Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Bye bye formula

Today we will use our last remaining infant formula. We will not purchase any more, even though we’ve still got about two weeks left until River’s first birthday.

We’ve been preparing for this awhile. Somewhere around 10 months (maybe a little earlier), we began to use some cow’s milk instead of formula to make his morning oatmeal, rice or barley. In mid-October (at just over 10 months old) we neglected to bring enough formula while on a trip. So for a couple of days, we used half formula and half milk. That worked just fine.

So when we knew that our formula supply was running low, we decided we wouldn’t replenish it when it ran out. For a few weeks now we’ve been upping the percentile of cow’s milk in the milk to formula ratio until he’s been receiving bottles of 100% cow’s milk. He shows no reaction at all.

For my husband this was an easy decision. River is a perfectly healthy, happy and large and he’ll be just fine on cow’s milk. I felt intuitively that it was the right thing to do, but still had my doubts. Would we be bad parents for switching before the one year birthday? Would we deny him needed nutrients or brain development?

First I asked myself what was so special about the one-year birthday. Nothing that I could identify. I guessed that the medical establishment determined that the vast majority of babies by that age are at the developmental stage needed to switch to milk. Some will get there earlier of course and others later. With River in the 90th percentile growth-wise and a voracious wide-ranging eater, I think he’s already where the average baby would be on their first birthday.

Then I looked at the ingredients of the formula. Yes, there are vitamins and that’s good, especially since his iron was a bit low. But the main ingredient is either nonfat cow’s milk or corn syrup. If he’s getting dried cow’s milk in the formula, why can’t I give him fresh cow’s milk? And corn syrup? I know breastmilk is sweet and this is an attempt to make it similar as well as to provide calories. But really? At this age? He’s gotten it already in the formula we’ve given him to date, but I don’t think he needs any more.

Then, finally, was the fact he’s still getting a couple of breastfeeding sessions in per day so he’s got some “good stuff” to go along with the milk and the vitamins he gets from food.

I think this is just an example of how every parent needs to make choices that work best for their circumstances and particular child. However, even with a careful look at the options, it’s still easy to doubt oneself. I’ll try to lay off the self-doubt for a while and enjoy the ease (and the lower cost) of quickly filling a bottle from a gallon of milk. Hooray!

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