Watered Down Formula: Safe for Baby?

baby bottlesWhen it comes to the debate over which is better for baby -- breast or bottle -- the answer seems to be whatever is best for mom. But there's a new study out that shows a dangerous trend among some bottlefeeding moms. Moms, take heed: it turns out there is one time when formula really is dangerous for babies.

Researchers recently looked at how the economy is affecting how moms feed their babies. According to the study in Clinical Pediatrics, a scary number of moms who are struggling to make ends meet are doing what is known as "stretching" their babies' formula these days.


Around 27 percent of moms who are classified as "food insecure" confessed to watering down their baby's formula or reducing the number of feedings!

The finding is sad -- no mom should be so afraid of paying her bills that she has to cut back on what her baby is eating.

It's also scary. By now we should all know that it's important to read the directions on that formula can and follow them to the letter, shouldn't we? And yet, it can happen so easily, can't it? The baby is crying, you open the cabinet, and OMG, there is next to nothing left in that can!

It can be tempting to water down the bottle because, hey, something in their stomach is better than nothing, right? Not quite.

Doctors say watered down formula can actually lower the salt in a baby's bloodstream, putting your child at a heightened risk for seizures. On a long-term level, consistently watering down formula can inhibit brain development and have a lingering effect on their behavior.

If you're worried about affording formula for your baby, don't water it down! You can try breastfeeding (even if you tried before and stopped, there are methods to re-lactate), which is technically free. The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) has even extended coverage for breastfeeding support and supplies.

If breastfeeding really won't work for you, contact your local Women Infants and Children (WIC) office to see if they can help or ask your pediatrician for samples. Some food banks also get donations of baby formula that could help you out.

Have you ever watered down your baby's formula? Why?


Image via penelope waits/Flickr

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