Scottish MP Alison Thewlis, the Marie Antoinette of lactivism

Marie Antoinette

No child in an industrialized country should suffer from hunger. Period.

It is a scandal that millions of children suffer hunger nonetheless. That’s what makes the self-aggrandizing hypocrisy of lactivists like Scottish Member of Parliament Alison Thewlis both ugly and deadly.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Yet another privileged women wants to use her political power to promote breastfeeding, deriding women who choose formula as victims of the formula industry.[/pullquote]

Thewlis represents Scotland, a country with a high level of poverty, under- and un-employment and an “epidemic of hunger.”

According to Nourish Scotland:

“[W]e are still experiencing an epidemic of hunger in Scotland. Benefit delays and changes are still the primary reasons underpinning the increased number of referrals to foodbanks.

“What is more concerning, however, is that hunger is also clearly and consistently being driven by low income.

“A decrease in the cash in people’s pockets leads to an increase in the use of foodbanks.”

So there isn’t enough food for the children in Scotland but Thewlis thinks that a “cracking down” on infant formula is a good use of her time and political capital.

A Parliamentary lactivist group quotes Thewlis:

“The Bill I have published today is a major step forward in tackling the excessive and misleading marketing techniques deployed by formula milk companies.

“For too long, these enormously powerful multi-nationals have been pushing the boundaries and circumventing existing legislation to relentlessly promote their products to parents and families…

Thewlis insists that this is not about breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding:

“I absolutely understand and respect that some families will choose to use formula milk; this is absolutely not about breastfeeding versus bottle feeding. I want to make sure parents are protected from misleading advertising and can access impartial, trusted information when making feeding decisions for their children.

Bullshit! That’s exactly what this is about. Yet another privileged women wants to use her political power to promote breastfeeding and she resorts to deriding women who choose formula as victims of the formula industry.

As sociologist Pam Lowe explains in Reproductive Health and Maternal Sacrifice:

The underlying assumption behind … breastfeeding campaigns, is that women who decline breastfeeding only do so through ignorance or as the dupes of formula marketing campaigns…

It seems not to have crossed Thewlis’ mind that women who are not of her socio-economic class are capable of independent thought. It also has not crossed her mind that a substantial number of women cannot successfully breastfeed, have work and family commitments that make it impossible to successfully breastfeed, or simply don’t want to use their breasts in the lactivist approved manner.

Implying that formula manufacturers are waging war against breastfeeding is like claiming birth control manufacturers are waging war against pregnancy. Women use formula for the same reason that women use birth control; it allows them to determine when and how they wish to use their reproductive organs. In other words, formula puts WOMEN in control of their own bodies. That’s a basic principle of feminism.

Thewlis seems to think that how an infant is fed is more important than IF it is fed. Her attitude evokes the apocryphal story of Marie Antoinette who saw crowds of people rioting for bread and declared “let them eat cake” as if cake were ever an option.

In a country like Scotland where children are going hungry and suffering from malnutrition, FEEDING children ought to be the highest priority. Unless and until all children are properly nourished, expending any effort trying to get poor women to emulate their “betters” by breastfeeding makes as much sense as proposing that rioters eat cake.

Thewlis’ efforts demonstrate an utter lack of understanding for the real circumstances of real women trying desperately to support and feed ALL their children, not just their infants.

Thewlis evinces an alarming lack of respect and compassion for struggling mothers, imagining that if they don’t emulate Thewlis and her privileged cohort they must be misled by formula marketing.

Thewlis betrays the feminist principle that ALL women, not just privileged women, have the right to control their own bodies.

“Cracking down” on formula advertising is a monumentally stupid waste of time and effort. Babies are not suffering by drinking formula; mothers are not suffering. The only ones suffering from the use of infant formula are lactivists who aren’t getting their self-esteem bolstered by having their own choices mirrored back to them.

Thewlis should concentrating on making sure that all children are fed, rather than worrying about whether other women’s infants are breastfed.

180 Responses to “Scottish MP Alison Thewlis, the Marie Antoinette of lactivism”

  1. MichelleJo
    February 25, 2017 at 12:17 pm #

    Just wondering; can anyone think of any other lie/distortion other than the breastfeeding one that has so thoroughly permeated society as the truth, has affected hospital policies, has triggered implementation of new laws, causes so much suffering and guilt, and raises the risk of serious illness and death among a very vulnerable population? I can’t. It’s a staggering thought really, and the lie lives on, continuing to worsen it’s repercussions. How did it happen? There seem to be enough critical thinkers out there on a wealth of other issues, but not when it comes to this. Why??

  2. Lesley Backieyus
    February 25, 2017 at 8:14 am #

    I am a volunteer Breastfeeding Supporter I don’t get paid I provide a weekly drop in and support mothers no matter how they feed their babies. I would direct you to Unicef Baby Friendly website and the recently published Lancet paper this should hopefully explain

  3. Amy Tuteur, MD
    February 24, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    Heartbreaking and completely preventable!

    “If I had given him just one bottle, he would still be alive.”

    • myrewyn
      February 24, 2017 at 7:16 pm #

      Don’t the NICU and L and D communicate with each other?? Why do NICU doctors know something LD nurses don’t practice?? Awful.

      • Young CC Prof
        February 25, 2017 at 1:06 pm #

        Because the Joint Commission tracks exclusive breastfeeding at discharge, but NOT complications or readmissions due to breastfeeding problems. Which means the staff is actually incentivized and in some cases ordered to ignore problems that aren’t emergencies yet.

        • myrewyn
          February 25, 2017 at 5:30 pm #

          So what exactly is the purpose of hospitals again?

    • kilda
      February 24, 2017 at 9:11 pm #

      oh my god, that is heartbreaking. that poor mother. that poor baby.

    • AnnaPDE
      February 24, 2017 at 11:04 pm #

      So sad. So close to home, too, with the constant crying, attempting to feed and then going quiet, while the nurses would put it down as “normal” and trying to distract/subdue the baby with warm swaddles. Fortunately a sensible older nurse gave us a bottle.
      This article needs to go viral.

  4. Dr.Ro
    February 24, 2017 at 6:28 am #

    I would suggest that YOU are a “monumentally stupid” woman hiding behind an ability to write a reasonable argument, despite your fantastical qualifications. Step out of your echo chamber. Marketing of formula has led to the death of countless babies across the world. (Mothers in this country, are stopped from breastfeeding when it may enhance their ability to survive breast cancer – before your deride this argument I heard it from the mouth of another MD PhD regarding brca1 individuals). The ability to breastfeed is very strongly dependent on societal and psychological influences. Please read “Breastfeeding Uncovered” by Amy Brown. The marketing of formula is insidious and dangerous to ANYONE TRYING to breastfeed. Please refer to this website: They highlight many instances where FORMULA COMPANIES routinely break UK law and CHEAT parents out of money. They fight for our right to adhere to the WHO CODE: Before you throw stones at those few women who are trying to get a voice for the MINORITY that manage to breastfeed, use your stupid head to gauge whether they should be criticised or supported. MARKETING OF FORMULA COSTS MILLIONS. Whether you want to breast or bottle feed – you can’t ignore the fact that it is those that pay for formula milk that are paying the marketing price. FOOL.

    • maidmarian555
      February 24, 2017 at 6:55 am #

      Again, show us the actual evidence that if formula companies are prevented from marketing any of their formula products (including follow-on milks) that they will immediately cease all marketing of *all* of their other products and attempting to get their branding and name into parents homes. All the main companies have a broad range of products, many of which would be unaffected by Alison Thewliss’s proposal (which contains NO solutions in terms of providing parents with impartial information on formula feeding or on reducing the cost of formula to those struggling with the cost). These companies will not reduce their marketing budgets, they will simply shift said budgets to other products not covered by this patronising ban. This has nothing to do with supporting those of us who actually use formula and everything to do with lactivists thinking that we choose not to breastfeed simply because we are all stupid and have not been bullied enough. As many have already pointed out on this very thread, the benefits of breastfeeding in a country such as the UK are trivial and there is no good reason for treating formula in the same way we do cigarettes, other than to make lactivists feel superior and inflate their already enormous egos.

      • JB
        April 10, 2017 at 6:26 pm #

        Breast is still best no matter how you look at it. All over the world, and for thousands of years babies have thrived on breast milk. There is absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s people like you and so many others on this thread that make it so difficult for mothers like myself to openly breast feed their babies and toddlers, especially in public with so many judgy people asking such judgy questions such as “isn’t your baby too big to be breast fed?” or “wouldn’t a bottle be better?” and “don’t you want to follow up with a bottle to make sure she’s getting enough?”.
        Nobody’s saying if you can’t or don’t want to breastfend that you should. What is being said and what is fact is that breast milk is significantly more nutritious for a human infant than any other type of milk AND it’s free!
        Yes, fed is best, but breast will always be better for baby where available.
        Maybe stop judging breastfeeding mothers and those who advocate it. There’s nothing wrong with us bring proud of our parenting choices, just as bottle fed are proud of theirs!

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          April 10, 2017 at 6:37 pm #

          Best for what? Countries that have 100% breastfeeding rates have astronomical infant mortality rates, Sure it’s best for feeling morally superior, but not much else.

          • Sarah
            April 11, 2017 at 8:20 am #

            She certainly can’t mean Vitamin K or iron…

        • Roadstergal
          April 10, 2017 at 7:14 pm #

          “Breast is still best no matter how you look at it.”

          Here’s how I look at it. I look at my generation, with a less than 30% initiation of breastfeeding in the US, and I look at the 2000s, with an almost 90% initiation of breastfeeding and EBF rates at 4 months in excess of the initiation rates in the 70s in the US. And I look for the great health advantages that the current generation of USAmericans is enjoying, especially when it comes to the lactivist canards – allergies, chronic disease, obesity. I’m not seeing them. Can you point them out? Not a single lactivist who has come in here to comment has even tried to answer this one.

          “AND it’s free!”

          If the time, effort, and sleep of mothers are valueless, maybe. Once you factor in all of the paraphernalia, from nursing pillows and bras and pumps to LC visits and those tongue-tie snippers, it’s even farther from free.

          If you like it and it works, go to town. If you’re not liking it or it’s not working, combo or formula feed. The kid will be fine either way.

        • maidmarian555
          April 11, 2017 at 2:13 am #

          Seeing as I did openly breastfeed my own son in public many times before we *HAD* to switch to formula full-time I can sympathise that it can sometimes feel awkward. Perhaps you’d like to explain to me what that has to do with my objection to proposed legislation around formula packaging. I have never made any of the statements you’ve attributed to ‘people like me’ and have a number of friends who’ve breastfed for extended periods of time. Formula isn’t anything like cigarettes and shouldn’t be subject to the same marketing restrictions. That’s my issue here. That’s absolutely not the same thing as attacking breastfeeding.

        • Sarah
          April 11, 2017 at 8:18 am #

          No it won’t. Also, the Fed Is Best message isn’t judging breastfeeding mothers, and people who point that out aren’t the ones making it difficult for mothers to breastfeed openly.


        • Dr Kitty
          April 11, 2017 at 8:37 am #

          Breastmilk is not free. It costs women time and energy and the 500 calories a day to produce in food costs.

          I breastfed both my children because I wanted to, and for a length of time which puts me in a group with fewer than 2% of women in the UK. I live in an area with some of the lowest breastfeeding rates in the U.K., where nursing in public is very rare. I breast fed, in public, often, with both of mine. I don’t use a nursing cover or blanket and while I was as discreet as possible, I never hid what I was doing.

          You know what, I can’t recall one dirty look look or judgey comment. Not one.
          Maybe my RBF and IDGAF vibes was enough to put the nosey parkers off, maybe the opinion of strangers matters so little to me that I just don’t remember any comments that were made, I don’t know.

          But this idea that BF in public in the U.K. is still massively taboo and challenging is BS. Do it, don’t do it, whatever floats your boat, but I don’t think that shaming any group of women solves the problem of well meaning strangers giving unsolicited advice.

          • Dr Kitty
            April 11, 2017 at 9:15 am #

            To expand:

            The message should be “it is unacceptable to offer unsolicited parenting advice in public” not “breast is best therefore stop hassling BF women!”

            I don’t really care what strangers think of my parenting choices as long as they keep their opinions to themselves.

            Therefore “I don’t believe we have been introduced and I was raised not to speak to strangers” would be my comeback o anyone who had said something to me about BF- supportive, judgemental or otherwise.

            Unless I know you and have reason to respect your opinions on parenting, I don’t care to hear them unsolicited in public.

          • Squillo
            April 11, 2017 at 12:55 pm #

            Wish I could upvote this a thousand times.

        • MaineJen
          April 11, 2017 at 9:51 am #

          “All over the word, and for thousands of years babies have *often thrived, often required supplemental nutrition from a wet nurse or some kind of makeshift formula (for which there is ample historical and archeological evidence), sometimes failed to thrive or died of starvation because their mother died or was unable to nurse them.*”

          I fixed that for you.

        • Azuran
          April 11, 2017 at 10:25 am #

          Nobody here is judging breastfeeding mothers, I am a breastfeeding mother. Everybody here supports mother who want to breastfeed in public and we are against shaming both formula feeding, breastfeeding and everything in between.We judge people who make other mothers feel bad about their feeding choice.
          Obviously you are just a parachuter who didn’t bother reading this blog.

          Funny, why did my baby require a vit K shot and is currently taking vit D suplementation if there is ‘nothing wrong’ with breastmilk.
          And why did I need to combo feed for the first 10 days?
          ‘breast is best no matter how you look at it’ Is absolutely wrong.
          Breast is best for some people, formula is best for other, combo feeding is best for other, and then you can also ad tube feeding, cup/syringe feeding, fortified breastmilk for premies.
          And guess what, what is best for an individual baby also changes with time.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          April 11, 2017 at 10:34 am #

          Breast is still best no matter how you look at it.

          Really? Consider looking at it this way…

          When we had our first, my wife was breastfeeding exclusively while pumping for the first 3 months. However, she wasn’t pumping a lot. Nonetheless, we stored it all up.

          After three months, she went back to work part time. Now, my wife is a vet, and so was earning somewhere around $700/wk, so somewhere on the order of $2500/month. When she went to work, I stayed home with our son. Yes, we had expressed breast milk, but not a lot, so I fed him a blend of EBM and formula. By doing that, she was able to work the 6 months, until he quit nursing. That cost us about $250 in formula, but we earned about $15000 extra.

          Had I not been able to use formula, we would have run out of EBM in probably 3 months. So she could have only earned half of what she did. Therefore, breastfeeding only would have cost us $7500.

          Tell me, looking at it that way, was breast really best? Or was it better to supplement with formula?

          With our second, he wouldn’t take ANY EBM from a bottle. Therefore, if he were to be exclusively breast fed, she would not have been able to work at all. With him, she also worked about 6 months. We had two kids in daycare, which cost about $6K for that time, and formula costs were maybe $1K, but that is still $8K.

          We know that kids do better with higher incomes. This was a case of a lot of extra money we had because we supplemented with formula.

          Do you really think breastfeeding only would have been better?

          I don’t. I’ll take “Supplementing for Formula for $15000,” anyday.

        • Empress of the Iguana People
          April 11, 2017 at 10:35 am #

          Comments like your first sentence are part of the reason why I was suicidal last year because I couldn’t stand the thought of being at someone else being in control of my breasts, even my innocent baby.

          ed to add, and I breastfed my firstborn until I literally was curled up on my bed hoping no one ever touched me again. He was weaned cold turkey a week before he turned 11 months. I don’t care if you bf, ff, or some combination. Mind your own beeswax is an important part of life, until my obligated reporter element has to kick in. are

          • myrewyn
            April 11, 2017 at 11:19 am #

            Upvoted for being in control of your breasts, not your depression.

        • myrewyn
          April 11, 2017 at 11:18 am #

          Judgy comments? You might want to look in a mirror.

        • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
          April 11, 2017 at 11:32 am #

          Breastmilk is low in Vitamin D and Iron. It’s not perfect, if one has the desire, the time and are fortunate enough to make enough milk and they WANT to breastfeed, good for them they should be able to breastfeed where they want if it’s not a safety hazard.

          What EXACTLY is better about breastmilk? (Citations please! and lactivist magazine articles don’t count) Antibodies? Well yes , to a few colds or stomach bugs. that’s it. Will it make your baby more smart, slim, keep them from getting allergies or asthma. Nope. Will all breastfed babies grow up to be more bonded to their parents and more safe from mental illness. Nope

          • Empress of the Iguana People
            April 11, 2017 at 1:25 pm #

            Considering my sibs and i are all fat and prone to allergies, I’d say mom’s breastmilk was missing a few of the sparkles.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 24, 2017 at 9:34 am #

      Says the person hiding behind a screen name who probably makes money promoting breastfeeding.

    • MaineJen
      February 24, 2017 at 9:35 am #

      Wow. You know, I had a free sample of formula in my cupboard for months, and it didn’t stop me from breastfeeding my son; he didn’t need anything but my milk for 4 months. I had it so long it expired.

      Maybe…just maybe…we’re not the ones in the echo chamber?

    • Gæst
      February 24, 2017 at 10:19 am #

      Advertising a safe and useful product is not dangerous. Yes, Nestle in particular engaged in unethical practices that caused deaths. Do you have evidence that those practices are still ongoing? Because what is at issue now is what’s happening NOW, where formula is painted as poison in contradiction to the evidence.

      All food is advertised. Are you also on a bender against Chiquita for driving up banana prices by spending millions on creating a mascot and ad series to sell more bananas?

    • Roadstergal
      February 24, 2017 at 10:59 am #

      I find YOUR style of RANDOMLY capitalizing words MAKES your writing HARD to FOLLOW and comes across as spittle-FLECKED.

    • Tori
      February 24, 2017 at 4:51 pm #

      The marketing of breastfeeding puts babies whose mothers have supply issues in a vulnerable and dangerous position. Formula saved my child’s life. However, if it was not for the lactation consultant who told me to use it, I wouldn’t have started it until things got much worse than they already were. I’m still angry that nobody told me I could have significant supply issues antenatally (with my medical history it was highly likely), and very thankful for the lactation consultant who had me start the formula. The push to ‘don’t supplement, you’ll destroy breastfeeding’ is strong and can do a lot of harm.

  5. Lesley Backieyus
    February 23, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    Mmmmmm I know western babies don’t die from having formula but there is a significant amount of ill health as a result of being formula fed. As a supporter of the WHO code Ms Thewliss is attempting to get the UK Government to honour it’s promise made to the WHO in 1981. It’s about informed choice and getting information from Health Professionals not Companies who are selling one of the most processed food on the planet. By the way who funds you Dr.?

    • Amazed
      February 23, 2017 at 4:21 pm #

      A significant amount of ill health? Would you mind showing us the studies? By the way who funds you lactivist? Have you staked your entire career and payments on the lactivists’ lies, or are you just your average lactivist who can’t bear the thought that her milk, sacrifices and whatnot won’t give her the best children, far wiser than formula fed ones?

      Oh and by the way, fuck the promises made to the WHO in 1981. That was the year I was born in. Frankly, I am a little terrified that in 21 century, people rely on outdated studies and hold the year of my birth as a sacred year of the One True Knowledge. But that’s homebirth advocates and lactivists for you.

    • Azuran
      February 23, 2017 at 4:28 pm #

      A significant amount of ill health? You are going to need a very good study to support that. Please show us the huge increase in ‘ill health’ that happened when breastfeeding rates dropped to an all time low a few decades ago. And the following huge decrease in those same ‘ill health’ when it started raising again.
      You can’t. Because there isn’t any. The benefits in first world country are so trivial that no one is able to say who was breastfed and formula fed.

    • maidmarian555
      February 23, 2017 at 4:43 pm #

      Well if those same Health Professionals were a bit more forthcoming with that information in the first place, parents wouldn’t be looking to formula companies to fill the gaps in their knowledge. If nobody is prepared to discuss with you how to safely prepare a bottle then you’re going to go looking for that information somewhere where you know you can get it without having ‘Breast is Best’ yelled at you. Btw, you better tell my son he’s supposed to have ‘a significant amount of ill health’. He appears to have missed that memo.

      • Lilly de Lure
        February 24, 2017 at 8:28 am #

        Mine too – despite the rocky start he had with the IUGR he’s cheerfully climbing the weight percentiles (on the 15th now – doesn’t sound like much, but he was on the 0.4th when he was born). So much for the scourge of the dreaded formula thus far.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          February 24, 2017 at 9:33 am #

          There is nothing wrong with the 15th percentile.

          Weight isn’t a competition or anything. The question is not the 15th percentile, it is whether he is continuing to grow. And by all accounts he is. So he’s smaller than most other kids. So what?

          I was always smaller than the other kids, too. Someone has to be smaller than everyone else.

          • MaineJen
            February 24, 2017 at 9:38 am #

            That’s what I tell my 6’1″ husband…he’s perplexed that our kids aren’t the tallest in their classes. I’m only 5’1″…we may not be able to count on any NBA/WNBA contracts in the future 🙂

          • Eater of Worlds
            February 25, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

            My nephew was 4 feet tall at 5 years of age. Maybe some NBA in his future! We all know that’s because of that magical “white blood” instead of men who are short when they are 6’1″ and the women are short at 5’10” on that side of the family.

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 24, 2017 at 9:41 am #

            Nothing at all – I wasn’t trying to excuse the fact that he is small or imply that I think there is something wrong with that, just that around here in the UK having a small baby and letting slip that you’re formula feeding (or heaven forfend doing so in public) is a sure way to ensure significant looks which in the case of my little one couldn’t be more misplaced given how he started – I guess I just got a little over-used to explaining that to people (looking back on the comment it’s not really relevant information to the matter at hand at all).

        • Young CC Prof
          February 25, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

          15th percentile is well within the normal weight range, and a long way from 0.4th! I know how many extra late-night feeds that represents, so good job!

    • Roadstergal
      February 23, 2017 at 4:54 pm #

      Ah, yes, the significant amount of ill health. Here’s a question for you, Lesley. I was born in the ’70s in the USA. That was the nadir of breastfeeding here; initiation rates were under 30%. Breastfeeding rates skyrocketed afterwards, to the point where initiation rates these days are in excess of 80%, and more babies are getting 6+ months of breastmilk than got any at all in the ’70s. Please, point to the population-level improvements in chronic health conditions that must surely have followed this massive increase in babies fed breastmilk. Asthma, allergies, obesity, anything?

    • Ayr
      February 23, 2017 at 9:28 pm #

      ‘A significant amount of ill health as a result of being formula fed?’ Wow I was unaware that I was supposed to be ill, that’s news to me. I was formula fed, my brother was formula fed, and my son is formula fed, and guess what, we are all healthy. But I would like to see what evidence you have for your claim.

      • Clare Dickie
        February 24, 2017 at 4:03 am #

        Anecdote, that popular fallback against evidence. Sigh. UNICEF have published data specific to this issue. Do you need a link or can you look it up yourself?

        • Lilly de Lure
          February 24, 2017 at 4:48 am #

          None of which corrects for the social position of the mothers doing the feeding. This is important as, in the Western world (and particularly in the US where a lot of the Western world studies are drawn from) it is difficult for poorer women to breastfeed exclusively for 6 months due to lack of maternity leave provision and other support so ebf mothers are more likely to be affluent. This is significant as many of the conditions correlated (note that is as far as most studies go – they don’t actually show causation) with low ebf rates including obesity diabetes and low academic attainment are also closely correlated with the affluence or otherwise of the family a child is brought up in (in other words the causal factor here may not be breastfeeding at all but poverty). Studies which properly control for the social factor (notably ones which study differences between siblings raised in the same household, one of whom was breastfed and one of whom wasn’t) find that these differences between ebf and formula fed babies vanished, leaving a residual SLIGHT advantage for ebf babies in terms of getting one or two fewer colds and upset tummies but that’s it. You can see the details here –

          Given this trivial difference between formula fed and breast fed babies could you please back off and leave us alone to feed our babies in the way that works for us?

        • Ayr
          February 24, 2017 at 7:10 am #

          I have not seen any evidence given, just others opinions. If you can provide a link to a reputable scientific study done that proves what you are saying. I will read it, but if you can’t provide a link, then that shows you really don’t know what you are talking about and have no evidence to back your opinion.

        • Roadstergal
          February 24, 2017 at 10:56 am #

          See my comment below. What ‘ill health’ are the primarily breast-fed children today obviously lacking that the almost exclusively formula-fed children of the ’70s are predominantly suffering from?

          These massive health effects must be obvious and easily pointed-to in population data?

    • Sarah
      February 24, 2017 at 1:27 pm #

      Let’s see your evidence of this significant amount of ill health. Note- you’ll have to do more than simply show that formula fed babies are less healthy, since in most Western countries (and certainly in the UK) breastfeeding is associated with being advantaged in other ways.

      I should add that I’m not really in agreement with Dr A on this post either, and I don’t think it’s one of her better ones.

  6. Amy M
    February 23, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

    I don’t see why formula advertising should be viewed as any different than, say, advertising for peanut butter. Formula, like peanut butter, is food. Different peanut butter companies advertise to convince consumers to buy their particular brand. They already know there’s a market for peanut butter, so it comes down to Skippy or Jif (or Similac or Enfamil). One family eating peanut butter has nothing to do with the next door neighbors who have peanut allergies and can’t eat it. I imagine most peanut-allergic people are not offended by peanut butter ads—they just ignore them. If a woman is breastfeeding, and wants to and can, then she will simply ignore formula advertising.

    In today’s era of aggressive lactivism, every woman in the Western world have heard the “breast is best” message, and most decide/assume they will breastfeed, long before the baby is born. The formula ads they (probably don’t even) see are not affecting their choices. What affects their choices down the road are their individual circumstances. I wish these anti-ad lactivists would think about all the advertising they are bombarded with daily, and consider how much of it affects their choices. I’m not saying ads can’t convince people to buy/do something, but that they (the ads) are aimed at an audience that has already made a choice to buy/do the thing. The advertisers want to convince these people to use their brand. It’s not about “to drink soda or not to drink soda” its about Pepsi vs. Coke, for those who have already decided to drink soda.

  7. February 23, 2017 at 12:21 pm #

    How dumb does Ms. Thewlis think her people are?

    Here in the States, we banned cigarette advertising aimed at children (i.e., Joe Camel et al) because the ads were aimed specifically at a group of people who were too young to understand advertising ploys AND were being exposed to a potentially life-shortening product.

    Formula is not a leading cause of cancer so the only reason to ban advertising is that the group targeted by the ads is too immature to comprehend….something. I can’t even finish that sentence because there’s no sensible reason for it.

    So, yeah. Keep on patronizing your people, Ms. Thewlis. I’m sure that will help your party remain in power……

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 23, 2017 at 12:40 pm #

      How dumb does Ms. Thewlis think her people are?

      You overestimate the populace. Things like Brexit and Trump are pretty strong indicators that people on the whole are not all that mature.

  8. MI Dawn
    February 23, 2017 at 7:42 am #

    Well, here in the states, I can’t say I’ve seen a lot of deceptive formula advertising. I’ve seen nothing that says it’s better than breastfeeding, rather that it can “replace” breastmilk for when a mother doesn’t want to or can’t breastfeed. I’ve seen no claims that it will make your baby smarter, healthier, is cheaper than breastfeeding. I have seen ads that formula and toddler “milk drinks” contain additional items to ‘make it more like breast milk than milk’ – promoting these milk drinks over regular cow’s milk.

    So I don’t know what Ms Thewlis is ranting about. Maybe in the UK the advertising is different.

    • StephanieJR
      February 23, 2017 at 9:03 am #

      Watching formula adverts, in little text on the screen, it basically says ‘not better than breastmilk’. This might have something to do with advertising authorities, involving lactivists.

    • Madtowngirl
      February 23, 2017 at 12:27 pm #

      Other than on Facebook, I can’t say I’ve ever seen *any* formula advertising. But I also don’t really read parenting magazines (I’d assume that would be a logical place for advertising), or watch a whole lot of toddler programming on live TV. I have, however, seen advertising for toddler nutrition drinks.

      I mean, based on my anecdata, formula advertising seems like a complete non-issue.

      • Amy M
        February 23, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

        I’m also in the US, and the only ads I ever saw were print ads, in parenting magazines. Thanks to the internet, I’ve seen some video ads in the years since I’ve had my children, but at the time, I never saw any of that on tv or anything.

        • The Bofa on the Sofa
          February 23, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

          I’ve seen formula commercials on TV. It was something like this: “While breastfeeding is best, if you choose to supplement, use our formula.”

          What a bunch of bastards, don’t you think?

          • MaineJen
            February 23, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

            Imagine, offering women a needed and useful service. The very idea.

    • myrewyn
      February 23, 2017 at 12:44 pm #

      I don’t think I’ve ever seen a formula ad either, other than maybe in a magazine in a doctor’s waiting room?? I honestly don’t remember.

      • Roadstergal
        February 23, 2017 at 12:46 pm #

        I’ve seen one on TV, and it was for a ‘toddler formula.’

        • myrewyn
          February 23, 2017 at 12:54 pm #

          Can anyone explain the point of toddler formula? I don’t even get it.

          • Young CC Prof
            February 23, 2017 at 3:13 pm #

            It’s mostly a waste of money, although some toddlers who have feeding problems or failure to thrive need something more nutritious that cow’s milk.

          • myrewyn
            February 23, 2017 at 3:28 pm #

            Thank you for the clarification. I hadn’t thought of failure to thrive issues.

          • AnnaPDE
            February 24, 2017 at 8:23 am #

            Does it taste more like breast milk? My 14-month-old thinks cow’s milk is yucky and only wants boob, but I’m kind of over it…

          • Young CC Prof
            February 24, 2017 at 9:00 am #

            I haven’t tasted it, but if it’s higher in sugar than regular milk, it might taste like breast milk.

          • Empress of the Iguana People
            February 24, 2017 at 1:59 pm #

            Yeah, my son still thinks plain cow’s milk is yucky. We weaned him straight to water at 10.5 months. (Because I could no longer stand nursing)

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

            I was told by health visitor that follow on milk can be problematic there because it’s more filling and has more iron. Since then I’ve tended to use first stage formula when my children were 12 months plus and for whatever reason needed something other than cows milk or solid food, for that reason.

          • Heidi
            February 24, 2017 at 9:52 am #

            It travels easily. No dragging around coolers when you are out for the day or in the car. It’s better than paying $2 or $3 for milk at a restaurant that isn’t even whole milk. It’s considerably cheaper than infant formula, too. The kind we purchase comes out to $5 per gallon so really almost on par with regular moo juice. And for us, the pediatrician wants the toddler to take multivitamin drops but I really don’t want anything to do with trying to make him take yucky tasting drops that I could screw up the dose on so I supplement with the formula instead. He likes it and it would be hard to give him too much. You can pry our toddler formula out of my cold, dead hands. 😉

            *Also adding, I figure if our power goes out because of a storm or other emergency, the baby will be taken care of with a tub of toddler formula. And if we run out of milk, we have a back up. It’s pretty shelf-stable.

          • myrewyn
            February 24, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

            Thanks 🙂 I honestly wasn’t knocking it, I had just never heard of it until literally a week or so ago when I went to buy some just-in-case ready made formula to sneak into the hospital with me.

          • Heidi
            February 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm #

            I used to roll my eyes at it. But now, I’m like, “Wait, how’s is it really any different than any other fortified food people get for toddlers, like Cheerios or baby cereals?” It’s how I get his daily iron needs met. He loves vegetables and beans but it takes more peas than he can eat to meet the minimum requirement, and he’s not into bread, eats less than half a serving of baby cereal a day, and it’s just more convenient for us.

        • mabelcruet
          February 23, 2017 at 5:03 pm #

          In the UK we have an advert running for ‘follow on’ milk , but the advert is very carefully worded and talks about breast feeding and individual choices made by parents. Other than that, I’ve never seen an advert for new born formula.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

            You won’t have done, they’re not allowed. I have heard that the invention of follow on milks was an attempt to get around these. They’re not medically necessary after all and the NHS doesn’t recommend them. First stage formula and/or breastmilk until 12 months, then you can introduce cows milk as a main drink.

          • Dr Kitty
            February 24, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

            Except, follow on milks are better sources of iron, calcium and vitamin D than cow’s milk, and if you have a picky toddler might be a better way of getting those into them.

            My toddler LOVES follow on milk, and absolutely refuses to drink cows milk.
            As in, throws the cup across the room, will not countenance it, even if offered no other fluids for 12 hours… I raised a stubborn one.
            I’d rather he have follow on milk and get some minerals and vitamins than have him only drink water and be deficient.

            We call him “carbo the magnificent”. He eats cheese and spaghetti bolognese, but otherwise it’s porridge, toast, cereal, biscuits, pancakes, pizza, breadsticks, crisps, chips and garlic bread.
            He likes custard and fruit purées, but won’t eat fruit, even bananas, raisins, apples and grapes which practically every child loves.
            I am aware that this is a phase and he will outgrow it, but it is currently a challenge. I add sneaky veg to his pasta sauce.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

            I must say, I have found when I’ve occasionally given them to mine that there seemed to follow a reduction in appetite. I’ve been told the increased iron is what does that, but no idea of the veracity of the claim. Have instead used first stage when we’ve needed milk with the storage advantages of formula eg when we occasionally travel. Mine like cows milk though.

          • BeatriceC
            February 24, 2017 at 11:24 pm #

            I had one that was particularly resistant to veggies of any sort for nearly a year. He would, however, eat rice. I used to save the water I used to steam veggies and use that to cook rice with in order to sneak in a few nutrients. It’s a far cry from actual veggies, but it got a little bit in here and there.

  9. Heather
    February 23, 2017 at 7:29 am #

    I don’t think you’re right on this one. This post was more ranting than fact based opinion than I’ve been reading lately.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 23, 2017 at 10:16 am #

      Which facts did I miss?

  10. Clare Dickie
    February 23, 2017 at 6:30 am #

    Your jump from this not being about bf v ff is a jump too far and totally nonsensical. Advertising formula pushed it’s price up and costs deprives families more. Not advertising it means fewer infants starve. You’re blinded to logic by your own twisted agenda.

    • Empress of the Iguana People
      February 23, 2017 at 10:06 am #

      Since most companies that make formula make tons of other stuff, most of which is allowed to be broadly advertised, this argument seems rather nonsensical to me.

    • Amy Tuteur, MD
      February 23, 2017 at 10:16 am #

      How does advertising push the price up if they sell more formula as a result? Besides, if the price of formula drops, lactivists will probably propose a tax on it.

      • Clare Dickie
        February 23, 2017 at 1:26 pm #

        Because formula companies spend £20 per infant born in the UK on advertising. That cost is tagged onto what should be a fairly cheap product. Instead of paying £6 per can you pay £10. People in poverty water it down…leading to malnutrition. Without advertising costs the base price would drop and families could afford more formula.
        Allowing BOGOF deals etc would not lower the cost unless you brand switched every week to the cheapest deal. Loss leaders only tag the associated cost onto the base price.
        These are pretty basic concepts when it comes to marketing strategy. I’m astounded you all seen so unaware of it. Surely by your logic cheaper formula is a good thing?

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          February 23, 2017 at 1:49 pm #


          No lactivist is trying to make formula less expensive so you can stop babbling that ridiculous lie.

          • Clare Dickie
            February 23, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

            So the sum up of your “qualified” point of view is to 1) swear at me 2) deem me a lactivist without knowing me and 3) to assume that lactivists do not want to see formula price reflect more closely the true cost of the product…. and therefore wish formula feeders harm.

            Not that I have ever had a shred of respect for you to begin with but I hope any who did can see that you are far from a positive influence in this life.

            I can only hope that people have more intelligence than you credit them with.

          • Amy Tuteur, MD
            February 23, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

            It was hardly a brilliant deduction to figure out you are a lactivist. Your comments are all over lactivist Facebook pages.

            You’ve offered no evidence that lactivists want to reduce the cost of formula since there isn’t any.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

            People might have more respect for you if you weren’t tone trolling.

        • maidmarian555
          February 23, 2017 at 1:54 pm #

          Having more legislation surrounding formula is pointless. Here are the current rules, seeing as you believe that what we need are more of them:

          Even with all of this, it hasn’t made much impact on breastfeeding rates, which is what all of this is actually about. People who don’t formula feed thinking that if they just make it harder and harder to get information on formula feeding and treating formula like its something we should be ashamed of buying, we will all magically change our minds and breastfeed. It’s patronising bullshit. You think legislating formula further will prevent Aptimil or Cow and Gate finding ways to aggressively advertise their other products in order to get their branding into your home? You think that they’ll reduce their marketing spend? It’s not me that’s ‘unaware’ here.

          • Clare Dickie
            February 23, 2017 at 2:31 pm #

            Are you aware of the changes that have happened in Sweden and the resulting breastfeeding rates? There are precidents to be followed and they have amazing results. Full WHO code compliance does influence bf rates. Why shouldn’t we be aspirational?

          • maidmarian555
            February 23, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

            Because people like you don’t have the right to force other women to feed their children the way you think they should. You may have your own goals and things that you aspire to do or be and that’s fine. You don’t get to set the benchmark for everyone. What’s right for you may be wrong for them. Idgaf what’s happening in Sweden. How is that relevant to ensuring my own son is fed and well cared for? All you are doing right now is showing me that this proposed legislation has been created by lactivists, for lactivists with zero consideration given to those of us that actually use formula. Trotting out patronising nonsense about how we need to be ‘aspirational’ as opposed to, idk, having healthy, well fed children tells me a lot about what your priorities are. Legislating formula to the point where it is treated like cigarettes is ridiculous. It SAVES LIVES and parents will continue to use it, no matter how difficult you fools try and make that for us.

          • EmbraceYourInnerCrone
            February 23, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

            Why should whether someone breastfeeds or bottlefeeds(or combo feeds) be anyone’s business as long as the baby is getting enough to eat and the mother is getting the information(facts not fantastical notions of what breastmilk does) she needs about how to feed the baby?

            Aspirational to do what? Make new mothers feel even more guilty about not being good enough than society already manages to do?
            So if you breastfeed your kid might have one less cold and maybe a couple less tummy upsets. Good for you.

          • myrewyn
            February 23, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

            Your self-righteous attitude is repulsive.

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 23, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

            Feel free to be as aspirational (and who exactly are you to tell anyone else what their parenting aspirations should be) you like with your children, but I’d thank you to keep your nose away from mine thank you so very much.

          • Sarah
            February 26, 2017 at 4:37 am #

            Indeed. Nobody gets to use my tits for their aspirations.

          • Kelly
            February 24, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

            When you can tell the difference between the breastfed and formula fed children in school, then I may find it aspirational.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

            I think you’ll find most of on here don’t equate high with amazing, or higher as an aspiration…

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 23, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

            Thank you! The real issue in the UK with formula feeding is not too much advertising of formula, it’s too little information on how to correctly prepare and store feeds available to new mothers. None of the midwives I had when in hospital would willingly discuss the details of this with me even though they could see I had an IUGR baby who was visibly skinny and needed food now and they could see my milk was taking its time coming in. Making formula more difficult and shaming to access by putting it on par with cigarettes (the only other product in the UK which has plain packaging requirements) does nothing to help with this and makes it more likely that women who are unable to breastfeed will be too intimidated or ashamed to ask if they are unsure and be more prone to making mistakes in this front.

          • maidmarian555
            February 23, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

            I combo-fed my son from his first day. He had a really bad tongue-tie and no matter what we tried, he couldn’t latch. The only person in the hospital who ‘did’ the tongue-tie snips wasn’t due in until the next day so he was syringe-fed formula and breastmilk. When the midwife came round the second morning, I asked for formula so he could eat and she initially told me I couldn’t have any as I was supposed to be breastfeeding. I had to explain (and show her) the tongue-tie and be really firm that seeing as he was crying with hunger that I wasn’t prepared to faff about trying to express milk into a syringe to feed him. She relented and got a bottle, I literally gave him one syringe and she took the remaining milk and dumped it in the bin and marched off. He was wailing again within 2 seconds.

            We kept up the formula when he came home, I’d breastfeed all day but his Dad would get up and do the 3am feed with him so I could get some sleep and recover. Nobody would talk about the combo-feeding. Not the midwives, not the HV. They just pretended I was EBF, it was weird- they wrote it on my notes, even though it wasn’t true. The first person to acknowledge that’s how we were feeding him was the GP at his 6-week check. If we’d been doing anything incorrectly, that would have been way too late. I just don’t understand why, if they believe parents are getting too much info on formula from the formula companies, why they don’t set up an impartial website or something with all the information you need and direct ALL new parents there. Too often, the first time parents make a dash to buy formula is when they are desperate and tired so it’s no wonder we tend to grab the stuff that looks best on the shelf. If they make all the packaging identical, it’s going to be even more confusing and difficult to work out which one you might need than it already is.

          • mabelcruet
            February 23, 2017 at 5:09 pm #

            Making false entries into medical or nursing notes is incredibly unprofessional and is a disciplinary offence (in the UK NHS). Nurses have been struck off the nursing register for that.

          • maidmarian555
            February 23, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

            Sadly they took my notes away so I don’t have copies- although I do have my son’s Red Book where the discharge page from Midwifery only has the ‘first feed’ box ticked (as breast) but not feeding method on discharge. It’s not until the 6-week check that feeding is mentioned again, where the GP has ticked that he’s partially breastfed. I think next time I would say something. I didn’t realise it was particularly serious and at the time was just desperate to get away from them so didn’t bother pointing out that I could see what they’d written wasn’t correct. My community midwife has now quit anyway- which is probably a good thing really. She was pretty dreadful.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 2:17 pm #


            I’d personally not look to a formula company for guidance, their product is wonderful but I see no reason to trust them. However, it is also undeniably true that the NHS is not always doing a good job on this either.

            As an example, I left the hospital after giving birth with a leaflet given to all new mothers. This included lots of information about how often a breastfed baby should feed, which is as it should be, and nothing about how often a formula fed baby should. This was in 2015, in a large hospital that delivers thousands of babies a year. That’s disgraceful.

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 24, 2017 at 4:50 pm #

            I agree, it’s shocking just how little you are told about this – everything from timing of feeds to safe bottle preparation to getting the milk to the correct tempurature I had to find out from my fellow mums and the internet. If I’d had less sensible friends or lurked in the wrong sites I shudder to think about what would have happened.

          • Sarah
            February 26, 2017 at 4:36 am #

            Yeah it astonishes me how many people don’t know that you can’t use chilled boiled water to prep the feeds, it has to be 70 degrees. Incorrect formula prep due to lack of knowledge is probably responsible for at least some of the slightly increased gastro problem rates in ff babies.

            There are also of course issues with people who know very well how to prepare and serve formula but have to engage in sub-optimum practices such as watering down for financial reasons. That’s harder to solve.

        • Lilly de Lure
          February 23, 2017 at 3:11 pm #

          In that case why are you not proposing a ban on advertising and plain packaging for all foodstuffs (particularly healthy foods) if the only reason for doing this is to drive the cost of the product down. Surely this would be a wonderful way to ensure that a healthy diet was within the budget of every family if that was really the effect you were interested in achieving. Sorry, but since the only other product subject to this kind of rule is cigarettes ( and the aim of that rule was certainly NOT to drive the price down for consumers benefits) you will forgive me for drawing the conclusion that the intention of this legislation is to make the two products appear equivalent to new mothers.

        • AnnaPDE
          February 24, 2017 at 8:33 am #

          Ok, basic hint for shopping non-perishables where you care about the brand: when they go on BOGOF or similar, you don’t just buy one, but a large batch. Like, enough to probably last you until the next time it goes on sale. Or however much you can afford right now.
          That’s saving money 101. People with actual financial difficulties know this stuff.

        • Sarah
          February 24, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

          It sounds like you assume people wouldn’t switch every week to the cheapest deal? Also, it would lower the cost for those who are able to purchase in bulk.

      • Clare Dickie
        February 23, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

        Also, as it’s part of your debatable point can you fact source your “probably propose a tax on it” please.

        • Amy Tuteur, MD
          February 23, 2017 at 1:47 pm #

          Actually, they already have a tax on formula by refusing to allow the use of coupons to purchase it.

          • Toni35
            February 23, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

            Is this a UK thing? If not, what states do this?

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 2:14 pm #

            It’s a UK thing. Counts as advertising.

    • maidmarian555
      February 23, 2017 at 11:45 am #

      You know what would make formula cheaper? If it was allowed to be sold on regular supermarket promotions like EVERY OTHER THING THEY SELL (including alcohol and junk food). It is illegal to have formula on BOGOF deals, reduce the cost for a promotion or to spend vouchers or even gift cards on formula. If anyone actually gave two craps about making formula more affordable for poorer families, they would campaign for an end to legislation which keeps it at an artificially inflated price. It is ridiculous to suggest that advertising WHICH IS ALREADY ILLEGAL for infant milk is the sole cause of it’s cost.

      • Toni35
        February 23, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

        Where are you?

        I’m in the Midwest. Formula routinely goes on sale. The ongoing “fuel perks” promotions my local grocery chain engages in regularly (at least once every six weeks) ties “bonus fuel perks” (an extra $0.20 off each room of fuel purchased in addition to what you would earn from the purchase ordinarily) to the purchase of infant formula. There are plenty of coupons/vouchers to be found that can be used anywhere that sells the product specified. And I’m not aware of any restriction on using a gift card (be it a Walmart card, target card, Sam’s club card, a grocery store gift card, or just a plain old visa gift card) for the purchase of formula. Much less having any of this be illegal….

        What on earth are you referring to?

        • Toni35
          February 23, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

          “Room” should be “gallon”

        • Roadstergal
          February 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

          I’m guessing this is a UK-oriented discussion…

          • Toni35
            February 23, 2017 at 2:21 pm #

            Yeah I’m getting that the further in the comments I go…. Apologies!

        • Lilly de Lure
          February 23, 2017 at 2:22 pm #

          She’s referring to the situation in the UK where both she, I and this embarrassment of an MP reside (I’m an SNP supporter as a rule as well so am mightily pissed off about this – I’ve already emailed to say just that but doubt it’ll make too much difference as she’s not my MP).

        • maidmarian555
          February 23, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

          I’m in the UK. Although our already incredibly restrictive infant formula legislation is EU-wide. I posted a link further down the thread to the current rules. They’re already insane here, we seriously don’t need more of them- which is what is currently being proposed by Alison Thewliss (plain packaging like cigarettes, a ban on follow-on and toddler milk, no advertising/packaging for infant food that suggests it can be consumed before 6months amongst other mad things that don’t really make any sense unless you’re a crazy lactivist).

          • Toni35
            February 23, 2017 at 2:30 pm #

            SMH… I bought the lactavists were bad here. Good grief. Thanks for clarifying!

          • Roadstergal
            February 23, 2017 at 2:35 pm #

            “no advertising/packaging for infant food that suggests it can be consumed before 6months ”


            Food-allergy-promoting MP says what, now?

          • maidmarian555
            February 23, 2017 at 3:04 pm #

            The 6-month no-food rule is pretty standard here at the moment. I lied to my HV rather than admit I’d started feeding my son solids before 6mnths as they were adamant that babies ‘didn’t need anything but breastmilk’ before that point. If you thought your child was ready then you’d obviously be wrong (I was told that parents are mistaken about that all the time). My friend had a baby last October and they’re still pushing that message. I’m guessing the actual science hasn’t caught up with them yet- I’m not keen to have bad advice become legislation at all.

          • myrewyn
            February 23, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

            My son was literally punching me while nursing he was so frustrated by his milk-only diet. If I had waited another two months to introduce solids, which he ate like a wide-mouthed baby bird, he and I would have ended up despising each other and dreading each feeding.

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 23, 2017 at 3:23 pm #

            Yes, it’s amazing how mummy instincts are sacrosanct and infallible right up to the moment when they tell you something the natural crew don’ t want to hear.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 23, 2017 at 3:35 pm #

            didn’t need anything but breastmilk’ before that point.

            But even if that is true, it is not a reason not give babies food before 6 months. There are a lot of things I do with the kids despite the fact they don’t NEED it.

            My 8 yo doesn’t NEED to eat two containers of raspberries a day, but he often does.

          • Cody
            February 24, 2017 at 9:22 am #

            In Ontario just about all doctors and nurses will advise parents not to give anything other than formula/breast milk until 6 months. Parents are told that babies’ stomachs are too immature until then. They also suggest that babies should be able to sit up, show an interest in food and swallow the food on the spoon rather than push it out of their mouth with their tongue. This means that many babies aren’t given solids regularly until they are closer to 7 months, much to the dismay of mother-in-laws everywhere, lol.

          • Kelly
            February 24, 2017 at 1:31 pm #

            He doesn’t get the runs from that? I have to limit my oldest daughter’s fruit intake because she would eat it all in one day if I let her.

          • The Bofa on the Sofa
            February 24, 2017 at 3:00 pm #

            It’s not everyday, but, no, we’ve not had any issues.

            He is actually a wonderful fruit eater. Loves raspberries and fresh peaches. It’s hard to limit that ever.

          • Empress of the Iguana People
            February 24, 2017 at 3:19 pm #

            WIth my apple fiend it is a daily thing.

          • AnnaPDE
            February 24, 2017 at 8:29 am #

            What, not even the little fruit and veg puree jars marked 4+? Crazy.

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 24, 2017 at 8:38 am #

            They could still sell them – they just couldn’t mark them as suitable for children of 4+ months. Thus, if under this system you were to have the bad taste to have an infant desperate for something a bit more substantial than milk earlier than 6 months (like my son for example) and you went to the shops to get a beginner food you would have no way of telling which of the baby foods available that child could actually eat and which genuinely were unsuitable. The hope appears to be that you would then drift back home suitably chastened and you and your increasingly frantic child can just make do until the magic 6 months.

          • myrewyn
            February 24, 2017 at 8:58 am #

            That would have been sheer hell with my son and I know he’s not the only one. And I’ve lost track of all the threads going in the comments but has anyone explained their stance on delaying solids with the new evidence that it increases food allergies? I know the question was raised.

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 24, 2017 at 9:01 am #

            As far as I can make out their stance on the allergy thing is very much akin to that of an ostrich.

          • AnnaPDE
            February 24, 2017 at 8:56 pm #

            Wow, had parenting “experts” in former times been as good at activism and policy suggestions as today’s lactivists, breastfeeding would have been outlawed outright.
            This pushing of breast to the exclusion of everything needs to stop.

          • maidmarian555
            February 24, 2017 at 8:42 am #

            Yeah we have those now (although HCPs will tell you not to feed your child solids until they’re 6mo) but they want that banned.

      • AnnaPDE
        February 24, 2017 at 8:27 am #

        Wow. Here in Oz, there’s always some kind of formula on special at the supermarket. Just not the one my kid drank. *sigh*

      • Heidi
        February 24, 2017 at 10:28 am #

        I do think in the UK, though, formula is cheaper than in the US so the deals we “get” I think still aren’t as good as what you all normally pay. I could be wrong, but name-brand in the US a 12 oz. tub will be about $16. 40 oz. of generic is about $23.

        • maidmarian555
          February 24, 2017 at 11:23 am #

          I’ve done some swift ‘back of a fag packet’ calculations and I think you’re right. I’m unsure of the exact conversions (I have a feeling that your oz measurements are slightly different to ours so can’t be certain the conversion I’ve used is 100% correct) but I get 900gms (around 31oz) for £11. At the current exchange rate, this works out around $13.75 although before Sterling collapsed last June it would have been about $16.50 for the same amount. There is very little variance in cost (unless you want organic/speciality milk in which case it’s a lot more expensive) and most places only stock maybe 5 or so brands.

          So definitely cheaper generally but choice is very limited and there’s no opportunity to do what I do with pretty much everything else that’s expensive and wait til it goes on a BOGOF and buy a ton at one time.

          • Heidi
            February 24, 2017 at 12:07 pm #

            I think one reason formula is more expensive here is those of us who pay full-price are essentially subsidizing WIC formula. I think we pay more so the name-brands can provide it to the government. Perhaps formula companies see this as a sort of free advertising and hope to gain brand loyalty. Now, whether that’s a fair way to distribute the cost, I don’t know enough to have an opinion. It may could use some reform from that perspective, but as far as that goes, the organic food industry could use reform, too. I know here the Environmental Working Group, who loves to tell us certain non-organic foods are dirty and fear-monger about mainstream products is funded by organic food and product corporations. But I’ve never met a lactivist that was seriously concerned about how much us formula feeders were paying or simply wanting to reform how it’s distributed or sold to help us with cost! If that was the case, in the US, they would just encourage us to buy generic.

          • maidmarian555
            February 24, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

            I think that’s what really pissed me off about this proposal. It’s dressed up as ‘concern’ about the cost of formula and that manufacturers are pushing unnecessary toddler milks but when you look at what they’re suggesting, there is literally nothing there that I can see would actually reduce the cost at all. They seem to think that if advertising is banned for follow-on and toddler milks, that formula companies will just stop marketing and drastically reduce the money they spend on advertising. This completely ignores the fact that this was part of the argument years ago when they initially banned advertising for infant formula. We didn’t even have much in the way of follow-on milks then, but the manufacturers just ploughed all the money they used to spend on infant formula adverts into toddler milk ones instead. If this was to go through, they’ll just either create a new ‘must-have’ product to push or we’ll suddenly be inundated with adverts for baby porridge or something similar.

            We don’t have anything like WIC here. There used to be a program that gave new mothers vouchers for fruit and vegetables etc but I don’t think that extended to support paying for formula. I guess some food banks or charities may do it but that would be based on donations by individuals rather than from the government. You can, if your baby has allergies and needs speciality formula, get that free on prescription from the NHS. That’s the only circumstance I know of where there is financial support for parents who formula feed.

          • Roadstergal
            February 24, 2017 at 1:07 pm #

            Whoa. So a mom who can’t or doesn’t want to breastfeed is SOL if she’s poor?

          • maidmarian555
            February 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

            More or less. If the highest earner in the household earns less than £50k then you’re entitled to Child Benefit, which is a bit less than £20 a week I think (we don’t claim it so I can’t remember the exact amount). It’s not much at all but it does help those who are really struggling financially.

          • Roadstergal
            February 24, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

            £20 a week. Oy. 🙁

          • Roadstergal
            February 24, 2017 at 1:44 pm #

            …to be fair, the US has its own way of treating poor moms shittily, but it’s at the other end of the baby.


          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 2:13 pm #

            It helps those who aren’t too! We’re not, but I have found it helpful. It’s £20.20 for the eldest then £13.40 for subsequent. I found when they were babies it covered nappies, wipes and formula (or breast pads and extra calories if you bf).

            There are also tax credits, which can be a very sifgnificant amount of money if you’re low income, especially with lots of children. Often the biggest payment coming into a household by far (I used to work in a CAB).

          • maidmarian555
            February 24, 2017 at 3:34 pm #

            Oh for sure, I know there are additional benefits potentially for poor families but those benefits aren’t specifically for formula and may well not cover the additional cost if a family is really struggling with rent and heating payments every month. It’s very different to America where the WIC program specifically includes formula milk.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

            Even Healthy Start which is specifically designed to pay for infant sustenance actually doesn’t cover formula costs. It’s £6.20 a week for under ones, and the cheapest tub of formula is more.

          • maidmarian555
            February 25, 2017 at 2:45 am #

            That’s ridiculous! God, it’s not until you start unpicking all this stuff that you realise how difficult they’re making it for parents to feed their children.

          • Sarah
            February 26, 2017 at 4:29 am #

            In fairness, I think that might be more to do with general cost cutting than ideology. It’s been £6.20 for years now, and formula has (like pretty much everything else) gone up in that time. I think it may have covered most/all the costs when first introduced.

            There’ve been cuts to other aspects of the Healthy Start programme too. I used to get vitamin drops for free for my eldest, but by the time I had my second they were only available for people on benefits. I’m not opposed to that, I have the money to pay for vitamin drops myself so if the funds were being redirected to those on the lowest incomes that would be fair enough. Not sure they are though- I’d happily support the end of the free universal vitamin drops if it would be used to increase the £6.20 tokens. That’s not happened.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 2:10 pm #

            There are the Healthy Start vouchers, which can be used for formula.

          • evidencebasedbreastfeeding
            February 24, 2017 at 1:36 pm #

            ” I guess some food banks or charities may do it ”

            Baby Friendly (the UK BFI) has a statement on provision of infant formula at food banks in the UK:


            “Food Banks should not accept any donations of infant formula or distribute any formula
            products to mothers.”

            “Food banks should offer mothers who are formula feeding their infant, food to the mother
            for herself and her family. Formula milk should NOT be given to the mother for her infant”

            re the program – I think healthy start is still in operation, which does currently provide (for mums who are in receipt of particular types of gov’t benefits) a voucher towards formula milk, as well as vitamins and ordinary milk, fruit and veg for the family. But anecdotally I’ve heard quite a bit of opposition from BF support folks towards the inclusion in Healthy Start of a formula milk component. (On the basis that it undermines breastfeeding). I have heard as well there are uptake problems of Healthy Start so it doesn’t reach all the mums who need it or are eligible for it (due to the bureaucratic process in getting the voucher).

          • Roadstergal
            February 24, 2017 at 1:39 pm #

            “Food Banks should not accept any donations of infant formula or distribute any formula products to mothers.”

            I’m glad I don’t live in the UK. I’d be wasting a lot of time calling up Baby Friendly and just yelling FUUUUUCKK YOOOOOOUUUUU into the receiver.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 2:09 pm #

            Don’t tempt me…

          • maidmarian555
            February 24, 2017 at 1:46 pm #

            Jesus f*@king Christ what is wrong with these people? How many babies are literally being starved because of their utterly pointless pig-headed approach. And why have they been given so much power? Who are BFI to tell people not to help hungry babies? Not all poor women *can* breastfeed, no matter how much they’re bullied. Their babies shouldn’t have to go hungry. This is dreadful, I didn’t realise it was that bad!

          • Roadstergal
            February 24, 2017 at 1:49 pm #

            I’m imagining two things.
            -Poor mother with insufficient milk and a starving baby because she’s not ‘allowed’ formula.
            -Poor mother who was raped and is triggered whenever her nipples are sucked on, but can’t afford formula.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 2:08 pm #

            How awful.

            Healthy Start is good in that it can be used to pay for food for breastfeeding mothers, but again you have issues of food deserts and food poverty. If you are having to do all your shopping at some Spar or Tesco Extra type place, there will be a limited selection of fruit and veg often of poor quality, and usually expensive. Whereas formula will only be a few pence dearer than at the big supermarkets. So not all breastfeeding mothers receiving it get as much for the money as they might in other circumstances.

          • Heidi
            February 24, 2017 at 12:15 pm #

            I think we only have 5 actual formula manufacturers in the US. We have Nestle, Abbott, Mead-Johnson, Perrigo, and Nature’s One (and they don’t want to pay to be an actual infant formula manufacturer so they say they are toddler formula, which I find a bit worrisome). We just have different labels slapped on them. I find it kind of funny that Perrigo makes most of our expensive organic brands (Earth’s Best, Honest Co., etc.) and they make all the store-brands, too. We do have HiPP now I think? And I guess they make their own and don’t just have someone else do it. So maybe 6.

          • maidmarian555
            February 24, 2017 at 12:33 pm #

            Yeah I’m not completely sure of all the companies behind them but I’ve seen Aptimil, Similac, SMA, Cow & Gate and HiPP here. I’m pretty sure there are a few more organic brands but those 5 are the ones that I normally see stocked in the supermarket or chemist.

    • MaineJen
      February 23, 2017 at 11:48 am #

      “Not advertising it means fewer infants starve.” …..I’m having trouble following your logic here.

    • AnnaPDE
      February 24, 2017 at 8:25 am #

      BS. Generic store brand formula is cheap regardless how much Aptamil and other brands spend on advertising.

      • Lilly de Lure
        February 24, 2017 at 8:32 am #

        I don’t think stores in the UK are allowed to make generic own brand formula (or if they are I’ve never seen it on the shelves).

        • maidmarian555
          February 24, 2017 at 8:40 am #

          Yeah I’ve never seen any either.

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 24, 2017 at 8:41 am #

            It would be nice – and its such an obvious needed product that I think if they legally could in the UK, they would.

          • Sarah
            February 24, 2017 at 1:34 pm #

            Aldi have just started, a few months ago.

            I don’t necessarily agree with Ms Thewlis, but not really with Dr Amy on this one either. We do have a situation in the UK where formula is pretty expensive compared to some other places, because we effectively only have premium brands and just one generic own brand option. Now I think there are more ways to address this than a formula advertising ban, but it is true that they spend money on advertising and the costs are then obviously passed on. I would have preferred not to pay the extra costs of the advertising back when I purchased formula. The Aldi own brand came in too late for mine.

          • Lilly de Lure
            February 24, 2017 at 4:58 pm #

            Good to know – I’ll check it out with my next grocery shop.

      • Sarah
        February 24, 2017 at 1:32 pm #

        It isn’t in the UK, in fairness.

        There’s only one generic store brand formula that exists, which is Aldi. That is quite significantly cheaper, about £2-3 a tub less, but it has only just been introduced.

        • AnnaPDE
          February 24, 2017 at 8:48 pm #

          How come no one else has caught on yet? Here in Australia, every pharmacy and supermarket chain has their own store brand, at about $15-20 for a 900g tub. The brand name ones are $25-30 usually, but they go on half price special regularly.

          • Sarah
            February 25, 2017 at 3:47 am #

            I really don’t know. I think it would be a winner.

          • Christina Maxwell
            February 25, 2017 at 8:27 pm #

            Sooner or later Aldi will be banned from selling it. It’s verging on the miraculous that they haven’t been stopped already. The other supermarkets know this so haven’t bothered.

    • The Bofa on the Sofa
      February 24, 2017 at 5:07 pm #

      You know, if companies could sell more formula by not advertising, why wouldn’t they do it already? It would cost them less.

  11. StephanieJR
    February 23, 2017 at 5:21 am #

    Hey, my country gets mentioned! Wonder how… Oh crap.

    Um, sorry for my countrywoman; she was probably exclusively fed bullshit whilst growing up. Yeah.

    ETA: Ooh, 19% poverty for my area. Yeesh.

  12. MichelleJo
    February 22, 2017 at 7:45 pm #
    A bit OT, but just received this from my brother who is currently in the Ukraine. It is shared by 8 families. It is despicable when people ignore such abject poverty while claiming to care about nutrition.

  13. Lara Croft
    February 22, 2017 at 7:20 pm #

    I would argue that no child should suffer from hunger. Period.

    • Heidi_storage
      February 23, 2017 at 9:08 am #

      Absolutely; but it’s particularly baffling to see hunger in the midst of abundance.

  14. Kim
    February 22, 2017 at 4:47 pm #

    Furthermore, it is already illegal to market infant formula or put it on sale in the U.K. So the “follow-on milks” for older children are marketed and have to have other things, usually sugar, put into them to differentiate them from infant formula. So this woman’s efforts are basically a triple waste of time attempting to shame women.

  15. The Bofa on the Sofa
    February 22, 2017 at 2:46 pm #

    No child in an industrialized country should suffer from hunger. Period.

    Personally, I’d prefer that no child in a non-industrialized country should suffer from hunger, either.

  16. Christina Maxwell
    February 22, 2017 at 2:28 pm #

    Thank you so much for this, from a Scottish mother and grandmother. Ms Thewlis is a waste of space. It is her party that is running Scotland at the moment which seems ironic!

    • Emilie Bishop
      February 22, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

      Donald Trump is running America. For right now at least, we got everyone beat!

      • Roadstergal
        February 23, 2017 at 12:48 pm #

        Please, world. Please don’t do the one-upmanship. No “Hold my beer and watch this.”

        • Sarah
          February 24, 2017 at 2:20 pm #

          Well, you already took the Brexit baton and ran with it…

        • Emilie Bishop
          February 26, 2017 at 9:33 pm #


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