The use of a wet nurse was a common practice before the introduction of the feeding bottle and baby formula. In fact, by the early 1800s wet nursing had become a well-organized profession with contracts and laws designed to regulate its practice. Although today we may frown upon the idea of someone breastfeeding a child not their own, death was often the only other option until the mid-1800s for mothers unable to nurse their young. Unfortunately, 200 years later we still have a few things in common with these mothers of long ago when it comes to feeding our babies. In addition to some being physically unable to breastfeed, many mothers opt-out of breastfeeding for other reasons. Some aren’t comfortable with it while others can’t be bothered. No matter the reason for not breastfeeding, we are placed in a precarious position when a baby formula shortage comes along.
The first baby “formula” was developed in 1860 by German scientist Justus von Leibig. It was powdered, just like the formula we use today. It consisted of wheat flour, dehydrated cow’s milk, malt flour, and potassium bicarbonate (an additive used as a base in foods and to regulate pH). To make the formula, mothers had to mix the powder with warmed cow’s milk. Leibig’s soluble “infant food” was first marketed in the United States in 1869 and sold for $1.00 per bottle. That was a small fortune back then but keep in mind that the use of formula (with the exception of the elite) was for emergency purposes only. It’s a whole different ballgame today.
Shortly after the development of Leibig’s formula, the Nestle Company came up with its own version which was basically the same as Leibig’s with two (not so) minor changes. It didn’t have potassium bicarbonate, and Nestle added sugar to their formula. I guess Nestle thought that starving babies wouldn’t drink their concoction unless it was loaded with sugar (like all of their other products). This formula sold for half the price of Leibig’s, and it turned out to be more cost-effective in other ways, too. Nestle’s formula needed only water for mixing. That’s too bad. Cow’s milk was actually safe to drink (and good for you) in the late 1800’s. Oh well… Thanks, Nestle.
Sounds like the makings of a successful business to me! Make it convenient…add sugar to make it taste good…make it more affordable and tell the world that it’s just as healthy for the newborn as mother’s milk and you’ve got a home run! The rest, as they say, is history.
Hey Nestle – when were you going to think about the well-being of our babies or were you too overcome with greed to worry about a silly thing like that? No need to answer that…the answer is crystal clear from where I’m sitting.
I can’t help but wonder if Nestle hadn’t been a game-changer by adding SUGAR to infant formula to make it taste good (at 1/2 the price), would we be loading it up with high fructose corn syrup today? Definitely makes you go “hmm”.
My 2 Cents
If you can’t (or won’t) breastfeed your child please take the time to research baby formula and buy a brand without high fructose corn syrup. Although there are lots of labels out there that say “all natural” or “organic” be sure to read and investigate the contents for yourself. High fructose corn syrup is your enemy!
If you opt for formula, please don’t mix it with tap, bottled, or pitcher filtered water. Whatever you do, DO NOT BUY “Nursery Water” under any brand or circumstances! It’s not what they want you to believe it is and it has added fluoride. Contrary to what you’ve been told, fluoride is NOT good for you or your baby and there is plenty of science to back that up. It all comes down to the right pH for the human body AND the unnecessary addition of fluoride. States that never introduced fluoride into their water systems actually report few cavities AND fewer cases of cancer in children under the age of 14.
Your baby is 90% water and very alkaline at birth. This is the reason their skin is like silk! They are ultra-hydrated (and just the right pH) naturally. The longer they stay that way (hydrated and alkaline) the healthier they’ll be. Water is a critical component of the health of your child.
The kind of water you introduce to your baby through formula and food is critical! I’m often amazed at how many young parents don’t think twice about mixing baby formula with water they wouldn’t dream of drinking themselves (tap). It’s not just about taste, folks.
Your baby is worth the very best money can buy. The best food and the best water that you can get your hands on. If you think healthy is expensive…you should see what disease costs!
Thanks to you, Nestle (and a lot of others) some of us have our work cut out for us in re-educating our world. Ugh…it’s a tough job but somebody has to do it!