A little while back, there was some controversy surrounding online parenting resource Babble.com, and its relationship with formula companies, specifically Similac. Babble, which calls itself “the revolutionary online magazine for a new generation of parents” has become a pop-culture parenting resource of some influence.
In my old life, I worked with Babble’s editors to secure publicity for some of the wonderful public television shows that are produced by my former employer. I enjoyed my working relationship with Babble, and appreciated their site’s content. When I became pregnant, and a mom, I started looking to Babble for information, support, and entertainment. Unfortunately, however, I began to notice a shift in the site’s balance of information on infant feeding. This shift seemed to coincide with a very obvious advertising campaign by Similac. There were more articles (being very strongly promoted on both the site’s home and dedicated topic pages ) that called into question the benefits of breastfeeding, and the entire “Breasfeeding” page was wrapped in Similac advertising. It was then that I started to question whether or not Babble was as worthwhile of a resource I once thought it to be.
Yes, I breastfed my son. Guess what? He also received formula for a few months, because he self-weaned much earlier than I’d anticipated, and I was unable — despite concerted efforts! — to pump sufficient milk to carry him through to the 12 month transition to cow’s milk. Sure, I was disappointed; I was concerned that he wasn’t getting as good of nutrition as he’d gotten while nursing. But the fact is, formula is there for a reason. It filled a legitimate and immediate need we had to feed our baby.
I think breastfeeding is a wonderful choice, and that mother’s milk provides optimal food for babies. But I also understand that it’s not the best choice for all mamas and all babies, and that there are a number of reasons why a mother may not be able to nurse her baby. It’s certainly not my place or my desire to question another mother’s feeding choice. As mothers it is imperative that we offer one another with support, compassion and understanding. We are all trying to do what’s best for our families.
That being said, though, when I saw the following update from Babble come through on my Facebook newsfeed, I felt compelled, along with plenty of other women, to speak out against Babble’s obvious influence by its Similac sponsorship:
Lots of people offered up thoughtful responses, and if you already “like” Babble on Facebook, I urge you to take a moment to read them. But since I only feel comfortable sharing my own here, this is what I had to say:
I feel that it’s important important to strike a balance between standing up for the things we believe in and remembering that not everyone feels or thinks the same way we do. Assuming so risks alienating, rather than empowering, a generation of women and mothers. And I want no part of that.