What is in Baby Formula?

And 5 reasons why you should avoid giving it to your baby!

what is in baby formula


When my first child was born, I thought I didn’t have enough milk on day one – a mistake, I learned, made by many, many new moms.  So I allowed the hospital nurse to feed my daughter some baby formula.  Well what do you know, the little one threw it up right away!


That should have been my first clue, my own child was practically saying ‘don’t feed me that stuff mom!”.


But I was a first time mom….what did I know?  Throughout the nine months I breastfed my baby, I used formula as a supplement – on the days I felt I didn’t have enough milk or the days when I felt she was still hungry after a feed.  What I didn’t realize was that milk supply responds directly to milk demand- meaning the more you feed your baby, the more milk your body makes.  So replace a feed with formula and your body gets the signal to produce less milk. And the cycle goes on.

It’s only later when I was expecting my second child that I started researching into what is in baby formula.  And as a consequence, my second child got the advantage of being exclusively breast fed.



Before I go any further, let me make one thing clear: yes, I am a breast feeding fanatic. But there’s no judgement here for or against moms who choose to (or have to) feed their baby formula milk.

I get that for some moms it seems like there’s no option.  And sometimes the environment around us is not very conducive to breast feeding.

So please please, please don’t shoot the messenger…. I am in no way bashing bottle-feeding moms or elevating breastfeeding moms.  I know us moms are all doing the best we can with our kids.

My objective here is simply to share what I learned on my breastfeeding journey so that if you are thinking of feeding your baby formula, at least you are armed with knowledge about what is in baby formula.   Knowledge, as we all know, is power, and leads to (hopefully) better decisions



The fact is, according to Wikipedia, “despite the recommendation that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months, less than 40% of infants below this age are exclusively breastfed worldwide.  The overwhelming majority of American babies are not exclusively breastfed for this period – in 2005 under 12% of babies were breastfed exclusively for the first 6 months, with over 60% of babies of 2 months of age being fed formula,  and approximately one in four breastfed infants having infant formula feeding within two days of birth” .

It’s no wonder that the baby food and  formula industry was a $35 billion business in 2015 according to Nielsen.

But according to Dr. Mercola, barring certain medical conditions, most women are able to produce enough milk to be able to breastfeed successfully.  Let’s admit it ladies, there’s a reason nature designed things the way it did; babies are designed to drink human milk and moms are designed to make it for them!  And with the invention of breast pumps some 40 years ago, a mom certainly has a lot more options now when it comes to breastfeeding.

Here is my list of 5 reasons you should avoid feeding your baby formula:

1. It’s a completely processed food.

Baby formula is typically made with cow milk protein that has been modified to be more like breast milk.  What does that even mean?

Milk contains two types of proteins: whey and casein.  In human milk, 60-80% is whey, while the remainder is casein. The ratio varies according to the nutritional needs of the baby and is designed to be quickly and easily digested by the baby. Which is probably why breast fed babies are always hungry!

In cow’s milk, approximately 82% of milk protein is casein and the remaining 18% is whey protein.  Babies are unable to digest non-human milk in its original form and to bring it close to mother’s milk, the entire composition of the milk has to be changed.

In addition, the fat, carbohydrate and mineral composition has to be modified and several additives added, some of which are GMO.  Check this link here for a review of Gerber and Enfamil formulas.

Yes, you can choose organic, GMO free brand of formula, but the truth is, breast milk contains many ingredients that cannot be duplicated by processing cow’s milk in the laboratory.


2. Health Risks

It’s a known fact that formula fed babies have a higher rate of ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, obesity, leukemia, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, and SIDS (Sudden infant death syndrome).


3. Benefits for Mom

Personally, I felt that with breast feeding, all the excess baby fat I had gained literally vanished effortlessly.  It also releases the feel good hormone oxytocin which helps your uterus shrink quickly to its normal size.  According to WebMD, breastfeeding also reduces your risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

4. Antibodies

Formula lacks the antibodies present in breast milk that protect infants from common childhood diseases like diarrhea and pneumonia, two of the most common causes of infant mortality world wide.

5. Cost and Convenience.

Compared to breast milk that costs nothing, formula is expensive.  And cumbersome.  You have to sterilize bottles, carry filtered water and the powder to be able to feed the baby when you’re out and about.

In conclusion, if you have a choice, choose breast milk, even if you are unable to feed the child at your breast and have to pump out every feed.  Your child’s health will thank you for it.