There are lots of good reasons why you might be buying formula for your baby. Some babies need extra calories added to breast milk, some babies have swallowing difficulties and need thicker food, others may be drinking more than you are able to produce. Maybe you’ve gone back to work or maybe pumping just wasn’t working out too well. No matter the reason, choosing a formula can be confusing.
Beyond deciding between the brands there are the questions... soy or dairy? Organic or conventional? Iron or DHA fortified or neither? And let’s not forget that formula is expensive, so the choice must be something we can afford.
No, I am not going to compare and rate baby formulas. In fact this post is going to be completely biased but when I am done, I hope you’ll understand why.
Five years ago when it was time to go back to work after my first baby, it was my turn to wander the baby food aisles of my local markets in search of the best formula I could find. Back then (seems like the dark ages) there was not one organic style of formula on the shelf. So I chose the brand they had given me samples of in the hospital. My son never ended up getting any of it because after taste testing it, I threw it out (in a fit of tears, which I am sure was a combo of hormones and going-back -to-work blues.)
What do you do when you don’t know what to do? Google the internet. Online I found an organic baby formula fortified with iron called Baby’s Only and developed by Nature’s One. I researched their nutritional information and found it to be comparable to the brands I had seen in the grocery store. It looked good but I still had questions... It said right on the can that it was a toddler formula and my son was just a 5 month old infant. And, what if after I spent the money on a can and shipping, I found out that it tasted as bad as the others? What if it caused the constipation I had been warned about?
I contacted the company and spoke with their nutritionist. She explained that the formula is labeled “toddler formula” because the company promotes breastfeeding for the first year of life. She told me it was perfectly safe to use the formula for my infant but to take the nutritional information to my pediatrician for his blessing. I asked for a sample and within days, a can of dairy-based powered formula appeared on my doorstep. I mixed some up and took a swig. Dare I say it was yummy? It was pretty good, with no metallic aftertaste. Our pediatrician approved it and so, I used Baby’s Only with my first two children.
Then along came baby #3 complete with Down syndrome and a broken heart. From birth she was fluid restricted to ease the work load on her heart. Within weeks the neonatologists were talking about fortifying her milk to add calories. I took it hard. I was obsessed with giving her only the best. I explained that I was concerned about using conventional formula, so they offered me Similac Organic.
But I was unsure. I knew that a lot of the food giants had jumped on the organic train in the past few years but that didn’t guarantee their product was as good as Baby’s Only. I brought an unopened can into the NICU and pled my case to the hospital’s nutritionist. She lifted it skeptically from my hands and agreed to research it. She said she would let me know within a few days whether or not their highly-respected children’s teaching hospital would approve this formula.
Slight digression here... You may be wondering what was happening in the meantime with my daughter’s need for more calories. I had found a tip in a breastfeeding book for naturally adding calories to your bottled breast milk. It said to pump hind milk and let it cool in the refrigerator. The cream will rise to the top. Scoop (or syringe) the creamy upper layers and mix it into 2 ounces of regular breast milk. The nurses jokingly called it “high-test’. I wasn’t allowed to do this as a longterm solution because there was no way to know how many calories I was actually adding and in the NICU things have to be exact.
Guess what? The nutritionist approved the formula and we started adding it to my baby’s milk. As with my other children, there was no constipation, no refluxing, no refusals to drink it. Now when she doesn’t nurse, she gets straight Baby’s Only dairy formula. (I always start my babies on a half breast milk, half formula bottle and then over a few days move to just formula.)
So it’s a great organic formula, so what... ? It is a great company, too, because they believe children with Down syndrome should have the best in life. To this end, they have a Medical Hardship program that provides you with a 30% discount on their products for children with Down syndrome (or any other medical hardship diagnosis). All you do to enroll in the discount program is fill out the form and have your baby’s doctor sign it, and send it in to them. You can order your formula from their online store.
The discount price of around 6.95 per can for the dairy formula (with free shipping on case orders) puts the cost at about .09 cents per prepared ounce. Similac Sensitive is about .13, Similac Organic is about .14, Earth’s Best Organic is about .14, and Enfamil Lipil is about .145 cents per prepared ounce. All I can say is “Wow, thanks Nature’s One!”
Um, ok, I can also say they give out free samples and they ship product super fast (ahem, for those of us who forget we’re on the last can.) Go get your sample and see what your baby thinks.