Thursday 22 November 2012

Formula Feeding vs. Breastfeeding

This is always an interesting topic because everyone has an opinion on it and there's a lot of emotion around it as well. I will be bold enough to say that most of the emotionally delivered opinions are from the PRO-breastfeeding and ANTI-formula feeding people. After saying that, I respect that everyone has their own opinions about the topic even though I may not agree with them or even listen when their opinions are delivered in way similar to drill sergeants or bible-thumping pastors.

I'm not going to talk much about the pros and cons of what I call the "Boob versus Bottle" debate - you can find that information easily online. Instead, I will share my experiences as a parent of a formula-fed baby who is now turning 5 years old next month. I hope by sharing my experience, it will help relax anxious parents or parents-to-be with formula-fed babies (whether you have a choice or not) and assure your babies won't turn out to be stupid, unhealthy, ugly, unpopular burdens on society. God knows that there's a lot of finger-waving, preaching, fear mongering people out there who want to make you believe so and feel uber guilty.

I don't deny the benefits of breastfeeding. A plethora of reports and studies support that - and man, do I love studies as someone who has completed two degrees including a statistically heavy thesis with uber amounts of data and analysis. I openly admit that I am an information whore! Given this, if one decides to or has the opportunity to breastfeed (or use breast milk), I fully support that. After saying that, if one decides not to (I believe to each their own) or cannot provide breast milk (like many of us SCI clients), formula is just fine.

Keep in mind, even with studies, it's all about tendencies and probabilities. That's why you never see words like "will do this" but you see words like "can do this". For example, just because your baby receives breast milk, there's no guarantee that your baby won't have ear infections. It means breast milk can (not will) lower the occurrence of ear infections - you still have babies, who are given breast milk, develop ear infections. Breast milk may also protect children against allergies, asthma, diabetes, and obesity. But we all know children who were breastfed who have allergies, asthma, diabetes, and obesity. You get what I am saying. There are just so other factors that may contribute to these medical conditions, both environmental and genetic.

Yes, we want to give our babies a good start to life even if it's only a possibility and not a guarantee; however, if our babies don't get breast milk, it's not the end of the world. My son was formula fed since birth and he has never had an ear infection or many of the other cited medical conditions *knock on wood*. He was never sick as a baby, rarely sick as a toddler, and as a preschooler, he tends to be good as well even with the sick classmates (who their REALLY REALLY REALLY BAD parents willingly and knowingly drop off at school). You can probably guess my stance on this side issue :)

So again, I appreciate that breast milk can provide a good start but never think formula means that's it for your child. Formula can never replace breast milk but formula has come a long way. You are also not feeding your baby some toxin (although I'm sure some would disagree with me). In the end, I am not here to encourage or discourage the use of breast or formula milk when available. I am here to say that formula is just fine and that looking out for our children's health and safety does not just start and end at the baby stage - it continues for many years after that.

PS - I will add, for my son, I did try three brands before I found one that worked for him. Each brand also has different types (e.g., regular versus lactose-free). What you select just depends on your little one. This motivates me to bring different brands with me for baby pick-up if all progresses according to plan; however, I don't recall if the stores at Select Citywalk offers multiple brands for sale.

Thank you for letting me share this part of my world with you!

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