Sunday, February 23, 2014

On "artificial feeding" for your baby and being more than a bit useless

Mothercraft, like most modern publications, promotes breast feeding, especially in silence to enhance milk flow. It also sensibly notes that not all women can breast feed for various reasons, and includes a chapter on "artificial feeding". Given this was written in pre-formula days, I found this chapter quite interesting. And very pleased that I live in an era when preparing formula is as easy as it is. And slightly ashamed that I haven't used all that time freed up by formula's invention to do something noble and good. But I digress.

My toddler had formula from about seven months, and my baby has had it a few times now as a top-up. It's easy-peasy really, especially when you no longer need to sterilize. Open tin. Scoop powder. Put in bottle filled with water. Shake. Give to eager child. The only part with potential problems or effort for me is if the top isn't on properly before the shaking, resulting in extra mess, washing and swear words.

In 1945, though, it looks much harder. First, this is what you need:

First, I noticed the absence of newfangled appliances like electric jugs. Maybe I need to write an affectionate ode to my jug as well as that to my fridge. On reading Mothercraft in more detail, as well, I am perplexed to read that the milk prepared for a baby ought to be from a mixed herd of cows, and especially not from a jersey cow. I have no idea what cows my formula comes from. Call me a shameless city slicker, but I've always thought of cows coming in three types: black and white, brown, and the bony ones I saw in India. Once the correct milk has been sourced, Mothercraft says you should add sugar*, Kariol or cod liver oil, and orange juice. Mothercraft also includes a detailed table of the exact proportions of each of these things, which changes depending on the baby's age.

My first inclination was to scoff at the idea of giving sugar and orange juice to a wee baby. until I realised that I don't actually know what's in the formula I've given both my children, let alone what sort of cows they came from. A quick nosey at the formula tins shows some ingredients with long complicated names that I've never heard of before. At least I know what sugar and orange juice actually is. And, as anyone who lives in New Zealand and not in a hermit-esque cave knows, there was a recent scare after some tins of infant formula were thought to contain botulism. Suddenly, parents all over the country no longer wanted to give a certain brand of formula to their babies, and the product was recalled. Lucky for us, we didn't use that brand. Nor did the scare render all formula potentially unsafe. If it had, we would have been royally screwed, especially for smaller babies who are too young for solids and cows milk. At least people in 1945 knew how to make "artificial" milk to feed babies. All I know how to do is walk to the shop and pay for it. I know how to make a fabulous playlist on i-tunes, am a whiz at Tetris and have spent hours recently learning how to use nifty photo collage software on the computer. But, I can't even make the right kind of milk mixture for my baby, should something go wrong with both my breast feeding and her formula. And when you think about it, that's a bit of a vulnerable position to be in. 

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