17 Formula-Feeding Moms Speak Their Minds

Photograph by Twenty20

When my oldest son was 4 months old, I was sitting in a bookstore café giving him a bottle while I thumbed through a magazine. A grandmotherly looking white-haired woman walked over to the table as she was leaving the café and smiled at the baby before looking at me. I expected some compliment about my cute baby. What she said instead was, "That's breast milk, right?"

It was so unexpected, I didn't know what to say. All I could do was shake my head. This woman, this stranger, literally tsked at me and muttered, "Formula, bad." Then she walked away. I was too stunned to respond, though I don't know what my response could have been except, "It's none of your business, so why do you care?"

Six years later, that memory stays with me—and how I was hesitant after that to feed my babies in public, lest someone else have a comment. It's ironic, since breastfeeding moms get flak when feeding their babies in public, too. And I keep coming back to the response I wish I'd given that woman: It's no one's business how I choose to feed my baby.

RELATED: 8 Reasons to Formula Feed Your Baby

I'm not the only formula-feeding mom who has felt judged, whether by a stranger, a family member or a well-meaning, breastfeeding friend. Here, in their own words are the things that formula-feeding moms wish they could say to breastfeeding moms and other people in their lives. You might be surprised at their comments. And if you're a formula-feeding mom, you might want to share them.

To the partner or family member who wants the best for mom and baby:

Trust me to do what's best for your grandchild.

"Thanks for supporting my decision. It was the best one for me and the baby and I appreciate that you never once questioned it or negated my feelings. I love you." - Jenna

"Five years ago, we would've laughed at this stupid fight over how to feed our baby. But you know what? It's my body and my choice. We shouldn't be fighting at all." - K.B.

"Forget the propaganda, Mom. Trust me to do what's best for your grandchild. She's fine and so am I." - Amali

"I'm glad I have your support, but I don't need your permission or validation." - Victoria

"What I need from you is love and respect. I don't need advice and I don't need to read another article about breastfeeding. Thank you for your concern. Now, let's talk about you!" - Dana

To the well-meaning friend who thinks she knows what's best:

I won't judge your choices, if you don't judge mine.

"Could we please talk about something else? I exhausted this subject before the baby was even born. I don't want your opinion. I don't need advice. I made the best choice for me, and no matter how many books you loan me or website links you send me, I'm not going to think breastfeeding is right for me." - Gena Marie

"This is just a stage in my baby's life. I hope we'll be friends forever, but if you don't stop judging me for how I'm feeding my child during this stage in his life, we'll never get to the next stage of our friendship. Just stop." - Natalie

"I won't judge your choices, if you don't judge mine. And yes, your unwanted 'friendly advice' is coming off as judgmental." - Lyla

"I see you struggling with breastfeeding. You're resentful that I get to sleep through the night while my husband takes the middle-of-the-night feeding because you refuse to even pump. 'Breast is best' was hammered into your head just like it was hammered into mine. But I couldn't breastfeed, and in some ways I'm grateful for that because I see what you're going through and I just want to hug you and give you a case of formula. But I don't think you'd thank me, so I don't say anything. But I hurt for you. Hang in there." - Eileen

"Thanks for not saying anything to my face about my choice to formula feed. Now if you could just stop posting judgmental things about formula feeding on social media, that would be great." - Sarah

"I wish breastfeeding had been easy for me. I was miserable, physically and emotionally, and you saw that. Switching to formula saved my sanity and my baby is thriving. I know you're not really judging me when you go on and on about your breastfeeding success, but if you'd just think about what it feels like from my perspective—and change the subject—I'd appreciate it." - M.J.

To the evangelical breastfeeding stranger or friend-of-a-friend:

It's 2016. Why are we still talking about a woman's right to make her own choices?

"I could care less how many children you've breastfed or the sacrifices you made to do it. Good for you. Now have a cookie and leave me alone." - Kierah

"Breastfeeding was my first choice but it didn't work out. End of story. It's 2016. Why are we still talking about a woman's right to make her own choices?" - J.T.

"Breastfeeding is not 'success' and formula feeding is not 'failure.' They are two equally valid choices. Deal with it." - Brenna

"OK, breastfeeding is best for your baby. You know what else is best for your baby? A two-parent household, which I have and you don't since you're in the middle of a divorce. But I don't say anything because I know you're making the best choices you can for your child and it's none of my business. Right?" - Alaina

"Yes, you nursed your baby for 18 months. And now she's 3 years old and the only thing she wants to eat are fast-food chicken nuggets and French fries. Maybe you should climb down off your pedestal." - Rhysa

And one more, from me, to that stranger in the bookstore:

"It's formula. And it's OK. He's 6 years old now and he's only ever been to the doctor for his annual wellness visits. Even the pediatrician is impressed with that. Oh, and he's in the 90th percentiles for both height and weight. That's what you'd wish for me, right? A healthy child? Thank you. He is."

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