BMS: Breast Milk Substitute? Big Messy Situation [UPDATE-1]

[NB: check the byline, thanks. Updates will appear at the bottom of this post. /~Rayne]

For starters, let me point out the Biden administration has been trying to resolve the current infant formula crisis.

Other media outlets have done a decent job analyzing and reviewing the underlying causes of a disastrous shortage of infant formula in the U.S.

The causes include Trump maintaining bullshit tariffs on Canadian dairy products, COVID interruptions, and the oligopoly of formula producers which came about through the usual capitalistic method of regulatory capture leading to exclusion of competition and an insufficiency of monitoring for food safety.

The short term fixes may not be immediate; China, for example, manufactures formula but it has been struggling with COVID. It’s also had problems in the past with adulteration of infant formula.

Canada is the most obvious closest source but it will take rapid unwinding Trump’s tariffs to allow Canadian formula to backfill demand.

Meanwhile shelves are rapidly emptying depending on location across the country.

Mothers in particular are frantic because they are not only worried about ensuring a regular supply of formula for their infants, but they are being harangued and shamed for not breastfeeding even though breastfeeding isn’t a universal option for all mothers and infants.

This tweet by Midler is extremely disappointing. There are so many reasons why women can’t breastfeed yet they are constantly pressured for not doing so even by other women who should know better.

This is a really excellent thread by a historian on infant formula and breast milk substitutes which explains some of the reasons why parents have not been able to offer breast milk throughout history.

Much of the ignorance about infant feeding and subsequent harassment of mothers is rooted in Americans’ inadequate education about human reproduction as well as basic biology. Adults who’ve graduated from high school should know that mammals produce milk in response to a pregnancy, and once nursing has stopped so, too, does maternal milk production.

A mother can’t simply choose to breastfeed if she had to stop for any reason like difficulty with infant latch on, physical disability, illness, return to work where she can’t readily pump breast milk in privacy, so on.

The worst examples of pressure come from men who know absolutely nothing about breastfeeding having no uterus or birthed a child, and having no breasts. They know nothing of the stress of learning how to feed a newborn, mastering the intricacies of breastfeeding brassieres, learning how to do so in view of others as necessary, how to deal with curiosity or disgust by others who are offended by breastfeeding, how to pump and store breast milk, how to deal with chapped and bleeding nipples as well as unwanted letdown of milk, how to handle the first few times an infant bites its mother’s nipples, and dealing with constant advice and criticism about breastfeeding one’s child from family, friends, and total strangers.

And yet they feel they can lecture women saying, “Just breastfeed the kid.”

The stress new mothers deal with in this country is enormous. It’s no wonder we have a couple generations of anxious children and adults when they literally nurse on this as infants.

~ ~ ~

This situation isn’t going to get better overnight. It’s going to take at least a couple of months before production is up to demand levels and safe for infants.

What are parents who can’t breastfeed and can’t find formula supposed to do?

The White House put together a fact sheet which contains resources for locating formula.

For some parents the first step is finding a breast milk bank nearby; the fact sheet includes a link to

But even with all these resources there may be parents who can’t locate formula and are too far from the nearest breast milk bank. In Michigan, for example, there are two banks listed but both are more than 9 hours drive from the largest city in the Upper Peninsula, and the closest to Detroit is still more than an hour’s drive.

What do these parents do?

Having a handful of young friends who are expecting a child within the next six months, I did some research on how we used to feed infants before commercial infant formula was so prevalent.

First, I checked both the World Health Organization and UN’s UNICEF to obtain any resources they offered parents as breast milk substitutes in the event of an emergency.

UNICEF was unhelpful. Their material focused on ready-to-use formula in lieu of breastfeeding, only after pages and pages of material emphasizing human breast milk as a preference over formula. The organization has rightfully worked hard to emphasize breastfeeding as the safest and most reliable method for feeding infants in no small part because breast milk contains bioactive agents formula does not. The organization has fought globally against corporations which have undermined breastfeeding in order to sell commercial infant formula. But for the U.S.’s current situation UNICEF’s policy doesn’t work.

WHO was marginally better; a 43-page brochure spent 39 pages repeating over and over how human breast milk was the best choice for infants, nearly ignoring crises where breast milk and formula were not options.

Thankfully, on page 39 there was a recipe for making an alternative suitable for nursing infants — it consisted of water, evaporated milk, and sugar.

I recalled my youngest sibling adopted at 3 months of age in the early 1970s not consuming commercial formula. Instead they consumed a recipe based on cow’s milk, and this recipe in WHO seemed very similar.

Fortunately, I still have a resource to validate the recipe was the same or very similar. I called my 82-year-old mother and asked her what parents did before casual infant formula was used widely. I told her what I’d found at WHO.

“That’s what you drank,” she said. “That’s what you, your natural siblings and adopted sibling drank. Evaporated milk, water, and sugar, though we used corn syrup instead of sugar to avoid constipation. Oh, and you had infant oral vitamin drops.”

We spent a half hour talking about the hows and whys — she had been working full time as a registered nurse and couldn’t breastfeed her kids. Breastfeeding wasn’t widely seen as socially acceptable either if a mother had to feed an infant outside of the home.

Hygiene was emphasized — ensuring the bottles, lids, and nipples were sterile, that all formula recipe ingredients were heated to kill pathogens and bottled while hot to ensure the formula was safe to consume, along with prompt refrigeration.

Apart from human breast milk having evolved to best suit human infant needs, hygienic production, bottling, and storage are the key reasons why WHO and UNICEF place a premium on breastfeeding over formula and alternatives. Depending on location in the world, the only safe food for an infant may be breast milk especially since water for dry formula mix or use with concentrated canned formula may not be clean.

But one or two generations of Americans were fed canned cow’s milk diluted with water with additional calories supplemented by sweetener. In a pinch we can do it again — at least until the canned milk production supply chain breaks down.

~ ~ ~

CAVEAT: I am NOT a health care professional. I am providing the following on an informational basis which should not be used as a substitute for discussion and guidance with a qualified health care professional.

After talking with my mom I’m sharing what I found on the internet which was what doctors and hospitals used to send home with their new parents as instructions for feeding their new infant, along with the WHO recipe.

Vitamins: For anyone nearing their due date or who has an infant under the age of 6 months: contact your pediatrician or health care provider for a recommendation on infant liquid multivitamin drops and whether they recommend them with or without iron if an alternative to infant formula or breast milk is necessary. Multivitamin drops will supplement what an alternative to formula can’t provide should breastfeeding not be an option.

Nutritional differences: Keep in mind that the evaporated milk alternative is not identical to breast milk; it has more far more protein, for example, which may be more taxing on human kidneys. Compare these different forms of cow’s milk to human breast milk:

Human breast milk (per 8-oz cup): 171 calories, 17 grams carbs, 17 grams sugar, 2.5 grams protein, 11 grams fat

Gut flora: Also keep in mind that a change in diet means a change in gut flora; an infant can become constipated or have other health issues like allergies due to a corresponding change in immune system signaling. Parents should consider broad spectrum probiotics in their own diet because they will pass on their flora through normal contact with their infant. I introduced my children to plain unsweetened yogurt as soon as our family GP approved the addition to their diet (about 6 months); yogurt with live culture is a probiotic food.

WHO’s alternative:

Note that this formulation allows for the use of boiled cow’s milk. NEVER use raw cow’s milk. It’s safest to boil pasteurized cow’s milk. The formulation also allows for canned evaporated milk once it has been reconstituted to the same concentration as fresh milk, and then diluted further per this recipe.

Past examples: These are examples of instructions routinely sent home with new parents in the 1940s through the early 1960s.

[Instructions provided on discharge to new parents in 1945.]

Here’s an excerpt from a paper published in 1957 on evaporated milk in infant feeding.

And an instructional video on how infant formula was prepared at home during the 1950s at this link.

Some recipes like WHO’s call for sugar, but many older recipes refer to corn syrup as a sweetening alternative because it prevents or resolves constipation in some infants.

At least one recipe published by a mommy blog refers to blackstrap molasses as a sweetener because it contains iron and other trace minerals not found in white sugar or white corn syrup.

NEVER use honey. It should NEVER be offered to infants less than a year old due to the risk of botulism.

Parents whose infants and toddlers experience problems with cow’s milk may want to try goat’s milk which is available in canned evaporated form. (There are commercial infant formulas made from goat’s milk.)

NO to Plant-based milks: plant-based milk products like soy or almond milk are NOT appropriate substitutes for commercial infant formula or breast milk. Their nutritional content is in no way similar.

WATER SAFETY: water used to prepare evaporated cow’s (or goat’s) milk formula must be sanitary — heated at a high enough temperature long enough to kill pathogens. Even when mixed with powered infant formula, water should be heated to 158 degrees Fahrenheit/70 degrees Celsius.

~ ~ ~

I’ve already seen lectures and scolding about breastfeeding being best along with more finger wagging about homemade formula because it’s not as healthy as ready-to-use infant formula or powdered infant formula.

To which I say refer back to the tweet thread by Phil Hernandez near the top of this post and look closely at the photos of the shelves taken in Norfolk VA. There’s exactly one breast milk bank listed for the entire state of Virginia and it’s in Norfolk as well.

What the hell are American parents with infants supposed to do when there’s not enough breast milk or commercial formula to go around?

Especially when the U.S. has plenty of evaporated cow’s milk on the shelves while producing too much cow’s milk altogether.

~ ~ ~

UPDATE-1 — 11:15 PM EDT —

Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg appeared on CBS’s Face the Nation this morning and was asked about the infant formula situation.

He nailed it when he says we have a capitalist system and the government doesn’t make formula. The right-wing has decided it wants to use this capitalist system failure as a means to attack the Biden administration, but the entire regulatory system has been constructed to serve corporations more so than the people who consume products (with the majority of corporations’ support going to the GOP and its candidates).

One only need look at OpenSecret’s data on Abbott Laboratories and Abbott Nutrition‘s campaign contribution history to both major parties to see part of the infant formula industry’s regulatory capture process at work.

The right-wing in this country needs to make up its mind: its political apparatus is either going to stand behind a free market, or more socialized government intervention when competition fails. It only seems to be settled on government getting the way overreaching into women’s uteruses and trans persons’ bathroom stalls and obstructing Black Americans’ access to the voting booth.

What’s particularly irritating about today’s Face the Nation segment is that Buttigieg isn’t the Commerce Secretary or the Health and Human Services Secretary, or the FDA Director.

He’s a concerned adoptive father who told CBS the infant formula situation “is very personal for us,” referring to his two nine-month-old infants.

But sure, let’s beat up on a parent who already has enough to worry about and isn’t responsible for the problem in his day job.

70 replies
  1. Rayne says:

    P.S. the GOP can go fuck itself for suggesting gross human rights violations by starving asylum seekers’ infants of essential infant formula.

    Pro-life, my ass. They don’t care who dies so long as their racist base continues to vote for their brand of white supremacist authoritarianism.

    • Eureka says:

      I put a note about Elise Stefanik’s opponents (please support them) at page bottom. (Either missed or post-booster migrained-away your PS here.)

      • Ginevra diBenci says:

        Eureka, you get post-booster migraines? Me too. Starting with J&J shot in March 2021.

        • Eureka says:

          Yep, for several days to a week after each shot.

          When my particular suite of post-injection syx started (which begin with a constant choking sensation, my version of altered GI motility), I said (recalling then the rubric), “I hate this shot for which I am so thankful.”

            • Eureka says:

              Yes and I think Wasserman (per his usual way) understates the competitive possibilities — I don’t even need to squint, much less hard (his 2nd tweet there). And the Dems’ struck-down gerrymander would have simply handed NY-21 over to the GOP (and Stefanik’s long term power-based goals) even harder, left it totally siloed; I was not in favor of it and am glad it was struck down. Shortsighted on the NY Dems’ part (also per usual).

              Besides a bunch of other stuff re how they sometimes treat those big districts like wastelands (which forward-feeds R-dom like a self-fulfilling prophecy, and we can’t afford to do lazy shit like that anymore), many such districts are seeing an influx of not-necessarily-conservative city folk in the ‘rona era. Lots of opportunities.

    • Ginevra diBenci says:

      Alito laid out the terms in his footnote on the “domestic supply of infants.” The Buffalo shooter understood that code to mean that the lives they care about are not just “pre-born” but also white. Otherwise they might address abysmal maternal mortality rates among people of color.

      Those screaming at moms to breastfeed also overlook that the calories breast milk provides don’t just drop from the sky; those moms need adequate nutrition for both themselves and their babies. Help them with accessible and fully stocked stores, financial support, and family leave? That would mean “stealing” from hardworking taxpayers like you.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    As I understand it, just two companies, Abbott and Mead, have 80% of the US market. Nestle has another18%, which means that three companies have 98% market share, the definition of an oligopoly.

    In addition, about half the production is sold to the USG under the WIC program, but distributed through auctions by one of the big players. This creates de facto statewide and regional monopolies, which are adjusted only every three or four years.

    It appears to be a rigid, inflexible system with little practical oversight. New market entrants are few, owing to the cost of entry and stringent oversight by the FDA. But the FDA does not match that oversight when it comes to existing oligopolists, exemplified by its poor oversight of Abbott – and Abbott’s negligent management – which led to Abbott’s shutting down of an entire plant.

    The situation is ripe for a fresh start. Given the market concentration, and contra the foaming on the right, the problem is not the USG’s “interference” in the market, but an example of the private sector’s gross failures, and the dangers of weak oversight. Meanwhile, as you suggest, rapidly easing those Canadian restrictions would be a good start to increasing supplies.

    • Yancy Faith says:

      I don’t understand why the SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission) allowed this near-monopoly. I thought that was part of their role? Did the GOP gut it as unnecessary regulation? (The irony of seeing their Disney antics is not lost on me.)

      When I had my 1st (very premature, in a NICU an hour away) child, I met the requirements for WIC. I recall the interview with a health department social worker to get vouchers for formula. He emphatically warned me against the use of “pot liquor.” I’m still not sure what that is.

      • Rayne says:

        I suspect that not only is the SEC ‘captured’ just as it was in advance of the 2008 financial crash, but that typical triggering events didn’t occur to launch SEC intervention, i.e., exits from the market aren’t triggering but acquisitions are.

        Also worth noting, though, that the concentration is related to the role of the U.S. Government as a major infant formula buyer as Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC):

        … Because of WIC’s scale, its exclusive statewide contracts encourage consolidation, according to Brian Dittmeier, the senior director of public policy at the National WIC Association, an organization that advocates on behalf of WIC recipients and the program’s workers. Manufacturers struggle to compete in markets where they don’t have a WIC contract, even for products that are not covered by the program’s rebates. A recent analysis of retailer sales data from 2006 to 2015 found that when a manufacturer won a new WIC contract, its sales of eligible formula shot up more than 300 percent in that state. And the researchers found what they called a “spillover” effect—sales of the manufacturer’s non-rebated products also jumped significantly. …


        If the U.S. Government supplies half of all newborns infant formula, we should debate pros and cons of taking over production as part of critical infrastructure.

        P.S. “pot liquor” is the fluid used to cook greens, vegetables, and/or meat though it’s what is left in the pot after cooking. It contains fat, protein, vitamins and minerals but if an infant isn’t yet eating the solid foods put into that pot, they shouldn’t consume the pot liquor. It often contains salt which would be far too concentrated for infants.

  3. skua says:

    Rayne, you’re a powerful model.
    Targetted, addressing the need, well researched, well presented, with cautions included.
    Thank you.

    [don’t know why but there’s tears being shed here]

    • Rayne says:

      I researched and wrote with my own experience in mind since I breastfed both of my kids. I also relied on formula as a backup. I don’t think I really shared but a fraction of the stress involved in trying to breastfeed when one is employed full time. Even with an employer who says they’re supportive, finding a private place to pump if necessary is problematic and still doesn’t guarantee ease of pumping.

      Gods help every parent trying to get through this next couple months.

      • ceebee says:

        Got out of the Army in 1973, and in the Sacramento airport happened to notice a woman breastfeeding. That such could happen in a somewhat public place cheered me up about what I was coming home to, away from military misogyny.

  4. Thomas says:

    Fantastic article!

    I wish there was a widespread campaign to inform women of the options.
    Women who are at that crucial moment of choice when they can choose either breast feeding or formula should be encouraged to breast feed if there is not some reason why they can’t.
    For women for whom it is not an option, they can help others by getting out those old recipes like the ones you have here, and use them and share them widely.
    Anything we can do to address the shortage in the immediate sense would help.
    Just imagine if Republicans and their wacko liars chose to use their FCC license to serve the public. What a concept.

    • Rayne says:

      I hear your concern, but let parents handle this on their own. I sense you have NO idea how much pressure is placed on mothers to breastfeed. It’s constant throughout pregnancy and after. They don’t need more pressure. What they need is support for what they choose to do given their individual circumstances.

      Parents are already using every resource they have to hunt down formula. It would be nice if retailers did a better job of ensuring inventory accuracy in real time online.

      • Peacerme says:

        Raised 4 kids, breast fed them all. Two when at home and 2 with a career. So many tears, when balancing work and breast feeding. Nearly impossible. Trying to pump at work. Missing my baby. Desperation because I can’t let down. Phone ringing. Ugh.

        My daughter in law to be, gave it a shot while working, and school and newborn and major childhood trauma from her past. They lived with us during the pandemic. I wanted to support her to breast feed, but I did not want her to feel pressured. I told her that working and breast feeding was much more difficult and that I would do whatever I could to be a support to her choices.

        It makes me so sad. We have no support- no support to help us be sane and happy while trying to raise the future of mankind. No leave. No time to breast feed. No place to pump. No understanding from bosses about breast feeding. No support for healthy food and clean water.

        It makes me so sad. When a society stops putting a premium on mothers and babies, it stops caring for its future.

  5. Janson says:

    Pasteurization, according to FDA, can be achieved at much lower temps than boiling. Boiling milk converts some lactose to other sugars, which might be fine but you can pasteurize much cooler leaving milk whole (like what you buy in the store). 162 degrees for 15 seconds or 145 for 30 minutes will pasteurize milk.

    Also want to mention that higher maternal age is correlated with less lactation. I think mothers are getting older because they want to have the resources to keep babies safe. Would never have expected a shortage of simple-to-produce formula as a risk factor for more mature mothers. Sad day.

    • Rayne says:

      I’m going to point out that I shared a link in the post about heating water for use with powdered infant formula, to this paper:

      Silano, Marco et al. “Time for the 70°C water precautionary option in the home dilution of powdered infant formula.” Italian journal of pediatrics vol. 42 17. 19 Feb. 2016, doi:10.1186/s13052-016-0228-9

      When referring to the FDA on pasteurization of milk, I can only assume you are discussing milk for consumption by other than infants. Consider the average young family’s household and whether they will have a kitchen thermometer which will measure 145F or 162F let alone 158F (70C). Boiling is visible to the eye and requires no thermometer.

      Considering the pathogens of concern in milk are the same ones which sickened four infants of which two died, I’d rather lean on the side of caution.

  6. SAO says:

    I found it very hard to initiate breastfeeding with my first child. I had bad advice from a lactation consultant, inverted nipples, excruciating pain. It was only the fact that I was going to a country where formula was not reliable that made me persist. It can be tough.

    What people don’t understand is that it’s not a tap. Your body is designed to produce the milk your baby needs. This means if you supplement with formula, your body may decide the baby needs less food and produces less. But you may need to supplement if you are tired or sick, starting a cycle of more supplementation and less milk production.

    BTW, despite the pain that I experienced in the first several days with each child, breastfeeding was rewarding. Even though it’s been decades, every now and then I think I’d like to experience it again (not the painful part, the later part)

    • Rayne says:

      Oh my. I feel your pain. That first week is so rough learning how to do this, and then the periodic new things you learn along the way — like when your child increases nursing ahead of a growth spurt and your nipples are so chafed and irritated they bleed and you just want to throw in the towel and give the baby a bottle of formula.

      Don’t get me started on the unexpectedly early first tooth. Jesus Christ.

      But there’s nothing like the bonding, the shared feeling of relief and relaxation when breastfeeding goes well and your babe gets that tiny soft milk-drunk smile as they doze off at your breast. That I still miss.

      • Duke says:

        “Tiny soft milk-drunk smile”, thank you for mentioning that memory. Some the sweetest memories were released in my mind from the child-rearing years. The emotions of those sweet little moments can be lost in the shuffle.

        Our first child sprouted two teeth at three and half months. I remember the squeal of pain my wife let out.

      • SAO says:

        My babies got their teeth early, but it wasn’t a problem. I did find that pumping for a trip was hard — my body produced just the right amount of milk, so there was little extra. Then, of course, there was the leaking when it was feeding time and you weren’t nursing, so I needed pads, which on top of my swollen breasts, which are large to begin with, made men’s eyes pop out. Then, you have to keep the pumped milk cold until it’s needed, then warm it. If I used formula instead, then my milk production went down. So, I just started breastfeeding in public.
        I remember trying to be discreet. The time I nursed in a toilet stall (and caused a traffic jam as I was hogging it for 1/2 hour). The chair for nursing mothers right next to the very loud dryer that spooked my baby every time it went off (like every few minutes), I could go on and on.

        I don’t think I would have been able to continue breastfeeding until my babies were ready to be weaned if I was working.

        I suspect when we were a nation of farmers, people understood more about mammalian milk production.

      • Mart says:

        Daughter had twins a couple years back and was determined to breast feed. I told her that she absolutely did not need to do that with two babies and a full time job. She somehow managed it with some formula supplement. Not for me, but I am a weak man, not a strong woman. I was my mother’s eighth child. She was done with breastfeeding and I was allergic to formula. I was told I was fed a cows blood formula, but nobody is around to tell me what was in it. What you posted should be all over the news, along with my blood formula (OK maybe not that). Thanks.

        • Rayne says:

          Bravo to your daughter. Raising twins is tough and breastfeeding them even tougher. I’m glad she found a happy medium she could manage between breast milk and formula while employed.

          I’ve never heard of cow’s blood as a formula; that might be a road much too far for breast milk substitutes. In my family the kids consumed cow and pig blood but in the form of blood sausage when they were old enough to enjoy it.

  7. grennan says:

    Dr. Spock, at least in the editions used by parents of boomers in the 50s, also provided evaporated milk formula recipes and methods, as did a variety of info available during much of the 20th century.

    The University of Wisconsin has an enormous online archive of human ecology (formerly known as home economics) stuff:

  8. Anathema Device says:

    I’m a nonparous, post-menopausal Australian woman with no experience of child-rearing, so I have almost as little skin in this game as a male incel, but I deeply appreciate the care and respect and understanding with which this article was written.

    I hope this situation is resolved quickly, because unlike rightwingers and forced birthers, I actually give a damn what happens to babies after they’re born. This is far too important an issue to be used as a political football.

    • grennan says:

      Unfortunately, that’s never stopped our right wing lye (sic) spewers, who’ll use their flamethrowers to make sane discussion impossible. To them, this is an opportunity, not a problem.

  9. Krisy Gosney says:

    The formula shortage started a few months ago. Parents have been hunting down the formula they need all that time. For the most part, regular formula can be had with some frustrating effort. It is the milk sensitivity and milk allergy variety of formulas that are hard to nearly impossible to totally impossible to find. The formula we use is totally impossible to find. Months ago, at the beginning of the Similac (Abbot) recall, we did some creative online searching and we’re able to order several cases of our formula. But the cases are only four small cans. We will run out in the next couple of weeks. This formula is the only one that doesn’t cause our baby near constant pain and discomfort. We’ve started collecting the next best formula for him and are hoping our baby’s system has grown out of some of his milk allergy and can tolerate the other formula (one he couldn’t tolerate before). Otherwise, it’s back to shrieking cries of pain, gut popping, tiny amounts of gas passing and tiny bms, no more happy baby and up all night, every night, trying to soothe a suffering baby. Time will tell.

    Re breast milk, some women produce milk that doesn’t have any of the nutrition needed to cause a baby to gain weight, etc. My mother was that way and I know several other people who’s mothers were the same. A mother we know produced no milk for any of her pregnancies. And some babies are allergic to breast milk.

    Re donated breast milk, at least in Calif and Texas, you have to have a doctor’s prescription for it. And most of the donations are purchased by the hospitals where the preemies and the sick infants get first priority. A healthy baby is not likely to be given breast milk in the hospital and not likely to be given a prescription.

    • Jared Shoemaker Jr says:

      My wife and I loved this in feb and March too. We used alimentum because of reflux issues. Thankfully we made the liquid work…barely. It upsets me the number of women who just say someone like my wife is a bad mother because she can’t breastfeed. Even when I tell them about her having PCOS which hampers milk production, they don’t seem to care

      • Krisy Gosney says:

        Jared, my wife and I used a surrogate. And our surrogate never produced milk for any of her pregnancies. Thankfully, our baby is big and growing and healthy but that also means we don’t have access to breast milk. Recently my wife went to our local Rite Aid to pickup baby’s prescription Pepcid and the clerk asked my wife if she breast fed. My wife said no. So the clerk says- that’s why your baby has acid reflux because you’re not breastfeeding. Lovely. We went through several formulas, Augmentin too. Puramino works very well for him. But we can’t find it anywhere. We’ll go back to Nutrimagen when our Puramino stash runs out and hope he can stomach it this time around.

    • Rayne says:

      Ugh. I had not heard of the prescription requirement in CA and TX. Good for preemies and sickest infants, but another barrier slowing access to nutrition for infants.

      I hope you’ll be able to find an alternative which works for your little one, Krisy, or that they’re soon of an age where additional nutrition can be supplied by solid foods.

      • Krisy Gosney says:

        Thank you, Rayne. We hope he’s grown out of his most severe sensitivities too by then. He’ll be of the age when it’s likely. And if not, hey, who needs sleep.

        • Rayne says:

          Speaking from experience, you will live to tell about it. You may even be crazy enough to do it again. LOL

            • Rayne says:

              You may have had that experience but I didn’t. I woke up in a start and had to check my kids for SIDS because my body was primed to feed every night at least once if not twice. It took years before I could sleep more than 6 hours straight after the first kid was born, like maybe until the second one was in grade school. Then I got about 5 years of decent sleep before the oldest started dating.

  10. Eureka says:

    OT: Elise Stefanik (though she did work herself into this convo in the cruelest of ways).

    I have/democracy has a special request: would you consider amplifying one or each of her Dem opponents for NY-21, the two Matts:

    Matt Putorti (@MattPutorti)

    Matt Castelli (@CastelliMatt)

    just because, and relentlessly would be better, but especially each time she does something bad?

    • Eureka says:

      The ballotpedia entry for NY-21 is out of date, full of drop outs — including her sole unserious GOP challenger. The NY primaries are split this year, with the one including House reps. delayed until late August as maps are redrawn.

      Besides her national platform and power as the 3rd-ranking GOP member, we can’t leave the people of NY-21 hung out to dry for that long.

      I can attest as witness to some of the destruction her rhetoric has wrought.

      Each of the Matts has his campaign video pinned atop his timeline. Each also has a rundown of why we’re talking about Elise lately, from her Q-baiting “pedo” tweet (doesn’t matter that she deleted it, that only heightens the addictive pull), to pro-starving the babies at the border a day or two before … All before the Buffalo massacre, which (besides the proximity to her district and shared audience) is pertinent because of her shared propaganda / beliefs with the alleged Buffalo shooter. Stefanik has promulgated the “Great Replacement” WS standard before — the Albany Times Union called her out on it last year.

      Castelli is the “establishment-backed” candidate; Putorti has the heart. In fact, Putorti’s video — based on how we are “spaghetti dinner” communities, and how pretty soon (owing to split-worlds divisiveness such as Stefanik promotes) we won’t even be able to have such fundraiser gatherings in an attempt to rescue our fellows from the built-in “unlucky” tragedies which befall them (medical bills, fair wage job loss) — is a devastating nutshell of just how precarious is this American life.

      • Rayne says:

        I wish redistricting was completed in New York state but it’s in flux after being overturned by court order. The “mean girl” has a primary opponent and the Democratic Party has four candidates in the primary for the NY-21 district (sadly, the only female Dem withdrew from the race).

        Let’s hope the “mean girl” gets her ass kicked out the door by someone more sane once the redistricting and the primary are completed. If the district remains intact, if it remains solidly Republican, even her primary opponent appears to have traditional GOP values (assuming he was honest in the Ballotpedia survey) which should serve the district better than Stefanik’s racist fascism.

        • Jenny says:

          Thank you Rayne. Yes, out the door for Stefanik would be ideal.
          Actually, there are three “mean girls” in the GOP – Stefanik, Greene and Boebert bonded in the drug of hate.

          • grennan says:

            Don’t forget Sens. Marsha Blackburn and Cindy Hyde-Smith, the latter of “public hanging” fame.

        • Eureka says:

          See my 2:57 AM just above* — her primary opponent has already withdrawn (as have multiple Dems), the ballotpedia entry is out of date. Only the two Matts are left, both on the Dem side. [Her lone GOP opponent, Lonny Coons, withdrew immediately after Daily Caller 3/31/2022 published video of him inappropriately filling-in parts of petition entries.]


          This is the basis of my pick-a-Matt, either or both, shtick. And to get on it sooner than the delayed (August 23rd) primary.

          Otherwise on the dem side:

          Ezra Watson has already dropped out (see his twitter), as has Birdie Farrell (which _is_ acknowledged at ballotpedia).

          Keith Sherrill has zero media presence — social or otherwise — so was not able to confirm a drop-out, but neither, then, would he be remotely viable. His name only comes up in search as people are repeating the outdated listings of Stefanik’s opponents from ballotpedia.

          This dropped-out candidate clutter is subverting efforts to oppose her.

          So let’s get going on the Matts: Matt Putorti and Matt Castelli.

      • Eureka says:

        Thinking about this, Jenny, and how the Stefanik machine runs her campaigns, I would also say that cruelty is the parent of fear and that that’s how she recruits a bunch of her voters. Her cruel words / FB ploys yank a lot of fear-reflexive voting.

  11. Max404 says:

    Boomer here, vintage 1951. I associate evaporated milk cans with images of babies. I asked google for images and way way down this showed up:

    8 out of 10 mothers who feed their babies a Carnation formula say “My doctor recommended it.”

    Grew up in a neighborhood teeming with children and I remember so many new arrivals getting bottles filled with evaporated milk. Amazing that this technique seems to have been lost.

    Weren’t the rolling boycotts of Nestle products in the 70’s and 80’s provoked by corrupt flooding the third world with powdered milk products that incited mothers to move away from breast feeding or evaporated milk based feeding.

    • Rayne says:

      Yeah, the anti-Nestle campaign has become a case study for ethical marketing.

      Johnson, D. A., & Duckett, L. J. (2020). Advocacy, Strategy and Tactics Used to Confront Corporate Power: The Nestlé Boycott and International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes. Journal of Human Lactation, 36(4), 568–578.

      But the blowback after the boycott is the intense pressure on new mothers to breastfeed only.

  12. Tom says:

    I would think that one of the advantages of bottle/formula feeding is that you can actually see how much your child is ingesting by watching how much formula–if any–is left in the bottle after your child is finished feeding. I can’t speak from experience but I assume it’s more difficult for a breastfeeding mother to know how much milk her baby is taking in, though I am fully prepared to be corrected on this point.

    • Tom says:

      Also, only a mother can breastfeed, but anyone else in the family can bottle-feed an infant. As a young dad, I always enjoyed having something of a bonding experience with my kids by giving them their bottle.

      • P J Evans says:

        There is a photo in my family, of (IIRC) my brother holding a bottle with both hands and steadying it with his feet, his head on my father’s leg. (Dad was in his robe, on the sofa.) Pretty sure that if my brother’s kids got bottles, he would have been feeding them.

    • SAO says:

      You can weigh your baby. In England, they had weekly drop-in baby clinics. They gave formula to the mothers who qualified for subsidized formula at the clinics, so they’d look at the babies, but I went at least once a month to make sure my kids were on track. They told me when I should start solids with my son (sooner than my baby books suggested, but they thought he needed more calories) The NHS was wonderful.

    • Rayne says:

      LOL I will have to look for that. Not that anyone should rely on an old John Ford-directed western movie for guidance on infant care.

      Oh look — it’s on HBO Max now. You know what I’m streaming this evening!

  13. Zirc says:

    “The right-wing in this country needs to make up its mind: its political apparatus is either going to stand behind a free market, or more socialized government intervention when competition fails.”

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t have to make up its mind. All they have to do is blame any failure, whether market-oriented or governmental, on the left. As long as the general public doesn’t do its homework, that will work well enough for them. In the case of Abbott Laboratories, they blame the administration for shutting the Michigan plant down. But if babies had died because of their tainted formula, the right would have been happy to blame the administration for not maintaining oversight.


    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      The right is resolutely pro-corporate subsidy and immunization from liability. It is resolutely anti-regulation – land use, labor, workplace, environmental, anti-monopoly – because it hurts the profits of its donors, and because it sets precedent for government working effectively for someone besides corporations and the wealth elite that principally owns them.

      The right, however, will never publicly make up its mind for one thing or another. It regards hypocrisy and inconsistency as “freedom.” The intellectual chaos that generates provides cover for what it’s really doing, with remarkable uniformity and consistency.

  14. Jared Shoemaker Jr says:

    my wife and I lived this problem at the start when the recall first went out. What amazes me most is the ignorance that people seem to think women can just produce milk and not have problems that would hamper that especially from women themselves

    • Rayne says:

      There are raftloads of writing about the many ways in which women’s bodies are policed, the most obvious being beauty standards and the chronic shaming of women who don’t meet standards in order to gin up profits for the beauty industry. Breastfeeding is yet another way in which women are policed, shamed for not being able to perform and guilt-tripped into buying pricier formula because it’s promoted as the next best thing to breastfeeding.

      And yet breast milk substitutes are a rarely acknowledged factor in the improvement of infant/child mortality rates. Imagine how many infants survived and thrived because they had access to safe breast milk substitutes when their mother’s breast milk wasn’t available or enough for whatever reason.

      Infant/Child mortality rate over last two centuries

  15. Nord Dakota says:

    I was born in 1954, the second of 5 kids. My mom used dark Karo syrup with the canned milk for at least my you youngest sibs. I know she breastfed in the beginning, but once you have 5 kinds running around under the age of 11 I can see why you might not. I remember the pots of boiling water and glass bottles. And of course cloth diapers.

  16. viget says:

    Oh, boy, brings back memories. My first 2 we’re exclusively breast fed, but both were C-sections so I remember the anxiety about the delay in milk coming in, and the difficulty regarding his latching on at the beginning. Yeah, that was fun for my wife and I. He was born at 37 wk and 5 days, so that little bit of prematurity made it tough. If it wasn’t for a dedicated lactation consultant….wow not sure it would have happened. Also, nipple shields were a lifesaver for my wife,since it was much easier for him to latch on with those, at least the first week or so.

    Which is another shaming technique…they tell you no nipple substitutes, but that’s BS too. We lost SOOO much sleep as young parents bc of this nipple confusion nonsense…a wise lactation consultant told us at day 3, just let him have the pacifier. So glad we did eventually, he really just wanted to suck and be soothed, not eat. And once he got the hang of it, he breast fed like a champ.

    • viget says:

      And then there was child 3, intentionally born early at 35 weeks so my wife could start chemo for breast cancer. She got to breast feed him a whopping 2 weeks while he was in the NICU (mostly through a NG tube), and then she had to start chemo, so that was that.

      If it weren’t for formula, what would we have done?? I can’t imagine how batshit crazy I’d be right now if he was born this year….

      And then, with overly broad anti-abortion laws, would we even have been allowed to go for an early C-section? Or would that be considered too risky for an elective reason?

      • Rayne says:

        Wow. You and spouse have been through a lot with your three children. Perfect examples of why breast milk isn’t always the perfect solution. Thanks for sharing.

  17. Eureka says:

    OT. Pennsylvania is a —-show. The primary is tomorrow and while we hope ultimately to flip Toomey’s seat D (and so also hope not to have to worry about which GOP extremist could end up in the Senate), PA hasn’t elected two D senators in a L O N G time (very briefly there were x2 when Arlen Spector switched parties during term). So while hopefully we ultimately get Fetterman (enormous polling lead over next-ranked Lamb) who also has the right attitude and ability to speak truth to lunacy … he is currently recovering from a mild stroke (threw a clot from A-fib, which was quickly addressed; no cognitive impairment or anything per his statement and demeanor). Add yet more hope that that doesn’t unfavorably alter either the primary or general election.

    As regards the GOP side of the primary, I’m highly *consternated* that all of the national media attention the last week on Ultra-MAGA (one of the new Qanon-favorable monikers) Barnette is simply shifting votes to (gag) more viable candidate Oz or otherwise helping him to inch away. In the tight 3-way competition between Oz, McCormick, and Barnette, my sense is that Barnette is net drawing from McCormick’s pool (over/rather than Oz’) while she and Oz gain. [Meanwhile, Oz and McCormick are each targeting their negative ads at Barnette now, instead of at each other.] Oz remains “on top” but all polling is well within the margin of error.

    Not even getting into the situation for Gov., as Pennsylvanians and likely the entire country would be screwed if Mastriano (currently with a double-digit GOP lead in polling) gets the keys. [Current AG Shapiro is the lone Dem. candidate for Gov.]

  18. bg says:

    Thanks for this Rayne. My mother was the chief dietician at our hospital when I was born (oldest of five) . Near term, her OB told her if she came to work one more day, he would admit her. She was dedicated to her work. She did not breast feed any of us. I recall the same boiling, the glass bottles with nipples with the little cap not unlike the cap between the lids on canning jars to keep the formula/nipples sterile. I well recall heating the bottles in boiling water and spent many hours bottle feeding siblings, something I enjoyed and felt confident in doing. I doubt if there is a recipe for the formula she used, but I might look through her recipe boxes out of curiosity. I never had any conversation about her disinclination to breast feed. And I was never a mother, so I never had any particular reason to discuss it with her. None of us had our tonsils out, which was a common surgery among our friends and neighbors, and while we had typical childhood illnesses like mumps, measles, and chickenpox, I think we grew up healthy and were rarely sick, so it does not seem that it was unhealthy or that we had less immunity than other kids. There is plenty of shaming and superior posturing by those who now proclaim breastfeeding to be the only way to properly feed/raise a child. I’m sure the formula companies are loving the promotion that their formulas are the only appropriate way to substitute, and of course there are babies who can’t for one reason or another tolerate certain formulas or breastmilk. Formula/breastmilk alternatives were liberating for women, of course. My mother never did go back to working in the hospital, but she always maintained her credentials so that if she had to, she could go back at the top of her game, to full time employment again.

  19. skua says:

    Could be that the stress on mothers around breastfeeding is made worse by the efforts of the Breast Milk Substitute industry.
    2015 spend in USA on advertising Infant formula and toddler milk was $26.5 million. Subtle, sophisticated and successful campaigns, a voluntary Marketing Code, globally $55 billion a year in sales.
    That voluntary code, “Developed with infant formula manufacturers”, functions to allow the profit-driven promotion of BMS by stealth – at the cost of baby and mother well-being.
    The pressure that people want to put onto breastfeeding mothers might be used on legislators to better effect.

Comments are closed.