’s body can’t make milk.
… empowering Big Business to create your child’s growth and ill-being.
That’s right, I said “ill-being.” Each year, it seems we have more scientific studies that show formula-feeding results in ill health, both in the short-term (when babies are at higher risk of ear infection, gastrointestinal illness, respiratory infection, and SIDS) and long-term (when those who were formula-fed are at higher risk of diabetes, and other problems). Even one bottle can make a difference to your baby’s microbiome.
… trusting the FDA to control formula safety and efficacy (when maybe you shouldn’t).
The FDA doesn’t test infant formula before it hits the market. The agency does establish guidelines for manufacturers, but it relies heavily on industry self-regulation. There are problems with this system, as I discussed with special guest Dr. George Kent recently and wrote elsewhere.
What have you heard about infant formula?