What should I know about infant formula?

Parents consider giving their babies formula for many reasons. In some cases it is medically necessary. At other times, mom may believe that her milk supply is low (and thus think that formula is needed) when her supply is just fine.  In the vast majority of cases, formula is not medically necessary. If you feel that your baby genuinely has a need for formula supplementation (or your baby’s doctor has suggested or recommended it), then contact a lactation consultant (preferably IBCLC) for guidance. A good lactation consultant can assess the need for supplementation and guide you in the use of supplements so as to preserve the nursing relationship. Here is some information on how to find a lactation consultant.

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Keep in mind that formula does come with its own set of risks, and every mother needs to be aware of those so she can make a truly informed decision on whether to use it or not. The use of formula can, and often does, sabatage and/or shorten the nursing relationship, not to mention the various health risks.

I do not want to imply that breastfeeding has to be “all or nothing” – any amount of breastfeeding is beneficial to both mom and baby. I do, however, want moms to be informed on this issue, as most are not nearly as aware of these risks as they need to be.

Many knowledgable authors have put together information on this subject, and I really don’t think I can say it better than they can. Following are some links to information on infant formula.


Just One Bottle?

Need to use formula? Here are some specifics…

Articles on infant formula (health effects)

Soy Formula

Formula Marketing

Information from breastfeeding advocacy & formula industry watchdog groups

  • IBFAN (The International Baby Food Action Network) works to achieve universal implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes and subsequent, relevant Resolutions of the World Health Assembly and to encourage all appropriate parties to abide by them.
  • National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy NABA REAL functions to educate the public, state and federal legislators, policymakers, government agencies, and the health care system about breastfeeding and the hazards of not breastfeeding.

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