A History of Baby Formula – How Emergency Baby Food Became an Everyday Meal For Babies In America

I keep getting asked by various people – both genuine inquiries and incredulous outbursts – wondering why I am going to such great lengths to procure breast milk for my daughter since I cannot produce my own. “Why not just feed her formula?” “What do you have against formula?” “Are breastfeeding moms making you feel like a bad mother if you don’t give your baby breast milk?”
I have been meaning for a very long time now to put my thoughts on formula down into a blog post, but I just never got around to it! Part of the reason is because the topic is just so BIG! In fact, in writing this post, I’ve discovered I’m going to have to break it up into two posts.
The first part (this post) will deal with the history of formula. The second post (coming in a week or so) will go over the nutritional composition of formula vs. breast milk and take a closer look at the risks and benefits with exclusive formula feeding.

I need to clarify, that this post is NOT meant to demonize formula.

We are blessed to live in a day and age where babies are no longer dying of malnutrition and starvation if their mothers can’t breast feed. As an emergency measure formula is and always will be a literal life saver in the absence of other options. But exclusive formula feeding does have its serious flaws as a sole source of nutrition and, as I hope this post will illustrate, formula was NEVER intended to be eaten as everyday infant food, except in the direst of emergencies.
Babies NEED the ‘live’ food of human breast milk. Breast milk contains living cells, hormones, active enzymes, antibodies and at least 400 other unique components. It is a dynamic substance that provides active immunity and protection from disease every time a baby eats. Compared to this miraculous substance, the artificial milk sold as infant formula is literally little more than junk food.
Infant formula is the only manufactured food that humans are encouraged to consume exclusively for a period of months, even though we know that no human body can be expected to stay healthy and thrive on a steady diet of extremely processed food. In a follow up blog post I’ll outline the details of breast milk vs. formula on a nutritional scale, but for now, let’s take a closer look at the history of infant formula.

The History of Infant Formula

It is only in the last 60 years or so that we have embraced a bottle feeding culture that encourages mothers to give their babies highly processed infant formulas from birth. Mothers did not face the “breast or bottle” choice – nor did they even want to! – until quite recently, historically speaking.

Baby formula was never intended to be consumed on the widespread basis that it is today.


The 1800’s and Earlier – The Age of the Wet Nurse

Throughout history, if a woman was unable to produce milk for her child, or if the mother died leaving an orphan needing to be fed, the child was supplied with a wet nurse – that is, a woman who breastfeeds another’s child.
Wet nursing was a common practice before the introduction of the feeding bottle and formula. Wet nursing began as early as 2000 BC and extended until the 20th century. If a wet nurse could not be procured, a child was subject to starvation and malnutrition being fed animals milk through “dry nursing”. Lack of human milk literally meant life or death to infants up to the early 1800’s.

baby bottles

1845 to 1846 – The Invention of the Rubber Nipple and Baby Bottle

Evidence suggests that artificial bottles and nipples were used since ancient times, made from crude devices trying to simulate a mother nipple. Vessels of all shapes and sizes have been found, dating back thousands of years BC. Clay feeding vessels with oblong nipple shaped spouts dating from 2000 BC onwards have been found in graves of newborn infants. These crude feeding bottles – and issues with their cleanliness were written about throughout the Roman Era, Middle Ages, and the Renaissance.
But it wasn’t until 1845, when Elijah Pratt invented and patented the India-rubber nipple that a truly functional and successful nipple substitute was invented. When orphaned newborns were effortlessly achieving a “latch” on these new rubber nipples that truly simulated a mothers breast, the problem of getting food into a motherless child was solved. Now, attentions quickly shifted to the problem of finding a food, or “dry nursing” that didn’t result in so many deaths.
As early as 1846, scientists and nutritionists made the medical problems and infant mortality associated with dry nursing a priority and set to work coming up with the world’s first “baby formula”.

1867 to 1888 – Infant Formula is Invented

In 1867, Justus von Liebig developed the world’s first commercial infant formula, Liebig’s Soluble Food for Babies, which was manufactured and sold in London by the Liebig’s Registered Concentrated Milk Company. Liebig did not challenge the obvious fact that mother’s milk was the perfect infant food, but he did claim that he had succeeded in concocting a substance whose chemical makeup was “virtually identical to that of mother’s milk”.
The success of this product quickly gave rise to competitors such as Mellin’s Infant Food, Ridge’s Food for Infants and Nestlé’s Milk. By 1883, there were 27 patented brands of infant food on the market.
However, formula was still rightly seen as an emergency food for babies that would otherwise starve. The foods were fattening but lacked valuable nutrients like protein, vitamins, and minerals. As stated in the Boston Daily Globe on April 11, 1880, “The Duty of Every Mother and especially those who are charged with the delicate and great responsibility of rearing hand-fed children, is to investigate the merits of the best artificial food in the case of the preservation of infant life.”


1890 to 1907 – Homemade Baby Formulas Are Introduced

While infant formula did see a drastic decrease in infant mortality, medical experts still shared widespread agreement that it was not a guaranteed cure-all. Despite the claims of being “virtually identical to mothers milk”, many infants still died from undernourishment, scurvy, rickets and bacterial infections.
As physicians became increasingly concerned about the quality of commercial formula and realized that formula was not sufficient to meet the digestive needs of infants, medical recommendations such as Thomas Morgan Rotch’s “percentage method” (published in 1890) began to be distributed, and gained widespread popularity by 1907. These complex formulas recommended that parents mix cow’s milk, water, cream, and sugar or honey in specific ratios to achieve the nutritional balance believed to approximate human milk.
These homemade formulas were less expensive, and were widely believed to be healthier. However, even these formula fed babies continued to exhibit diet-associated medical problems, such as scurvy, rickets and bacterial infections that breastfed babies did not succumb to.


1908 to 1950 – Evaporated Milk Formula’s Take America By Storm

In the 1910’s, evaporated milk began to be widely commercially available at low prices. Conveniently, milk corporations funded clinical studies that suggested that babies fed evaporated milk formula thrive “as well as breastfed babies”. This is a claim that is simply not supported by modern research, and for the time, amounted to a giant money fueled lie.


At the time, the widespread claims, accompanied by the affordable price of evaporated milk and the availability of the home icebox, initiated a tremendous rise in the use of evaporated milk formulas in American homes. As more women entered the workforce and relied on bottle feeding to nourish their children, “instant baby food” seemed like a miracle food. By the late 1930s, the use of evaporated milk formulas in the United States surpassed all commercial formulas, and by 1950 over half of all babies in the United States were reared on evaporated milk.


1951 to 1970 – Commercial Formula’s Begin Aggressive Advertising Campaigns

In the late 1950s, Alfred Bosworth released a reformulation and concentration of Similac (for “similar to lactation”), and Mead Johnson released Enfamil (for “infant meal”). Several other formulas were released over the next few decades, and along with extremely aggressive advertising campaigns with exaggerated claims of health benefits and complete nutrition, commercial formulas began to seriously compete with evaporated milk formulas. The overall popularity of formula began to soar in a social climate that increasingly viewed breast feeding as “dirty” and “unclean”.
In 1959 marketing campaigns provided inexpensive formula to hospitals and pediatricians for endorsements and by the early 1960s, commercial formulas were more commonly used than evaporated milk formulas in the United States, which all but vanished in the 1970s.


1971 to 1996 – Formula Feeding Deaths and Ill Health Raise Public Awareness

By the early 1970s, over 75% of American babies were fed on formulas, almost entirely commercially produced.
When birth rates in industrial nations tapered off during the 1970s, infant formula companies heightened marketing campaigns in non-industrialized countries. Unfortunately, poor sanitation led to steeply increased mortality rates among infants fed formula prepared with contaminated water. Additionally, third world women using formula would lose their natural milk supply from lack of nursing, and then would resort to adding three times the amount of recommended water to formula to try and stretch the food for their children, resulting in mass deaths from malnutrition.
UNICEF estimates that a formula-fed child living in disease-ridden and unhygienic conditions is up to 25 times more likely to die of diarrhea and four times more likely to die of pneumonia than a breastfed child.
After an estimated 1.2 million deaths directly related to formula feeding in third world countries, organized protests – the most famous of which was the Nestlé boycott of 1977 – called for an end to unethical marketing.
The unethical spread of infant formula – an emergency supplement being peddled as a “healthy” food choice – resulted in the forming of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes. This is is an international health policy framework for breastfeeding promotion adopted by the World Health Assembly of the World Health Organization in 1981. The Code was developed as a global public health strategy and recommends restrictions on the marketing of infant formula to ensure that mothers are not discouraged from breastfeeding and that substitutes are used safely and only when absolutely needed.


1997 to Present – The Breast or Bottle Culture 

Despite the efforts of public awareness campaigns, the “fast food” culture in America still sees a widespread use of infant formula use.
In addition to commercially marketed brands, generic brands (or store brands) of infant formula were introduced in the United States in 1997, first by PBM Products. These private label formulas are sold by many leading food and drug retailers such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Walgreens.
However, as the short and long term health risks of exclusive formula feeding as a lifestyle is increasingly coming to light, leading health organizations (WHO, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Department of Health and Human Services, along with non-profits such as Le Leche League) are still attempting to reduce the use of infant formula and increase the prevalence of breastfeeding from birth through 12 to 24 months of age through public health awareness campaigns.
At this point, the choice to breast feed or bottle feed is muddled in a war between medical science and basic nutrition vs. greedy marketing in a fast food culture. Today, the global infant formula market – a product that from its inception has only ever been and still only is an emergency baby food – is now estimated at $11.5 billion.
Data in the United States clearly shows that babies in otherwise affluent societies are still falling ill and dying due to an early exclusive diet of emergency infant food. Research shows increasing trends of formula-fed children developing atopy, diabetes mellitus, and childhood obesity – simply for the convenience of a quick meal for baby.


Quick Facts About Infant Formula Today

– To this day, there is no actual ‘formula’ for formula. The process of producing infant formulas has, since its earliest days, been one of trial and error.
– Baby formula ingredients are largely a mystery. Only the manufacturers know what’s in their stuff, and they aren’t telling, nor are they legally required to do so via “trade secret” status.
– Some formulas are known to contain toxic and dangerous ingredients. Just like many baby products on the market, some commercial formulas include some frightening ingredients – from sweeteners like corn syrup to preservatives like cupric sulfide, a toxic pesticide.
– Within reason, manufacturers can put anything they like into formula. In fact, the recipe for one product can vary from batch to batch, according to the price and availability of ingredients. While we assume that formula is heavily regulated, no transparency is required of manufacturers. They do not, for example, have to log the specific constituents of any batch or brand with any authority.
– Vitamins and trace elements are added, but not always in their most easily digestible form. This means that the claims that formula is ‘nutritionally complete’ may be technically true, but it adds excessive stress to a babies tender organs. (And NO formula contains the live enzymes and immunity boosting properties of live breast milk!)
– Many formulas are highly sweetened. While most infant formulas do not contain sugar in the form of sucrose, they can contain high levels of other types of sugar such as lactose (milk sugar), fructose (fruit sugar), glucose (also known as dextrose, a simple sugar found in plants) and maltodextrose (malt sugar). Because of a loophole in the law, these can still be advertised as ‘sucrose free’.
– The FDA states that upwards of 90% of formulas regularly contain unintentional contaminants. Contaminants introduced during the manufacturing process range from metals like aluminum, cadmium, lead or worse. Bacteria and trace amounts of melamine, the toxic chemical linked to kidney damage, are also regular contaminants.

What We’ve Learned From the History of Infant Formula

Because it is not – and never has been! – nutritionally complete, and because it does not contain the immune-boosting properties of breast milk, it has been well established that the health effects of sucking down formula day after day early in life can be devastating in both the short and the long term.
The World Health Organization has warned that, “lack of breastfeeding—and especially lack of exclusive breastfeeding during the first half-year of life—are important risk factors for infant and childhood morbidity and mortality”.
When it comes to feeding your growing child, there is no health-based reason to opt for nutritionally void emergency rations. Research suggests that breastfeeding prevents adverse health conditions, whereas formula-feeding is linked with their development. This evidence confirms breastfeeding is and always has been the best source of infant nutrition and the safest method of infant feeding.
Thanks for sticking around for this gi-normous post! And can you believe it.. I have a part two! Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for my closer look at the benefits of breast milk laid out side by side with the nutritional profile of infant formulas!

What are your thoughts on breast or bottle? Share kindly and politely below!

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Gingi Freeman
Gingi Freeman
Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls.

Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Gingi Freeman

Gingi is a photographer, cosplayer, amateur chef, crazy cat lady, anime otaku, bookworm, generic geek, world traveler, conservative Christian, homeschooler, devoted military wife and stay at home new mother of two little girls. Gingi blogs about anything and everything that is relevant to being a supermom, stay at home wife, homeschooler and geek girl! You can contact her at gingifreeman@gmail.com or via the contact form on her website at www.domesticgeekgirl.com

62 thoughts on “A History of Baby Formula – How Emergency Baby Food Became an Everyday Meal For Babies In America

  • 18 March, 2014 at 3:12 am

    if i could i would breast feed my daughter i did in the hospital for the 3 days i was there and for a few weeks after but she needed so much and i developed well.. lets just say a major case of the “baby blues” and i didnt know anyone who was breast feeding at the time and didn’t feel comfortable asking a stranger for her milk looking back now i wish i would have tried to find someone a now a day wet nurse. but my daughter is on formula and she is almost one she is strong and smart little late on her teeth and her legs are a little short but i wouldn’t want her any other way i had to get back on my medicine that i stopped taking when i was pregnant i didn’t rely have a choice. but i rly like this blog allot its true formula back in the day was horrible. even now we were warned by a nurse that some company’s don’t make sure its clean before they package it and there has been things found in cans. i can not member witch ones but i know it was an off brand mothers who dont have enough money get. formula is vry expensive its $20.00 for a small can. trust me if you can breast feed its cheaper and healthy

    • 18 March, 2014 at 3:20 pm

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts! I’m so sorry to hear about your bad case of the baby blues… that STINKS. I had a tiny case that mostly resulted in my being depressed and crying every time we passed a Starbucks and I didn’t have money to buy a latte. Talking to other women they were like, “You think THAT was baby blues?!” So apparently I had it easy! lol.

      Sounds like you were in a tricky situation, and I get the fear of getting “strangers milk”. I discovered through groups like Human Milk 4 Human Babies and Eats on Feets that making new friends, that you come to love and trust, and that are willing to share their milk supply is easy! I have some great friends now that I met through milk sharing. I think groups like those need more exposure so women in situations like yours don’t feel so out of options. *hugs* Sounds like you’re a great momma! Thanks for stopping by my page and commenting!

    • 11 August, 2016 at 2:55 pm

      Post partum depression is real and many women suffer from it. However, many healthcare providers aren’t aware that most medications for depression can be taken by a breastfeeding mother. Very little is passed into the breastmilk and even less is actually absorbed by the baby though their gut. Drug companies are not required to do the studies that determine how much of the medication impacts breastfeeding or gets into the breastmilk so it doesn’t get published in the usual drug books. However, there are organizations that do independent studies on this and publish. The Infant Risk Center publishes a book written by researcher Dr.Thomas Hale and the National Institutes of Health publishes a website that is available for free for all to see called Lactmed. Pharmacists are also aware of which medications can be taken while breastfeeding. If there’s a specific medication that is not compatible breastfeeding, there may be others to choose from that are AND still treat the condition. It’s sad that more information on lactation and these resources are not taught in medical school or nursing school to provide mothers with accurate information.

      • 30 August, 2016 at 7:21 pm

        Thank you for this. I am going to look this up i have been turning my doctor away for the meds i should take for 18months now because they say none are good for breast feeding and im letting him stop when he wants to. I can deal with my pain for his health but i cant believe they didnt fully look around for an option for me but instead just keep saying quit feeding him.

  • 18 March, 2014 at 11:04 am

    I would really like to see the studies that you found a lot of this information with. Particularly the one that states ‘Data in the United States clearly shows that babies in otherwise affluent societies are still falling ill and dying due to an early exclusive diet of emergency infant food. Research shows increasing trends of formula-fed children developing atopy, diabetes mellitus, and childhood obesity – simply for the convenience of a quick meal for baby.’
    There have been studies released stating that formula is not the poison that some make it out to be, and in fact I have three very healthy, thriving children who have never had a drop of breast milk.
    I could comment on a lot of what was posted here, as being incorrect or misleading, but the one point I want to focus on is the millions of babies who died in third world countries. I don’t have the study handy in front of me, but it has been proven that this wasn’t due to the formula itself. Rather it was due to lack of education and access to correct methods of sterilization.

    • 18 March, 2014 at 2:52 pm

      Several research investigations support the prevention of atopy by breastfeeding. For example, in a randomized study of 216 high-risk infants, Chandra (1997) found a significant relationship between the presence of atopy and the use of formulas. Atopy was least likely to occur in children who were breastfed. Wilson et al. (1998) and Kull et al. (2002) found that the probability of asthma was significantly reduced in children who breastfed exclusively for at least 15 weeks. Additionally, Kull et al. (2002) followed 4,089 infants from birth to 2 years of age and found that exclusive breastfeeding for 4 months or longer significantly reduced the development of asthma and eczema.

      Evidence suggests that a short duration of breastfeeding and an early introduction of cow’s milk may trigger pancreatic beta-cell autoimmunity resulting in Type 1 diabetes. Gimeno and De Souza (1997) found a moderate hazard for the development of Type 1 diabetes for infants breastfed less than 5 months and for infants introduced to cow’s milk products before 8 days of age. Kimpimaki et al. (2001) monitored duration of exclusive breastfeeding in 2,949 infants with an increased genetic risk for beta-cell autoimmunity, until 4 years of age. Results indicated that infants breastfed exclusively for at least 4 months had a lower risk of seroconversion for Type 1 diabetes than infants breastfed exclusively for less than 2 months. Evidence also suggests that breastfeeding results in lower plasma glucose levels than formula-feeding (Young et al., 2002). Additionally, breastfeeding reduces the incidence of childhood obesity (Gillman et al., 2001; Kries et al., 1999), which may prevent Type 2 diabetes mellitus. Young et al. (2002) performed a case-control study of 92 Type 2 diabetic and nondiabetic children and found a strong benefit for infants who were breastfed longer than 12 months.

      Kries et al. (1999) examined the impact of breastfeeding on the risk of childhood obesity in 9,357 children who were 5 to 6 years of age and were participating in a mandatory school health examination. Results indicated that breastfeeding prevented childhood obesity and that breastfeeding for a longer duration enhanced the prevention. Gillman et al. (2001) examined type of infant feeding in association with being overweight in over 15,000 adolescents. Results indicated that breastfed infants who are breastfed for a longer duration have the lowest risk of being overweight as an adolescent.

      The US Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, and Journal of Perinatal Education have ENDLESS stats, studies and links to these topics, if you truly cared to verify them. You can check out a thorough article with links to references here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2684040/

      And yes, the introduction of formula did cause a drastic increase in infant deaths in countries that already were plagued by high infant mortality. Those numbers are also verifiable. It was the formula that prompted mothers to stop breast feeding, lead children to have compromised immunity, and have increased exposure to contaminated water. Saying “the formula didn’t kill those babies” is like saying, “The bullet didn’t kill that man, bleeding to death killed him.”

      • 10 July, 2014 at 10:18 pm

        This is very very impressive! Thank you for your excellent article and follow-up posts!

        • 11 July, 2014 at 3:22 pm

          No problem! Thank you for reading!

      • 28 August, 2016 at 1:17 pm

        Incredible response – boom! Lol. Might just copy and paste and use! Thanks for a fab post x

      • 28 August, 2016 at 8:47 pm

        All of those studies that you cite are nearly 15 to 20 years old and have been found to have serious flaws. As a result, there are serious flaws and inaccuracies in your articl, especially the so-called “fact” section.

    • 18 March, 2014 at 2:55 pm

      And regarding deaths in America: A study published in the journal Pediatrics, (May 2004), titled “Breastfeeding and the Risk of Postneonatal Death in the United States,” reports a 21% reduction in infant death for having EVER breastfed, meaning 27% more infant deaths occur when no breastmilk is provided. The impact is under-reported for two reasons. First, deaths in the first month, the greatest amount of deaths, were not counted. Second, the exclusiveness of breastfeeding is a huge factor and is not part of this measurement.

      When they compare 3 months of any breastfeeding to less or no breastfeeding, the reported reduction is 36%. That translates actually to 56% more infant deaths for those receiving exclusively formula!

    • 18 March, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Please let me know if there is anything else you’d like clarified that you feel is “incorrect of misleading”. I can assure you, I thoroughly research my topic before posting them and would be more than happy to point you in the direction of the studies and medical journals I’ve perused. ^_^

    • 20 May, 2016 at 3:58 am

      Personal experience is the weakest body of evidence. The health of your three children is not significant here, although I am happy and glad they are healthy. It’s an emotive subject and difficult to remain objective. My nieces are currently formula fed. It makes me sad that my sister did not embrace some of the more educated support that was offered. But comments like “my children are healthy and they did not receive any breast milk” may be enough to push a tired, hormonal, vulnerable new mother to supplementing when actually she needs love and support and encouragement to stick with it. This discussion has been polite and constructive I hope and I think the article warrants all the praise and sharing possible! I will never believe, and I think people who do believe are naive, that we could out perform evolution in such simplistic ways. Peace!

    • 7 September, 2016 at 7:19 pm

      “Breastfed children have at least 6 times greater chance of survival in the early months than non-breastfed children,” – UNICEF Nutrition Specialist,Ada Ezeogu

      “If every child was breastfed within an hour of birth, given only breast milk for their first six months of life, and continued breastfeeding up to the age of two years, about 800 000 child lives would be saved every year. ”

      – 1Black RE, Victora CG, Walker SP, and the Maternal and Child Nutrition Study Group. Maternal and child undernutrition and overweight in low-income and middle-income countries. Lancet 2013; published online

  • 18 March, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    I absolutely love this. Thank you for breaking down the history of formula- I know that it is a touchy subject but knowledge is power. I didn’t breastfeed my twin girls, but I wish that I had known all of these things back then (the info just isn’t presented to young moms), but now I am breastfeeding my son and I am very happy with that decision! 20 mos and going strong. Sending blessings and love:)

    • 18 March, 2014 at 3:09 pm

      Thanking your for commenting! It’s awesome to hear the thoughts of people that take the time to read these posts that I spend waaaaaaay too much time researching, haha! Glad to know you found it interesting and educational! Blessings and love momma, and awesome job living, learning and adapting as a mother… that’s what life is all about! ^_^

  • 18 March, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    Awesome job! As you know, I was never able to exclusively breast feed. I found that some formulas were really bad for you kids. Poor Jeremy had it the worse…he was so sick with diarrhea and they changed forumlas on us a few times. Of course, back then we introduced baby foods really early, so a combo of ‘fast food’ for babies was the norm. I’m glad you have the whole world of information at your finger tips! You are blessing so many by sharing the knowledge. Keep up the good work.

    • 19 March, 2014 at 3:17 pm

      What I don’t get, is that in this age of information, where ignorance really IS a choice, why so many people remain so resistant to unfolding information. Life is a journey. If we cannot learn, adapt and evolve with medical science and the current culture, we are doomed to stay in the past and repeat the mistakes of the past. Information isn’t the enemy. So often when I blog about this topic, people get upset with me. I don’t get that.. I’m only sharing easily verifiable facts. DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER!!! lol

  • 19 March, 2014 at 3:50 am

    Interesting stuff! Learned A LOT! Confirmed my desire and drive to find breast milk for my daughter. I have compation for mothers who feel there is no other option but formula. Although I do know certain health issues really do give them no choice. I have a friend who’s little guy can’t process the protein in breast milk. I totally understand looking at formula as a last resort though. I just can’t read enough articles on the benefits. I’ve even seen it used as a treatment for cancer patients! I look forward to the second post. 🙂

    • 19 March, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      Yeah, we are blessed to live in an age where formula is available. My pantry is stocked up with formula in case I ever need to feed Tessa and have no other option. I have hope that someday, maybe, formula can actually begin to match the benefits of human milk. That would be awesome! But in it’s current state, there’s no doubt that human milk is best for human babies!

      • 21 March, 2014 at 5:13 am

        100% agree! 🙂 I also have backup formula.

        • 21 March, 2014 at 1:37 pm

          That’s because we are awesome and prepared for ANYTHING!! ^_^

  • 21 March, 2014 at 5:16 am

    Just re-read my first comment and realized it sounded like I was saying formula is used by has tons if benefits and is used by cancer patients. No! Breast milk is what
    I meant! Blah.

    • 21 March, 2014 at 1:38 pm

      I didn’t think it read like that! But I need to research more on the whole breast milk cancer patients thing.. I’m actually not familiar with that!

  • 21 May, 2014 at 9:05 pm

    That was really interesting. When I was pregnant way back 1988 breastfeeding was posed as an option, but bottle feeding was much more encouraged. I had planned to breastfeed, but my mom talked me out of it. I wish now I hadn’t listened to her, but it is over and done with, and my daughter grew up just fine 🙂

  • 26 May, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    This is great! Would you mind listing a few of your main references/links used for your post? Not because I’m questioning you; in fact I’m breastfeeding as I type this. 😉 I’m doing an essay for school and I chose my topic to be about normalizing breastfeeding again. To avoid plagiarism, I need to do my own research. I just loved your list of ‘facts’!

  • 14 March, 2015 at 2:49 pm

    To your,
    “In the 1910’s, evaporated milk began to be widely commercially available at low prices. Conveniently, milk corporations funded clinical studies that suggested that babies fed evaporated milk formula thrive “as well as breastfed babies”. This is a claim that is simply not supported by modern research, and for the time, amounted to a giant money fueled lie.”

    You are likely onto uncovering something that is all too pervasive in our modern ‘Medical-Industrial Complex’. Please Google the terms ‘NIDR’, ‘PLOS’, Sugar Industry, ‘dental research agenda’ and Cristin Kearns, UCSF.

    Last Tuesday a scientific paper was released in the journal PLOS that pretty much verified that ‘Big Sugar’ manipulated govt. finding of the dental research agenda relative to the harmful effects of sugar on teeth and gums; I was interviewed by Time Magazine to comment on the paper per my background in nutrition and dental research.

    I am impressed by your diligence expressed on this essay about history of formula feeding, etc. and would like to speak with you personally at some point about possibly collaborating on an investigation into documents that might shed light on how the AMA’s Nutrition Council might have similarly been misguided by influence from the formula industry and their shareholders. The implications are large relative to the vast numbers of children and (now) adults who suffer, or deemed at increased susceptibility to suffer, from non-communicable chronic diseases (NCD’s) like T2 diabetes, CVD, sleep apnea, obesity, etc..

    Please contact me directly if interested in pursuing this parallel line of inquiry.

    Kevin Boyd, DDS (Peds), MSc(Nutrition)


  • 26 August, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    The vast majority of studies have selection bias issues. See: Improved Estimates of the Benefits of Breastfeeding Using Sibling Comparisons to Reduce Selection Bias.

    I also don’t agree with the statement in large bold text that reads: I need to clarify, that this post is NOT meant to demonize formula.

    When later on you write:

    At this point, the choice to breast feed or bottle feed is muddled in a war between medical science and basic nutrition vs. greedy marketing in a fast food culture.

    I read that as formula is created by misleading greedy corporations and that the “fast food culture” people are poisoning their children. There is greed in the breastmilk industry too, who pays for the lactation specialists, who sells the pumps? What about that 14,361 breastmilk related products on amazon. Sounds like a pretty big industry to me.

    • 31 August, 2015 at 10:58 pm

      As much as has been a recent trend to create and market “breastfeeding” products, when it comes down to it, all you need are… breasts! Products that support breastfeeding, like support pillows, nursing attire and bras are there to help nursing moms nurse comfortably… but there’s never a dependence on them, nor is there sustained profits from using their products.

      Pumps, bottles, storage bags, etc. are not often needed if you’re not a working Mom or have a medical issue… which I think is why they are marketed so heavily. Great if you do need them… you know… just like formula. Advertised To make false dependence on a product.

    • 11 August, 2016 at 7:02 am

      Breast feeding my son didn’t cost me a penny- borrowed a breast pump ( oh correction I bought one bottle) but to no avail he was having none of it!

    • 2 November, 2016 at 4:12 pm

      Thank you JackC. Just what I was thinking. While I do believe, if you can, and you want to breastfeed, you should.I also believe that formula is a valid and safe option for those that can’t or don’t choone to. Fed is best, period. Why can’t people just raise their own kids and quit worrying how everyone else is feeding their kids.

  • 31 August, 2015 at 10:35 pm

    One of my senior research papers in college was something along the lines of “How a scientific discovery influenced popular culture.” Since I was a relatively new, young, breastfeeding mom (who supplemented occasionally with formula), I though formula’s introduction in society would be a good topic to write on. I was STUNNED at what I found, and the extent that marketing had on our culture (and on me). It seemed once commercialism got a hold of formula, medical research couldn’t hold it back. I can tell you, after doing that research, my 2nd baby never had formula, and my 3rd only had formula once… during a medical emergency.

    I appreciate your short overview, and links to sources in the comments. To those who are criticizing the article, know that what’s up on the page is just the tip of the iceberg. The information is out there, and if you ask your grandparents, they’ll likely affirm what you find.

  • 15 October, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    Wow, thank you for this post. It works like a charm. I’m sorry to say that I doubted this at first.

  • 3 March, 2016 at 9:01 pm

    An excellent read and I support Breastfeeding 100%. I would have appreciated scientific references for this so I could share with my friends. As the saying goes anyone can put anything on the inernet that they want to. I do believe all this just wish it had the references to go with it.

  • 10 March, 2016 at 1:16 pm

    It’s funny reading back on how history has changed. My siblings and I 1955-1966/were all raised on evaporated milk. Actually my older brother.and sister were breastfed and supplemented. To this day (we are all now 50-60) so far, knock wood, nine of us have ever had a serious illness or.ailment, out of 5 not one of us have ever even had a broken bone. We were all able to bear children as well. Just figured I’d add my input.

  • 20 April, 2016 at 3:25 am

    I get extremely upset when a mother just decides to bottle feed with out ever putting her baby to the breast. I successfully bf all three of my kids I went through hell but overcame every obstacle. I have made one bottle in my 14 years of being a mother what it did to my babies tummy I will never forget how bad I felt. Her gas smelt horrible her poop was hard and she cried non stop and that was just one bottle. I am on a mothering sight and more often then not I see posts of women concerned with blood in there babies poop or hard lil pellet poops I am saddened by lack of education on formula its there so women use it for what ever excuse they can come up with or lack of ambition or commitment

  • 19 May, 2016 at 4:56 pm

    i think what is often missed is that it’s not just about food.
    It’s about gut flora, immune systems, development of facial muscles, speech, attachment, bonding, hormonal response to a caregiver…. These things are just facts. It’s not about judgment. It’s about making INFORMED decisions.

    What we eat is important, starting with infant feeding & continuing throughout our lives. When in our adult lives do we say, “fed is best, it doesn’t matter what you eat as long as you are fed then you’ll be happy”? Never. Because we know it does matter. What we eat is important. How & what we feed our children is important. As the quote from the Lancet paper says “These matters are not trivial, and many mothers without support turn to a bottle of formula. Multiplied across populations and involving multinational commercial interests, this situation has catastrophic consequences on breastfeeding rates and the health of subsequent generations.”

    I am, however, grateful that we have formula for situations when it is actually needed. In these cases it does, in fact, save lives. Sometimes we do need it. But my hope is, for moms who want to breastfeed, that it is their last resort if they go with formula. Those women have the chance to breastfeed for longer. If breastfeeding doesn’t work, more mothers have donor milk available to them. Because the truth is that it is the natural process of nurturing life, and it is the healthiest choice for the mother and the child. Breastfeeding does so many amazing things that science can never replace.

    I have 3 children, baby 1 was formula fed from 4 months due to lack of understanding about the Virgin gut, and about cluster feeding and supply on demand. I wanted to do ‘better’ 2rd & 3rd time round and make the optimum decision to ebf- It was bloody hard. I cried second time around for 2 week at every feed due to cracked nipples but I fed through it and I’m now feeding my third with no issues ( . )( . )??
    I can’t change it but I know it wasn’t optimum. Absolutely no point in being defensive about it.

    Ebf on a scientific and factual level would be better- modified cows milk from a fake teat will never be best for a human, just like modified rat milk would never be best for a cow.

    What I do know is, I will educate myself and keep making better choices as much as I can, and support those yet to make those choices to do the same, rather than feeling guilt or being defensive.

    Nature always wins. It’s survival of the fittest at the end of the day, and whether it’s one generation or 15, the result of messing with what human babies require will become evident, no matter how ‘happy and healthy’ we seem now.

    Just my thoughts. Stay kind mamas ?

  • 20 May, 2016 at 12:36 am

    How’s about nursing baby with both fomula and breastfeeding? I tried very hard but could only produce 120ml per day for her 🙁 also my baby got angry when latching but no milk came out so i had to pump!

  • 22 May, 2016 at 11:15 pm

    I wish you’d explain the historic part of the slogan “Breast is best”… Because the way I’ve received it over and over again, for me it was never a positive sentence, never an inspiring sentence. I’d like to know what triggered people to choose and use that slogan.

  • 25 May, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    I was born in 1959 I believe our mother fed us Cows milk called enzalak it was cows milk with an enzyme for digestion unfortunately that was the year it was dirty to breast-feed as a result I had serious ADD throughout my whole life I’m intelligent but my computer screen tends to go down at times very frustrating to be 56 years old and realize that a lot of your health issues stem from that

    • 28 August, 2016 at 8:10 pm

      Lactavist are as bad as anti-vaxxers, blamming every problem on the lack of breastmilk. You have proof that not being breastfed caused your ADD and other health issues? I know many adults in my family who were breastfed as babies and toddlers and who suffer from health problems. My mother for example has diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, depression, had cancer despite being breastfed for a long time. Breastmilk is just not the miracle substance lactavist want you to believe. There are countless children and adults with ADD who were breastfed. Explain that?

  • 11 August, 2016 at 1:55 am

    This is very interesting history. Neither my mother nor my sisters breast fed their babies, but I went to a La Leche League meeting when I was pregnant with my first baby. I ended up with latch and supply issues and the other mothers were so helpful. IfI hadn’t found them, my son would have been weaned before a month old. It was so much easier with my 2nd and 3rd babies.

  • 11 August, 2016 at 3:08 am

    I never thought this way, how formula is a form of junk food and that after all it is highly processed. My daughter never had formula, I ran on little to almost no sleep, I always carried a small ice pack with a manual pump in my purse. For 17 months I never skipped 1 pumpng session or nursing session… However the moms are absolutely not to blame for choosing formula. When they do, after all its on everyones face, pediatricians make it crazy when babies are not gaining weight at the speed that they decided is the right one for that baby,moms are bullied all the time. It been decided that formula is fatter so therefore for it must be good. When anothers species of milk is good for a human? But I dont think moms or families are at all to blame… When they take the baby away from mom when baby is born and put a paci in their mouths or just feed them emergency food or formula.. They start by jeopardizing the nursing relationship within hours of being born… When womem rely on their OBs for nursing advise.. I actually never heard it goes well.. Ever.. Unless they are licensed lactation consultants… Hospital need to help educate moms on this matter.. Bigger babies.. Much fatter than they are supposed to be is definelty not better.. Formula feeding almost always overfeeds.. But again, i dont think its the mothers fault.. I do think its the care provider who during pregnancy doesnt tak about breastfeeding.. Women just get info on this at the end of pregnancy or after the baby is here..

  • 11 August, 2016 at 7:06 am

    Excellent post. Every new mum should read this to make an informed choice on how they intend to feed their children. Good work

  • 11 August, 2016 at 11:41 am

    This is powerful knowledge and educates people. Kudos to you. I have often wished to know the nutrition differences in fresh breast milk, frozen and pasteurized (milk banks). This finding will help mom’s to realise how much they compromising because I’ve often heard mom’s say “it’s pasteurized so lost most of the vitamins.” This education is vital. Now they know breast milk is best but before reaching for formula as a supplement they can consider milk banks or milk sharing. Many are reluctant to use a strangers milk so more education on that would help. Thank you for sharing this with the world!

  • 11 August, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Thank you for your article. I’m a lactation consultant working in public health. Other health issues and decisions are discussed by health care practitioners in terms of the risks of an intervention, not the benefits of doing the biological norm. Only breastfeeding has been marketed in terms of benefits but now we are starting to believe parents deserve informed consent and need to know the risks of formula before making their decisions.

  • 11 August, 2016 at 2:26 pm

    Very interesting information. It is sad that breast feeding has become a stigma and mothers are not given the necessary support needed to continue breast feeding or to start breastfeeding. It is also sad that formula is not regulated as strictly since it is supposed to be for baby consumption. I remember my grandmother suggesting evaporated milk and creating a formula for my niece when she was a baby. I always wondered why she found it logical…now it makes sense. Thanks for posting, can’t wait to read more.

  • 11 August, 2016 at 2:46 pm

    Than you so so much for posting this! Something like this has been needed to help educate people! I am 22, got pregnant at 19 and had my daughter at 20. It was never a question to not breastfeed. Maybe because my family is currently filled with older women who have all breastfed. When i used to have WIC in California everytime i would go in for my monthly appointment and i told them im breastfeeding (did for 2 years) i woyld get applause because i was told that 70% of girls my age choose to formula feed and never even considered breastfeeding! And I never fully understood why. I would also like to mention that in your post maybe you should mention a good alternative to formula at the end. I know a lot of older mothers who donate their breastmilk for other mothers and their babies. And i did my reasearch a while ago and the milk is always tested for its ‘cleanliness’ drugs ect. Before given to babies.

  • 11 August, 2016 at 4:28 pm

    I would love to have read about how slaves in America contributed to the history of breastfeeding. Wet nursing and other “titles” to include the social classes and how money and positions made a difference in who was breastfeed and who received substitutes.

  • 12 August, 2016 at 10:25 am

    Now if only the federal laws in this country provided job protection for more than just 12 weeks I believe more babies would be exclusively breastfed for longer! Such a shame to force women to return to work after only 3 short months to spend breastfeeding. Not to mention the fact that most women’s body’s aren’t fully healed until 6 months.

  • 12 August, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Impressive article !! Nice research. Ty

  • 13 August, 2016 at 5:40 pm

    When I developed Multiple Sclerosis with a diagnosis at 26 (obvious severe symptoms from about age 23, I knew years before the formal diagnosis what it was by looking up the symptoms), I naturally began researching. Imagine my horror when I found out that formula feeding is one major trigger of multiple sclerosis. I found out that Multiple Sclerosis and Diabetes Type 1 (childhood onset autoimmune destruction of the pancreas requiring daily insulin shots and blood testing for life) are BOTH triggered by two unnatural infant feeding practices common in the US – feeding animal milk and grains to infants. These two non-paleo foods will trigger MS and diabetes type 1 if the child is unfortunate enough to carry the gene cluster. If they carry the diabetes type 1+MS gene cluster BUT are nursed (human milk) and later fed paleo first foods instead of grains, those genes will NEVER activate, but remain silent/dormant. I learned that these diseases basically don’t exist in societies that nurse their kids and don’t depend on animal milk and grain to feed their babies.

    Feeding infants animal milk and grains was a practice that Neolithic people adopted in order to build up armies to take other people’s land. A lot of babies and mothers died from the practice (we have seen from the graves and middens of archeological digs of the neolithic areas that bottle-fed peoples had a sky high maternal and infant mortality rate compared to hunter gatherers) but the overall net result of this inhumane, unhealthy and unnatural infant feeding practice was population growth that led to enormous tribes ready to rampage, pillage, kill, displace other tribes and mow down forest to make more fields to grow more grain and graze more cows to feed more unnaturally fed babies grain and animal milk in order to continue growing the tribe/army to take more forest lands from more others peoples, etc. spread their territory by violence, destruction of nature, dominance of the landscape, genocide of their neighbors. Basically an army horde infringing on natural ecosystems and their neighbors. The emotional deficits of being bottle fed instead of nursed also played into this because the people who were deprived of maternal care ended up more aggressive, and mothers bottle feeding developed less-close relations with their children (both ideal for a society that committed genocide and war as its primary occupation).

    MS and diabetes type 1 are rampant in US society. Most people know a few people with MS and a couple with diabetes type 1. Both disease have a latency (invisibly active) period of many years, and often the babies with diabetes type 1 don’t make it past infancy and in other cases it isn’t diagnosed until early 20s, and MS is present in the body in latent state for decades before diagnosis and often misdiagnosis for years before getting accurately diagnoses, so these two diseases are actually even more common than people think. I personally have known at least 5 men with diabetes type 1 – two of my bosses, my wedding’s best man, and the sons of a teacher and a friend (two different families). And scores of people with MS. According to the studies, researchers were surprised to find the gene clusters are nearly identical for MS and diabetes type 1 and in a test tube the cell activity between the two is nearly indistinguishable. According to the studies and data, it’s clear why some societies get these extremely problematic, lifelong deadly autoimmune diseases of MS and diabetes type 1 and others do not. It’s because societies that feed their children PALEO – nursing followed eventually by paleo foods – do NOT trigger the gene cluster even if they carry it. Whereas the non-paleo foods of animal milk and grains WILL flip the switch of the gene cluster if it is present.
    Because my parents decided to formula feed me, my fate was sealed that I would have MS, from the moment they made that decision. I never had a CHANCE to not get MS. It was doomed the instant they put a bottle of formula in my mouth. Same for my wedding’s best man who is blind now at 40 and can no longer work on truck engines and off road or work his trade or be a dad like he wanted to be. MS cost me my marriage, career, education,and many other things. These diseases destroy lives. And all it takes to prevent them is to feed a child like a HUMAN BEING. Being fed like a HUMAN BEING shouldn’t be special, unusual, or a “parent’s choice.” It can literally the difference between a normal, healthy life and a life of unusual, unnatural sickness. There is NO way to screen and find out if formula feeding will lead to a bad problem in your child. You literally play roulette with their health if you do (do you feel lucky, PUNK?)
    If you don’t intend to feed a human like a human (including having back up arrangements of HUMAN milk in case you can’t nurse), then DON’T MAKE ONE.

    Being fed your own species’ milk as a growing young of your species, should be a baseline given.

    • 28 August, 2016 at 8:26 pm

      More fear mongering. You have scientific evidence for your conspiracy theory?

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  • 20 August, 2016 at 11:23 am

    Where is Part 2? I want to read it! Please help.

  • 22 August, 2016 at 4:49 pm

    I’m truly sorry that you are ill. MS is a terrible, sad and largely misunderstood disease. You know vitamin D also plays a role? There are more cases of it in the Northern States. Just FYI.

    That being said I take offense on all mother’s behalf at so much of what you said. It is both uneducated, poorly researched and plain rude. Can’t feed a human? Then don’t make one? Seriously? If it’s so simple why don’t you make milk? And formula feeding your baby does not negate bonding or a mother’s care making people ‘aggressive’. You’re ridiculous. Your assertion that dairy farming lead to deforestation? Partly true, but cattle ranching (I’m assuming you eat lots of grass-fed, organic, free-range meat? Hopefully you can offord it. Many people can’t) is one of the primary sources of environmental damage. Seriously, research it. and don’t even get me started on chicken farms. If you’re worried about the environment, become a vegan and grow your own food.

    That kind of vitriol you’re spewing is not constructive or helpful. If you’re on here saying these things to strangers then I feel bad for your mother. Mom shaming has got to stop. I have breastfed my son exclusively for 8 months and plan to continue as long as it’s feasible at least until he is 16 months. I have also donated my excess milk to other babies who don’t have enough. However, when my son was first born at 6 weeks early he desperately needed milk that I was not producing yet because he couldn’t nurse effectively being so young and I wasn’t responding to the pump. Being too big for donor milk (they save it for babies 5lbs and under or babies that are truly ill which he was not) they had to supplement with formula for 3 days. I was devastated, I was beating myself up for something I had no control over. And you know what? Thank God that formula was there for the 3 days he needed a little of it. At 8 months my son is healthy, thriving and 99 percentile for everything. He is big and healthy because I GREW him that way.

    Women reading on here already believe in breastfeeding, most likely. Most people know that human milk is best for babies. Maybe a mother is even on here trying to bolster their reserve ro not quit because this stuff is HARD! It took 3 months, a tongue tie release surgery and about 6 lactation consultants before it wasn’t so painful I wanted to pass out. I wanted to quit every hour of every day. I didn’t. I had a lot of support and money and time to get help that I needed. Many people don’t have these resources. if it wouldn’t have worked out I would not have been less maternal or loving to my child. It would have not made me less of a mother.

    Good luck to you, I hope you get the medical care you need to be well.

  • 22 August, 2016 at 4:51 pm

    Oops afford.( iPhone autocorrect)

  • 29 August, 2016 at 8:38 pm

    I work in public health and I can’t say thank you enough to educate people on the facts these are some things that I’ve known for years and you still taught me more thank you.

  • 8 October, 2016 at 11:31 pm

    I really wish that you would have posted references to the information that you so thoughtfully put together for us to read. What you gave us is rather interesting, but I think it might have a better impact if we are able to know that the information put forth was researched from credible sources. I would like to quote this for a paper for my class, but I am unable to because of this lack of references.

  • 3 November, 2016 at 12:07 am

    My daughter when she was born wasn’t gaining enough weight according to her doctors. They kept trying to pressure me into formula. When she was 3 months we started her on poi. Still drs said she was under weight, one actually made me cry, saying that she was skinny, sjinny, skinny. I was so upset. We stuck to our guns and said no to formula, but we needed to find something, cause I was just not producing enough. The dr suggested if where looking a more natural food to try powder goats milk. So we started her on that when my supply was low during the day. She didn’t like it too much and spit it up. So we did a mix of my breast milk, and goats milk. She did much better, then I remembered reading the benefits of hemp milk. She nurses at home and at night. And during the day when she’s at work with me she drinks half hemp milk and half goats. Im glad we didn’t let the drs bully us. She’s healthy and their finally happy with her weight.

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