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Baby Formula Questions (Q & A) with Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg

Recently we sat down with one of the country's leading pediatricians, Dr. Jennifer Trachtenberg, assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. We asked Dr. Jen, who also is a mom, a few questions about infant nutrition, formula feeding, and her thoughts on store brand formula.

What is the ideal food for baby?

Breastfeeding is the ideal method when it comes to feeding your baby. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics does recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life. The AAP also recommends continued breastfeeding if mom and baby want to do it together longer.

What if mom can't or chooses not to breastfeed?

For a whole variety of different reasons—from having to go back to work to not producing enough milk naturally—moms may choose not to breastfeed or to supplement their breast milk with infant formula. I want moms to know they can feel comfortable using baby formula to provide their babies with the nutrition they need.

Besides being a pediatrician, I too am a mom. When I went back to work, I had to supplement with formula for my babies. Parents need to realize that infant formula meets the nutritional requirements for their babies' healthy growth and development. The AAP agrees that infant formula is a safe alternative to breast milk.

Are expensive, nationally advertised baby formula brands the only option?

Nationally advertised brands of formula like Similac® and Enfamil® can be very expensive. What many moms don't know is that store brand formula is a terrific option. Store brand formula offers the same quality and nutritional value as the big advertised brands but at a fraction of the cost. Moms can feel confident using store brand formula.

Talk about the cost of formula! Moms can save up to $600* a year by using a store brand formula such as Walmart's Parent's Choice Infant Formula.

Do store brand formulas meet the same FDA standards as the nationally advertised brands?

Yes. When I tell moms, they are often surprised to hear that store brand formula meets the same FDA standards for safety and quality as the big-name brands. When it comes to safety, quality, and nutrition, all infant formula meets the same federal requirements as outlined in the Infant Formula Act.

What if my baby needs a specialty formula?

There are many different types of formula available on the market today, from milk-based and soy-based formula to specialty formula—such as Sensitivity® Formula for babies who are experiencing fussiness and gas because of a sensitivity to lactose. These types of infant formulas are all available as store brands sold under the banners of retailers across the country. Families can realize great savings with store brand formulas while giving their infants the nutrition they need, regardless of their specific feeding requirements.

Would you recommend store brand formula to your patients?

Absolutely. I encourage my patients to choose store brand formula. It offers comparable nutrition and nutrient values, meets the same FDA standards, and supports a healthy family budget. Parents can conduct their own side-by-side comparison. Look at the labels on the containers and compare the nationally advertised brand to a store brand formula. Moms and dads will see for themselves that the labels and ingredients of store brands match the nutrition on the labels of the advertised brands.

If I switch to a store brand formula, will it be less nutritious or difficulty for my baby?

No. Many studies show that switching from one brand of formula to another is safe. And branding doesn't matter. Store brands offer the same complete nutrition as the advertised brands. I assure my patients that it is safe to switch from a big-name brand to a store brand. In some instances, some babies may prefer the taste of a store brand formula.

Does lower price mean lower quality?

No. Lower price does not mean lower quality, particularly when it comes to baby formula.

Where can I go for more information?

For smart moms and informed consumers, visit for helpful articles and valuable promotions.

*Total savings with store brand infant formula calculations based on a price per fl oz comparison of store brand infant formulas and their comparable national brands. Retail prices are from a March 2017 retail price survey of assorted stores. Actual prices and savings may vary by store and location.

Enfamil® is a registered trademark of Mead Johnson & Co. Similac® is a trademark of Abbott Laboratories. Store brand infant formula is NOT made by or affiliated with Mead Johnson & Co. or Abbott Laboratories.

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