Old Navy Selling a Pro-Formula Onesie

Old Navy is selling a new onesie with a tattoo-inspired design and the slogan “Formula Powered.” I can’t imagine what they were thinking.

Old Navy choosing formula over breastmilk as preferred method of feeding babies

It seems from the description of the shirt that their intent was to create a rebel-type look for your baby.  Now, I’m all for the rocker baby look but this is taking it too far.  Nothing like telling impressionable mothers everywhere that formula-feeding your baby is the cool thing to do.

Or maybe Old Navy was going for a superbaby look – after all, the emblem on the front does resemble something that superhero would wear.  So I guess the idea would be something along the lines of “Giving your baby formula gives her super powers.”  Completely ridiculous.

I am completely opposed to encouraging mothers to choose to formula feed their babies, and I think Old Navy should do the responsible thing and remove these onesies from their stores.

As a result of various cultural changes, formula came into favor and mother’s milk fell out for most of the 20th century.  Many of us were formula-fed because it seemed to be backed by science and was aggressively advertised.  Only recently did nursing come back into favor and is now recommended for the first two years of a child’s life.  Human breast milk is, without a doubt, the safest, healthiest and best food for babies.  The benefits are too many to list in this short article, and new benefits of breast milk are constantly being discovered.  Furthermore, new problems with formula are constantly being found.

Breastfeeding infant

However, nursing isn’t always possible for everyone.  Sometimes a mother is physically incapable of breastfeeding.  Some mothers may have to take medications that can pass to the baby through the breastmilk or have an infectious disease that can pass through the breastmilk.  What about babies who have been adopted or cannot breastfeed due to prematurity or other factors?

Ideally, in these situations, another source of human milk should be found through sources such as human milk banks.  Human milk banks collect and store donated breast milk to be used by babies who cannot get their own mother’s milk.  Concerns about the safety of donated milk and limited knowledge about its existence has hindered the popularity of milk banks throughout the world.  Most of the time, donated milk is reserved for babies who have medical conditions, which means that it isn’t necessarily available or is prohibitively expensive for healthy babies who have been adopted or cannot breastfeed for one reason or another.

Before we can cut off our reliance on formula, we need to ensure that donated milk is readily accessible to everyone.  That means more healthy moms need to donate breast milk.  We need to get the word out about the availability of donated milk and provide information about its safety.  And we need to make it more financially accessible.

More importantly, we need to stop the aggressive marketing of formula to mothers who are completely capable of breastfeeding their children.  Despite the recommendations of organizations like the American Academy of Pediatrics, many women choose to feed their children formula as a result of societal pressures and misinformation.  I know too many women who chose to formula-feed because they believed breastfeeding was too hard or because all of their friends gave their babies formula.  Old Navy is contributing to these misinformed ways of thinking about breastfeeding.

To learn more about breastfeeding, check out our article on All About Breastfeeding.  For more information about the benefits of breastfeeding, visit Mothering Magazine or La Leche League.  For information about the safe use of formula, visit our article on Using Baby Formula.