March 20, 2009 at 8:32AM
by Alexandra Zissu
There must be something in the air, as I've been getting formula question after formula question this week. It should come as no surprise to anyone who has read The Complete Organic Pregnancy or any of my blog entries here or elsewhere that I firmly believe breast is best, unless it is truly not available (adoption, breast cancer, etc.). I have touched on organic formulas here and elsewhere, very basically, when there have been contamination issues and questions. But as a general rule of thumb, I don't stay on top of the latest in formula news, or recommend one formula over another. I don't think infant nutrition is something that should be outsourced to a manufacturer. And I'm fully prepared for the pissed off comments this post will elicit. I recognize exactly how difficult breastfeeding is and can be for mothers and I will go out of my way to find lactation consultants and breastfeeding groups for anyone who e-mails me in distress, in any corner of the country. And I often direct parents to breastfeeding resources like Kelly Mom, Dr. Jack Newman's Breastfeeding Clinic and Institute, and Dr. Thomas Hale's breastfeeding and pharmacology Website.
I know the moms who e-mail me depressed, exhausted, and crying just want my stamp of approval for their Earth's Best or Similac or what have you so they can feel better about feeding it to the tots and move on with their lives. Sorry, but I can't give it. I feel their pain. I have been in the trenches in more ways than I care to share publicly. But suffice it to say, among other things, I had a daughter who was a textbook snacker, who ate lightly and frequently, only one breast at a feeding, who was underweight and so therefore had a very willing audience in me, who never took a bottle no matter what, who was attached to me and only me for a very long time around the clock, who never slept. On top of all of this, I worked at night editing my manuscript, and writing countless columns and articles whenever she did sleep. I also suffered from chronic, painful, awful plugged ducts and tried everything under the sun to ameliorate them (have them? soy lecithin was my savior!). I was exhausted, she was exhausted, her dad was exhausted. And we got through it, for well over two years. Throughout everything, my daughter never had a drop of formula.
She's now three, thriving, on the charts, off the boob (though I thought it would never, ever be possible), sleeps ok, and is amazingly independent. I overshare all of this (very edited for content as well as length) information to let you know that part of my reasoning in not naming or suggesting certain formulas to moms who ask is that I know breastfeeding can be done if you're truly dedicated to it. And I want to encourage moms to do it, and to get involved with other moms who are doing it, and to let them know that it's not easy. Far from it. But neither is parenting. Breastfeeding is
parenting. And we all know there is very good reason to be dedicated. Even the staid ol' American Academy of Pediatrics extols its many virtues and suggests moms breastfeed exclusively for six months, and continue on until at least one year. Personally, I read that to mean breastfeed until you offer solids, and keep breastfeeding while they're eating solids.
So, if you want to know what my favorite shampoo is in light of The Campaign For Safe Cosmetic's most recent findings
on toxic bath products (hint: Johnson's Baby Shampoo shouldn't be what you're using), I'll name product names. But when it comes to asking me what formula to use, I say use your breasts. If you can't, choose organic. As for the differences between the various organic formulas, do the research and make an informed decision.
And when it comes to feeding baby those first solids at six months, or anything you're eating while breastfeeding, The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has just released updated information on their highly regarded, highly circulated, government test data based, totally excellent Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 lists. Download the new PDF's here
This year's Dirty Dozen - the items you should always buy organic - is peach, apple, bell pepper, celery, nectarine, strawberries, cherries, kale, lettuce, imported grapes, carrot and pear. Carrots and kale, it bears mentioning, are new on the list, replacing spinach and potatoes. The Clean 15 are onion, avocado, sweet corn, pineapple, mango, sweet peas, kiwi, eggplant, papaya, watermelon, asparagus, cabbage, broccoli, tomato and sweet potato. That said, I'd personally argue for organic corn if and when you can find it, as it won't be genetically modified.
Avoiding the Dirty Dozen will drastically reduce your pesticide intake, and the EWG says eating items from the Clean 15 will also moderately reduce your intake.
Now let the comments begin.