Judge Orders Formula for Breastfeeding Baby in Messy Custody Dispute

baby bottle with breast milk

We are strong proponents in women's choice to feed their babies in a way that suits their needs best. For some moms, this means breastfeeding, and for others, it means formula. Both of these choices are just as valid as the other, but it can be devastating when the choice is taken away from you -- like it was from this Maryland mom, whose breastfed baby was ordered formula by the courts.


Twenty-seven-year-old Amber Brown and her ex Corey Donta Lewis separated a little while after their now-6-month-old son was born. During their custody hearing, the two were at odds about something very particular: how they wanted to feed their child. 

While Brown insisted that the baby be breastfed exclusively, Lewis claimed that he wanted the child to drink formula during his overnight visitations. 

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The case, being mediated by a magistrate in Charles County Maryland, sided with the dad after Brown revealed that she couldn't pump enough milk to last the baby during his overnight visits with his father. 

An affidavit obtained by the Washington Post from Amber Brown's Lawyer says, "The magistrate stated pointedly that breast-feeding is not a reason to prevent [Lewis's] visitation, and that insisting on breast-feeding would be considered deliberate alienation of [Lewis]." 

The mom, understandably upset by the ruling, refused to let things go. During a follow-up hearing, a different magistrate upheld her colleague's decision and promptly suggested that the first visitation between child and dad should occur on August 4, 2017.

On August 10, Brown filed for an exception with the courts stating that Lewis had continued to feed the baby formula even after the child's pediatrician confirmed that he could not tolerate it: "It was simply more convenient for [Lewis] to feed the baby formula than to ensure the baby remained healthy." Brown also called out the courts stating that they are "creating a presumption that breast-feeding is used to alienate fathers and that babies should be switched from breast milk to formula in order to accommodate overnight visitation."

More from CafeMom: Mom's Video Expertly Trolls Haters Who Shame Her for Nursing in Public

In an interview with the Washington Post, Amber Brown shared that her child would continue to be breastfed exclusively until their next scheduled hearing in October. 

The courts have a responsibility to create a fair and balanced custody agreement and ensure that the child is safe and well cared for. It goes without saying that insisting that this mom allow her child to be formula fed with no alternatives is not the way to go about that.

We're not entirely sure there's a clear-cut way to do this; raising children isn't just about convenience -- sometimes things are messy and as far from clear-cut as possible. Maybe overnight visits will have to be suspended until the child is a little older, or maybe the parents will need to cohabitate during these nights. Finding ways to work around each other and compromise is going to be a major part of their co-parenting journey. This is only the first hurdle. 

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