I will soon be opening babygabbie, an offshoot of Primrose Newborn Care, to help parents navigate the world of formula supplementation. As I've shared before, all 4 of my babies were combination fed with both breastmilk and formula during their first year of life.
It can be hard to start to supplement your baby when you are bombarded with the message "breast is best," and continually reminded of all of the benefits of breastmilk for babies!
I definitely felt like I was letting my oldest down when I had to transition her to formula when she was 2 months old and had similar feelings when I had to start supplementing my second child with formula when he was 4 months old.
A few things I have learned since then:
1. It's really common for breastfed babies to need supplemented at some point.
As you can see in this chart from the Centers for Disease Control, about 40% of breastfed babies in the U.S. are supplemented with formula by 6 months of age. I'm not sharing this to make a judgment call as to whether this is good or bad - it just shows how common supplementing is.
2. Formulas are not one-size-fits-all!
I have heard this (that baby formulas are all the same) from pediatricians, parents, lactation consultants, friends, in newborn support groups, etc.
While it's true that most babies do just fine on commonly available cow's milk protein based U.S. formulas (i.e. Similac Advance and Enfamil NeuroPro), there are some babies who need different types of formulas.
Alternate formula types include soy, amino acid-based, formulations for preemies, goat's milk formulas, and plant-based formulas (i.e. Else). My oldest had a very severe milk protein allergy as a baby and ended up reacting to both Alimentum and Nutramigen (both contain partially broken down, or hydrolyzed, cow's milk proteins). It was not until she was transitioned to Neocate (a special formula that is 100% amino acid based) that all of her symptoms went away and she began to grow and thrive.
3. There are very good infant and toddler formulas available in other parts of the world that American parents are going to great lengths to get (i.e. auctions on Ebay and from some very sketchy internet sites).
I am working on establishing relationships with legitimate and trustworthy retailers to be able to provide overseas formulas (from the EU and UK) to my clients in a safe and timely manner. Right now I am offering the UK version of HIPP on my website and I also have links for sites to buy other specialty formulas. I will also be providing individualized baby formula consults through my site.
I'm calling my business babygabbie after my 3rd child, Gabrielle, who was the biggest surprise of my life. I learned so many lessons when I had her in the middle of my super intense medical training, with both a 3 year old and 1 year old at home and an upcoming cross country move!
My babygabbie taught me lessons about flexibility, adaptability, and to also be easier on myself as a mother.
I hope that the parents I help through through my new endeavor have a similar experience and learn that everything will be okay in the end, no matter how their baby is fed (breastmilk, formula, or some combination of the two).