Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The Great Formula Debate

Which is better, Similac or Enfamil? It has been the debate since they both came into existence. There are some bottom lines that make them both start on the same level playing field.

First, all formula is the same price based on size and style.

Second, every parent should know that the FDA has a minimum standard for the ingredients in and the production of baby foods and formulas. Certain conditions must be met and minimum ingredient standards must be upheld. This is a big deal because it causes confusion. Many parents are told that all formula is the same. The reason is that all formula must meet the same minimum standards. Formulas may all meet the same minimum standards but that does not make them the same.

Minimum means the bare basics of the products are the same. That doesn't mean that the producers of formula cannot go above and beyond the quality standard dictated by the FDA. That is a good thing considering the FDA's standard for what qualifies as beef at Taco Bell. I recently had an experience at WIC that disturbed me enough to write this blog. I requested Similac rather than Enfamil for my baby. The "nutritionist" asked me why, and I repeated the advice of my pediatrician. My pediatrician states that Similac is easier on the stomachs of babies who were previous breastfed with success. She then argues with the advice of my pediatrician. No parent should listen to anyone other than themselves and their pediatrician. The pediatrician is the provider of regular medical care for your baby. The nutritionist at WIC is trained to offer the lowest cost option for vouchers. It is not a medical program.

In deciding which is better there are some guidelines that will help you make the decision.

1. Vegetarian- If you went vegetarian or vegan during your pregnancy or while you were breastfeeding, a soy or organic formula will work best for your baby as it mimics your diet and the ingredients of your breastmilk.

2. Preemies- If your baby was born prematurely use a formula intended for preemies.

3 Age- Follow the age of your baby. Don't use a toddler formula for a 6 month old.

These 3 guidelines will considerably narrow down the selection for you. Now for the brands.

I asked 100 breastfeeding moms and 100 non-breastfeeding moms which formula worked best for their baby. Non-breastfeeding moms are defined as moms who never breastfed their babies or who were unable to breastfeed up to and including their babies 2 month check-up and inoculations. Of the breastfeeding moms, 87 said Similac was best, 6 chose Enfamil and the remaining 7 used a different formula. Of the non-breastfeeding moms, 62 chose Enfamil as their favorite and 27 chose Similac. The remaining found a favorite in another brand.

So if you go by my survey, you will find that my pediatrician was correct. Similac seems to be easier on breastfed babies than Enfamil. One might make a decision based on that. However, with my son, He wasn't initially breastfed. He vomited Enfamil everyday. We switched him to Similac and it never happened again. Perhaps my family is just a Similac family. After all, I was raised on Similac as well. Perhaps it is genetic.

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