Parenting Tip Ep 4: Breast vs Formula Milk

Breast milk or formula? Unfortunately, this is not a choice families can make easily until the baby is born.

Prior to the birth of our daughter, we didn’t have a clue whether I can express sufficient milk. Thankfully, it turned out really well and I have been 100% breastfeeding our baby.

Now, what if moms cannot express enough milk, the only substitute for breast milk is formula milk. 

I’m sure you might have heard or researched about milk scandals. Let’s dive in and see what your options are.

Is Formula Milk Safe?

Shopping for the right infant formula milk
Formula Milk: Are they safe?

Formula milk drew flak for its production quality in the last decade. In 2008, formula milk produced in China was found to have high levels of melamine mixed into it. Just for historical understanding, some companies were adding water to raw milk to increase its overall volume. As a result, the protein content of the formula milk powder dipped. Melamine was added to counter this problem as it increases the nitrogen content of the milk and hence its protein level. Due to this unethical act, many children who took those formula milk ended up with kidney stones and at one stage, up to 11 countries stopped their import of formula milk from China completely.

Since then, China has cracked down on companies doing this but still the concern over China-produced milk powder is still valid. In fact, as long as it is produced by a facility, there is always a concern over its safety regardless of location.

A real story…we were in Sydney in Dec 2017 for our family vacation and we passed by a hypermart one day. To our surprise, the formula milk were all swept clean by some Chinese tourists. They were buying them in bulk and shipping back to China. The same thing happens in Hong Kong. Thus, it is safe to say that the concern over formula milk is still valid today.

Having said this, formula milk is still the only go to baby nutrition substitute for breast milk. As such, it is crucial to look for safe and trusted brands such as Similac, Enfamil or Gerber. These are USA brands and come under close scrutiny. Though they don’t have to come strictly under FDA approval before marketing, regulations stipulate federal nutrient requirements and formula milk manufacturers have to notify FDA in detail prior to marketing a new formula. 

We share this information with the intention for parents to understand the concerns and development in the formula milk industry. Chances are formula milk will come into play at some point unless you can keep up with a 100% breastfeeding schedule. That is challenging for most moms.

Are there other concerns with Formula Milk?

Some parents also try not to give formula milk because it tends to result in babies rejecting breast milk completely in favour of formula milk that comes with a stronger (ie. sweeter) taste. Yes, babies like sweet things too and once they have a chance to compare, they may just reject one for the other. Babies on a formula milk diet also tend to have poo that are thicker and will experience constipation more frequently.

Breast milk on the other hand does not have the above problems, and comes with a wider spectrum of antibodies which are beneficial for the baby. 

For moms who cannot provide breast milk all the time, it is also common to use a mixed diet of breast milk and formula milk. In this way, the baby’s overall needs are met and the benefits of breast milk are not totally lost either.

Conclusion

Breast milk is definitely the recommended choice. Yet it is sometimes difficult for moms, especially working moms to express sufficient milk for their baby. And what if you have twins? The demand on you would be overwhelming. Thus, the alternative which is formula milk becomes a staple source of nutrition. Despite all the scandal and concerns surrounding its quality, the way is to check and order from trusted sources.