I’m going to let you “fill in the blank” with this sentence because it seems that every parent has an individual and usually quite distinct version of the “correct” answer. It does make sense for each parent to receive a different parenting experience because no child is the same. However, this in no way means that the basic process of child-rearing should be restricted to a single method. Nowadays, many new parents are faced with the dilemma of whether they should breastfeed or use baby formula. If you’re one of these parents, let me point out one small, but very monumental fact…babies are expensive. Therefore, why extend the extra money each month for synthetic baby formula when natural breast milk surpasses all products available in every single category?
It used to be commonplace for parents to feed their children natural and unprocessed foods during every stage of life. Unfortunately, we have reached a point where society has simplified food products to such an extreme level that many processed foods now contain more synthetic ingredients than they do real ingredients.
“The process of modifying cow milk for large-scale production in the 1920s represented the birth of the infant formula industry. Since then new ingredients have been added for a variety of reasons. For example, iron was added in 1959 to reduce the risk of iron deficiency in formula-fed infants (Fomon, 1993), and long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) were recently added in an effort to improve infant visual and cognitive development…When considering new ingredients, manufacturers analyze every step in the production process, including materials (availability, source, and purity), processing methods, packaging, storage conditions and shelf life, methods of home preparation, and potential for misuse…These considerations continue today as manufacturers attempt to alter infant formulas to imitate human milk in either composition or performance and to address the nutritional needs of specific infant populations (e.g., those with cow-milk allergy, metabolic abnormalities, and prematurity) (Benson and Masor, 1994)” (Institute of Medicine (US); ncbi.nlm.nih.gov). For all source information, please see the end of the article for a detailed list.
Translation: You may be consuming more chemicals on a daily basis than you are real food ingredients. Frightening, I know. For new parents, this disturbing reality is enough to spark a minor panic attack in even the least informed moms and dads. It is scary to think that all of the effort you’ve already extended may not be benefitting your child’s growth and development as much as you had previously hoped.
I get it, this is a new chapter in your life and caring for a fragile human being is no easy feat! Plus, you’re probably seriously sleep deprived so extending any extra effort in your daily routine is going to sound impossible. However, whether you are an experienced parent with multiple children or a complete novice with baby number one, your child’s nutritional standard should never be sacrificed for the sake of convenience in the kitchen. This applies to every stage of your child’s life, of course, but in this article I am going to focus specifically on the first six months of a baby’s diet regimen.
Step One: the milk phase. A hundred years ago, this phase was pretty cut and dry. Breast milk was your only option and because the female human body is well equipped to create the best quality breast milk for a new born baby, it has always remained the perfect option.
That is, until baby formula was created to bring convenience and simplicity to the average parent’s method for adequately caring for their child. Whenever I’m at the grocery store and I see a Mom or Dad purchasing this product, I cringe inside because I have read the ingredient labels for every brand. Even though the appearance of each label displays a multitude of differences, every product is composed of the same synthetically derived ingredients.
Baby formula is essentially designed to fill the void that human breast milk is supposed to satisfy. Therefore, it is filled with an impressive list of synthetically derived vitamins meant to promote healthy growth during the stage where the human body needs it most. If I didn’t know any better I would probably think, “Wow, my kid is getting some great nutrients from this stuff! Who knew powdered milk could be so beneficial?!” Obviously, this thought has never and will never enter my mind! But it has entered the minds of many other parents who are simply trying to care for their children, but are unaware of the true damage this product will cause.
Society has kept a large portion of the population in the dark on what should constitute a healthy ingredient. Newton’s Third Law states, “For every action, there is an equal opposite reaction” (The Physics Classroom). Society acted by promoting the idea that synthetically derived foods can be healthy if containing the right synthetic ingredients and we reacted by wholeheartedly believing these lies, purchasing synthetically derived foods more often than naturally derived foods, and began the depletion of our total-body health without even realizing it. I was never great at physics, but WOW did we fall for their false propaganda or what??? And now our reaction is creating an abundance of problems in every area of life, most especially our understanding of healthy and unhealthy products.
“Historically one approach to match human-milk composition is to add new ingredients (see Appendix B for the composition of formulas and human milk). This turns out to be a quixotic quest since human milk is a complex body fluid that is variable not only among individuals, but within an individual over time. In addition, it contains components, such as live cells and bioactive compounds, that either cannot be added to formulas or cannot survive a shelf life. Finally, not all human-milk constituents are essential; some, like LC-PUFAs, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and arachidonic acid (ARA), can be synthesized by term and preterm infants born at 33 weeks gestation (Uauy et al., 2000)” (Institute of Medicine (US); ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).
Take, for example, our understanding of the concept of good and bad vitamins. Some people don’t realize that synthetically derived vitamins do NOT help bodily function; they act as interrupting factors because the human body is not supposed to consume synthetic vitamin sources when naturally derived sources are available. It can be the most expensive synthetic vitamin available on the market; it will not make a difference because, at the end of the day, the product was composed in a laboratory from chemicals. Once ingested, your body begins a process of sending this foreign element to a variety of different places, but it is always rejected.
“Manufacturers who wish to add some, but not all ingredients found in human milk may defeat the purpose of the added nutrients or may potentiate negative interactions. Examples include the deleterious effect on growth when eicosapentaenoic acid is added without adequate DHA (Carlson et al., 1996) and the potential negative effect of adding polyunsaturated fats and large amounts of iron without adding adequate antioxidants (Halliwell and Chirico, 1993; McCord, 1996)…For many nutrients that do not interact chemically or compete for enzymatic or receptor binding sites, the relative amounts may not be important. However in situations where there is competition for enzymes (e.g., among n-3 and n-6 PUFAs) (Brenner, 1974) or receptor binding sites in the intestine (e.g., for zinc, iron, and copper), the relative proportions may have biological significance” (Institute of Medicine (US); ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).
What happens next? Well, sometimes your body just rejects it altogether through your urine, stool, sweat, pores, etc. In some cases, your body will decide to hold onto the foreigner travelling around in your system. Heavy metals are an excellent example of those bad elements that your body will accumulate instead of rejecting. I don’t know why this happens, but the accumulation of heavy metals within your cells is something that can take place for years without you even realizing that it is happening. Sooner or later though, you will begin to notice the presence of heavy metals usually in the form of an illness. Epilepsy, for example, is commonly caused by an over abundance of heavy metals. As you’ve probably already realized, you do not want to wait until later to discover if you are indeed ill. I speak from experience here and I guarantee that your moment of discovery will be neither convenient nor will it be ideal for you, because that is the way life always seems to work when it comes to the unveiling of a serious medical condition. I was fifteen years old, in the middle of my spring break, and sleeping over at a friend’s house when my first seizure took place…not exactly opportune for something like that to occur and I would say that I am very lucky I was not injured due to the circumstances.
My point here is that synthetically derived vitamins are what your baby will be consuming if you choose the formula route. Who wants the substitute product for their child if the original is available??? Don’t settle for second best.
Breast feeding or using a breast pump may require more effort than mixing a scoop of powdered formula with some water, but it is ultimately the best decision you will ever make for your child’s long-term health. For starters, during the pregnancy stage the female human body spends nine months (give or take a few weeks) preparing milk that is packed full of natural vitamins, nutrients, anti-bodies, probiotics, and other helpful elements that will help nurture a newborn baby through those first couple of months by laying a superior foundation necessary for proper function throughout his or her entire life.
Breastfeeding isn’t simply a preference for how to feed your baby, it is a crucial first step in preparing your baby’s body for the rest of his or her life. So many parents are concerned about buying the right stroller and choosing the safest toys, but the best way to protect your baby begins with the diet you choose for him or her.
I understand that certain circumstances can prevent some parents from feeding their babies milk. A dairy allergy, for example, will make any mom reach for the soy-based baby formula as quickly as she can. However, there are still better alternatives to breast milk and cow’s milk than baby formula!
In most cases, health experts will recommend a “nutrient-dense” baby formula as an ideal alternative to breast milk. However, I disagree. Baby formula will only appear to be the next best option from a superficial perspective. As long as one does not delve too deep into the foundational details of a formula product, s/he will be easily fooled by the “healthy” façade. Ignorance is not bliss in this situation, therefore, I highly recommend every parent remove their rose-colored glasses and see this product for what it truly is…a very poor substitute for breast milk.
Take the impressive list of vitamins and minerals found on nearly every canister of the majority of brands of baby formula. Potassium, Manganese, Magnesium, Calcium, Zinc, and Selenium are just a few of the names you’ll find included in this list. When derived from natural sources, these vitamins and minerals can be very beneficial for the human body. If you ask any baby formula brand if their product’s nutritional qualities have been derived from natural sources, the answer is most likely going to be “No” because synthetic sources are a heck of a whole lot cheaper and easier to attain!
The focus on quality has been lost over the years…the concern is no longer for the well-being of the consumer, it is for the well-being of the manufacturer. Even corporations that are willing to spend a bit more for a healthier, organic product still remain prone to choosing synthetic ingredients over natural ingredients.
At the end of the day, the only “green” they care about is going into their pockets instead of their product. And we, the consumer, are the ones suffering from these decisions concerning product quality. So, even though formula may be the easier choice in the moment, it will always fail to help build the crucial nutritional foundation your baby desperately needs in order to function properly as a toddler, a young adult, and (eventually) as a grown adult.
This perspective changes things a bit, doesn’t it? My hope is that it helps all of you parents out there to think twice before automatically supporting the formula industry. Truthfully, we’ve all been there, but whether you’re wearing the title of “Mom” or “Dad” (maybe both for all of the single parents out there) just put the formula canister back where you got it from and back away slowly. This is literally the best advice I can give to any parent debating using formula as an alternative to breast milk.
The unfortunate reality of those months of preparation is that things don’t always go according to the plans we make. For example, a mother’s milk may not “come in” completely, leaving any parent with a stressful dilemma: a hungry baby. And like most adults, hunger makes for a very grumpy little human being. An ideal solution for this problem in the past was a wet nurse. You could hire someone with the proper resources to come in and feed your baby for you…on paper this is a simple solution. However, babies are already expensive enough on their own and hiring a wet nurse is not an option for the majority of parents.
Plus, I feel like using another person to feed your baby takes away from the special emotional bond that will form during the time you spend personally feeding your child. Whether it is Mom breast-feeding or Dad bottle-feeding, the intimacy of these moments will have a large impact upon the type of relationship you develop with your child. It is important not to dismiss this time as a waste of your own time, nothing can be more important than the attention and time you devote to your little ones.
So, since wet nurses are too expensive an option, detract from your relationship with your child, and no longer serve as a practical option…What do you do instead to avoid baby formula?
If you’ve read my blog before than you know how much I love the natural route of just about everything, especially food. Baby food is no exception! Babies are at a crucial step in their development process during the milk phase, therefore, choosing the right breast milk substitute is incredibly important and has a lot of potential to be either beneficial or detrimental to your child’s future health.
Here’s why: Dairy products are a prominent food group that is frequently prone to synthetic additives such as hormones and antibiotics, which is why finding a healthy product at the local grocery store can be such a challenge. Sometimes we may not even realize we’re purchasing an unhealthy product.
Take the “Vitamin D Additive” found in many milk products, it’s not a beneficial characteristic at all! It’s actually a synthetic additive that, once ingested, only creates problems for the human body. Most synthetically derived ingredients have been chemically engineered in a lab rather than collected from natural sources within nature. Because of this, our bodies aren’t sure what to do with these ingredients or where to send them. There is no appropriate location for these imposter ingredients because, truth be told, no human being should ever consume this kind of garbage.
During the digestion process, these synthetic ingredients really do get lost in translation because they are essentially composed of a foreign language breed of ingredients that have no proper place of “belonging” in the body. Unfortunately, these foreign ingredients are occasionally stored in the cells of our bodies when consumed. This is only one of the many reasons why they should be avoided in every stage of life, but most especially in the early years when key development is occurring on a daily basis. You can read more about ingredients and ingredient labels here.
So how do we avoid synthetic ingredients in the foods we feed our children when the majority of products being sold by our local grocers are full to the brim with these exact ingredients? We’re living in an age when reading an ingredient label is necessary to determine the true quality of a product. Personally, I’ve reached a point where I no longer buy the majority of my dairy products from a commercial vendor. Instead, I purchase Raw Dairy Products from a private farm where every product is guaranteed to be Organic, free from all additives, and derived from grass-fed animals (a very important detail for those of you with soy allergies and looking to avoid the soy feed commonly used as the “healthier” option by many companies).
***Side Note about Soy: “Soy-based formulas were developed for infants perceived to be intolerant of cow-milk protein. The first soy formulas were commercially available in 1929 (Abt, 1965). These formulas were made with soy flour and were not well accepted by parents, who complained of loose, malodorous stools, diaper rash, and stained clothing. In the mid-1960s isolated soy protein was introduced into formulas. These formulas were much more like milk-based formulas in appearance and acceptance. However the preparation of isolated soy protein resulted in the elimination of most of the vitamin K in the soy, and a few cases of vitamin K deficiency were reported. The occurrence of nutrient deficiencies in infants fed milk-free formulas contributed to the development of federal regulations concerning the nutrient content of formulas (Fomon, 1993). Soy formulas now account for about 40 percent of formula sales in the United States…Manufacturers who wish to add some, but not all, ingredients found in human milk may defeat the purpose of the added nutrients or may potentiate negative interactions. Examples include the deleterious effect on growth when eicosapentaenoic acid is added without adequate DHA (Carlson et al., 1996) and the potential negative effect of adding polyunsaturated fats and large amounts of iron without adding adequate antioxidants (Halliwell and Chirico, 1993; McCord, 1996)” (Institute of Medicine (US); ncbi.nlm.nih.gov).
If you are interested in the private farm I mentioned above, please email me directly at Katie@seizethedayblog.com for more information.
Raw dairy products are, hands down, the best alternative to natural breast milk. Raw goat’s milk is the real hidden gem in this situation. The goat’s stomach and overall digestive system are the most similar to a human being’s. Therefore, their milk is easiest to digest.
“According to the Journal of American Medicine, ‘Goat’s milk is the most complete food known.’ It contains vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, trace elements, enzymes, protein, and fatty acids that are utilized by your body with ease. In fact, your body can digest goat’s milk in just 20 minutes. It takes 2-3 hours to digest cow’s milk” (ROSEOFSHARONACRES.COM).
Researchers have actually found that people who struggle to digest cow’s milk have slim to no trouble during the digestion process when consuming goat’s milk. This same difference also applies to babies and young children, as well. Cows do have four stomachs, after all, making cow’s milk quite the challenge to digest. The best way to describe goat’s milk is as the gentle alternative. Goat’s milk is both under-rated and under-appreciated because our society is so used to considering cows as the primary source and societal “norm” for dairy products.
“Americans have been ‘culturized & advertised’ into associating milk with cows when in fact, goat milk is far more healthy for humans” (Roseofsharonacres.com).
You can never completely plan for the future in a way that will make you fully equipped for every unexpected twist and turn that is “Life.” If this was possible, maybe I would have gotten a clue a whole lot sooner when I was first diagnosed with epilepsy instead of wasting my time going down numerous rabbit trails that weren’t helpful or healthy for my long-term state of health. Hindsight is always 20/20 and I am 100% sure that although I have learned a lot from my experience with epilepsy, I also have a lot of regret in my past. Whether it is the way I handled certain situations or the approach I chose to manage the challenges I faced thanks to my health there is and always will be a part of me that wishes I did “this” or “that” differently. One of these wishes is that I tried the holistic path immediately. I constantly wonder where I would be at this point in my life if I had. I am confident in the fact that I am exactly where I am meant to be, but I also do not want to see this same regret I have acquired to be a part of your journey as a parent.
It makes sense to feed your children foods that are from-scratch, Organic, and Non-GMO. Skip the baby food aisle altogether and visit the produce section instead. In this way, you can try and become equipped for some of the challenges that are parenthood in a nutshell. Take the milk problem, for example. It is excellent to have a “Plan B” in the back of your mind so that you aren’t scrambling to handle another challenging, but totally worth it, moment of parenthood.
Goat’s milk is your alternative to formula, but what about when your baby graduates to the soft food stage? Do you turn to jarred foods that are filled with preservatives, additives, and many other synthetic ingredients? Of course not!!!!
You get to know your basic fruits and vegetables again! By steaming or boiling veggies, you can easily reach a texture that is appropriate for babies. You can safely begin this stage after your child reaches 6 months of age. Prior to 6 months, it is recommended by health experts that your baby maintain a strict diet of milk.
Creating healthy, from-scratch meals for your baby can often seem like a daunting task. However, these meals are actually going to be considerably easier than the meals you cook for the rest of your family. You are going to be cooking a lot of steamed veggies, which means meal prep is going to be a breeze! You are definitely going to want to take advantage of the perk of meal prep.
Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, steamed carrots, steamed broccoli, bananas, and many other fruits and veggies are excellent options for homemade baby food.
I would even try to coordinate meals so that you’re not making what feels like 2 separate meals. For example, try planning side dishes like mashed potatoes or steamed carrots, maybe both for a more balanced meal if you happen to be serving a main dish such as chicken or another healthy protein. Though your baby may not yet be able to chew a more solid dish like chicken, if he or she is 6 months old your little one can certainly be fed the mashed potatoes and steamed carrots (mashed). This way you only have one meal to prepare instead of two. This is hands down the best part about moving on to the soft food stage…you no longer have to feed your baby a completely separate meal.
So what are you waiting for? Simplify already! The majority of what you eat, your baby can eat too, so long as it is properly prepared. Think minimal seasonings when you’re preparing those potatoes, carrots, or any other side dish.
“Cinnamon is generally regarded as safe to give to your baby in small amounts after they turn 6 months of age. Cinnamon doesn’t commonly cause an allergic reaction in children or adults. Heavy exposure to cinnamon can cause stomach upset, skin or mouth irritation, and possibly problems with bleeding due to decreased blood clotting. But a sprinkle of cinnamon on your baby’s food probably won’t cause a problem.
If your baby appears to have an allergic reaction to foods containing cinnamon, or they appear fussy and agitated after consuming cinnamon, call your doctor right away” (Healthline.com).
Being aware of those seasonings, such as cinnamon, is imperative for your child’s health, but the good news is there are few seasonings as inflammatory as cinnamon. Usually you can just going the minimalist route and simply sprinkle a little pink Himalayan salt for flavor. Your baby will probably prefer less seasoning anyway since a newborn’s palette is undeveloped. Basically, I’m trying to promote the convenience that is this form of baby food…it will always be the ideal route because it is simple and healthy. You can make a healthy, no-fuss meal for your baby that is 100% free of synthetic additives and it can be made using real ingredients. This is clean-eating at its finest. And the earlier you introduce clean foods into your baby’s diet, the better it is for his or her ability to develop that foundation, which will serve as a key component during the critical stage of growth that is the first six months and, if we’re being really honest with ourselves, the first twelve months.
The information posted on Seize the Day Blog, including but not limited to, articles, images, recipes, text and other material are shared for informational purposes only. None of the writings should be looked upon as advice meant to replace that of an actual medical professional. If you suspect you have a serious medical condition you should seek help from a healthcare professional immediately. Please be aware that the author of this website is posting information simply to inform NOT to recommend others about health-related topics. Before following any information (i.e. undertaking a new healthcare or diet routine) found here on Seize the Day Blog, you should always consult a medical professional first. Please be sure to never disregard any medicinal advice because of something you have read on this website.
1. Enfamil Premium Infant Formula Powder – 12.5 oz: https://www.target.com/p/enfamil-premium-infant-formula-powder-12-5-oz/-/A-12849663?sid=1958S&ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Baby+Shopping_Local&adgroup=SC_Baby&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=1013549&gclid=CjwKCAjw4sLVBRAlEiwASblR-xSmAL2MNop2_N3IiYHWl2pxOqAShHgjDO_zEJRaBVcKnQoGJAsvuhoC_gkQAvD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds
2. Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/health/parenting/can-babies-have-cinnamon
3. Institute of Medicine (US) Committee on the Evaluation of the Addition of Ingredients New to Infant Formula. Infant Formula: Evaluating the Safety of New Ingredients. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2004. 3, Comparing Infant Formulas with Human Milk.Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK215837/
4. Livestrong: https://www.livestrong.com/article/536769-when-do-babies-stop-jar-food/
5. The Physics Classroom (Newton’s Third Law): http://www.physicsclassroom.com/class/newtlaws/Lesson-4/Newton-s-Third-Law
6. Rose of Sharon Acres: https://www.roseofsharonacres.com/raw_goat_milk_benefits