The insatiable greed of infant formula milk companies

If you’ve come here looking for a ‘breast vs formula’ debate then back out now, because this is not the page for you. Some women breastfeed, some women formula feed, some do a bit of both. It’s their body, their baby, their choice.

Formula milk companies exist to make profit–lots of it– and they often use misleading marketing techniques to make that profit at the expense of women and babies.

If you decide to formula feed your baby, choosing a specific brand or product can be a minefield. There are hundreds of different products out there!

All your baby needs is breastmilk or first infant formula.

That’s it. That’s the only milk they need from birth until they are weaned.

All first infant formulas are required by law to meet the same nutritional standards. That means that every single one of them meets required nutritional standards, regardless of price, and no one brand is better than another. Most brands add ‘extra’ ingredients with claims to benefit your baby’s brain or immune system and plaster this info on their packaging in an attempt to make you buy their product. These claims are NOT supported by science. Any ingredient which has been proven by independent researchers to be beneficial to babies is REQUIRED BY LAW to be in ALL formulas. These ‘extra’ ingredients are nothing more than a marketing ploy, one which they have been using since commercial formula was first invented, and one which for some unfathomable reason our governments are still letting them get away with.

‘Follow on’ milks are completely unnecessary. The WHO code against the marketing of breastmilk substitutes made it illegal to advertise formula to infants under 6 months old, so formula companies invented this ‘new’ (and completely pointless) product in order to continue to aggressively advertise their brand. Giving a ‘follow on’ milk rather than a first infant formula carries no benefits to children and has the potential to cause harm, as it is more difficult to digest. The advertising of these products is sending the price of first infant formula sky rocketing.

Formula is SO expensive because they spend £5billion every year on advertising. But why shouldn’t they advertise? Women are free to choose to formula and removing the adverts takes that choice away, right? WRONG. Formula milk adverts do not facilitate informed choice. They send out misleading messages, make false claims about benefits and give zero warnings about the health risks. All of that just makes a parent’s decision more difficult and massively drives up the cost. The price of formula makes formula feeding downright dangerous for those who can’t afford it. Nestle (one of the largest formula companies) has been the target of a boycott since the 70’s after they began aggressively marketing their formula milks as ‘better than breastmilk’ to women in third world countries. A lot of these families cannot afford to formula feed, and many use more water per feed to make the formula last longer. That coupled with the fact that babies fed formula miss out on the protection against infection offered by breastfeeding results in thousands of deaths. But hey, at least Nestle make some money out of it 🤷‍♀️

The IBFAN film ‘Tigers‘ is an excellent place to learn more about this.

The Baby Killer by Mike Muller, published by War on Want in 1974

Many big formula companies own more than one brand and sell the exact same product in different packaging and at different prices. Did you choose the more pricey ‘Aptamil comfort’ formula over ‘cow and gate comfort’ formula? Danone thanks you for giving them more money for the exact same product in fancier packaging. 

Danone is not the only company who do this.

This isn’t about ‘breast vs formula’. All mothers should be able to make an informed choice about how they feed their babies. If you choose to formula feed, science tells us that all your baby needs is first infant formula and that no one brand is better for your baby than another. Don’t fall for the unethical marketing techniques of multi-billion dollar companies ❤️

You can find independent and evidence- based advice on formula milks here:

NHS info on different types of formula

First Steps Nutrition guide to infant formula

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