According to One Study: Bottle Fed Babies are More Likely to Be Abused

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Most moms know that breastfeeding is best for baby and for the moms that decide to breastfeed (it is a choice) there are a lot of great support groups online. provides an online community that helps support moms and Baby Center has many articles for new mothers to help them learn the benefits of breastfeeding and the how-to’s to help moms problem solve. The support and encouragement to breastfeed is certainly more common then it used to be but what about the mothers who do not breastfeed their babies? Is there support and guidance for those mothers on the formula to choose, safe BPA free bottles to use, how to prepare the formula and how much to feed the baby? I am sad to report my findings are showing there’s very little out there. Even about which breast pumps to use.

There is no doubt in my mind that breastfeeding is best for baby and mother but not every mother can breast feed, contrary to popular belief and despite the health benefits, not every mother makes the choice breastfeed and that is a personal choice. Many mothers will say this is not true, “I breastfed and at first had problems at first but I pushed on and it all worked out. You just gave up too soon.”  This is a comment I have listened to over and over and remember  I have facilitated playgroups for mothers and children for close to a year and so I have listened to many conversations! My response is this:  Oh, really, what if I told you that physically I could not breastfeed because I did not make the hormone needed that tells my body to make milk – enough milk that is. What if I told you that I know mothers that breastfed out of guilt and society pressure but that it mentally put them over the edge – how is that good for the baby?

My personal story is this; I tried for three weeks and my son lost weight every week and was not being nourished because I felt so much pressure to continue trying. The lactation counselors said no pacifier and do not supplement with a bottle but my instinct told me this was not right, my son wasn’t eating. I cried and cried, ate more food and drank more water and did everything people told me to do. I followed the advice of everyone and wanted to feel like I was a “good” mom because I was breastfeeding. When it didn’t work out, I cried like I had failed. I cried because I couldn’t do it and must not be a good mother. As Fox News pointed out, the moms who do not breastfeed certainly feel judged but should this really be the case? Shouldn’t moms support one another?

Furedi agrees that, all things being equal, breastfeeding is better for babies than bottle-feeding. But he says moms who chose bottle-feeding for whatever reason should not be intimidated by what others think.

“This is a choice that a woman should make based on her own circumstances. It is not one that society should make for her,” he says.

When I read the article at Totally Her about breastfeeding and being a good mom, I could relate. When I had my daughter, everyone just assumed I would breastfeed but not one nurse asked me. This disturbed me and again I felt pressure to try. I, however, was wiser and more mature and knew that I could not put myself or my child through the stress or pressure again. When I said no to the nurse she pressured me, lecturing me and giving me reading material. When she left the room, I cried. I’m a grown woman and I’m educated and damn it – I’m the mom so back off! I felt so angry that there was all of this pressure but no support to help me make good bottle feeding choices. Instead, I got the “cold” shoulder when I asked questions about baby formula. I was told that they are all the same, no different, bottles too. Except, is this true?

When I researched support groups for moms who do not breastfeed I found an article about how moms that don’t breastfeed are more likely to abuse their children. Okay, that is ridiculous and insane. The research supposedly showed that moms that breastfed are more connected to their children because they release the hormone oxytocin.

“These results make sense biologically because breastfeeding is associated with oxytocin release, and we know from animal studies that oxytocin is produced in the brain and helps activate areas of the brain that are involved in maternal care and behavior”.

There is no doubt that breastfeeding is good for mother and baby but from what I can tell, I’m fine and I was bottle fed and I’m not ashamed (I used to be) to say my two children were bottle fed. I’m for educated decisions and a woman to make their own choice without pressure or guilt. I support woman who breastfeed and woman who don’t. Woman need to support one another and not be so damn judgmental and as much as it I’m proud to see such support, research and guidance for moms that do breastfeed there needs to be equal support to help the moms that do not.

Resources for Bottle Feeding Your Baby:

Pregnancy and Baby

Baby Feeding Choice

Babies Today

Pea in the Pod-Pod Cast

22 thoughts on “According to One Study: Bottle Fed Babies are More Likely to Be Abused”

  1. The research story really is ridiculous. There is a big difference between causality and correlation. The fact that there is a statisticly significant correlation between (non-)breastfeeding and mistreatment does not mean that there is a causal connection between both items…

  2. Michelle Gudmunsen

    Just look at your beautiful, healthy, well-adjusted children! Know that you made the right choice (and continue to make the best possible choices) for your family, and you inspire all your readers to make better choices every day. “No judgement” has been something you’ve asked of us readers on all sorts of topics from the very beginning, and no judgement is what you’ll get from me! (Except that, in my judgement, you’re an exemplary mom and friend!)

  3. Well, this is a tough one but having gone both routes….bottlefeeding by choice, then 100% brestfeeding, then 100% breastfeeding interupted by an illness that required me to do 100% bottle feeding…I don’t see the pressure you are talking about. I got more “ew-gross” looks or remarks for breastfeeding then I did guilt for bottle feeding. My grandfather would leave the room in a huff whenever I started breastfeeding…like I was doing something dirty. I don’t recall getting guilted for bottle feeding at all.

    The nurses during my first birth assumed I would bottle feed, perhaps because I was an in uber rich hospital and they were used to wealthy moms that did not want to ruin their breasts. The second go round I was in a birthing center and they assumed I would be breastfeeding. The third go round was the same but in that instance I was in a blue collar, poor town hospital where chances are moms are not getting educated about the benefits of breastfeeding so I totally understood the reason behind the nurses being so keen on “educating” the birthing moms.

    The consumer world totally supports bottle feeding moms. The bottle and formula isle is HUGE. These choices are supported every time we walk in the store. But yet it is hard to find nursing bras and nursing clothes unless you go to specialty stores. You can’t buy a nursing pillow at the grocery store but you can buy tons of bottles. You can get a daycare to store forumla for you but they might refuse to store breastmilk because they consider it a hazardous substance. You can get kicked out of a public place for breastfeeding and yet I have never heard of a mom getting asked to cover her bottle fed baby’s face or feed him in a bathroom stall because the bottle offends people.

    I don’t see many bottle feeding moms getting guilted by other people so much as they are gulting themselves IMO. It is a shame that so many moms feel guilted but I would hate to see people back of the importance of breastfeeding because they are afraid of offending people.

    Tiffanys last blog post..Ancient Minerals Magnesium Oil

  4. Tiffany, maybe it is the hospital or the area you live in. My county seems to push the breastfeeding and it is common to see women breastfeed in public. I’m all for women breastfeeding but I don’t advocate the do it because everyone else is mentality. I think it just depends on the woman and from what I am seeing there is some differences. Mine was self inflicted pressure at first and with the second baby it was just the opposite. Tomorrow I will post a story from a reader who emailed me.

  5. AMEN CHRIS! I feel like i”m back in stats class chanting.. Correlations does not imply causation!!
    The more sensitive way to read that correlation is to say that breastfed babies are less likely to be abused. I think the problem with this is that if a woman was going to be the type of dead-beat mom who abuses her children (am I being to judgmental to say that a mom who abuses her kids is a dead-beat mom??? I’ll risk it), chances are she wasn’t all into breastfeeding. I’m NOT saying that moms who bottle feed are dead beat moms, not at all. I’m saying dead beat moms (and they are out there) are more likely to have bottle fed. You follow?

    I’m a biologist (and thus more likely to attribute behavior to biology) but even I don’t follow the logic of the study. If this were the case adopted children would also be more likely to be abused and that correlation does NOT exist in the research (although it does for step children).

    ok i’m done.

    Rebeccas last blog post..My darling husband.

  6. I wrote about this issue on my blog as well when the research came out. I think really the researchers have it backwards. It isn’t because of breastfeeding that moms are less likely to abuse or because of formula feeding that they are more likely to abuse.

    Rather, the type of mother that is likely to abuse her child is also more likely to choose formula feeding because she is less likely to be bothered with the challenges that often come with breastfeeding and is less likely to want to forge a strong bond with her child.

    This doesn’t mean that all mothers that choose formula are abusers or more likely to be abusers, but I do think it would be fair to say that abusers are more likely to choose formula.

    Annie @ PhD in Parentings last blog post..Wordless Wednesday: Peekaboo!

  7. @Rebecca: One really has to wonder how often conclusions are drawn from all kinds of studies without having that very basic rule in mind…

  8. I have to be honest I never really thought of bottlefeeding my child.I come from a long line of breastfeeders (some up to the age of 3). I never thought I would have any problem breastfeeding I was scared of childbirth but didn’t think much about breastfeeding. Well childbirth ending up being much better than I ever expected and breastfeeding was a nightmare.
    I would have tears running down my face from the pain and everytime my husband brought me the baby I would look at her in disbelief. I couldn’t believe she could possibly be hungry again. I looked to family for advice they all gave it with the “breastfeeding is best” comment. I was barely getting thru the hours (she was eating every 45 min to 2 hours) and they all would say well you have to at least breastfeed for the 1st 3 months.
    I finally called up a homeopathic doctor to see what option was best for formula and he refused to even give me advice. He gave me the number of a lactation consultant. This was after telling him I was so overwhelmed and felt so guilty that I felt like I was going crazy. To make a long story short I ended up getting mastitis and was told by my midwife to continue breastfeeding although I was on antibiotics . My daughter ended up getting sick and finally I was able to give up breasfeeding and put her on formula although I didn’t admit it to anyone for a few months.
    I TOTALLY agree with you there is very little support for bottlefeeding moms. Even for moms trying to transition over from breastfeeding. I was very discouraged and felt very alone. After talking to more people I have found out that many mothers dealt with the same type of issues that I did . But nobody came out and told me until after telling them my story. I think we all need to be a little more honest about our parent hood struggles so we can support eachother and realize we may be going thru the same struggle instead of judging eachother so much. It would help people not feel so isolated in motherhood.
    My daughter is now a thriving one year old who is very rarely sick . I really haven’t been thru too many struggles since the initial breastfeeding one but truly wish there would have been more support in my 1st month of parenthood.

  9. Oh, well, I think tha as many people so many opinions on how to feed our babies: breast feeding or with bottle. As for me I’m not stuck to any point of view, but think that breast feeding is more natural ways for this…

  10. I had a lot of difficulty breastfeeding my daughter.I worked with almost every lactation consultant in town, it seemed. I really wanted it to work out, but in spite of almost constant nursing, she kept losing weight. I had to supplement using a bottle. She eats a combination of pumped breast milk and some formula. Now she is gaining weight and is healthy. That’s all that matters to me. At a certain point, I felt that to continue to insist on exclusive breastfeeding was making it more about me when it should be about her. (I’m not saying that’s the case for anyone else, just me in this particular situation) Breastfeeding is a big part of the culture where I live. I may have had some minor apprehensions about breastfeeding in public, but now I feel even more nervous about bottle feeding in public. I keep expecting complete strangers to berate me for bottle feeding. (Yes, people feel that strongly about it around here)
    As for the bottle feeding-abuse connection – previous posters are right: correlation does not equal causation.

  11. Breastfeedtil3

    It really did put me over the edge for a bit because of sleep and back problems and I got every breast related illness I had ever heard of (mastitis, yeast, raw nipples, etc).. My son was a snacker (took little meals every half hour or so) who loved to pull my boob and just latch at the tip… I mean, really, it was super hard. So I really understand where everyone is coming from when they say not everyone can breast feed. Despite all this, I agree with Tiffany. I managed to breast feed my son until age 3 and I still think the only reason I managed this is because I soldiered through a incredible barrage of unsupportive and unnatural circumstances. I mean, I couldn’t find a day care that could deal with my milk properly so I actually chose to be poor for a bit and stay home. I had formula suggested to me in more than one overt way and was actually given a can of formula at the hospital and the first thing I did when I got home was dump it in the trash lest I be tempted one cold dark night to pull it out and give it to him. I had very little emotional support from my partner and felt very isolated. Me and my entire family were kicked out of a fancy restaurant because I had to breast feed my son.. I mean really, the list goes on and on.

    Aside from any biological reasons why people can’t breast feed, which really, I can appreciate and find totally valid (that is what formula should really be used for: as a medical remedy to legitimate medical issues in mom or baby that preclude them from breast feeding)

    My sense is that many of the things I was up against could have been different for me if there had been more support for breast feeding. Our culture tends to want to make parenting a convenient act that we have to fit into life as consumers and worker bees. Breast feeding interferes with that, it interferes with the schedules and the pressures we have to take on to be succesful in our day to day.

    If more of us were willing to support the fact that parenting is not convenient and that we can’t always fit our mothering into an ‘efficient’ schedule, then we’d all have a much better chance of succesfully breast feeding or even seeing it as a viable choice.

    That’s my 2 cents

  12. Green Fundraising

    YET ANOTHER REASON TO NURSE YOUR BABY! Thanks for the great information. I think once people understand all the health benefits for you and your baby, they will make the decision to nurse!

  13. I am 65 years old, from a family of 12 siblings; all bottle fed, because our mother did not have milk on her. She was never our abuser, but rather, our protector from our abusive father — who, by the way, can’t also breast feed us. By the way, we are all alive and doing well.

  14. Great. Not only do I not love my children becuase I chose not to breastfeed — and it was a choice — I felt I’d rather adopt bottle fed babies who’d been abandoned — and am there foreraising axe murderers, but now, because I was such an evil person, I’m also going to kick them around.

    I’ve been told if I really wanted to be a good mother, I’d have chosen motherhood in a way that gave my children the best chance in life (ie giving birth to them myself, drug free, and of course nursed them until they were three. I’ve been told that breastmilk would cure the brain damage they suffered from lack of prenatal care, tramatic unattended births and the hours (in one case nearly 2 days) they spent along, exposed, before some kindly sole took them to an orphange.

    I thought I was building a family, but apparently, I’m just an abuser.

    I don’t think I can take it much longer.

  15. Well…I breast fed for 11weeks and my son was totally unsettled from the age of 5 weeks. My baby would pull off the breast, cry for hours on end, not sleep and was never ever happy, so where was his play time? My milk supply was great my son’s attachment was perfect and I never experienced sore nipples. I was the ‘perfect’ candidate to breast feed. I stopped eating and drinking dairy, nuts, eggs, all Asian greens, wheat, gluten, garlic, onions, iron supplements and anything else that was on the list of foods that ‘could’ unsettle your breast fed baby.
    After weekly visits to either his G.P, health nurse or paediatrician he was diagnosed with reflux, of course right? So…he was prescribed baby Losec .I was told all will settle in 2 weeks. So 2weeks later…A very unhappy baby.
    Then the fluoro green diarrhea started…Poor baby would projectile poo twice during a feed and more! I suggested formula to my son’s nurse and G.P and I was looked upon like some ‘evil’ woman who indeed may ‘abuse’ her child by feeding him poisonous formula! So which is abuse again? Persisting to obviously feed him breast milk? Or try another alternative? Well being the ‘abusive’ mother I am I tried the alternative…well…Now he is thriving, he sleeps, eats well, plays and even smiles! So from one abusive bottle feeder to another, why not punish your child some more and keep doing what doesn’t work!
    When my son was born he fed beautifully and I loved to breast feed, it killed me to think could I possibly be the cause for his pain? Well obviously something in my milk did not agree with his little system. I miss the early days of feeding but have visual nightmares of the screams he voiced when he fed from me from 5 weeks.
    I wish there was a support network for mothers who choose to formula feed, there seems to be so many networks for breast feeding mothers.
    One last comment…I was formula fed as I my mother cloud not breast feed. My mother is a beautiful woman who is a wonderful caring lady who would not hurt a fly! she was the eldest of 7 children and helped her own mother raise her brothers and sisters. a real saint… Hmm where do they find these ‘study’ groups ???

  16. Great post! I was equally disturbed by the lack of support for bottle-feeding moms online when I was going through my breastfeeding struggle (which included a kid who was physically unable to latch no matter what the myriad of LCs attempted, and who ultimately ended up being intolerant of my milk no matter what I cut out of my diet), so I started a blog of my own. It sure is lonely out there, though… and I get a lot of grief for even trying to support bottle feeding moms (which is probably why there aren't many resources out there – it's a controversial topic, sadly) so it's really refreshing to find posts like this one. Thank you for this!

  17. Thank you so much. The breastfeeding campaign has gone overboard. I could not breastfeed my son no matter how hard I tried to get him to latch on. I want to be proud to have bottle fed him. I don't need more “reasons to breastfeed” as that's what I wanted in the first place. This time I know I don't need any nipple nazis in my face.

  18. I am so glad you wrote this.  Moms and all parents need to stick together and support each other not get so catty and judgmental and I have witnessed a lot of this too.  It breaks my heart.  Good for you for sharing your story.  There is SO much information about everything available now -for better or worse- that parenting has become uber-intense and almost competetive among our generation and it’s easy to beat yourself up about not being able to nurse. Or for working, or using plastic bags, or allowing your child to drink juice… But all you really need to do is listen to your instincts and your child and do your best to love them and keep them safe.  We all need to just calm down and play nice or our children will be nervous wrecks!

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