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The Right Formula

The options are endless for formula feeding moms. Holistic health coach Jackie Rizzo-Malzone helps us break down the basics.

The Right Formula

Choosing formula has become as confusing as choosing the right college. As a holistic health coach, I highly encourage breast-feeding, but I will admit neither of my children were breastfed babies. I was gung-ho about breastfeeding, but like so many mamas, my plans didn’t pan out the way I had expected. Thankfully the formula industry continues to evolve, and there are plenty of options to make sure your little one is getting the necessary nutrition to grow and thrive.

Still the right formula for you isn’t there waiting for you -- some research is required. As the formula industry has grown tremendously, so have your options. Do you want liquid or powder? Can or plastic? Concentrate or ready to feed? The list goes on and on. And what’s right for one mama (and baby) might not be right for another. Here’s a few tips to help steer you in the right direction.

Powder or Liquid?

When it comes to powder versus liquid, powder is a better option. Powder formulas tend to have less BPA (Bisphenol A is a chemical found in plastics that has been found to disrupt hormones, up your potential risk of cancer and increase risk of brain development of children.) than liquid because you need to add water therefore diluting the BPA. Studies have found 8 to 20 times less BPA in babies that are powder fed when compared to liquid ready to feed in a can. Liquid should only be used if it comes in a plastic container and ideally concentrated.

Should I consider soy?

Avoid soy if at all possible. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends soy consumption only to those babies who medically require it. Soy is a natural plant estrogen that may affect the developing baby. As a holistic health coach I don’t recommend soy to be a staple in any diet because it is a hormone disruptor that has been linked to various cancers. Also, unless specified, you can bet that it is genetically modified.

Conventional or Organic?

Then there is the question of whether purchasing organic is necessary. With conventional formula, there is the concern of pesticides and herbicides sprayed over the feed, as well as growth hormone, antibiotics in the cow’s milk and GMOs (genetically modified organisms) added to the formula. So if it is possible, go for the organic formula.

Are there any ingredients that I should be on the look out for?

Keep in mind that the FDA sets standards of what the formula must contain. So as far as nutrition goes, your baby will be receiving federally required nutrients such as protein, fat, vitamins and minerals to support healthy development.

One ingredients that you should be conscious of is sugar (which can be listed as corn syrup or brown rice syrup). Sugar is added as a carbohydrate. The issue with adding high amounts of sugar is the possibility of overfeeding and causing excess weight gain.

Carrageenan is found in many organic and conventional products. Its job is to work as a thickening agent, but in baby formula, it is a convenience ingredient. Carrageenan helps parents avoid having to shake the ready-to-feed formula. In return, it causes inflammation of the gut, various gastrointestinal complications and in recent reports, high rates of malignant tumors.

What’s the deal with DHA and ARA?

DHA and ARA is another hot topic ingredient. Both are found in breast milk and linked to healthy brain and nerve development. Because it has such positive reviews, you can now find infant formula with added DHA/ARA. The idea is good, but the issue is how the DHA and ARA is added to the formula. DHA comes from lab-grown algae and is extracted with hexane, a questionable chemical that is a bi-product of gasoline. The same goes for ARA, except it comes from soil fungus. Several studies have been conducted on infant formula-fed babies. Findings have concluded that there is no significant advantage to babies that have been given the DHA/ARA formula. But there is a concern regarding the usage of hexane.

Are there any alternatives?

Yes, there are alternatives. There is the option of making your own formula. You can check out The Weston A. Price Foundation who has three versions (raw milk, goat milk and liver based). The drawback to this is that it is time consuming, and raw milk isn’t readily available. The pros are that it is free of any processed ingredients, soy-free and all of the vitamins aren’t synthetic so the baby is able to absorb them much more easily than synthetic vitamins.

What about store brand formulas?

Go for it! All formulas have to meet the minimum requirements of the FDA. Most formulas can be found as a generic formula. The reason you are paying less is because the companies spend little to no money on marketing and samples.

What about specialty formulas?

If you haven’t already gone down the aisle of baby formula, well, brace yourself. There are not only several brands, but now there are specialty formulas. For example, there are formulas with added rice for the baby that suffers from acid reflux, soy-based, reduced lactose, and the list goes on and on. With everything in life, there is no one size that fits -- or formula that feeds -- all. Every baby is different. If you originally went with a standard conventional formula, I would highly suggest giving an organic formula a try.

When can I stop using formula?

As always, consult with your pediatrician. Most would say by their first birthday you can wean your little one off. By then the amount of formula consumption is decreased significantly and replaced with wholesome foods.

Should I consider toddler formula?

Again, discuss with your pediatrician, but I don’t see a need for toddler formula. Your toddler should be getting his or her vitamins from a variety of whole unprocessed foods.

Follow Jackie here for more great info.

As much as I love fall, it always feels like the season when my family's routine gets kicked into overdrive. With our oldest in (homeschool) kindergarten, my youngest on the brink of entering her twos, work, housework and *all the things* filling my day, it's hard not to feel a little overwhelmed sometimes. Did I mention we're still in a pandemic? (Yeah, it's a lot.) And while I try to take a positive view as much as I can, now more than ever I definitely jump at the chance to take anything off my busy plate.

One thing first in line at the chopping block? Cooking. To be fair, I like cooking. I cooked most of our meals long before I had ever even heard of social distancing. But there's something about the pandemic that suddenly made cooking every single meal feel exponentially more draining.

Enter Daily Harvest. They deliver nourishing, delicious food right to your door. Daily Harvest's mix of smoothies, bowls, flatbreads, snacks and more provide a balanced, whole food options that are as satisfying as they are nutritious. But my favorite part? When we're ready to eat, I simply pull the food from the freezer and it's ready in minutes—without any chopping, measuring or searching for a recipe. Even better, they're incredibly tasty, meaning I'm not struggling to get my girls to dig in. Not cooking has never felt so good.

Here are my 8 favorite products that are helping to lighten my load right now:

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

Mulberry + Dragonfruit Oat Bowl

One thing that actually helps break up the monotony of quarantine? Trying and introducing new ingredients to my family. I love this overnight oat bowl (add milk the night before and let it set in your fridge overnight—easy-peasy!) because not only does it not compromise on nutrition, but it also helps me bring new whole fruits, vegetables and superfoods to the table with ease.

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

Mint + Cacao Smoothie

I kid you not, these taste exactly like a mint chocolate chip milkshake. (Just ask my 4-year-old, who is constantly stealing sips from my glass.) What she doesn't know? She's actually getting organic banana, spinach and chlorella with every sip. #momwin

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Kabocha + Sage Flatbread

Our family's eating habits have been leaning more plant-forward this year, which often means a lot of veggie washing, peeling and chopping every time I cook. That's why these flatbreads are my new best friend come lunchtime. This Kabocha + Sage Flatbread is made with a gluten-free cauliflower crust topped with kabocha squash, fennel and sage for a taste of fall in every bite. (Missing the cheese? You can add it before baking for more of a pizza feel.)

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

Kale + Sweet Potato Flatbread

There's something about the combination of sweet potato crust topped with red cabbage, organic greens and an herby-cilantro sauce that is so delicious… like surprisingly delicious. I polished off this bad boy in seconds! And unlike other "veggie" crusts I've tried, these are actually clean (AKA no fillers, preservations, partially-hydrogenated oil or artificial anything). Plus, it couldn't be easier to throw in the oven between conference calls and homeschool lessons.

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Cacao + Avocado Smoothie

Any time I get to serve a breakfast that tastes like chocolate, it's a good day. (That goes double when it's *my* breakfast.) This rich, chocolatey smoothie is packed with organic zucchini, avocado, pumpkin seeds and pea protein for a nourishing mix of healthy fats and muscle-building protein so I can carry that baby all day long. And did I mention the chocolate?

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Vanilla Bean + Apple Chia Bowl

Maybe it's just me, but after a long week of cooking, the last thing I want to do on Saturday morning is...wake up and cook. That's why these one-step breakfasts are saving my weekend. I simply add our favorite milk the night before and store the bowl in the fridge overnight. Come morning, I have a nutritious chia bowl that powers me through even the busiest day of errands. It's also Instagram-ready, which makes me feel like I'm out brunching (even if I can't remember the last time I was in a restaurant).

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

Cacao Nib + Vanilla Bites

My kids have turned into snack monsters during quarantine, and I'm often struggling to find a wholesome option (that doesn't require a lot of extra cooking or else I resort to something ultra-refined and shelf-stable). These bites are the hero I never knew I needed. For one, they taste like cookie dough, but they're actually packed with chickpeas, pumpkin, dates and flax seed (among other whole ingredients). But unlike actual cookie dough, I don't have to go anywhere near my mixer to whip them up—all I have to do is pull the container out of the freezer, let them defrost a bit and we can all enjoy a treat.

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Cauliflower Rice + Pesto Harvest Bowl

Sometimes I have a little more time to cook, but I still want a quick, stress-free solution. (Especially because it always feels like I just cleaned up from the last meal.) I love these Harvest Bowls because they warm up in under five minutes on the stove top (or microwave!) but pack tons of flavor. The Cauliflower Rice + Pesto bowl is one of my favorites, with basil, olive oil and nutritional yeast for a hearty dish reminiscent of a mouth-watering Italian meal. When I'm feeling extra fancy, I add leftover grilled chicken or a fried egg.

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Strawberry + Rich, Rippled Berry Compote Scoops

Who doesn't want to end the day with a little something sweet? This creamy and decadent frozen treat from Daily Harvest is swirled with sweet berries and tropical dragonfruit for an antioxidant burst you'll feel good about—but that your kiddos will just think is ice cream. Go ahead, take credit for being the best mom ever.

Want to try it yourself? You can get $25 off your first box of Daily Harvest with code MOTHERLY.

This article was sponsored by Daily Harvest. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

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It's science: Why your baby stops crying when you stand up

A fascinating study explains why.

When your baby is crying, it feels nearly instinctual to stand up to rock, sway and soothe them. That's because standing up to calm babies is instinctual—driven by centuries of positive feedback from calmed babies, researchers have found.

"Infants under 6 months of age carried by a walking mother immediately stopped voluntary movement and crying and exhibited a rapid heart rate decrease, compared with holding by a sitting mother," say authors of a 2013 study published in Current Biology.

Even more striking: This coordinated set of actions—the mother standing and the baby calming—is observed in other mammal species, too. Using pharmacologic and genetic interventions with mice, the authors say, "We identified strikingly similar responses in mouse pups as defined by immobility and diminished ultrasonic vocalizations and heart rate."

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