As you may know, roughly 80 percent of all infants in the U.S. are fed at least some infant formula during their first year, according to the USDA. Infant formula is a healthy option for millions of moms who can't or don't want to breastfeed for whatever reason. I feel strongly about getting the word out about store brand infant formula because it's nutritionally the same as name brand formula but up to 50 percent less expensive. Although "breast is best" and the ultimate bargain because it's homemade, what's really best is the feeding choice that's right for you and your baby. For some moms, it's formula, preferably the store brand. For me, it was breastfeeding because it turned out to be easy.
When my first daughter was born, I was glad to know I had formula as a back-up in case the whole breastfeeding thing just wasn't happening. But after the nurse in the hospital showed me the football hold, which I quickly abandoned, I was off into breastfeeding nirvana and running the breastaurant 24/7. In fact, breastfeeding went so well that I never called the baby nurse I had on standby when I got home from the hospital. My baby was a good sleeper and eater. And there was a lot to eat! All told, I never used a drop of formula because, well, I didn't have to.
Same with baby #2. Both my girls were among the 20 percent of infants in the U.S. who are breastfed exclusively for their first six months, just like the AAP recommends, and nonexclusively after that. No lactation consultants necessary. Bonus: The pregnancy pounds just melted off, and then some. For the first time in my life, I was skinny. I could eat anything and everything. "The next book I'm going to write is 'The Breastfeeding Diet,'" I joked to my husband.
But breastfeeding, especially easy breastfeeding, has a downside—and that's stopping. When people learn you're breastfeeding, they want to know how long you're going to keep it up. If you're still at it at six months, good for you. But after a year, buzzer. Time's up! Trouble was my second daughter, who never used a pacifier, got hooked on the pacifier-boob and showed no signs of wanting to stop breastfeeding at a year. When she was 16 months old, I remember nursing her discreetly on a bench at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City—with coifed elderly women passing us, giving me horrified looks, which surprised me. This is New York City, people! Aren't you all supposed to be open-minded? You have to accept everything else, but this you can't deal with? Clearly, to that generation, breastfeeding a toddler was crossing a line. Or maybe it was breastfeeding period because breastfeeding hasn't always been so popular a concept. But even I began to wonder, when is this going to stop? How do I turn off the spigot?
For the longest time, my boob-addict baby then toddler was down to just one feeding at bedtime. I kept waiting for her to lose interest or say something like, "Mommy. I think I'm too big for this now." Instead, I got nothing. I began to realize it was up to me to cut her off. So finally, one day I just said, "Okay, this is getting ridiculous. That's it. You're done." I shut down the breastaurant completely, cold turkey. She was 3 years and 4 months by then. That's old by most people's breastfeeding standards, I know. Even for my go-with-the-flow standards. What can I say? Breastfeeding forever worked for me until it just didn't. But if I were going to do it all over again, I'd definitely give my baby a pacifier.
Sandra Gordon is a consumer products expert, a writer, and a mother of two. She has appeared on NBC's Today Show and as a baby safety expert on The Discovery Health Channel's “Make Room for Baby.” A Consumer Reports author, her latest book is Save a Bundle: 50+ Ways to Save Big on Baby Gear.
Read Bio »
It's called formula for a reason™