I've already written about my personal story and why I had no choice but to formula feeding over breastfeeding. So today I want to answer the question, once and for all, "Is formula feeding bad for babies?"
Before I start, I do want to preface by saying that I know one of the popular sayings is that "Breast is Best", and that might be partially because breast milk is easier for babies to digest without diarrhea or constipation. Now, this DOESN'T necessarily mean that formula-fed babies will deal with this issue, and so I truly believe that "Fed is Best". Just keep an eye on them, and if the issue persists or you're worried about it, consult your pediatrician. Other than this, though, breast milk is no healthier than formula!
Pediatricians — in fact, Dr. Steven Abrams, who is the chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics' Committee on Nutrition — agree that there is absolutely no basis for asking, "Is formula feeding bad for babies?"
There are a lot of MYTHS about formula and I'm here to dispel them today!
Myth 1: Breast Milk is Healthier
Like I said above, breast milk actually isn't any healthier. And unfortunately you see the myth that it is even on reputable sources: for example, Kids Health says that "breast milk…naturally contains many of the vitamins and minerals that a newborn requires," implying that it's better than formula for that reason. But actually, not only does formula include all of the nutrients that breast milk does, but also, it's safely fortified with Vitamin D, which breast milk is lacking in. That's not to say you SHOULDN'T breastfeed if you can; rather, you'll just need to give your baby a liquid, purified Vitamin D3 supplement.
It is true that breast milk supports your baby's immune function better…or at least it did until recently. Formula feeding in 2019 is a lot different than it was even 10 years ago. So is formula feeding bad for babies? Nope! Nowadays, formulas are scientifically, well, "formulated" to be as similar to breast milk as possible.
Myth 2: Breastfeeding is Better Because of Skin-to-Skin Contact
Yes, skin-to-skin contact is important for babies, but the idea that babies who aren't breastfed don't bond with their mother properly is a MYTH based on an outdated study that has since been debunked. As Dr. Abrams said, "This is the kind of mythology that needs to go away."
As you know, skin-to-skin just means placing your baby belly-down on the chest area, like you do when your baby is first born. But there's no reason mothers and fathers can't do this anyway, like while napping etc. (That way you are also getting a nap…!)
Myth 3: Breastfed Babies are Smarter
Nope!! Turns out, the old myth that breastfed babies are smarter is based on biased evidence, and not accounting for all factors.
The lead researcher in a 2017 study published in Pediatrics talked about how some old studies are inaccurate. Make included that breastfed babies are smarter, but they weren't looking at all the complex variables! These variables include socio-economic status, the mother's diet during pregnancy, and the child's home life and education.
It turns out that the supposed difference between breastfed babies and formula babies was actually just showing up because of those factors. Interesting that no other studies thought to investigate that…!
Anyway, after my experience as a formula-feeding mom, and how positive it actually turned out, I wanted to help any mom who might be feeling guilty about having to opt for formula. It's 2019 and formula is a lot better these days. Unfortunately, that doesn't mean people's opinions will change… but maybe there are some people you can send this article to. 😉