Friday, January 15, 2010

What are the options when what is natural is not an option?

Some where along the way I picked up the habit of noticing labels, especially name brands. There was a time in my life in which I wouldn't be caught dead in public with an "off brand." I was like that with everything from clothing & personal items to food & appliances. I always felt that the name brand and the price determined the quality. When my son was born, I kept up this pattern of label watching, only the best for my baby, right?

So, when I had to decide how I will feed my newborn it was only natural that I chose breastfeeding. It was the best. We breastfed for 7 months and then needed to switch to formula. Once again....the best. So we bought the best name brand of infant formula that we could afford.

As I look back on my label watching patterns now, I feel so silly. I was focused on the wrong things, worrying more about the brand than the quality ingredients that were to provide needed nutrients to my child.

I recently read the Consumer Reports regarding the subject of buying formula and to my surprise I realized that I wasted a lot of money. How much? I really don't know the exact figures, but according to reports the average formula fed baby will drink about $2,000.00 worth by it's first birthday. I figure since I only breast fed thru 7 months, I didn't spend that much, but still...every dime counts. While I was watching the name brands I should have really been reading ingredient labels. If I had then I would have known that all of the baby formula sitting on the shelves had the same levels of nutrition. The formula's may be varied but the nutrition is the same, because the Food and Drug Administration set certain standards for all Formula manufacturers in the U.S. . As long as the formula was bought before the "use by " date, it was of acceptable quality.

Even more importantly to consider are the various features of the formula that is chosen. I remember times when I would spend seemingly hours in the baby aisle trying to figure out which added feature was "the best." It was confusing! A baby needs formula that is fortified with Iron, and probiotics are good for proper digestion and balancing of the flora in the intestines. Just about every type of formula nowadays contains DHA and ARA, both of which are synthetic versions of the natural fatty acids found in a woman's natural breast milk. This natural ingredient is supposed to assist in proper brain and eye development. However, the scientific evidence supporting whether or not the synthetic versions of these fatty acids that are added is beneficial in the long term is still on the fence. According to certain studies on this subject, the positive effects that come from this additional feature is short term, not long term. Which in my opinion means that if it costs more to have it, perhaps you don't need to buy it. Especially if it's synthetic and not proven to be beneficial in the long term. Save the money.

Seems to me that when looking to buy formula, today's modern mommy should still look at the label. Not for the name brand only, but for the things that matter the most. I am no longer in the baby aisle when shopping at the grocery store, but if I was I would not repeat that silly way of doing things. I would clip my coupons, sign up for savings and free products with my formula company of choice and most importantly I'd buy the store brand...proudly!

Reading the Consumer Report has certainly opened my eyes to labels and ingredients. It basically has proven what my husband (Mr. frugal himself) has been telling me all along: "The name brand doesn't always matter, it's the ingredients. Many products are made the same, the only thing different is the name."

For further information you can go to

*I have not been paid to do this review of formula manufacturing, however I was supplied with the book; Consumer Reports Best Baby Products the A to Z e verything you need for your baby. *

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