There are numerous myths regarding the substitution of breastmilk with a formula for infants. Today, I will debunk eleven of the most prevalent myths about baby formula.
Nothing can indeed replace the goodness in mother’s milk for babies. However, some mothers have to look for the exact swap of breastmilk for their infants due to some valid reasons. Hence, they opt for baby formula instead, which is an alternative to breastmilk!
Whatever the reason for choosing formula is, most mothers fear the social repercussions of not being able to feed their baby breastmilk; some people believe in invalid myths instilled by elders about baby formula. So, I have decided to bust 11 of the prevalent myths related to baby formula and formula-fed babies!
11 Myths Debunked regarding Baby Formula and Formula-Fed Babies
Myth 1: Formula-Fed Babies Will Lack Brain Development
This is the first misconception and false belief that most mothers fear feeding their babies formula milk. Of course, mother’s milk has valuable nutrients, but the formula is a close, if not an exact substitute for it.
A baby’s brain and IQ development are mostly inherited from genes, or, it is affected by the mother’s iron intake during pregnancy.
There is little or no chance of an impact on the brain development of formula-fed babies. Many studies have been conducted among preschoolers, comparing the IQ of breastfed and formula-fed babies. The results concluded that breastfeeding has nothing to do with a child’s intelligence.
Myth 2: Formula-Fed Babies Will be Obese
Several preliminary studies show formula-fed babies and infants suffer from obesity in their teens and adult life. However, the data does not prove that their obesity is caused due to formula feeding. Furthermore, the studies could not provide evidence to justify that formulas have any obesity-causing ingredients in them.
Obesity in adults is mostly due to genetic factors. On the other hand, it is caused by unhealthy eating in kids. Moreover, the obesity in formula-fed babies did not take parenting into consideration. Parents tend to overfeed babies with formula milk compared to a mother who limits breastmilk feeding after a certain time.
Myth 3: Formula-Fed Babies Sleep Longer
If this myth was true, then all the parents with a newborn would simply feed their babies formula milk instead of breastmilk. According to this myth, formula milk is thicker than breastmilk and takes a long time to digest, due to which babies do not feel hungry at night. Hence, they don’t wake up crying for food.
But all parents know that babies cry at night due to several reasons. They can suffer from indigestion, gas, and lots of other issues. It is a natural phase in every infant’s first three months of life.
Small-sample research in 2003 showed that formula milk helps babies to sleep quickly, but it did not have enough evidence to show that formula-fed babies sleep longer at night.
Myth 4: Formula-Fed Babies Get Frequent Ear Infections
There’s a myth that babies who drink formula milk get frequent ear infections over the years.
Mother’s milk has naturally-produced probiotics, which help babies fight infection. So babies who drink mother’s milk have a 2% lesser risk of getting an ear infection, which means the rate of infection drops from 7% to 5%. As a result, if breastfed babies avoid 95% of ear infections, formula-fed babies will avoid 93% of the ear infections. The difference is insignificant.
Myth 5: Formula-Fed Babies Cannot Bond with Their Mother
This myth has arisen from several baseless studies in the past that not breastfeeding a child will damage long-term bonding with parents and with the mother in particular. While breastfeeding, the mother’s body releases feel-good hormones like oxytocin and dopamine; however, it’s not the milk that creates the bonding.
Breastfeeding indeed gives you more time and opportunity to have skin-to-skin contact and face-to-face interaction with your baby that strengthen the bond. However, you can create that bond if you consider these two factors even when you feed your baby formula.
You have to compensate for the skin-to-skin interaction at other times if you are not breastfeeding. So, hold your baby tightly to your skin while feeding them the bottle, look into their eyes, and talk to them. Fathers can have this amazing time with their babies too.
If you enjoy formula-feeding to your baby, then do it! Babies can instinctively feel their mother’s joy and happiness.
Myth 6: Formula-Fed Babies Develop Milk Allergies
Don’t worry; your decision to feed your baby formula won’t put their health at risk. There is no concrete evidence that shows formula feeding increases food allergies among infants and babies.
In fact, a study has declared that feeding babies formula made from cow’s milk in their early stage of life decreases milk allergy risk by 88%. So, if you feed your baby cow-milk formula, there is a lesser chance of them developing milk allergy in their teens and adult life.
Myth 7: Formula Means Poison
It is one of the insensitive myths that has made new parents sleep-deprived all these years. The formula is NOT poison; in fact, it is made from vital nutrients that are also found in breast milk. Nowadays, formulas are made from organic and mostly fish, vegetables, and plant-derived ingredients, which ensure they are wholesome.
Fats, carbohydrates, protein, vitamins- all are packed inside formula similar to breast milk. You can check out some organic formula reviews to gain more insight knowledge about them. You can be assured to buy formula for your child as they are approved only after passing many quality tests for safe consumption.
Myth 8: Formula Cannot Compare to Breastmilk
The fact is that formula is made with similar nutritional value as breastmilk. Formula feeding has evolved a lot. Scientists and pediatricians have worked together to create baby formulas with protein, vitamins, and minerals.
The proportion is meticulously selected, tested, and trialed before incorporating them into the formula. The nutrients perfectly replicate breastmilk. The only factor that differentiates formula milk from mother’s milk is immune support. Breast milk supports the immune system of the baby, while formula milk cannot. Other than that, everything else comes exceptionally close.
Due to this reason, many new moms fear switching to breastfeeding even if they face issues. However, if you have any breastfeeding issues, you can choose a formula by consulting your child’s pediatrician.
Myth 9: Switching Formulas Solves Feeding Issues
If you feed both formula and breast milk to your baby, then there are more chances that the baby will initially refuse the bottle. This is because babies are more inclined to their mother’s breast milk naturally. So, in this case, choose a bottle that is similar to the breast. Also, the bottle’s nipple should mimic the breast’s nipple to deceive the baby into thinking that they are having breast milk.
When parents see that their baby is not accepting bottled milk, they tend to constantly switch the formula. However, it is not appropriate to frequently change formula milk as it can cause digestion problems due to the baby’s sensitive stomach. So, consult a pediatrician if you are facing similar issues.
Myth 10: Babies Love Warm Formula
It is not true that you have to feed warm formula to your baby. You can feed freshly prepared room-temperature formula or even slightly cold out from the fridge formula to your baby. Babies love their formula at a consistent temperature, which helps them relate to their food. So, if you are feeding warm formula, keep feeding them warm constantly.
Myth 11: Branded Formula is Best and Safe for Babies
Branded formulas give the customer a sense of satisfaction and safety that they are buying the best for their little bundle of joy. The main thing that you have to check about formula milk is whether they are FDA-certified or not. It means they have been through many quality management processes for providing the best output to customers.
Branded does not mean you have to spend a huge chunk of money on your baby’s food. Depending on your family budget, there are many store-brand formulas out there too. In addition, these store brands do not spend millions of bucks on advertisements, and thus, their formulas are comparatively cheaper.
There is nothing compared to mother’s milk for babies. Not only babies but moms also benefit from breastfeeding their child; one of the advantages is lowered breast cancer risk.
However, breastfeeding is not easy. Most of the moms suffer from breastfeeding issues, where the top concern is low milk supply. So, if you are one of those moms, don’t hesitate to switch to formula feeding. Don’t worry; you are not depriving your child of anything. Especially, don’t pay heed to these myths. Do consult an experienced friend, a lactation consultant, or even a pediatrician to get the best formula for your baby.