Infant Formula and Breastmilk

I breast fed my first three children for over a year each.

Then my twins came along. I fully planned on breastfeeding them. I was completely confident that I would be able to do so since I had successfully breast fed my first three children, but it didn’t work out that way.

My twins were born almost 2 months prematurely and were bottle fed in the NICU. I didn’t try very hard to get them to nurse while they were in the hospital because they were so little and it tired them out and I thought I’d be able to get them to change over to nursing once they came home. I was wrong. I brought my boys home and they would not nurse. They wouldn’t even suckle when I offered them the breast. I felt like a failure as a mother and decided that pumping breast milk was the only other option open to me in order to give the twins the best nutrition possible, but also for financial reasons. I did not want to pay for expensive infant formula for two children when I could offer them pumped breast milk.

Eventually, my milk supply could not keep with the demand of my twins and I started to supplement with expensive name brand formula. Slowly my milk dried up completely and I started to exclusively feed them infant formula. The price of brand-name formula for both of them was astronomical and so I decided to try a store brand. I carefully compared the ingredients and nutritional information and was astounded to see that I could buy a formula with the same ingredients for a fraction of the cost of the brand-name formula.

The medical and scientific communities agree that breastfeeding is best for babies. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics recognizes breast milk as the gold standard in infant nutrition.

What do you do though if for whatever reason you can’t breastfeed? You use the safest alternative: infant formula. If you are dealing with guilt like I did, you might feel that you need to use the name brand formulas that claim to offer all of the same benefits of breast milk.

Buying a heavily marketed, expensive, name-brand infant formula from a big pharmaceutical company does not get your baby closer to human breast milk than a store-brand formula. Mothers can chose to supplement their breast milk with any formula because all formulas are regulated by the FDA and nutritionally equivalent”, reports Dr. Barbara Levine of Weill Cornell Medical College.

After the guilt of not being able to breastfeed my babies wore off, I realized something I wish I had realized sooner: having the ability to breastfeed one’s baby does not make one a good mother. All that guilt I carried around was silly, really, and my babies that were fed store brand formula for 6 months of their lives are every bit as healthy, happy and well adjusted as my children that were breast fed.


About Angie

Angie is a CRAFT dabbling, recipe making, WORD loving, sunshine hording, book DEVOURING, Mama to a lot! She's kind of in love with Instagram right now, so if you want her attention, go find here there. {smiling}


  1. 1
    Kristina P. says:

    OK, I'm not a mom, and I totally understand that breastfeeding is the best thing for babies.

    But, I am just not adamant about it. I don't know if I will breastfeed or not, and if I do try, and it's really hard or painful, I'm not going to cry everyday about it. I know a lot of kids who were not breastfed and they turned out fine.

  2. 2

    Girl, you are brave. I'll post about Obama, pay checks and even religion if the urge strikes, but breast feeding – hope you're wearing your troll armor.

    I'm a proud mom of two bottle fed babies – one thanks to food allergies, one thanks to PKU

    Both can walk and carry on a decent conversation. My 3 1/2 year-old has yet to master the potty, but I'm not blaming formula.

    Yet. 😉

  3. 3
    S Club Mama says:

    The same thing happened with Tristan. I tried to breastfeed him and the little guy just didn't get it, so I pumped my little heart out for 6 weeks and by that time, it was mostly formula by then, so I stopped.

    We do mostly name-brand but through WIC. Tristan we tried on a few other kinds of soy formula but always went back to name brand because the smell of the others was awful. I don't know if we'll try an off brand for Isaac because I don't know if there is an off brand for the type of formula he's on, but I'd at least try it if there was.

    I think that breastfeeding is best but when you can't, do the second best (and always what's best for your family). 🙂

  4. 4

    I could have totally written this, except I wasn't ever able to pump more than an ounce here and there! I nursed all my others as well, and thought I'd worry about latching the twins on when they were out of the NICU… never happened 🙁

  5. 5

    This post did not show up in my reader until today – most odd since you published a few days ago!

    Anyway…I concur. Both of my girls were formula babies. And we used whatever. Stuff the pediatrican gave us. Store brand. What was on sale. (Remind me when I see you in Vegas to tell you what a walmart clerk told me about why they limit the amount of formula you can buy!!)

    I so felt like I was not a real mother because I had to use formula. My milk never came in. I had a lactation consultant even tell me that EVERY woman can nurse. But after her working with me (mostly insulting me) – and using a pump – where we got 1/4 ounce total after an hour. She finally gave up.

    It doesn't work for everyone. And formula worked well. I think they turned out okay 🙂

  6. 6

    I didn't breast feed either of my girls and they are both healthy young people. I always looked at it like, breastfeeding doesn't make you more of a woman than anyone else. It's just makes you a mamal:-)

  7. 7

    That was very well put. I tried very hard to bf all four of my kids. I did the best I could but it just wasn't working (for a few different reasons). I eventually turned to formula. Thankfully we are a WIC family and were blessed to get all of our formula free (to us). It was a blessing.

    Thank you for a post that doesn't "bash" either side. I'm so tired of the constant fight between both sides of the issue.

    Your family is very blessed to have you as their mom!

  8. 8
    T Rex Mom says:

    This was an excellent posting. Actually one of the best I've seen regarding the two sides of feeding infants. Thank you for sharing.

  9. 9

    What an important and true post this is, Angie! I've blogged about my trouble with nursing Kaylee when she was little and the heck I put myself through with being adamant about pumping for her and only giving her breastmilk. Having to switch to formula was SUCH an emotional roller coaster when my supply diminished, but holy toledo did it end up making my life better in so many ways!

    And bet your booty we used store brand formula. I had read somewhere that all the ingredients and the nutrition was the same, so it made complete sense to me. Shoot – saving 8 bucks on formula meant I could buy Kaylee a cute new pair of shoes and not feel guilty (I love to justify spending money on fun things).

    There's too much unnecessary guilt we put on ourselves as mothers, and so much related to the breastfeeding versus formula debate. We don't need to feel that we're giving our children anything second rate because we choose not to use store brand formula – it's the SAME thing, and we're being financially responsible.

    Thanks for the great post. 🙂

  10. 10

    I had the same problem, well sort of…my first was so big, he was starving! From a person who has a D cup you'd think I would be able to feed an army and couldn't even feed ONE 9lb 9 oz baby, and he ended up losing 10% of his body weight and had to stay longer because of jaundice. Talk about guilt!
    I nursed him for 4 months until I couldn't produce enough, and I tried everything to increase the milk supply, so he was a bottle fed baby.

    My second was a NICU baby, and after being fed through a tube and then with a bottle, he was like the twins, he wanted nothing to do with it. I pumped my little heart out but we all know a pump won't pull what a baby will. So that went out the window and he was a formula baby as well!

    *Sigh* I let my friends make me feel guilty because they could and did breast feed, but my doc, who is an advocate of nursing, said you have to do what it takes to feed your child and if that means formula then that makes you a great mom to know that!

  11. 11
    Scary Mommy says:

    Wonderful post, my friend. I had to formula feed all three of mine and I agonized over it. Not easy, but they're all fine!!

  12. 12

    This is an issue that I wish people wouldn't be so judgemental about. I did bf all 3 of my boys, but as far as what other people do- that's their decision, entirely.

    And, when I thought I was having twins with my last pregnancy, my immediate reaction was that there was no way I bf'ing them. I valued sleep/sanity more. Turned out to be just one baby, but I didn't even have that thought that you did, thinking I could do it.

  13. 13

    This is an issue that I wish people wouldn't be so judgemental about. I did bf all 3 of my boys, but as far as what other people do- that's their decision, entirely.

    And, when I thought I was having twins with my last pregnancy, my immediate reaction was that there was no way I bf'ing them. I valued sleep/sanity more. Turned out to be just one baby, but I didn't even have that thought that you did, thinking I could do it.

  14. 14

    I have two bottle fed sons. Due to allergies we had to use a formula called neocate which is the platinum of formula. It is a long story but the bottom line is about my guilt! The guilt…ARGH now four years later I have happy healthy boys! Breastfeeding just does not work for everyone. I am glad it does for some people but it did not in my world. Even now though my boys only can drink Goat Milk.

  15. 15
    SupahMommy says:

    you are brave~! GREAT comments so far.

    So my third baby I had to stop at 3 months and switch to a gentle formula which we still use. – i'll have to investigate store bought formulas in the gentle version. I did us store brand formula for – from costco for my other 2… but they don't offer gentle.

    I spend about 25 PER can. I go through one can per week. THank GOODNESS we are starting solids.

    Great post.. will check it out.

  16. 16
    Stephanie says:

    I would have loved to have breastfed all three of my kids, but it didn't work out long with V before I went back to work, and I pumped for 11 weeks when the boys were in NICU. We never payed for a brand name formula – used what our ped. gave us at first, then bought case upon case of Sam's Club brand. Thankfully, they all tolerated it well saving us lots of $$ compared to branded.

  17. 17

    No matter what you choose(breast, pump, formula)it's all in how you keep your sanity. I'm bf'ing my twins now, almost 5 months of it, and it's getting old, not to mention my milk is slowly starting to go. I have a storage of extra that I have pumped over the months, but sooner or later I am going to give them formula. It's totally fine. I'm fine giving them something that didn't come from me. I know they have so many regulations on formula that it's safe for my girls. I have to look at it this way. If I am tied to my kids so much that I can't get away for longer than 3 hours at a time, I'm not a happy mommy. So my children have all taken bottles and they have all gotten some amount of formula along with breast milk. They are all fine and have no confusion (nipple or formula).

    Angie you'll be happy to know that your pump is still going strong after all these kiddo's. I use it 4-5 times a day and I did with my #1 kiddo too. Thanks for the great investment.

  18. 18

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