Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding
There is a continuing battle going on pitting moms against moms. It really makes me sad to see controversies over different parenting styles, whether it be over co-sleeping, baby wearing, discipline, etc. Aren’t we all just doing what we need to for our family? We are all different, and this fact results in different parenting techniques and styles. This especially holds true when it comes to breastfeeding vs. formula feeding.
I had a great opportunity to visit with Dr. Lisa Thornton, pediatrician (and mom) about infant formula. She shared some great information both from mom and doctor points of view.
Why are people so anti-formula?
This argument actually swings both ways. In the 1960s, those breastfeeding babies were certainly in the minority. Since then, the pendulum has swung back in the other direction.
No one can argue with the nutritional benefits of breastfeeding. The reason it is so highly recommended is because of the beneficial nutrients passed through breastmilk (some not yet discovered) to the infant. The biggest one that we know of is immunity. Without being able to vaccinate newborns and infants, this is a way to protect them, which can result in fewer infections.
With that being said, Moms have to do what works for them. NO GUILT!! We have enough to feel guilty about, so drop the formula battle and do what is best for you and your family. In fact, if you are stressed about breastfeeding for any reason, your baby knows it and you can actually decrease your ability to make breast milk (which can add even more stress). If breastfeeding does not work, baby formula is wonderful, adequate and the only alternative recommended by pediatricians for a mom who cannot (or chooses not) to breastfeed. Switching to formula in these instances can lead to much less emotional tension for some moms.
Is one formula better than another (i.e. store brand vs. name brand)?
The most important thing to look for when choosing baby formula is the type – milk-based formula, partially hydrolyzed gentle formula, soy formula, etc. That is what matters.
The FDA holds all formula companies to the same standards. All infant formulas sold in the United States must meet these same standards. You just pay more for fancy packaging and brand names. If you review the labels and compare ingredients and levels of nutrients, there is no difference (nutritionally) between store brand infant formulas and nationally advertised brands.
Some babies may still have issues with one brand vs. another, so you should always speak with your pediatrician when it comes to infant feeding decisions.
One important fact that you should know about is that store brand formulas are manufactured in the United States in a facility based in northern Vermont. Like the more expensive advertised brands, store brand formulas are manufactured in FDA-inspected facilities. Store brand formulas have to meet the same nutritional, packaging, and safety standards.
Do you have to stick with the same brand of formula?
There have been studies done to see if switching formula brands affected children negatively and the results showed that switching formula is safe and well tolerated by infants. You can change from name brand to store brand to a different store brand – allowing you to buy the least expensive brand if you want to.
Honestly, moms have enough stress. Formula should not be an issue. You don’t have to sweat it. You can read more at
Is there anything parents should know about mixing formula?
Formula needs to be properly mixed according to the package instructions on the label. Don’t dilute it! It is dangerous for your baby if you don’t mix it properly. For example, don’t use 2 scoops to make 24 ounces of formula; this will dilute the formula with fewer nutrients. If you dilute powdered formula your baby will get too much water, potentially causing water intoxication, which can be deadly. It is imperative to follow the package directions exactly. It is also important not to use hot water so you do not burn the baby’s throat. Be sure to use lukewarm or room temperature water when mixing.
Can you leave formula out for several hours and then feed it to your baby?
Check the labels to know for sure. You can prepare formula in advance and keep it in your fridge for up to a day. The reason you should not to let it sit out for too long is that it can spoil and develop bacteria. Compare it to a glass of milk left out overnight: While it may not necessarily be bad for you, it may not taste very good.
Should parents put cereal in milk to help babies sleep?
It is not recommended to feed babies cereal until around 6 months. As far as placing cereal in the bottle, I do not really recommend it, but you should talk to your doctor.
Do you need to sterilize bottles?
No, there is no need for that. Just make sure that they are clean before using. Wash them in hot water after each use and allow them to dry before using and you should be fine.
I really loved what Dr. Lisa had to say at the end of our interview:
“It is not one thing that makes kids one way or another! So many factors make a good parent. We just need to lighten up and just do our best to parent our kids.”