As an active member of the breastfeeding community for nearly two decades I have seen so much marketing of formula from a personal place and for new parents. The marketing gets more and more clever and nefarious each day.

I was once helping a mom and baby in an apartment building in New York City where one has to be buzzed in. I was with this family for about an hour and a half. The buzzer never buzzed and the doorbell never rang. Upon my departure I nearly fell over a box of formula. The mom had not ordered this.

Currently infant formula manufacturers make formula specifically for breastfeeding moms. Why? Is it really different? Breastfeeding is the biggest market competitor for formula companies.

It was very exciting for me when, in 2012, Mayor Bloomberg took the marketing of formula out of New York City hospitals. Many people were upset by this action. They claimed that they were being bullied into breastfeeding. They were angry that they were not getting their “free” gift from the hospital. This was not the case at all.

What they did not realize is that by giving these “free” gift bags the citizens and patients were actually paying for these goodies.

When a hospital gives away promotional items they are endorsing this product and they are using human power to handle these items. These “free” gift bags are taking up precious real estate in our already crowded hospitals. This is FREE advertising for the pharmaceutical industry. FREE advertising. Those guys have plenty of cash to buy advertising but why spend it when the hospital will do it for free?

In May of 1980 the 27th World Health Assembly endorsed the WHO/UNICEF recommendation that “There should be an international code of marketing of infant formula and other products used as breast-milk substitutes.”

This is important because we know that breastfeeding rates decline where formula is marketed.

This is not an anti-formula campaign rather it is a recommendation to support healthy outcomes both long term and short term. The campaign is designed to take an ethical approach to promote breastfeeding as the normal way to feed babies.

Unfortunately the United States has not agreed to this recommendation.

On this anniversary the Public Citizen’s campaign to End Infant Formula Marketing in Healthcare Facilities is firing up to bring awareness to the continued marketing of formula in the US.

They are encouraging participants to use social media to get the message across by making signs that say “No Formula Ads in Hospitals” or “Follow the WHO Code.”

As an advocate for breastfeeding families I will join this day of action. What will you do to promote breastfeeding?



I don’t know many people who love going to the dentist. You know, you are reclined in the lounge chair and told to relax and keep your mouth open as someone takes metal mirrors, mini ice picks and drills and plays around inside your mouth for 30-45 minutes.


Now you want a toddler to do this? Did you see the latest installment of the Twilight Saga? Toddler vampires are illegal because they throw tantrums and kill entire villages.


Oral hygiene is very important. It can affect your entire health, good or bad. Poor oral hygiene has been linked to diabetes and heart disease.

So what are we to do about oral health of our nursing preschoolers?    The first thing to do is find a child friendly dentist and bring your baby around his first birthday.  Make sure the atmosphere is fun, not too overwhelming that they have pintsized sunglasses and silly stickers.

Be prepared for some education. I mean, you may need to educate your dentist. You may have a conversation about your nursing history. If you are nursing our baby and at night (really – does your baby actually sleep through the night?) you might get something like this:

“You should not be breastfeeding at night, it will cause dental caries. And if you do, you must wipe your baby’s teeth with a cotton gauze after each feeding.”

Does this dentist live with you? Has she ever nursed a toddler? Does she want to come over and put your baby back to sleep? Did she read the American Dental Association’s statement?

Here it is – the title is Study Finds No Association Between Breastfeeding and Early Childhood Caries

What really causes cavities? There are a few main contributing factors:

õ Diet: a diet high in sugar including dry fruit, sugary treats, especially those that are sticky and do not dissolve, fruit juices and sodas

õ The bacteria Strep mutans

õ Poor oral hygiene – both the infant and family

õ Enamel defects

õ Saliva flow:  a dry mouth is more likely to develop caries

õ Mother taking antibiotics while baby is in utero.

Bottles are different from breasts. When a child nurses at the breast the milk goes to the back of the throat – it does not pool around the teeth the way it does when a child takes a bottle.

What can you do? As with parenting in general – be a good role model. Go to the dentist regularly and brush your teeth regularly. Eat a healthy diet of whole foods. Avoid sugary foods except in small quantities and for special occasions. And, then brush your teeth!

If you have poor oral health do not share food with your child directly from your mouth. You could pass the bacteria Strep mutans to him.

There is research that strongly supports pre-mastication for babies and young children as saliva can support the immune system; however, if your mouth is full of cavities you can pass that on as well. If you have a healthy mouth bite off that piece of Granny Smith apple and feed it to your baby, if not, cut the apple.

Let your baby see you brush your teeth. Let your baby brush your teeth! Make it fun. Brush each other’s teeth.


Let your baby help you in the kitchen, in the garden, in the grocery store. These are all teaching moments. You can build upon the strong foundation you began with breastfeeding.



Babies get cavities in spite of breastfeeding not because of it.

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