How Much has Formula Changed in 30 Years?

2012 vs. 1982

Two years ago I found an old can from Enfamil formula in my dad’s garage, he’s used it to store little odds and ends in his shop for the last 30 years. Today I pulled it out and compared it to the can of Similac Vivi just polished off.  It was strange to hold a can from formula that fed me as a baby and a can that just finished up feeding my own baby. I convinced myself that if I survived on formula with no major heath issues, allergies, and ended up with a higher than average GPA, surely enough advances had been made in infant formula in 30 years to leave me with healthy and smarter than average kids.

So standing there comparing the ingredients in the formula cans both made more than 30 years apart…I was surprised.

Turns out the basic ingredients in formula hasn’t changed all that much in 30 years. Several advances have been made in 1984, the late ’90s and early 2000’s with the addition of taruine, and other fatty acids. I can attest that formula between 2004 and 2011 has become far less stinky as far as the heavy iron smell of spit up. Addie’s spit up had such a heavy iron smell while Vivi’s spit up didn’t have much of an iron odor at all. (Thankfully neither of my girls were very spitty.)

It’s still far too expensive but it’s gotten my babies through and kept them alive and healthy when my boobs failed me.

Here’s a look at the nutritional comparisons:

  • 2012 Similac vs. 1982 Enfamil 1 of 4
    2012 Similac vs. 1982 Enfamil
    The packaging is the most obvious difference. Look how happy that mom and baby are on the old can. The new one looks so...official.
  • Expiration dates. 2014 and 1985 2 of 4
    Expiration dates. 2014 and 1985
    In 1984 taurine fortification was introduced because newborn infants lack the enzymes needed to convert and form taurine. Source
  • Nutrition information 3 of 4
    Nutrition information
    In late 1990 nucleotide fortification was introduced into infant formula because nucleotides can act as growth factors and may enhance the infant immune system. In early 2000 Polyunsaturated fatty acid fortification was introduced. Polyunsaturated fatty acids, such as docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA), were added because those fatty acids play an important role in infant brain development. Source
  • Preparation instructions 4 of 4
    Preparation instructions
    The biggest change in preparation is that it's no longer required to boil and cool the water used to prepare the formula.

I figure if the biggest advance is meant to help brain and eye health, my girls should be pretty darn smart with eagle eyes. (Right? Sure.)

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