Choosing Organic Baby Formula
How to Buy Natural Baby Formulas and Make Homemade Baby Formulas
While breastfeeding your baby is by far the healthiest, most eco-friendly choice you can make, (read our article on breastfeeding vs. formula) there are circumstances in which it is not possible. In such cases, finding natural and organic baby formula is a must in order to safeguard your baby’s health. Read on to learn why and how you should purchase and make natural baby formula.
Why conventional baby formula is unhealthy
Despite the disadvantages of formula feeding your baby (cost, environmental concerns, and maternal and baby health being chief among them), there can be several advantages to choose formula over breastfeeding. It can be more convenient, especially if the mother needs to be away from baby for longer than a few hours. Formula is also digested more slowly which means the frequency and timing of feedings can be extended. Some formulas even contain nutritional additives that a breastfed baby would otherwise get from supplements.
Many people are calling conventional baby formulas the junk food of the infant world because they are prepared with ingredients that make them far from healthful. Unfortunately there is very little regulation in the baby formula industry with manufacturers often changing their formulas from batch to batch depending on availability of ingredients.
- Many formulas are sweetened with lactose, fructose, glucose, and maltodextrose, with some even containing high fructose corn syrup.
- Salmonella and other foodborne pathogens have been found in some formulations.
- Packaging used to ship formula has been shown to contain contaminants like isopropyl thioxanthone (ITX; another suspected carcinogen), phthalates (endocrine disruptors), and bisphenol A (BPA; a hormone disruptor). BPA in baby formula is an especially bad problem for liquid varieties.
- Heavy metals like lead, aluminum, manganese, and cadmium have all been found in baby formulas.
- If your tap water is not safe to drink, any contaminants it contains will be passed along to your baby when you mix it with formula.
- Buying formula can set you back several thousands of dollars during the first year of your baby’s life. Unfortunately, organic formulas can cost even more than this.
- Though they will provide basic nutrition, manufactured formulas cannot yet be made to match the nutritional complexity of breast milk.
- A fungal toxin called aflatoxin has been found in formulas - this can cause cancer.
- Soy formulas contain plant-derived estrogens that can be at dangerous levels for babies.
- Melamine, which can kill babies, has been found in trace amounts in some baby formulas in recent years, some of it put there intentionally.
- Perchlorate, which inhibits the healthy function of the thyroid in adults and babies alike, has been found in baby formulas from cow’s milk, soy milk, as well as in tap water.
What to look for in healthy, organic baby formula
There are many things you can do to ensure that your choice of formula feeding your baby is both safe and natural, including the following:
- Choose powdered formula over liquid formula to avoid the possibility of finding BPA in your baby’s food.
- Look for Certified Organic formulas such as those with the USDA Organic logo.
- When making your formula, be sure to mix it with filtered water to avoid contaminants in your tap water.
- Read ingredient lists and avoid formulas with a lot of additives, especially sweeteners.
Several quality natural infant formula brands are now on the market that are formulated with Certified Organic ingredients and without the harmful toxins and ingredients mentioned above.
- Bright Beginnings Organic Infant Formula
- Parent’s Choice Organic Formula
- Similac Advance Organic Infant Formula
- Baby Organic is a great website for finding other organic formula options
Making your own homemade baby formula
You can make your own baby formula in order to ensure that you control what goes into it. Caution must be given here, though as it can be difficult to develop a complex, nutritionally-adequate homemade formula on your own. Here are some natural baby formula recipes for you to try:
- Recipes for Homemade Baby Formula - The Weston A. Price Foundation
- Breastfeeding and Homemade Baby Formulas - Resist.ca
- Recipes for Whole Foods Baby Formula - Real Milk
2 Toxins in breastmilk. (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from Baby Centre: http://www.babycentre.co.uk/baby/breastfeeding/problemsandsolutions/toxinsinbreastmilk/?_requestid=3288531#4
5 Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding. (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from KidsHealth: http://kidshealth.org/parent/food/infants/breast_bottle_feeding.html#
6 Problems with Infant Formula. (n.d.). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from Natural Resources Defense Council: http://www.nrdc.org/breastmilk/formula.asp
8 Trace melamine found in infant formula. (2008, December). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from Canada.com: http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=ORGANIC_CERTIFICATIO&navtype=RT&parentnav=AGRICULTURE
9 Perchlorate found in infant formula -- CDC. (2009, April 3). Retrieved May 17, 2010, from The New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2009/04/03/03greenwire-perchlorate-found-in-infant-formula--cdc-10432.html