What’s In Baby Formula?

Have you ever wondered what’s inside your baby’s formula? Or why some kinds make him extra gassy or fussy? And are there particular ingredients you should avoid? An expert and some formula-feeding moms discuss the ins and outs of baby formula and an up and coming alternative to the mainstream options that have taken a hit in the United States' recent shortage.

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Featured Expert



Episode Transcript

Natalie Gross 0:10
Have you ever wondered what's inside your baby's formula? Or why some kinds make him extra gassy or fussy? We have to So today we've grabbed an expert in some formula feeding moms to discuss the ins and outs of baby formula and an up and coming alternative to the mainstream options that have taken a hit in the U.S.' recent shortage. This is Newbies.

Natalie Gross 0:37
Welcome to Newbies. Newbies is your online on the go support group guiding new mothers through their baby's first year. I'm Natalie Gross, mom to a three year old boy and a baby girl. We've got a great show today talking about baby formula. Now if you haven't already, be sure to visit our website at New mommy media.com And subscribe to our weekly newsletter. This keeps you updated on all the episodes that we release each week. And another great way to stay updated is to hit that subscribe button in your podcast app. And if you're looking for a way to get even more involved with our show, then you can check out our membership club called Mighty Moms. That's where we chat more about the topics discussed here on our show. And it's also an easy way to learn about our recording so that you can join us live. I would like to introduce our panel of guests today we have April Kelly with sure she is our featured guest. We also have moms Liz and Bailey here to share their perspectives on this topic as well. So thank you, mom so much for being here. And as we get started, please tell us a little bit about your family in experience using formula to feed your babies. April. We'll get into your professional accomplishments a little later in the show. But do you want to kick us off with a personal introduction?

April Kelly 2:12
For sure for sure. So I'm excited to be here and having this conversation. I am a mompreneur. And I have four kiddos between the ages of one and 12. And we all had different infant feeding experiences. So I've done a little breastfeeding, I've done some supplementing. I've done some completely infant formula feeding. And so we've we've had a variety of different experiences that I'll be able to speak to today.

Natalie Gross 2:36
All right, Liz, do you want to go next?

Liz Munyon 2:39
I am a mom to a three month old baby boy that we adopted from birth. And he has actually been formula fed since day one.

Natalie Gross 2:49
Congratulations. And Bailey, what about you?

Bailey Pusey 2:53
Yeah, I also I'm a mom of a almost two year old little girl. And she also we have only ever formula fed? We didn't we have no experience with me breastfeeding or anything? So.

Natalie Gross 3:06
Okay. Has anyone been affected by the formula shortage?

Liz Munyon 3:10
Yes, most definitely. It was more. So right after our son was born, the stores in our area, we're still having a really hard time getting any formula on the shelves. And we were traveling from store to store to store around an area just trying to find anything that would work for him. So that became very stressful when you know, you already are bringing home this newborn child and you don't know fully what to expect, because we literally got the call that he was coming home with us that day. And so now trying to figure out how are we going to feed him once we get home was a huge burden.

Natalie Gross 3:51
Wow. So what did you end up doing just like you said, going to store to store,

Liz Munyon 3:56
You know, thankfully, the hospital actually sent us home with some formula. So we had about two days worth of formula to find more for him. And we actually realized we could go on to the manufacturers website and be able to actually find his formula and what stores had it in stock. So that was super helpful.

Natalie Gross 4:19

April Kelly 4:20
Yeah, that is helpful. I'll jump in too. I wasn't directly affected. I was nursing at the time, but we were affected in a completely different way where a lot of people who were privy of our up and coming startup venture with the infant formula company, they were reaching out to see if we could help them if our product was up and ready to go and I hated it so bad because we were not ready. And because safety first I did not really. I didn't even want to go that route and skip any skip any important steps. And so we really kind of had our hands tie. So that's how we were affected.

Natalie Gross 4:58
Yeah. Well When you mama started formula feeding, how much guidance from the pediatrician or you know, from the hospital or anything Did you receive on what to look for in the type of formula that you used? And how did you end up settling on the one that was right for your baby,

April Kelly 5:15
we leaned heavily on our pediatrician, beginning with our oldest daughter, because for one, we were new parents, my husband and I, and we were younger, to a lot younger. So we really did not have a clue of what we were doing. So we leaned heavily on the pediatricians and just try trial and error. Right? Try the first formula, see if how it sat with baby girl. And fortunately, it was a good match. That's not the case with all of my kids. But in her case, we were able to get it right the first time.

Natalie Gross 5:43
Yeah, trial and error is kind of a big thing in parenting. Yeah, for sure.

Bailey Pusey 5:48
We kind of had the opposite experience of we didn't really have much guidance at all, when it came to formula, what type of formula or anything like that to use. I luckily, my sister had just given birth, nine months before my daughter was born. And her son was formula fed as well. But we kind of just went with her lead, and like you said, trial and error. And the first one that the hospital gave us actually didn't sit well with her. And they were like, well, I don't know, I guess you can try this. They it was just very minimal guidance, or even telling us why it wasn't a sitting or what we. So we kind of took that on ourselves and just had to trial. Luckily, we only had to try one other one that sat with her. But we didn't have as much guidance as I would have thought, new parents first time, you have no clue what you're doing. And like you said, you're young. And they don't come with an instruction manual at all. So

Liz Munyon 6:46
yeah, I would agree that we did not receive any guidance whatsoever on what type of formula to be looking for what to look for in it, things like that. Thankfully, I have previous knowledge from working in a daycare for four years. And basically, you know, feeding many, many children over the course of that time. And seeing all the different types of formula that were out there. I know my husband and I constantly had that discussion. And we would actually go into the aisles and look to see what was there and just kind of get an idea because we knew it was probably going to end up being trial and error. And especially with adopted children who may have had some prenatal exposures. Unfortunately, you just never know what they're going to respond well to or not. Because a lot of times, because of those exposures, their digestive system is one of the most effective systems in their entire body from it when they're first born. So we just didn't even know what was fully going to happen there. Thankfully, the formula that the hospital gave him he responded really well to. So we were able to just stick with that one and, and go from there. And once in a while, we'll find like, you know, the comparable version of it. And but we found that he actually does not do as well on those. But if we use it to kind of supplement some of the regular formula he does, okay.

Natalie Gross 8:12
Okay, great. Well, thank you, mom, so much for sharing your experiences, we're going to take a quick break. And when we come back, I will be continuing this conversation with April. So stay tuned.

Natalie Gross 8:22
Today on Newbies, we're talking about baby formula. And you've already met our featured guest, April Kelly. So April, welcome back to the show to the second segment here. Tell us about Sure. And what motivated you to start this company offering a plant based formula alternative?

April Kelly 8:48
Absolutely. So Sure is my baby. That's how I like to refer to it's my business baby. And we were all set out on this venture about three and a half years ago, after having or bringing home my third baby girl. I have four children, three girls. And the last one is a boy that bless my husband's heart. But we brought home our third baby girl and my second daughter was about two and a half at the time, and we had breastfed her for about 18 months. So it planned to do the exact same thing with third baby. And that was not the case. So long story short, we ran into a lot of hiccups. Earlier on I ended up battling postpartum depression with her. And also excruciating feedings due to her count time. And I also was going through a little supply shortage of my own I just could not produce enough milk for her. And so that led me to supplementing and so we tried the same formula that we had supplemented with our oldest daughter, and unfortunately not even 24 hours a 48 hours in we immediately saw reaction she started to have a skin reaction. Her poops changed smells and it was just it was crazy craziness and at that point, I was just trying to cling on to sanity as best I knew how. And I felt like nothing was going right. So my husband and I, we were like, there has to be something out there that we can trust that we could safely feed our baby. And we were 100% Vegan at the time. And so we did our research, we literally were up and down grocery store aisles, looking at the backs of infant formula canisters, dissecting every ingredient that's in there researching and finding out some of the not so great things that are in infant formula, and then partnering with experts to create our very own recipe. And so that was the start of what we know now is sure. And so we specialize in ready made plant based formula for infants and toddlers.

Natalie Gross 10:44
Great, that's awesome. What are the main ingredients that you typically find in mainstream formula products?

April Kelly 10:51
we all have seen the articles about the heavy metals, right that are in some of the formulas out there. And that's quite unfortunate. And that's not on the label. So that's another thing to kind of be mindful of, as we are thinking about formula. So that's one one caution that I always tell parents is to just be mindful, do your research and look, seek out the best formulas. And I know that's kind of hard with all of the information that we have out now at our fingertips about formula. But definitely do your best to research formulas who don't, or at least have taken action towards not having those heavy metals in in the formulas, but also preservatives and mineral oil, corn syrup, all of these ingredients are going to be very tough on the digestive system of the baby. And so if you can find ones without those GMOs, and synthetic fillers and things like that, you are a rock star mom, and you're off to a great start, how is yours different? Ours is different, because we truly do use all natural ingredients. So even the vitamins that we use are derived from whole food items. It's 100%, plant based, and it's in a ready made format. So especially for those moms who still kind of want that, that experience of breastfeeding, right and freezing the milk and things like that. We kept it in that ready made format. And that's actually the format that we started with when we were making this recipe for our own baby girl for the first year of her life. So the other difference is that we are really starting to do more research about how to safely introduce allergens early on so that the child does not develop an allergy later on down the road. And so we're we're doing extensive research to try to figure out how we can do that because a lot of moms that we've spoken to in surveys and one on one interviews have said that their main concern are the allergies, right? The intolerances and not being able to predict what their child is going to be a have a reaction to. So we're trying to really focus on that, because that's really where we see a big gap and opportunity in the industry is to give the moms that guidance and support that they so many of us lack when we're trying to decide, you know, on that grocery aisle, there's so many options. And we're not experts in anatomy, many of us aren't coming from a healthcare background to really be able to dissect these ingredients. So we want to do that work for them. Partner with our customers hold their hand support them and help them to make the best decisions for their child.

Natalie Gross 13:15
When a baby gets you know, fussy or gassy or has a reaction to a formula, what is the ingredient that they're often reacting to?

April Kelly 13:23
It's very different. You know, it's really case by case but some of the most common ones are going to be the lactose. It's also going to be soy, which was the one for our child, because like I said, we were using a plant based and a plant based option that we went with with soy soy, we we had no idea that she would have a reaction to it. So soy is another one. And I want to say those are the main two because those are the main two ingredients that are used in infant formulas that are out there on the market. Our base is made from an almond base, which is considered one of the big nine allergens, right the tree it falls in the category of tree nuts, but what we found is that it is a lot lower on the spectrum than some of the other tree nuts or some of the other big nine allergens. And it's easy on the stomach just the way that we process it to get those proteins and those minerals out of the ingredient without it being so hard on the digestive tract. And so we're also looking into other ingredients like wheat and other plant based ingredients that we can also use as a variation of our formula that'll be easy on the baby but also introducing those allergies in very small dosage dosages so that the baby gets used to it and can build up that not immunity to it but that tolerance for it so that they don't get those allergies

Natalie Gross 14:41
along those lines. What should parents look out for as signs of you know, sensitivities to the type of formula they're using? That maybe it's time to switch kinds or look for one for I know they have some for like sensitive stomachs and how long should you wait before trying another kind?

April Kelly 14:59
Yeah, so I would do definitely say, sometimes we moms, we sleep on ourselves. And what I mean by that is we underestimate our ability to know what our babies need. So of course, we always want to err on the side of caution, we want to consult with the experts, we want to do all the right things, right. But we also want to trust ourselves, we have these babies, we carry these babies, and even in the more non traditional settings, trust your intuition, right? Always believe in the divine when it comes to that, and that we are the right person for the job if we're in that situation. So what practically though, what you can do is look out for any any breakouts look out for any changes in their temperament, look out for any changes in their stools, those are the main three, and rely on what you already know. So if you know that your child hasn't had these symptoms before, when did they start? And can they be connected back to when you introduced the formula, or after they started to take the formula? Did they develop later on, you know, if that was the only change in their lifestyle or in their diet, then start to kind of trace it back to you know what you introduced what formula it was. And I'd like to say at least give it if you're going to be switching? Because you know, we're dealing with very delicate, fragile babies, right and their delicate, fragile digestive system. So I would say be very cautious. And ultimately, I'm going to, I hate to put a number on it because I don't want you guys to use it as Bible. But I would say one to two weeks before you introduced unless it is in very urgent situation. And your pediatrician is saying no, we need to do this now. I would say try to phase them out. And maybe almost like when you're winning a baby from breast milk, and you're transitioning over into the infant formula. If you can do it in a way that's nice and gentle and gradual, that is going to be the more preferred way. Okay.

Natalie Gross 16:51
Well, shifting gears a little bit for those moms whose breastfeeding journeys are coming to an end, what are some tips for switching from breast milk to formula,

April Kelly 17:01
I like to say always have your support system in place it I think that is really important as a mom in general, not just even with infant formula experience, but that too. And so having a support system in place where even if it's a non traditional type system or village that you've had to create on your own and get creative, so other mom groups are great, and I know those can be those can be great. And then they can also be not so great just because they're you know of the opinions of others. And it can get very loud. But what I would say is, consult with your pediatrician consult with other moms that you know that are in within your circle, use your own past experiences. And then also I was start with more sensitive formulas. So if if they classify as an advanced or sensitive formula, I would probably start with those because they're going to be at most more gentle on the more mild on the digestive system than the other ones are. So kind of ease into it. And then if you're having to go back to work, or if you're having to, you know, change your scheduling, and that's the reason for you know, switching back over, I will say try to implement the change beforehand. So try to go ahead and start gradually working into it and transitioning over to the formula before you have to, you know, pass off to a babysitter or nanny or go back to work. So the earlier, the better. Before you have to make that you know that gradual change, or that change, try to make it gradual. Again,

Natalie Gross 18:34
okay. With the formula shortage that we already discussed, it seems as though there's been a rise in parents making their own baby formula. I know it's very controversial, many experts advise not to do it. But I'm curious about your take and what advice if any, you would give to parents who are choosing to go that route.

April Kelly 18:52
I always have like a love hate relationship with this question. Because I am a truly a rebel at heart. And honestly, in my complete transparency of being a mom, right, taken off that expert hat for a second, I was really desperate. Okay, I was desperate for something for my child. And I really felt like I wasn't getting the attention or the assistance support where the help that I was needing out of the options that were available. And so for me, I really took it matters into my own hands. Of course, I did the research and I did all of the things that I felt like were going to help me to make the best decision and be the safest for my baby. But I realized that I had to really get in the weeds of things a lot more if I wanted to find the solution that I was looking for. So for me that looked like doing the research like I told you guys before and whipping up things right at home in my own kitchen. And then from there taking that recipe and sharing it and being transparent with my pediatrician trying to create an ally out of my PA pediatrician as opposed to you know this this toxic type of relationship where they say one thing and we do another I was very transparent. I was like this is This is where we are, these are the things that aren't working, these are the things that are happening. And this is what I have done to figure this out. I would love to get your take on it, I'm happy to share the recipe, you know, what do you think? What are your thoughts? So I took a more, I put my pediatrician in a more of a consultative position as opposed to whatever he says I'll do, because at the very end of the day, again, this is my child. And I'm seeing that what they're saying, and what you know, what is the typical route was just not working for us. And so what that showed me is that everybody's experience is different. And the solution isn't always cookie cutter. So at some point, you do have to kind of push the envelope a little, and be brave and courageous enough to do that. But of course, err on the side of caution, consult with the experts if and when needed. And then you know, go from there.

Natalie Gross 20:48
All right, April. Well, thank you so much for sharing this important information, we are going to take another quick break, and then continue our conversation with our moms as well.

Natalie Gross 21:05
All right, Liz, and Bailey, welcome back. Any thoughts on what we've just learned from April on what's inside baby formula and the different kinds available out there?

Bailey Pusey 21:14
To me, it was very overwhelming already. And I was like it, there's more to it than I even even now as a mom who's fed it for a year that I even knew.

Liz Munyon 21:26
Some of that was definitely new information. For, for me, as you know, someone who's kind of just starting out on all of this. I also am sitting here going, I wish I had noticed something like this had existed, just to be able to help out a lot of the moms even at the daycare that I was working at, because there was many kids who were having issues with both regular formula and the soy formula. And I know in our area, in particular, having another option like this would have been super helpful for them, even at that time, just to know that they're, you know, there are options out there for you as a mom.

Natalie Gross 22:04
Yeah. Well, one thing we haven't touched on is the stigma that can often be associated with using formula, you know, in this whole breast is best, quote unquote, mentality. And you know, now we see more people saying like, Fed is best, right? had any of you ever run into any pushback or felt a lack of support as a formula feeding mom,

Bailey Pusey 22:24
I definitely got a lot of pushback, especially because when I had my daughter, I initially said, I'm not breastfeeding, we're going straight to formula. So I had a lot of people push back on, well, you should try its best or the bond you'll get and every I've got every possible, probably pushback that people could have given me. But at the end of the day, I just knew like, what was best for her and me was to be on formula. She's healthy. Two year old now, so I don't I don't regret it. But I definitely did encounter that, especially because I had the lack of initial trying the breastfeeding as well.

Liz Munyon 23:11
Yes, I definitely ran into it as well, you know, as sometimes as an adoptive mom, you're already being told and you're struggling with the feeling of not being their actual mom, even though you are in especially in those first months, as you're already trying to take the time to bond with this child that you did not carry for, you know, those nine ish months. So the new ad and people who are all over social media saying, you know, the whole breast is best and people talking about the formula shortage and saying, Well, why don't they just nurse and, and just hearing that over and over and even from people in real life, not necessarily directly to me, but telling you, well, you're setting your child up for failure because you're not using donated breast milk because you're not trying to induce lactation. You're not trying to do this bonding with them. And so it can just end up being a perfect recipe for self doubt and guilt as a mom and just coming back and realizing that you are doing what is best to create that bond and you are doing what you feel is best for your child.

Natalie Gross 24:24
Someone's expecting you to induce lactation. It's a thing.

Liz Munyon 24:27
It's a thing. Yes. And I have heard of people who have done it and good for you. Usually those tend to be people who have kind of a longer match with a mom like they meet unexpected mom who's only a couple months along so then they can there's if you want to research it feel free to research it isn't adoptive isn't adoptive mom, but usually because you already know that baby's coming. Some moms have actually have time to do that. or if you've previously had a child, apparently, it's easier to do that. Some people even just talk about dry nursing with the baby, as well, as you know, the other big one, the biggest one that you hear is why don't you use donated breast milk. And that's great if you can get your hands on it. But the other thing is, there's lots of other babies out there, who like our son, he was healthy, so he didn't necessarily need that donated breast milk. And I know that there's, you know, there's little preemie babies out there, and kids with other issues going on that could use it more than him. So I'm not going to go out and take what's already a small enough supply. And then take it for my kid who I know is thriving on formula right now.

Natalie Gross 25:44
Interesting, maybe that whole lactation thing is another episode.

Liz Munyon 25:47
That's a whole other beast to get into. But it's it is something that has been brought up in many adoptive forums that I'm a part of on Facebook and things like that. People talk about it. So it is a thing out there.

Natalie Gross 26:02
April, any thoughts on on this whole stigma? And you know, mentality, the Mommy Wars?

April Kelly 26:08
Oh, yeah, I am very passionate about this. Because moms, we have it hard as it is like, and you would think that we would be the ones that get it right, and that we understand and that we show each other compassion because we live it. And we breed that struggle sometimes. And that challenge of being a mom every single day. So it's still bewilders me how a mom could just even approach another mom in with anything but gratitude and grace. And just like, listen, I get it, you know. So for one of the more important parts of our mission, as we are preparing to roll out our product is to remember the moms and not even just the moms but the parents. And we really have an inclusive initiative to recognize that everybody's journey looks different. And to be a be welcoming of that, right and be supportive of that and try to fit in and help where we can, as opposed to judging right and adding more to the problem. So I'm just so I think more so than the product itself. I'm passionate about shaking up the industry in that way, because it can feel so cold and isolated. Because sometimes you don't have that guidance, you don't have that support, even from other moms who have who may have even dealt with what you have, right. So ultimately, I'm just looking at it as an opportunity to get on the ground and do the work and help these moms as best we can. And parents.

Natalie Gross 27:37
Well, moms, I have enjoyed this conversation. Any last thoughts before we wrap up?

Bailey Pusey 27:42
I just think because I know I said I didn't have that. But I had a lot of pushback. But I think if you find your community of people that are willing to support you and know that you know, what is best and are doing your absolute best for your child, gravitate toward that and do just if you know that formula is the best route to go for you do it. If breastfeeding is then do that too. But just find your community that in your support system and hold on to that.

Liz Munyon 28:11
Yeah, I would just piggyback off of that and just say huge kudos to literally all the moms out there that are just making sure their babies are fed. And whether you're breastfeeding formula, feeding combination, whatever you're doing, you're amazing. And you've got this.

April Kelly 28:27
Yeah, and I second everything that you guys just said you got this mom and find your community find your support and make that louder than all of the other negative noise that's out there in the world.

Natalie Gross 28:39
Well, thank you so much to you, April, Liz and Bailey. Thanks so much for joining us for this episode today. listeners. You can find out more about April in her company at the shore company.com That's short, S-U-R-E. Also check out newmommymedia.com where we have all of our podcast episodes plus videos and more.

Natalie Gross 29:09
That wraps up our show for today. We appreciate you listening to newbies. Don't forget to check out our sister shows preggy pals for expecting parents, parents savers for moms and dads with toddlers, the boob group for moms who get breast milk to their babies and twin talks for parents of multiples. Thanks for listening to newbies your go to source for new moms and new babies.

Disclaimer 29:34
This has been a New Mommy Media production. Information and material contained in this episode are presented for educational purposes only. Students and opinions expressed in this episode are not necessarily those of new mommy media and should not be considered facts. Will such information and materials are believed to be accurate. It is not intended to replace or substitute for professional medical advice your care and should not be used for diagnosing or treating healthcare problem or disease, or prescribing any medication. If you have questions or concerns regarding your physical or mental health, or the health of your baby, please seek assistance from a qualified health care provider.

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