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Infant Feeding Choices: No Guilt Necessary

The following article appeared on Expect the Best Pregnancy on January 24, 2012.

As a health professional, I recommend breastfeeding as the gold standard of infant nutrition. When mom is well-nourished, breast milk offers top notch nutrition for her baby.

I'm also a mother, and, out of necessity, I am practical.

I know that breastfeeding isn't right for every family, which is why it's important for moms to feel confident about their infant feeding decision, which may include using infant formula.

Unfortunately, baby formula is a source for much maternal angst.

According to a study of 1,900 expectant first-time moms and those with kids one year old and younger, more than 40% of them feel guilty about using formula instead of breastfeeding, which may be why so many of them say that they're willing to overspend on formula. Sixty-eight percent (68%) believe a heftier price tag for formula means that it's a better quality product than store brands, such as those sold by Target and Walgreens.

That's not true.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, all formula marketed in the U.S. must meet the same nutrient specifications, which are set at levels to fulfill the needs of infants. You're not paying more for better quality; you're paying more – up to $600.00 a year - for national brand packaging and advertising.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests breastfeeding for one year, or longer. But the reality is that more than 80% of moms use infant formula exclusively until solid foods are introduced or they supplement with formula within the first six months of life.

I fed my three kids breast milk and infant formula, sometimes on the same day. At the time, I was working outside the home and the breast/bottle strategy made the most sense.

Feeling guilty about what you feed your baby is a heavy burden that no mom should bear. Maybe you wanted to nurse your child and it just didn't work out. Perhaps you planned not to breastfeed. Whatever your choice, nobody has the right to make you feel bad about it. As long as it's safe, always do what's best for you and your family.

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