There are quite hot debates in parenthood regarding GMO vs. organic baby food, as well as which of them is best for your baby. The crunchier side maintains that GMO baby food and related products can cause severe health dangers and issues, plus these foods include chemicals that you simply cannot pronounce; hence, they have to be damaging.
GMO supporters, meanwhile, maintain that genetically modified ingredients are completely harmless and that bio infant formula is simply a fishing marketing trick intended to scare people.
If you are one of those parents who can’t decide which infant formula to choose for your baby, this article will give you a better understanding of what you need to know about non-GMO infant formula versus regular formula.
What is GMO in formula?
Before we look at non-GMO infant formula vs. regular infant formula, let’s first talk about GMOs. GMO stands for a genetically modified organism. These are foods with modified genes, through genetic engineering, to produce better results. Some foods are modified to be more resistant to pests without the use of pesticides. Other foods are modified to make them bigger. Some apples are altered so that they never turn brown.
According to the United States Academy of Sciences, altering a plant’s genes is nothing new. Farmers have been breeding plants to thin out undesirable traits for many years. Look at the banana, for example. An unmodified banana is very different from the banana we know. It’s full of seeds, smaller, and doesn’t open as easily.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the National Academy of Sciences are working together to provide genetically modified baby food products that are safe for babies. But even with that, the speed at which genetically modified foods are coming to market has led some parents to want to slow down and make sure these foods have been tested, and therefore reach for foods that are more organic and grown in a more “natural” way.
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What is a non-GMO formula
Although the National Academy of Sciences released a report in May 2016 that genetically modified foods are no less healthy or safe than those containing GMOs, scientists around the world agree that more research should be done on the subject.
With so many options available, it just makes sense to choose the options that are clearly labeled as “non-GMO food” if there is even a slight doubt about the safety and integrity of the baby’s food.
Let’s take a look at some more reasons why this decision is a good investment in your baby’s future:
Genetic engineering carries unidentified risks
As noted before, GMOs are a fairly new phenomenon, and there has been little investigation of their long-term impacts.
While this statement was debunked by some GMO supporters, there is also a worry that the genetic modification process is a bit haphazard.
Genetic engineers have no full knowledge of where the foreign genes are headed when they are added to the DNA of the end product. As a result, there is no assurance that other genes in the composition of the product won’t be impacted and what might be a disturbance to that balance.
A number of groups think that new and innovative proteins might be produced in this way. Then, when foods are manufactured with these ingredients, the introduction of these proteins might introduce new allergens or even toxins in the end product.
Having the fact that the term “toxin” is even slightly linked to “baby food” is something that should be an argument in support of non-GMO food. But let’s have a look at one more reason why you might want to go for this option:
The exact science is relatively new
On the surface, genetic engineering has its roots in plant breeding, a practice that dates back more than 10,000 years.
But in reality, the new and radical applications that have emerged as GMOs have become more widespread are quite different.
Plant breeders have traditionally been concerned with creating new plant species by combining genes from plants of the same or similar species. With modern GMO technology, however, genes from one species can be inserted into the DNA of an entirely different species.
Scientists are exploring ways to insert vaccines into food, insect resistance into crops, and more.
While applications like these are interesting and could lead to significant scientific breakthroughs in the right environment, one truth remains.
When it comes to your baby’s health, science that is still in its infancy and not yet 100% verified as absolutely safe at all levels of consumption doesn’t have to be your only option. In fact, it isn’t.
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What is the healthiest baby formula?
Formula feeding is a healthy option for babies, too. If you use formula, then your baby is given the strongest available option to breast milk. (You should refrain from trying to make your own formula or feeding an infant cow’s milk).
Many moms opt for formula feeding for a multitude of factors:
- The convenience. Formula-fed infants may be fed by everyone at all times.
- It is flexible. No need to incorporate feeding into your work routine. Rather, you can just give the bottle to your babysitter or daycare worker.
- Your spouse can assist with nighttime feedings, reinforcing the connection you have with your baby.
- Planning feedings in advance may be simpler. Mother’s milk doesn’t get digested as easily as formula, therefore, babies who are formula-fed do not have to eat as frequently, particularly during the first couple of months.
- There is no need to be concerned about what they eat. Moms who are breastfeeding may have to stay away from some foods their baby doesn’t tolerate.
- They may have a glass of wine or a cocktail from time to time. Alcohol is a no-no for breastfeeding women as they pass tiny doses of it on to their baby.
Ways to pick the very best baby formula
Although your baby’s unique requirements will differ, there are some useful general principles to assist you in limiting your search.
- Consult with your pediatrician. He or she will be able to recommend the proper formula for your baby.
- Take into account your baby’s dietary or allergic limitations. Does your baby get any? If yes, consult with your physician to determine if your baby requires a particular formula.
- Is it enriched with iron? In order to prevent anemia, the AAP suggests opting for iron-fortified infant formula for babies who do not nurse completely between birth and 1 year of age.
GMO Vs. Non-GMO Formula
When it concerns baby food, a formula that is made up of all-natural components is deemed non-GMO, however, it is not necessary for a formula to be a completely organic infant formula to have this label. All it has to do is not have any modified components. You might be curious about which elements in baby food are modified. How is this non-GMO infant formula in comparison to regular infant formula?
In a baby formula that originates from cows, do cows get modified in the lab to give them higher milk yields? Well, not really. Organic infant formula indicates that the cows have received nutrition that is not GMO. We realize that what we eat influences our milk, which is why a lot of parents want a formula from animals that ate the finest possible ingredients.
Now, let’s take a deeper look at this concept.
We break the advantages and disadvantages of the non-GMO formula down.
- It is produced from premium ingredients that are easier for you to follow up on. Normally, the ingredient list is actually something you are able to name, providing more confidence to parents. Unspeakable contents are not saying that the product is unsafe, however, parents do like contents which they can spell out.
- GMO-free foods also usually originate from better quality and more ethical supplies. For instance, cows kept in open farm fields where the animals are eating grass, unlike what they eat at a factory. While that’s not necessarily true all the time, in many instances it is.
- It has no man-made or GMO ingredients in it. They are all-natural, high-quality ingredients. Certain parents wouldn’t like anything toxic in their baby’s stomach. Although the contents are harmless to most, a few synthetic contents can indeed be damaging to a baby’s belly.
- Non-GMO infant formula and organic infant formula undergo a strict trial to prove that the ingredients are sourced from where it says they are.
- The greatest drawback to non-GMO food is that it’s costly. Once you get a baby, that’s a price you need to pay already, and getting organic or non-GMO formula is an additional expense on top of that. This is why a lot of parents stay with the regular baby food.
Though, buying online does make it simpler to pick out a non-GMO infant formula that doesn’t bust the wallet. Also, buying baby formula in mass with online shopping or stores such as Costco might allow you to buy more for less.
- Regular baby formula is easier to get. There are some non-GMO infant formulas available for sale at specialized stores or online. Once you finish baby formula, it is needed immediately, and you will be sure to pick up the regular formula at every store.
- The regular infant formula is also the less expensive choice, giving you more for less money. Non-GMO baby food tends to cost more, and it provides less per container. In addition, regular baby food lasts longer since it includes added preservatives.
- Regular baby formula is usually safe for your baby in most cases, although it may not be an organic baby formula.
- For sensitive stomachs, regular infant formula can irritate the baby because of the genetically modified ingredients.
- You don’t know where some ingredients come from.
Which is better?
There is no right answer to this question. Both genetically engineered and non-GMO infant formulas have advantages and disadvantages. If you have the money, buying non-GMO infant formula will give you an infant formula with healthier ingredients and a lower likelihood of irritating your baby. At this point, it should be noted that non-GMO does not necessarily mean organic infant formula.
However, if you are on a budget, regular infant formula will suffice in most cases.
In fact, breastfeeding your baby with breast milk is the best way to go as opposed to formula feeding, but we understand that it’s not for everyone. However, if breastfeeding and breast milk are on the table, you should give it a try.
One of the best things for a parent is to find a happy medium between breastfeeding and formula. Constantly reaching for infant formula without GMO ingredients is expensive and may not be better for your child. You may end up losing sleep worrying about what you’re putting in your mouth. However, in a case like an infant formula, non-GMO ingredients may be the way to go.
If you are still unsure, it is best to see a doctor. If genetically engineered baby food is harming your baby’s stomach, there may be another reason, and you can find safe baby foods that don’t cost too much.
Healthy baby formula alternatives
Mothers who can’t or won’t breastfeed may also wonder if there are natural alternatives to formula. In fact, the short answer is that breast milk or formula remains the only safe and appropriate primary source of nutrition for babies under one year of age.
Although homemade baby food recipes often circulate on the internet, this is not a reliable way to feed your baby. Commercial infant formula has undergone considerable research, along with significant official testing and licensing, to ensure that it is a safe and appropriate source of nutrition for infants.
Homemade infant formula poses numerous risks of nutritional deficiencies, contamination, and serious health effects and is therefore unsuitable for consumption. In addition, studies have found that numerous homemade baby food recipes appear on blogs that are not owned or maintained by medical experts, do not contain medical disclaimers, and use high-risk ingredients such as unpasteurized milk.
If nursing isn’t an option, and you are unwilling to use (or cannot afford) donor milk, there are several healthier, organic brands of baby food.
When it comes to choosing a baby formula, you will be presented with the following options:
- Cow’s milk formula: Dairy-based baby food remains the single most prevalent type of formula that babies are fed, despite the fact that milk products often result in bloating and discomfort for babies intolerant to milk proteins. Multiple organic cow’s milk formulas exist on the market nowadays, giving you plenty of options.
- Goat Milk Formula: Whereas dairy products may cause inflammation in the body, goat milk is much less allergenic and a lot more digestible. While goat milk formulas are a fabulous alternative to dairy, they are generally not suggested for babies who are sensitive to dairy. However, for babies with “sensitivities” to cow’s milk proteins, they may perform quite well.
- Soy-based formula: Soy formula can also be an alternative to cow’s milk. But you can assume that the soy is genetically modified (in which case we believe it is not safe for babies), so you should not use soy baby food for babies unless your soy baby food is organic. I do not recommend using soy baby food for babies.
- Hypoallergenic baby food: Hypoallergenic baby food is for babies with milk and/or soy protein allergies and contains highly digested milk proteins that are easier for babies to digest.
Tips for preparing baby food
If you are in the process of preparing baby food for your infant or toddler, consider the following tips.
First, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water to minimize the possibility of food becoming infected with harmful germs. The work area or countertop and the feeding bottles and utensils you use to make the baby food are also thoroughly disinfected.
After you have mixed the baby food according to the manufacturer’s instructions, you will probably want to warm it a little, especially if your baby was used to feeding on breast milk. It’s not absolutely necessary, but if you do decide to heat the milk, be sure not to do so in the microwave, as there is a risk that the milk will not heat evenly and will overheat in “hot spots,” which can cause burns in your baby’s mouth or throat.
Alternatively, you can hold the pre-made and sealed bottle of the formula under hot running water. Check the temperature by putting a few drops on the skin of your inner forearm to make sure it is not overheated.
When using powdered formula, make certain that you are using water supplied by a reliable source for the preparation. Carefully read the directions to ensure that the proper quantity of water and powder is measured out and used. Using too much water might thin the food too much and fail to satisfy your baby’s nutritional needs. Conversely, if you use not enough water, it could strain the immature organs and raise the chance of dehydration.
Once you have correctly prepared infant formula, it needs to be consumed within two hours or one hour after your baby starts eating it. If not, prepared infant formula has to be kept in the refrigerator and must be consumed within 24 hours. Unless your baby drinks all of it at one time, the remaining infant formula should be thrown away as bacteria from the baby’s saliva can encourage the development of germs that may cause illness.
Lastly, unopened containers of infant formula should be appropriately kept in a cool, dry place at room temperature, like a food cupboard. Verify the expiration date and refrain from using the infant formula once the shelf life has expired.