Monday, October 26, 2009

Stand up for babies by not buying Nestle

There is a week-long Nestle boycott going on from today to November 1, and I am going to tell you why I think you should participate. I'll keep this simple and link to others who know more about the details than I do.

This is about infant formula. In the US, formula is in no way comparable to breastmilk, but if you do formula feed, your baby will probably grow up healthy and happy. Why? We have clean water. We can sterilize our bottles. We can afford as much formula as our babies need and, if not, the government will usually step in and help. We can read the words on the can so we know how to safely prepare the formula and can make an educated decision about whether or not formula is a viable choice for our babies.

Many women in the developing world do not have these luxuries. Whether or not to breastfeed isn't even a choice if you don't have enough money to buy formula regularly--and this is often a giant chunk of a family's budget. Formula feeding is not a safe option if you have no clean water to mix it with, or if you have no way of sterilizing bottles. You might ask, then why WOULD any of these women elect to formula feed?

Well, because of bad information. Even here in the US, lies abound when it comes to breastfeeding. Many people think formula is "just as good" or "about as good," but it isn't. Some don't realize that it takes several days for mature milk to come in and they formula feed because they don't think their babies are getting enough to eat. Many people don't know that supplementing will hurt your milk supply. If we can read books and search for info online and have access to lactation experts, and we still sometimes don't have what we need to make a go of breastfeeding, how difficult must it be for women who don't have these benefits?

Formula which looks so innocent on the surface and claims to "protect" can deceive quite easily. A mother may acquire just a small amount of formula, not realizing that her milk supply will dry up within days if she uses it. She may or may not be able to read the fine print admitting that breastmilk is best. Even if the mother can afford the formula itself, not having clean water to mix it with can be deadly. Diluting formula with water to save money hurts babies even in the US. According to UNICEF, “marketing practices that undermine breastfeeding are potentially hazardous wherever they are pursued: in the developing world, WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that some 1.5 million children die each year because they are not adequately breastfed. These facts are not in dispute.”

No company should claim that their formula protects babies. They should not give any promotional items to doctors and healthcare workers which might sway them to promote one brand of formula over another. They should not push the responsibility for educating women on safe formula feeding off on health workers, especially because more women would be breastfeeding anyway if it weren't for their deceptive marketing.

Nestle is a big part of the problem due to their devious marketing practices, and they know it. If you doubt this, please see Annie's series of posts about Nestle at PhD in Parenting. This post in particular offers insight on how and why Nestle should change; be sure to read the comments, too. This article is also a good read if you'd like more evidence and to further understand the problem.

Nestle makes a ton of products, and I don't blame you for being overwhelmed at the prospect of giving them all up. If you can't do that, how about just avoiding the ones you recognize? If you aren't up for that either, how about committing to something small--a slight inconvenience this Halloween. Just buy anything other than Nestle to give to your trick-or-treaters. Here's a list of what NOT to get, taken from the full list over at Crunchy Domestic Goddess:

Baby Ruth
Carlos V (”the authentic Mexican chocolate bar”)
Kit Kat
Laffy Taffy
Lik-M-Aid Fun Dip
Nestle Abuelita chocolate
Nestle Crunch
Oh Henry!
Pixy Stix
100 Grand

I've heard so many people say "but I didn't know." Well, now you do. Shop wisely.


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Emily said...

Just bought my halloween candy for trick-or-treaters...proud to say i remembered the list! Thanks for the reminder and gentle nudge in the right direction.