While mothers choose to use formula for a variety of reasons, the World Health Organization advises exclusive breastfeeding until the child is six months of age. One of the biggest predictors of breastfeeding ‘failure’ is giving babies and moms free formula. A Canadian study found that 40% of new moms leave the hospital with free formula, and women who did not take the free samples were 3.5 times more likely to be exclusively breastfeeding after 2 weeks.
As a result, more and more hospitals are banning the practice of allowing formula companies to actively market to patients – but many hospitals still give out freebies, and you may be getting free samples from other sources, too.
The first time I got a free formula sample was at my OB-GYN’s office, and my immediate reaction was to toss the formula since I wasn’t planning on using it.
If you want to breastfeed, you may be tempted to get rid of the formula, as keeping the it in your house can reduce the odds that you’ll exclusively breastfeed. However, there is a better option for everyone. Many mothers need the formula but cannot afford it, and food banks and domestic violence shelters will happily accept the donation.
Since a friend told me that I should donate, not toss, the free samples, I’ve been stockpiling all the formula that I’ve received (including two huge boxes mailed directly to my house from formula companies – I don’t know what mailing list I’m on). Once I get my free goodie bag from the hospital, I plan to drop it all off at the food bank. If it turns out that I do need formula, I can simply go buy it for myself.
So – don’t toss it! Donate it instead, and help a momma and baby in need.