The goal of this page is not to debate formula versus breast milk. That debate is over and there is just no comparison between the two. However, there are plenty of people that, either by choice or necessity, decide to formula feed their babies. This is not for me to judge. In fact our second son has been on formula since about 4 months of age.
The real question is… Do I really need expensive name brand formula?
The FDA and Formula
Turns out that the FDA regulates what goes into infant formula. Thus, for the most part, all infant formulas are created equal. There may be tiny deviations in protein, or sugar, or other things. However, all the important things (iron, vitamin D, etc.) are the same in FDA regulated infant formulas.
The makers of Enfamil™ would like to make you think that something terrible will happen to your baby’s eyes or brain development if you do not use their fancy (and expensive) formula. This is just NOT true. I was overfed formula 30 years ago (without the DHA) and then switched to a skim milk diet because I was so fat. Miraculously, my eyes and brain turned out just fine. This garbage that you see plastered all over the TV and parenting magazines is way more about helping to lighten your wallet than it is about helping your child’s development.
Confirmation of this deception can easily be found with a simple Google search. Mead Johnson (the maker of Enfamil™) is frequently involved in lawsuits over their false and misleading advertisements. From their perspective this is probably a small price to pay if they can successfully convince most Americans that they should pay twice as much for their product. SmartParents will know better.
Know What is Normal
Babies are fussy.
This generally starts about 2 weeks of age, peaks around 5-6 weeks, and may persist for many months. This is NORMAL. This is not an indication that you need a different (and more expensive) infant formula. If you feel like your baby’s fussiness is excessive (which I would define as more than 4 hours/day) then you should consult your pediatrician. However, unless there is poor weight gain, bloody poop, or some other concern… changing formula is unlikely to do anything other that cost you more money.
This generally starts in the first month of life, peaks at 3-4 months, and lasts until they start getting mobile. This is NORMAL. It is not an indication that you need a different (and more expensive) infant formula. If your baby is spitting up excessively, projectile spitting-up, extremely fussy, or not gaining weight… then it could be that there is some problem with the GI system (stomach). However, it is unlikely to be a problem related to their formula.
Know What is NOT Normal
Blood in the stool
This is the only absolute indication that you should consider changing your baby’s diet. Blood in the stool often is a sign of cow’s milk allergy. A trial of a soy-based formula is reasonable. If things do not improve you may need to switch to a prescription (and very expensive) formula called a hydrolyzed or partially-hydrolyzed formula. Blood in the stool and a switch to this kind of formula should always be coordinated by your health care provider.
Poor weight gain
Babies gain weight. On average they gain about 1 ounce/day during the first month of life. Most will double their birth weight between 3-6 months and triple it by 1 year. It is never normal for your baby to lose weight (except during the first week of life) or stop gaining weight. There is a very long list of reasons that babies either lose weight or do not gain weight. Formula problems is just one of those reasons. If your baby has a weight gain problem you definitely need to see your health care provider. Exercise some healthy skepticism though if your doctor blames it all on the formula without looking into the long list of other reasons for poor weight gain.
This… Not That
So when it comes to infant formula is recommend THIS (or one of the other generic equivalents). They are much cheaper and provide everything your baby needs for growth and development.
Only purchase THAT if you want to waste some of your hard earned money. If you are buying the expensive formula because you want to give your baby “the best,” then give them breast milk.
A Word of Caution!!!
All infant formulas are not created equal. Only those regulated by the FDA are equal. This means generic brands sold in major retailers and the various name brand infant formulas. DO NOT get some homemade concoction cooked up in grandma’s kitchen and sold on the internet.
Be very skeptical of those things sold directly by health care professional (especially chiropractors and alternative medicine gurus). These infant formulas may be grossly deficient in a whole host of essential vitamins and minerals. Do your research before switching to any formula that is not cow or soy based. Those that are goat-based (or other animal /grain) are known to be grossly deficient in certain vitamins and minerals. These deficiencies can have serious consequences for your newborn baby or infant.
Lastly, make sure you get your infant… INFANT formula. Toddler formula and other “formulas” are not the same. They are generally cheaper but inadequate to support the growth and development of newborns and infants.
Generic Infant Formula – Here is a link to Amazon where we purchase many of our generic baby products. Most are available tax-free and come with free shipping. I have found no better way to maximize our savings.