Healthy Beginnings

Ingredient Watch | Infant Formula

Breast feeding can almost always provide excellent nutrition without the need for supplementation.

Breast feeding can almost always provide excellent nutrition without the need for supplementation.

Bottle feeding babies with artificial milk is a fairly recent human behavior, a trend that can be directly linked to profit motives from both the public and private sector. Prior to the second world war, babies were almost always exclusively breast fed. During the war, when women joined the workforce to keep the economy functioning while the men were in combat, bottle feeding became more common out of necessity. Around this time the bottle feeding industry emerged, and with the help of the medical industry began to promote the notion that breast milk was inferior to their powdered milk products.

Today the formula industry is a billion dollar machine and hospitals are paid to endorse specific brands, even going so far as to distribute them to their maternity patients. Advertising is aggressive toward expectant mothers who are mailed free formula samples, coupons, and propaganda designed to undermine their confidence in their bodies’ ability to nourish their babies. This is another example of the curious behavior of our species, that we would prefer to spend thousands of dollars on something that our bodies can produce for free. Baring serious illness, or a pre-existing condition, breast feeding can almost always provide excellent nutrition without the need for supplementation. If for some reason breast feeding is not possible, or not the best choice for you, reading the ingredient list on the back of that can of formula will serve you and your baby well.

Similac Sensitive Infant Formula:

Ingredients: Corn Syrup, Sugar, Milk Protein Isolate, High Oleic, Safflower Oil, Soy Oil, Galacto-Oligosaccaride: Less Than 2% of: C. Cohnii Oil, M. Alpina Oil, Beta-Carotene, Lutein, Lycopene, Calcium Phosphate, Potassium Citrate, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Citrate, Magnesium Phosphate, Ascorbic Acid, Calcium Carbonate, Choline Chloride, Ferrous Sulfate, Magnesium Chloride, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Choline Bitartrate, Taurine, M-Inositol, D-Alpha-Tocopheryl Acetate, Zinc Sulfate, Mixed Tocopherols, L-Carnitine, Niacinamide, Calcium Pantothenate, Vitamin A Palmitate, Cupric Sulfate, Thiamine Chloride Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pydroxide Hydrochloride, Folic Acid, Manganese Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Phylloquinone, Biotin, Sodium Selenate, Vitamin D3, Cyanocobalamin, Potassium Hydroxide And Nucleotide (Adenosine 5’monophosphate, Cytide 5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5′-Monophosphate). Galacto-Oligosaccharides Are Sourced from Milk (Gos). C. Cohnii Oil Is A Source of DHA. M. Alpina Oil Is A Source of Ara.

Yup you read that right, first two ingredients are……wait for it….corn syrup and sugar!? This is followed by milk powder, some cheap oils, and then a long list of synthetic vitamins and minerals. The vitamins and minerals are not going to counteract the negative effects of the high sugar content. And do we really have to talk about why corn syrup is not suitable food for an infant? The list of illnesses that can be attributed to consumption of refined sugar and corn syrup gets longer all the time. This ingredient list makes me want to cry.

Enfamil Premium Newborns:

Ingredients: nonfat milk, lactose, vegetable oil (Palm Olein, coconut, soy, and high oleic sunflower oils, whey protein concentrate, galactooligosaccharides*, Poly-dextrose*, and less than 1% mortierella alpina oil**, crypthecodinium cohnii oil***, hydrochloride, riboflavin, vitamin B6 Hydrochloride, Vitamin B12, Niacinamide, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Ascorbic Acid, Inositol, Calcium Carbonate, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Oxide, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Potassium Iodide, Sodium Selenite, Potassium Citrate, Choline Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Sodium Chloride, Nucleotides (Cytidine 5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5′-Monophosphate, Adenosine 5′-Monophosphate, Disodium Guano-sine 5′-Monophotate), Taurine, L-Carnitine.

*a type of prebiotic
**A source of Arachidonic Acid (ARA)
***A source of Docosahexanenoic Acid (DHA)

This one at least gets credit for having no sugar, and including a pre-biotic. Even so its got a long list of hard to pronounce ingredients, some of which could include GMO corn and soy. Also there is no reason that a new born needs to be consuming non fat milk. Babies need milk fat and cholesterol. Also the process of making powdered skim milk creates a substance that contains oxidized cholesterol and neuro-toxic amino acids.

Earth’s Best Organic Sensitivity Infant Formula with DHA and ARA:

Ingredients: Organic Glucose Syrup Solids, Organic Palm Oil or Palm Olein, Organic Whey Protein Concentrate, Organic Soy Oil, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic High Oleic (Safflower or Sunflower) Oil, Less Than 1%: Mortierella Alpina Oil (Arachidonic Acid), Cryphecodinium Cohnii Oil (Docosahexaenoic Acid), Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta-Carotene, Vitamin D (Cholecalciferol), Vitamin K, (Phytonadione), Mixed Tocopherol Concentrate, Vitamin E (Di-Alpha-Tocopherol Acetate), Ascorbyl Palmitate, Thiamin Hydrochloride, Riboflavin, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Cyanocobalamin, Niacinamide, Folic Acid, Calcium Pantothenate, Biotin, Ascorbic Acid, Choline Chloride, Inositol, Calcium Chloride, Calcium Hydroxide, Calcium Phosphate, Ferrous Sulfate, Zinc Sulfate, Manganese Sulfate, Cupric Sulfate, Magnesium Phosphate, Potassium Bicarbonate, Potassium Chloride, Potassium Iodide, Potassium Hydroxide, Sodium Selenite, Sodium Citrate, Taurine, Soy Lecithin, Nucleotides (Adenosine 5′ Monophosphate, Cytidine 5 Monophosphate, Disodium Guanosine 5′ Monophosphate, Disodium Uridine 5′ Monophosphate). Contains: Soy and Milk. Good Manufacturing Practices are used to prevent introduction of undeclared allergens.

Glucose Syrup Solids is a fancy word for sugar made from startch, usually corn, again not a good food choice. This is probably the best product of the three since its organic, but its still not the best choice.

One thing that the formula industry is desperate to keep quiet are the number of recalls that have taken place for their products. Usually these recalls are due to contamination of some kind or a lack of of essential ingredients, such as iron. Between 1982 and 1994 there were twenty-two significant recalls of various brands of artificial milk powders, including those made by Enfamil and Similac, involving contamination or ingredients that were potentially life threatening to babies. Remember that even if certain lots have been listed as “recalled” on the FDA’s website, many packages and cans have already been bought and consumed. How many mom’s have time to check the FDA’s website regularly to make sure the formula they are feeding their babies has not been recalled?

So what is a mother to do if breast feeding is not possible? The Weston Price Foundation has listed a couple recipes for home made formula what is comprised of whole food ingredients. A link to these recipes can be found here: There is also an Eats on Feets program in Reno which provides donor breast milk to families. Here is a link to their Facebook page:

1.) Gaskin, Ina May, “Ina May’s Guide to Breastfeeding,” Bantham Books, New York 2009
2.)Romm, Aviva Jill, “Naturally Healthy Babies and Children,” Celestial Arts, Berkeley, 2003
3.) Greene, Alan, MD, “Feeding Baby Green,” Josey Bass, San Francisco 2009