Watered Down Formula: Safe for Baby?

Health Check 33

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

baby health, breastfeeding, formula


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Todd Vrancic

"Food-insecure????"  Why don't you just say "poor, starving people?"  Really, "food-insecure" is a BS phrase.

Maevelyn Maevelyn

There are different levels "food insecure" is one of the level of famine.  fearing starvation rather than starving. 

Mocha... MochaCocoaBean

There must be better options than this! But I'm sure those mothers have no idea the dangers. This is where WIC can step in with education and assistance.

nurse... nursemama88

I would not relactate....you take a cocktail of drugs and a lot of times it does not work right.

nonmember avatar Gretta

That breaks my heart.

Caera Caera

Those mothers are stupid.

There are so many public assistance groups available, there is literally NO NEED for this. Every single church - every one of them - has  both knowledg and access to a food pantry. If a mom truly cannot find outside help on her own, go to your local Catholic, Lutheran, Baptist, non-denominational, whatever, church and ask for help.

You'll have a  weeks' worth of formula in an hour.

Also, any hospital will give you formula.

Also, any food kitchen will have some on hand, or will call around and find some for you.

Also, sometimes if you ask to talk to the manager of a big-box store, like Wal-mart or Target, or Publix, and you're dressed respectably and you can speak the language decently, the MOD will give you a can to get you by.

Seriously. NO NEED AT ALL. 

OoOJa... OoOJanisOoO

I agree with Caera! There are so many programs for free formula. 

alask... alaskalove

This is interesting, and I'm happy you wrote about it because I've always wondered. I've gone slightly over the line, and at 2 am not fixed it thinking it wouldn't have any harm. Now I know! 

nonmember avatar Rachel

I'm so fortunate to receive WIC, as well as help from Mom and Dad.

Dolores Miranda

Thanks for the info,I do it in the middle of the night,because she's not hungry but relies on the bottle to put her back to sleep,like a comfort.I'll just switch to the binky or a water bottle.Who knew??BTW anyone who has issues with affording formula,WIC and your doctor are great for help,also contact the companies like simulac and enfamil.they'll send alot of coupons for 5 dollars off..the ready to feed cans are like 6 bucks..so its a dollar,thats what I do.


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