Monday, July 16, 2012

Finding a Formula for Successful Families

As a child of the '70s, I was weaned, per my pediatrician's instructions, around 5 months and given formula thereafter.  My mom recalls being advised that this course of action was the "healthy" option for infants. I'm baically a  healthy person--no history of major illnesses or developmental problems. Sure, I could always use a few extra IQ points, but I don't think being formula-fed has held me back from winning a Nobel or anything.

That's why I found myself saying, "Amen, sister!" while reading this article by Alissa Quart in the New York Times on Sunday. Since the 1970s, the American Academy of Pediatrics has reversed course and now recommends that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first year of a child's life.

Well, that's all fine and good, but many mothers of newborns run into numberous adversities in breastfeeding:  latching problems, low output, pain or discomfort while nursing, or unsupportive (or even hostile) work environments for pumping,  There's a myriad of reasons why a mother might choose formula, and shaming her for that choice is unhelpful--and maybe even harmful.

So, let's focus on what Ms. Quart advises in her article:  child outcomes.  We have lots of data that says free early childhood education, paid parenting leave, and more workplace flexibility lead to better outcomes for children and families.  More support for working parents sounds to my formula-nourished mind like the healthiest option of all.