bottle feeding baby

How to Find Safe Baby Formula

We all know breast is best in a perfect world, but alas we are not perfect and as mothers we need to forgive ourselves for not being so. I may not have fed my babies formula but I understand the struggles of motherhood after having 3 children. There are many conflicting views going around about breastfeeding and formula feeding. Ladies, we need to remember we are all on the same side fighting the same fight. I in no way intend to put others down or degrade them. I only look to inform others, as I hope someone would do for me if I was unknowingly harming myself or children. Don’t feel silly for not knowing everything! Large corporations muddy the waters.

I’m sure it’s very frustrating to formula feeding moms when they all get lumped into one category. Many of them wanted to breastfeed but just physically could not. So they do the research and buy the best formula they can find. Yet they still feel like bad moms. Actually, I just read this story by Latched Mama this morning that brought tears to my eyes. It ended with forgiveness and we could all use some of that. Sometimes breastfeeding isn’t possible but you can still provide your baby with the next best option.

bottle feeding baby

One question all formula feeding moms want answered is What is the best formula to feed my baby? Well, it’s not so easy to answer. There is a lot to know about what nutrients a baby needs and what ingredients should be avoided. When I first started my research on formula I knew most brands had GMO’s, which is bad enough but I had only scratched the surface. The more I dove into it the more unsettling news I discovered. It was then I knew this information needed to be shared. So, I’ve done the research for you about healthy alternatives to breastfeeding.

Remember, not all formula is created equally.

If you are expecting your first child or even you sixth, you’ll want to be armed and ready when that baby comes. Those first few weeks are definitely the hardest and that’s when formula companies strike. Be prepared before baby comes so you aren’t taken off guard when you’re handed a free sample of formula. Know which brand or recipe you will use before baby’s arrival so you have a Plan B to fall back on if breastfeeding doesn’t pan out.

Ingredients in Enfamil® Gentlease® updated 2015

Corn syrup solids, partially hydrolyzed nonfat milk and whey protein concentrate solids (soy), vegetable oil (palm olein, soy, coconut and high oleic sunflower oils) and less than 2%: Mortierella alpina oil#, Crypthecodinium cohnii oil**, vitamin A palmitate, vitamin D3, vitamin E acetate, vitamin K1, thiamin hydrochloride, riboflavin, vitamin B6 hydrochloride, vitamin B12, niacinamide, folic acid, calcium pantothenate, biotin, ascorbic acid, choline chloride, inositol, calcium carbonate, calcium phosphate, magnesium phosphate, ferrous sulfate, zinc sulfate, manganese sulfate, cupric sulfate, sodium selenite, sodium citrate, potassium chloride, potassium iodide, taurine and L-carnitine.

Okay, I wouldn’t even eat that myself. When I look at ingredients at the grocery store and I see corn syrup I put the product down and move on. Trying to read ingredients will probably leave your head spinning. There are many labels and certifications with little to no meaning. Fortunately, you don’t need a Ph. D to find a safe formula for your baby.  Here is what you’ll want to know.

Pesticides/Herbicides and GMO’s

These wont be on the list of ingredient but are in most commercial formulas. Pesticides/Herbicides go hand-in-hand with Genetically Modified Organisms. If you are familiar with some of my other blog posts you will know that I’m totally against GMO’s and highly recommend avoiding them where possible. That goes especially for your infant and their one food source. Most commercial formulas are made with GM corn and/or soy, even the ones labeled Non-GMO. In short, the soy or corn is grown using genetically modified seed so it can resist being sprayed with toxic pesticides without dying. The pesticides and herbacides kill all the weeds around it but not the crop. So, not only will the formula contain lab-created genes from an unnatural sources, it will also contain pesticide residue. Does that sound safe to you?

The dairy-based ones are likely to contain milk from cows that are injected with genetically engineered bovine growth hormone (rBGH or rBST). Not to mention these unhealthy cows often end up with infections and are given antibiotics too. The growth hormone is banned in the European Union and in several other countries but not the US. It’s so sad that these companies market these products as safe!

Keep in mind that just because it’s organic it doesn’t make it 100% safe, although it’s a good start. There are still some unsafe ingredients that can be included even with an organic certification.

Palm Oil

Not only is the production of palm oil one of the world’s largest causes of deforestation, it’s also not good for an infant to consume. The presence of palm oil in formula has been found to lower infant calcium and fat absorption, which in turn decreases bone density. Palm oil is used to try to replicate palmitic acid found in human milk but it obviously does a poor job. See the study on this.

Soy

Un-fermented soy should be limited in adults as well as infants, even if it’s non-GMO, due to the phytoestrogens (plant based estrogen). High levels of phytoestrogen have been found in babies fed soy based formula. Although the effects are unknown (similar to BPA) we can assume since they are not the same form our bodies produce, we should try to avoid them if possible. Messing with human hormones is a dangerous thing to do. Fortunately, most babies don’t need a full soy formula unless they have a dairy intolerance. Some soy ingredients may still be added to dairy based recipes but they are in smaller amounts.

DHA/ARA

Although these omegas are found naturally in breastmilk, the forms of these found in formula are structurally different than those found in human milk. They are extracted from factory produced fermented algae and fungus. These would never be found in nature and are not meant to be part of an infants diet. This process also utilizes a toxic solvent called hexane. The worst part A Cornucopia Institute report has determined these synthetic additives unnecessary and are only added for marketing purposes.

“Even if [the DHA/ARA blend] has no benefit, we think it would be widely incorporated into formulas, as a marketing tool and to allow companies to promote their formula as ‘closest to human milk.” – Martek

Carrageenan

This stuff is found in a lot of items from yogurt to tofu to coconut milk and it’s used as a thickener. It may sound harmless being derived from seaweed but in studies it has been linked to inflammation and it’s thought to be a possible carcinogen. This is not used in Europe but is still allowed in the US even in organic.

Synthetic Ingredients

We all know natural is best and synthetic ingredients don’t usually function the same way the natural versions do. Synthetic preservatives are added to keep the oils from going rancid. They are Ascorbyl Palmitate and Beta-Carotene. Synthetic nutrients that are added are; Lutein, Lycopene, Nucleotides, Taurine, L-Carnitine and L-Methionine. None of those nutrients are required in formula and are actually prohibited in the European Union when labeled organic.

The Best Organic Formula

Making your own formula with organic ingredients is probably your best bet as there is no way to avoid all the ingredients listed above in any pre-made formula. If that isn’t a viable option you are still in luck. Looking at this online DHA guide from the Cornucopia Institute it appears that Baby’s Best Organic is the only pre-made formula that does not contain DHA/ARA and is non-GMO. They may not be perfect but they are darn near close to it. Nature’s One is also a family owned and operated business. I love to hear that. Although their products are meant to be used when a child is 12 months (after a year of breastfeeding), there have been many happy customers who use it for infant formula. According to Nature’s One, this is done to encourage breastfeeding until age 1. The “Toddler Formula” still has all the nutritional needs of an infant as set by the FDA.

A note about their organic brown rice syrup: There were some concerns about using rice and arsenic. In a press release in 2012 Nature’s One talks about their new filtration system.  There is no FDA regulations on arsenic in food (only water). Nature’s One uses an organic-compliant technology that filters out the arsenic to undetectable levels, as tested by independent laboratories. So, rest assured their brown rice syrup is a better carbohydrate alternative.

Tip: Be sure to use filtered water when preparing formula.

DIY: You can make your own formula?

Why, yes you can! It may be controversial though and difficult without the proper support. I’ve actually seen these formula recipes several times as I’m a big follower of the Weston A. Price Foundation. You can use raw cow milk or goat milk. There is even a liver formula that utilizes homemade beef or chicken broth instead. I own the book Nourishing Traditions and love it.

baby's only organic formula

If you plan to purchase Baby’s Only Organic Formula please consider using my link to purchase on Amazon. This small contribution will help my blog. Thanks!

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About Angela Vullo

I am a mother to three wonderful children. I love to read and write. I created this blog to share my experience and tips on trying to live a green lifestyle.

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