There may be various reasons for giving baby formula to your child, including not being able to breastfeed, your baby not wanting your feed, or simply the fact that you’re busy. You may think your supply is low, and end up giving baby formula, while actually your supply is pretty fine. But is that bowl of baby formula actually safe?

According to Mary Smale, breastfeeding counselor with the National Childbirth Trust (NCT), if someone asks you to name a good baby formula and wants to know which one is closest to mother’s milk, the answer is ‘no one knows’. Manufacturers may tell you their formula is good and contains various healthy ingredients, but they will never tell you what basic product is being used or what the exact ingredients are.

Is Baby Formula Really Safe? What No One Tells You
Here are a few things you should take note of.

  • Babies who are fed formula have a much higher chance of contracting gastroenteritis, diabetes and lymphatic cancer in later years.
  • Formula manufacturers can add any ingredient they deem safe. They do not have to accurately inform any official authority of the ingredients they are using.
  • In some cases, the ingredients used in a product vary from batch to batch, depending on the pricing and other factors.
  • Most formulas contain cow’s milk, which is not easily digestible by infants and younger babies.
  • Many formulas contain vitamins and trace elements. These are not always easily digestible by infants and younger babies.
  • Most formulas are sweetened, not with sugar, but other forms of it such as lactose (that is a milk sugar), fructose (that is a fruit sugar), glucose (that is a sugar found in plants) and maltodextrose (that is a malt sugar). Baby formula manufacturers are still able to market these ingredients as being sugar-free, while the reality is different.
  • In some cases, many baby formulas do contain unintentional contaminants that mostly end up in the product through the manufacturing process. These can include traces of soy and corn that has been genetically engineered.
  • Various baby formulas have been found to have traces of the very deadly bacteria Salmonella and aflatoxins (which is highly toxic). These can cause bacterial infection in the bloodstream, meningitis and severe cases of infection and inflammation in the colon as well as the small intestine.
  • Baby formula does not contain DHA and cholesterol. This can lead to heart diseases in later years.
  • It does not get fully absorbed by the baby’s body. This can cause smelly stools.
  • Most baby formulas contain protein in a hard-to-digest form. They do not contain the proteins required for the growth and development of the brain and body.
  • Baby formula has no immunity benefits.
  • It does not contain the digestive enzymes that are important for intestinal health. It also does not contain hormones that are important for the biochemical balance in the baby and overall well-being.

Baby formula can in no way compensate for breast milk. However, if you must give your baby a formula, speak to your pediatrician to know the best one for your child.

Read More:
All You Need-to-Know About Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Diet: Balanced Nutrition For Mom & Baby
Parenting QA: Formula Recommendations For Moms Who Can’t Breastfeed?


A pregnancy & babycare writer as well as wellness believer, Debolina is always trying to bring in health and wellness into her family’s, especially her kids’, lives. With a Master’s degree in English literature, she has worked with several mothercare and babycare brands. In her free time, she helps with campaigns that work towards promoting the health and well-being of women and babies. Her experiences as a mother help her talk about busy modern-day parenting and its changing trends.