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Feeding Baby Better 101 (& Avoiding Toxic Bottles)


Much of what is at stake with feeding baby goes back to the discussion on toxic plastics.  Quite a fervor was caused when the group Environment California released a recent report entitled, “Toxic Baby Bottles” which showed that bisphenol-A (BPA) was leaching from baby bottles. And not just some baby bottles, but the 5 leading brands.  Under regular use, such as dishwashing and heating, the bottles leached BPA at levels thought to be harmful to babies and young children.  BPA mimics the hormone estrogen and may interfere with ovulation and reproduction as well as brain-cell development.


Maela with bottles
Babies who use plastic bottles or sippy cups from polycarbonate (which include most bottles and sippy cups!) are being exposed. “Babies who used the bottles we tested could be exposed to a bisphenol-A dose 40 times higher than that conservative definition of safety,” says Consumer Reports who advises parents to dispose of all polycarbonate baby bottles. California, Chicago, and Canada are just some of the places that now restrict or ban the use of BPA in baby bottles.

Bottles aren’t the only risk factor.  Another watchdog group, Environmental Working Group, found ALL liquid formulas that it tested contained BPA.

Breastfeeding is an environmental issue.  Formula is hard on the environment and harder on a baby than breastfeeding. The 550 million cans of formula sold for U.S. babies would circle the earth one and half times, says a recent article by Mothering editor Peggy O’Mara. And the energy consumed in making, transporting, and marketing formula (often between countries and back) is staggering.  Breastfeeding, besides being great for the baby, is also great for the economy. Mothering sites a study that puts the cost savings to the U.S. of breastfeeding to exceed $1.3 billion a year.

When you begin solids, remember organic is essential for a baby. “Children’s developing immune, central-nervous, and hormonal systems are especially vulnerable to damage from toxic chemicals,” says Consumer Reports. As well, baby food is often made up of condensed fruits and vegetables potentially concentrating pesticide residue. Pesticides have also been shown to cross the placenta. “It pays to buy organic food for baby as often as possible,” recommends Consumer Reports.

  • Breastfeed as long as possible (at least one year; The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for at least two years). The nutrative and IQ benefits of breastfeeding continue as long as you breastfeed.
  • Teach your child to use a small adult cup.
  • If and when you have to use bottles, use glass.
  • If you have to use formula, consider making your own.  (Yes! There was life before formula.  Here are some websites with recipes:,,  REMEMBER: Soymilk and rice milk aren’t fit for babies under one year old and straight cow’s milk isn’t enough alone and can be hard to digest for babies. Make sure to discuss any breastfeeding issues or formula questions with a trusted and nutrition savvy doctor and/or lactation consultant.)
  • When you start solids (at around 6 months) make your own baby food from locally-harvested, organic foods.  And remember to eat organic while pregnant and breastfeeding to reduce baby’s exposure from mom.


  • Visit the Review section for good choices for bottles and sippy cups.
  • Avoid products made of plastic. Even those that say BPA-free most likely contain estrogen-mimicking compounds according to current research.
  • If you are using plastic, ensure it is only for cold beverages and never heat the plastic in the microwave, dishwasher, or by leaving it for a long time in the direct sun (heating increases the amount of BPA leached into the food or formula).
  • Avoid melamine, that super-durable plastic substance used in many kids’ ware items. It can leach formaldehyde when heated or with certain acidic foods.
  • Store and heat all food and liquid in glass or metal.
  • Avoid formula if possible. If you cannot breastfeed or provide breastmilk or make your own formula, then use powdered, organic formulas. Read the labels (avoid sugar, sucrose, fructose, glucose, corn-anything, carageenan.) Insist on organic. (Be careful of soy based formulas, they have been banned in Israel and other places due to problems linked to exposing young children to soy.) And remember formula companies spend millions keeping their billion-dollar industry in a virtual monopoly. Your toddler, or any baby over one year, does not need formula, however your baby can do just fine with a formula advertised for “toddlers” as this is considered more ethical advertising practice. Read more here.
  • When buying prepared baby food, buy organic and look for small, local brands (sometimes found in the freezer section.) Or, even better, make your own! Your child can eat just about any whole food you are eating: peas with lots of butter, liver, sweet potato with sea salt and butter. It’s okay for their food to be yummy!
  • With food you can save money and eat healthier by buying locally grown food and cooking and eating at home.

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