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.
- Supplementation of the Breastfed Baby: “Just One Bottle Won’t Hurt”—or Will It? by Marsha Walker, RN, IBCLC
- The Case for the Virgin Gut: Even the Occasional Bottle of Formula Has Its Risks by Ann Calandro, RNC, IBCLC
- It’s Not Just About Breastfeeding by Danielle Rigg, JD CLC
- When It Has to be Formula: Optimizing the Health of Your Formula-Fed Baby by Dr. Linda Folden Palmer
- A guide to infant formula for parents who are bottle feeding from the Baby Friendly Initiative
- Guide to bottle feeding from the National Health Service, UK, and the UNICEF UK Baby Friendly Initiative
- WHO Guidelines for the safe preparation, storage and handling of powdered infant formula
- The do’s and don’ts of safe formula feeding by Teresa Pitman
- Bottle-Feeding Information from AskDrSears.com, including info on choosing a formula, how much & how often, safety tips, etc.
- US Food & Drug Administration information on infant formula
- Store brand or brand name formula? Store-brand formulas [were] found in federal court to be nutritionally equivalent to and confer the same developmental benefits as the more expensive national brands. More on this here.
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Hypoallergenic Infant Formulas (Policy Statement). Pediatrics. Vol. 121 No. 1 January 2008, pp. 183-191. Note: Formulas can be labeled hypoallergenic if 90% of infants with documented cow’s milk allergy will not react to the formula. This means that up to 10% of babies with cow’s milk allergy may be allergic to a hypoallergenic formula.
- Infant Formula: Evaluating the Safety of New Ingredients, Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, 2004.
- Financial costs of not breastfeeding @
- What Breastmilk Has That Formulas Don’t by Jennifer Rebecca Thomas, MD, FAAP, IBCLC
- Breastfeeding and Public Health from the Massachusetts Breastfeeding Coalition
- The deadly influence of formula in America By Dr. Linda Folden Palmer, originally published on Natural Family Online, Feb. 2004; updated April 2006.
- Recalls of Infant Feeding Products from the National Alliance for Breastfeeding Advocacy
- Contaminants In Infant Formula that Caused Infections
- Opinion adopted by the BIOHAZ Panel of the European Food Safety Authority related to the microbiological risks in infant formulae and follow-on formulae, 23 November 2004
- Commentary on formulas supplemented with DHA & ARA (@ )
- A Fresh Look at the Risks of Artificial Infant Feeding from the Journal of Human Lactation, June 1993.
- Did you know that infant formulas are not FDA- approved? Per the FDA, “No, FDA does not approve infant formulas before they can be marketed. However, all formulas marketed in the United States must meet federal nutrient requirements and infant formula manufacturers must notify the FDA prior to marketing a new formula. If an infant formula manufacturer does not provide the elements and assurances required in the notification for a new or reformulated infant formula, the formula is defined as adulterated under Section 412(a)(1) of the FFDCA and FDA has the authority to take compliance action if the new infant formula is marketed.”
- American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Nutrition. Use of Soy Protein-Based Formulas in Infant Feeding (Policy Statement). Pediatrics. Vol. 121 No. 5 May 2008, pp. 1062-1068.
- Soy Protein Formula Paediatric Policy from the The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (November 2006)
- Soy-Based Infant Formula – Information for Parents (Nov 2005) from the New Zealand Ministry of Health
- Position Statement on the use of Soya Protein for Infants (February 2004) from the Paediatric Group of the British Dietetic Association
- Cao Y, et al. Isoflavones in urine, saliva, and blood of infants: data from a pilot study on the estrogenic activity of soy formula. J Expo Sci Environ Epidemiol. 2009 Feb;19(2):223-34.
- Turck D. Soy protein for infant feeding: what do we know? Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2007 May;10(3):360-5.
- Chen A, Rogan WJ. Isoflavones in soy infant formula: a review of evidence for endocrine and other activity in infants. Annu Rev Nutr. 2004;24:33-54.
- Tuohy P. Review Article: Soy infant formula and phytoestrogens. J Paediatr Child Health. 2003 Aug;39(6):401-405.
- Final Report (May 2003) from the Food Standards Agency (UK) Working Group On Phytoestrogens
- Mendez MA, Anthony MS, Arab L. Soy-based formulae and infant growth and development: a review. J Nutr. 2002 Aug;132(8):2127-30.
- Badger TM, et al. The health consequences of early soy consumption. J Nutr. 2002 Mar;132(3):559S-565S.
- Barrett JR. Soy and Children’s Health: A Formula for Trouble? Environ Health Perspect. 2002 Jun;110(6):A294-6.
- More journal articles on infant health and soy formula
- Formula Companies and Free Gifts by Cindy Curtis RN, IBCLC and Maurenne Greise, RNC, BSN, CCE, CBE @ (also includes additional links on this subject)
- 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.