Getting Your Baby Off Formula Is a Milestone Too

There’s a dearth of heartfelt, wholly emotional posts out there about mothers weaning their children from breastfeeding. Mazel tov to all of them. But, what about we formula feeding moms? Where’s our moment of reflection, our celebration of our child’s milestone and our own?

I never had a chance to love or hate breastfeeding. Three weeks into his life, my son declared himself content with formula feeding and my beleaguered, exhausted and anxious self simply went along for the ride. Now that he’s “weaned” off of formula I don’t get to throw a party for my sore nipples or contemplate the lack of cuddling. Instead, I get to do something I haven’t gotten to do in a year: SHOP.

The woman who once snapped at me (obviously from a place of breastfeeding-induced misery) that formula was “the easy way out” clearly forgot the first lesson of motherhood: Nothing is ever easy. First off, formula feeding is expensive. At the height of his consumption in the week before he turned four months, my son was drinking 50 ounces a day. That’s roughly $285 a month. When one of the doctors in our practice told me I should be feeding him nothing but formula for the first six months, I nearly called her insane.

Researching what type of bottle you want to use is the easy part. Care and maintenance of bottles and feeding accoutrement is the real challenge. Eating five to eight times a day meant washing bottles just as often and sanitizing morning and night. Unless he got sick, of course, which meant sanitizing three times a day, minimum. My nipples may not have been cracked, but my hands sure were.

There’s also more to formula feeding than worrying about whipping a breast out in public (something no breastfeeding woman in real life ever does). Taking my son anywhere meant estimating when he’d be hungry and planning accordingly. Pre-making bottles required refrigeration, which meant I needed to carry a cooler on top of an already heavy baby bag. If I was going to a location that had a reliable water supply I could simply bring the powder and mix on site. Either way I’d have to haul home sticky bottles to clean after an already tiring day. And as far as warming on the road goes, I could’ve invested in a portable option, but since the budget was already tight I simply chose to warm the old fashioned way: heated pans of water on my mother’s stove, or placing bottles on top of radiators during cold winter months. Needless to say, when we finally came across pre-mixed formula, my husband and I danced for joy.

Then, of course, there are periods known as formula transitions. Our little guy had acid reflux, so hooray for modern science and ancient rice starches. Once that problem subsided we had to transition to an advanced toddler blend before finally getting into the transitional milk blend. Breastmilk naturally changes to suit your baby. Formula does not. Who knew being a mom meant being a chemist?

After hearing all of this you’re probably thinking, “Well, I bet she wishes she breastfed.” No, actually, I don’t. And honestly, that’s not even the point. The celebration is in the fact that my child is healthy, happy, and (finally) being fed on real food. The bottles are being replaced with sippy cups and my soup pot can once again be put to its best use instead of making boiled bottle stew. I’m going shopping.

Anyone want to come?

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