Friday, October 24, 2014

Information Underload

My 2 year old daughter can eat. And eat, and eat and eat. And then drink and drink and drink. She has very little discrimination when it comes to eating – she even got my son to eat asparagus when he saw she was downing it like it was going out of style! We won’t talk about how her diaper smelled the next day.

When my daughter was about 8 months old, I started supplementing her diet with formula. I was only getting about 10 ounces a day from pumping, and she was a hungry baby. I can’t overstate the amount of frustration I felt when picking out a formula. My heart has started racing even writing about it. Shouldn’t this have been easy to figure out, particularly for someone with a nutrition degree, and particularly on a product that is designed for a vulnerable population (babies)? I soon found out it wasn’t easy at all. Although formula containers are covered with nutrition claims, they do not have Nutrition Facts Labels like other foods do. They have a list of nutrients that the Federal Government mandates as a minimum standard and health claims on the front of the package. Kind of like dog food. As a health professional, I am wary of claims on the front of packaging and rely on the Nutrition Facts Label to tell me important information.

Back to the choosing process -- I lean toward organic for the kids when we can afford it, so I thought I would simply get the organic kind. After some research, I found that the only easily available organic version for infants was higher in sugar than other versions of the same brand. Be aware: Sugar content is not listed on formula labels. I did not want to be giving more sugar than necessary to the baby. So, after scouring the web for information, what did I choose? I was surprised at what I ended up with. For the most part, I chose the milk based, iron fortified store brand with DHA. I didn't use a consistent brand, and we were lucky enough that my daughter didn't have any digestive problems that required more specialized formula.

Although the transition to supplementing with formula was emotionally tough for me, she is a very healthy and happy (and still hungry) toddler now. Many of us moms use formula - we’re fortunate to have a safe alternative to breastmilk when needed, even when it’s not our first choice.