Monday, March 3, 2008

No, Thank You!


I've just received some rather disturbing news. According to some very glossy, colorful, and scientific-looking packaging and brochures, my child is suffering from malnutrition. Wow, how do these people sending me things in the mail KNOW this about my baby? Well, obviously, every "toddler" (I didn't even realize she WAS one! Thank goodness for these founts of information!) is starving, scraping along on empty milk and toddler foods. GASP! My child is not getting the BEST??? Oh my, please tell me what to do to amend this situation! Oh, look, $19 worth of coupons to help me buy the product that will fix this! WHEW!

Enfamil would like me to know that "The fact is, milk lacks some key nutrients toddlers need." This is boldly printed on the side of a fun polka-dot and multi-colored box that came in the mail last week. I was so excited because I thought it might be my husband's birthday present arriving... alas, no. Instead it was a box less than a cubic foot that weighed about the same as me. The thing nearly demolished my coffee table. I swear it has nearly the gravitational pull of Jupiter. (All those fossil fuels that went into shipping it! Not to mention the resources spent on creating the liquid formula in the two huge cans inside, the toxins involved in the pretty packaging and shiny propaganda....)

Now, here's the thing that gets me. The milk my daughter drinks several times a day (and night) is not lacking ANYTHING she needs right now. It's enough on its own to sustain her and help her thrive for the first entire year of her life. And it's exactly what she needs to help complete her diet when she does move to a greater percentage of solid foods (not toddler foods! Not processed ground up foods with added sugar, or empty cereal products, or other "kid" foods! But the same foods we eat, fresh or cooked in a healthy manner right here at home). IT'S MY MILK. It's the milk that my daughter, as a human mammal, was designed to drink. I was designed to create this milk that was designed just for my daughter. I provide her with everything she needs (as well as proper grammar! "The fact is, milk..."? What is that comma doing in the middle of that predicate? Yes, now I REALLY trust you people).

Of course the friendly little chart on the inner brochure explains that they are talking about COW'S milk (there's even a cute little picture of a cow to illustrate, in case you were confused). But this is the ONLY kind of milk mentioned in any of the package. Next to the picture of the cow is a picture of a sippy cup to illustrate the "Next Step Lipil" column with data on all the wonderful nutrients it provides, which are lacking in cow's milk. But there's a third column missing-- where is the human milk? The cans themselves subtitle the product as "A Nutritious Alternative to Milk." Without specifying, they seem to be happy to allow this to be an alternative to human milk as well as cow's milk. NOWHERE in this package is breast milk mentioned. What happened to "breast is best"? I guess they don't even have to make that token acknowledgment of the inferiority of formula now that we're talkin' toddler formula... but the package says this formula is for "9-24 months." and yet even the AAP recommends breastmilk for the first YEAR. But I suppose no one is forcing the formula companies to stick "breast is best" on these toddler formulas, so now not only are they, in the USA, free of the WHO code on ethical marketing of formula, but even this weak last protector of a baby's birthright. (What's the WHO code? It's the code that says there should be NO marketing of formula to parents, no pictures of happy babies on the packaging, etc, etc... That's right, in most of the world, formula is not allowed to push itself on TV, with mailings, in hospitals for Pete's sake. It's necessary at times, but breastfeeding is too important to give over to the corporation and immediate bottom line.) And of course the coupons only come at first, when they're trying to hook you (and they send more, big, coupons to women who say they want to breastfeed, too!); then you need to pay the big bucks for months and months yourself. Hmm, I don't really like a company that shares its sales techniques with crack dealers ("The first one's free!").

I love how the packaging and brochure are covered with statements beginning with "The fact is..." and "Fact:...", and ending with vague weasel words, glittering generalities, and vagaries. In that spirit of presenting the "facts," I'm going to add in that last missing column. Let's see, what does breastmilk contain for my growing toddler?

For 12-24 months, 448 milliliters of mama's milk contains the following percentages of the minimum daily requirements:
Energy: 29%
Protein: 43%
Calcium: 36%
Vitamin A: 75%
Folate: 76%
Vitamin B12: 94%
Vitamin C: 60%

(K. G. Dewey, "Nutrition, Growth, and Complementary Feeding of the Breastfed Infant," Pediatric Clinics of North America 48, no. 1 (February 2001): 87?104.)

Here's a bunch of other great facts, from Kellymom.

WHAT? You mean breastmilk isn't empty of nutrition after 6 months, or a year? I seem to hear a lot of women say their pediatricians told them this. Wow. It's scary how ill-informed a doctor can be!

And let's not forget that toddlers that are breastfed get to experience good health the way nature intended. Breastmilk is full of immunological elements that protect the nursling for years, from birth until self-weaning. Breastfed toddlers are sick less often, less severely, and get better faster. Or to put it more accurately, children who are formula fed or prematuraly weaned get sick more often, more severely, and stay sicker longer.

Now, what exactly goes into making up this magical formula dropped on my doorstep, anyway? It boasts it contains DHA and ARA! Oooooh, Ahhhhh. I'll leave this one to Hathor to handle: please click here to see just a little bit about what's in formuala these days. Now, I know I sometimes have a brownie or some processed junk I'm offered, but mostly my milk is made of local organic food, or at least healthy, nutritious whole foods. Even the toxins we swim in as modern women that get into our breastmilk don't outweigh the benefits of breastmilk, as studies have shown.

Well, my sweet baby who has been suckling for a while is now up and delightedly hollering at me to play, so I'm out. We'll drop the formula off at the women's shelter later today or this week, and laugh as we dump the propaganda in the trash, where it belongs. The very idea, that I needed something delivered to me, to save me and my baby! I've got everything I need for her right here.



Brynn's Mama said...

It's infuriating!! You said it all perfectly, but dammit - it makes my blood boil!

Leslie said...

I'm so proud of you!!

Leslie said...

Ooops...meant to add...K.G. Dewey? That's Colin's and Jamie's mom from down the street years ago!

Leanne said...

WHAT?? What are the chances on that? I got that data/source from Mothering Magazine's article on extended breastfeeding. Wow! I remember Colin and Jamie but not their mom, unfortunately. How funny is that!?

Hippie Housewife said...

Amen, amen, and AMEN!! It is absolutely infuriating to see GOOD MOTHERS being convinced that their milk isn't good enough, that they need special formula and baby cereals and toddler "food" in order to provide their precious children with complete nutrition. I hate that the formula companies get away with that! It's the same feeling I get when I walk through the baby aisle and see all the little boxes of processed snacks and foods that I wouldn't even eat, much less feed to my child! It truly baffles me that people believe those foods are better for their kids than nice fresh homecooked "adult" food, or that formula is "as good as" breastmilk. Formula has its purposes, yes, but...ugh.

Anyway, it was so kind of the formula company to let you know that your poor little baby girl was slowly wasting away from inadequate nutrition. You know better, you do better...right?

Rachel said...

ha! i got that "gift" in the mail last week and promptly defaced it with multi-colored sharpies! we added our own column and slogans, too. infuriating, isn't it?? they shove that crap down the throat of every new, possibly insecure mama. it's shameful!

it makes it that much more admirable that my good friend isn't willing to switch to formula while she has to pump n' dump for the next 10 days (staph infection from an "emergency" c-section). of course, she and her 9-week-old son are now the proud owners of our entire freezer stash, but that's a different story.

(we have that klimt detail hanging in our family bedroom!)