My cousin is about to have a baby.
This will be her first child, and she is starting to feel the pressure to get everything ready before the baby arrives. She called me in a semi-panic the other day, asking me to help her figure out what last minute things she still needed to do. One of the things on her to-do list was choosing the right formula, just in case there were any issues with breastfeeding. While I am a huge proponent of breastfeeding, I understood her request. We may try our hardest to make breastfeeding work, but there are situations, whether due to physical, logistical, or even emotional issues, when breastfeeding just doesn’t pan out. I was one of those people who had to stop breastfeeding earlier than I would have liked (for reasons I will write about soon). This means I know what it’s like to be scrambling to find a good organic formula, and also to feel more than frustrated at what is available to us in the U.S.
At first, my research brought me to Earth’s Best and Baby’s Only formulas. I liked Baby’s Only a lot, but I wasn’t crazy about the fact that they used brown rice syrup in their formula, since brown rice has been shown to sometimes have certain levels of arsenic in it.. Earth’s Best does not use brown rice formula, however they do add in DHA. This seems like it would be a good thing, but the concern with additives like DHA is how they are produced: the oil is extracted from algae and fungus with the use of hexane, a neurotoxic petroleum-based solvent. So I thought, do I give my daughter brown rice syrup (which could have of arsenic in it) or do I give her a formula which might have hexane? You can read more on how to find the safest organic infant formula here. Neither options felt perfect to me after having given my daughter only pure breast milk for months. It sort of felt like a double whammy, like look, you can’t breastfeed, AND ALSO your current food options may not be all that pure. In the end, because I had to make a decision quickly, I decided Earth’s Best was the lesser of the two evils until I could find a better option.
But then I found a better option: Holle formula. Holle has been a supplier of premium organic baby food in Europe for decades. They have an infant formula and also a toddler formula that I felt was superior to what you can find in the U.S. No hexane, no brown rice syrup, just good clean organic ingredients. It took me awhile to find a supplier who could ship this formula to the U.S., but once I did, I was elated. I should note that I switched my daughter over to the Holle goat’s milk version instead of the dairy version, as she was already showing a dairy allergy at that point. My pediatrician reviewed the ingredients and felt it covered all her nutritonal needs. If I had to do it again (and only if breastfeeding wasn’t an option), I would have gone straight to goat’s milk and introduce lactose after a year of age. But that is another story for another day.
If you are interested in getting Holle formula for your child, here is the link to the distributor I used: beyondorganicbaby.com. This formula isn’t cheap, that’s for sure. But none of the organic formulas really are.
Like I said, if you can breastfeed at all – even if that’s first day, first week, first month – do it! Those benefits stay with your baby for years to come. But, as I also told my cousin the other day, any decision you make will be just right. Here’s to a well-fed baby. And to a new baby cousin coming soon to our family!
Post to come: Good milk alternatives for children one year of age and up.