The Facts of Formula

When I had my son, breast feeding did not come easy to me. The shape of my nipples, the fact that it took 5 days for my milk to come in at all, the fact that my baby had a shallow pallet…all of these things were against us. It can be really scary and stressful when you feel solely responsible for feeding your child and that ability is completely out of your control. Like many women, I had no choice but to supplement temporarily with formula. This situation required that I learn the facts about formula and what my options as a mama were. This is what I learned:

The first thing I did was start researching some of the leading brands…here in the US that is. I was surprised at some of the ingredients I was finding in brands that claimed to be “the most like breast milk”. I am pretty sure breast milk isn’t treated with rBST. What that lead me to was the realization that our FDA is of the most lenient food and drug administrations in all of the developed world. The FDA allows more than 26,000 ingredients that are banned in other countries. This is really concerning as a mother. Why did other countries choose to ban these ingredients? And why does our government think that my baby needs to be less protected than a baby from the UK?

On the bottom of the label for Similac (the leading US formula brand), one can find an asterisks with the sentence “No significant difference has been shown between milk derived from rBST-treated and non-rBST-treated cows”. If this sentence is any indication of what else they can’t find a “significant difference” with, I do not feel comfortable feeding this to my child.

If you don’t know what rBST is, its an antibiotic that is used on cows that are being over milked. Over milking causes open sores and irritations on their udders and those sores get infected. Those infected udders produce infected blood and puss that then gets into the dairy products. The rBST is used to ensure that the infected “biproduct” (gross) will not pass the infection to the product itself. Other than this being absolutely disgusting, what this causes is an “allowable” amount of antibiotics to be in the dairy products that we are consuming. As many of us know, the over use of antibiotics can cause a resistance to antibiotics or what are known as “super bugs”- illnesses that are resistant to antibiotics. Do I want to be giving my newborn baby an introduction to cattle antibiotics as a welcome into this world? No. To me, there is absolutely a “significant difference” and that is where our friends in Europe come in.


I began reading about some of Europe’s favorite formula brands and what I found impressed me. Right before my son was born Holle (one of the leading European formula brands) introduced Stage Pre. A formula that uses Demeter milk fat and cuts down on plant oils, as well as uses lactose as it’s sweetener. What is Demeter Milk? Demeter farms must strictly adhere to EU organic regulations (which ban the use and sale of rBST) and, moreover, to the even more stringent international Demeter regulations. Demeter farms allow their cows to graze on pastures – free of pesticides or chemical fertilizers – and is the reason for the superior quality of the milk produced. Demeter farmers also avoid the painful dehorning of cows. You may think this is just a nice thing to do but there's more to it. The dehorning of cows actually sends out hormones specifically to the digestive system of the cow. From the moment the cow has been dehorned the milk produced is no longer the same, the milk changes its structure on a molecular level. 


HiPP is another brand loved by the EU. HiPP uses a network of 8,000 selected organic farmers and is actually the world’s largest producer of organic raw materials.

The brands that I found by searching beyond the US showed me that having higher expectations of what I feed my child is something that is common place everywhere but here. With the wonderful world of the internet, it isn’t hard to make a better choice for your little one than what is found on our supermarket shelves. Being able to feel confident in the quality of what you feed your child and having the peace of mind that they will receive the nutrition they need- with or without you- is invaluable. That is a “significant difference” to me.

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