There is no one way to feed and nourish a baby. Some will choose to exclusively breastfeed their child, while some will choose to feed their baby with formula. Still, others will mix-feed and feed their baby with both breast milk and formula milk. Parents make this decision with a lot of considerations, so tread on this ground with care!
Whether the parents choose to breastfeed or formula-feed, everyone just has a lot to say. But despite best intentions, some statements end up being… plain offensive. Here are six things that you should never say to a bottle-feeding mom.
6. “Oh, so you’re not breastfeeding?”
If you see a mother whipping out a bottle of milk, it’s frankly none of other people’s business to know whether it’s formula milk or expressed breast milk. Observe the baby and if they exhibit signs of health, like a healthy weight and bright eyes, then the baby should be completely fine.
There’s no reason to discuss breastfeeding — unless the mother brings the topic up first, of course.
5. “Ah, the easy way!
Is it really? Moms choose to breastfeed or formula-feed for many, many different reasons (which are, again, frankly none of other people’s business). Some choose to bottle-feed because their babies would not latch. Some moms choose to bottle-feed because they did not produce milk at all. Still, other moms refuse to breastfeed because of depression and trauma. All of these reasons are valid and should not be belittled!
Oh, and by the way, formula-feeding is not exactly easy. Can you imagine stumbling through your house in the middle of the night, making formula milk because your baby is hungry? It can be much more complicated than whipping out a breast.
4. “Is it just me or is your baby too big for their age?”
One misconception a lot of people have about bottle-feeding is how formula milk can cause a baby to gain a lot of weight. While this certainly wouldn’t be a problem to many couples, a lot of people tend to think that a baby who has chubby legs is an unhealthy. The truth is there are a lot of formula-fed babies who are lean. On the other hand, there are also a lot of exclusively breastfed babies that are chubby!
3. “My baby will never touch a bottle of formula.”
As a rule of thumb, when you’re talking to a new parent, asking them how they and their baby is doing, never make it about you! The statement above does not only violate this rule (badly) but also shames the new mom about her choices.
If you were able to breastfeed, then that’s great! It’s only natural that your baby wouldn’t drink formula because they are not used to the taste. That does not mean that formula milk is disgusting, or that the bottle-feeding mom’s choices are inferior.
2. “I’m sure you’re capable of breastfeeding!”
While this is possible, this statement is offensive because you are assuming that you know what the new mom has gone through… or is going through. Breastfeeding does not come naturally to all women, and if some mothers were able to overcome the challenges, some struggle harder. So even if they were biologically capable of breastfeeding, they made the decision to formula-feed for their and their babies’ sake.
1. “You probably just did not try hard enough.”
Ouch! If there’s one statement that you should never, ever, tell a formula-feeding mom, this must be it. Aside from making yourself appear arrogant and haughty, telling a new mom — who can’t remember the last time she slept and ate in peace — that she just did not try hard enough is a recipe for disaster.
Some women were able to breastfeed without even trying! Some women spent nights crying because they couldn’t — no matter what the lactation consultant said — get the baby to latch on. You weren’t there when the couple made the decision to formula-feed just so their baby can get the right nourishment. You also weren’t there when the new mom developed clogged ducts because she could not express her milk.
Everyone has different issues and struggles, and it is not your place to determine whether they exerted enough effort or not. Parenting is hard enough as it is; don’t make it harder!