We’re constantly told that breast is best when it comes to baby nutrition, but what about when this just isn’t possible?
There’s a multitude of reasons a mom may not be able to or want to breastfeed their baby and choosing the right formula milk is a tough decision to make.
In the midst of a panic-inducing baby formula shortage in the U.S., moms have not only been faced with empty shelves, but also significant challenges in ensuring their babies are nourished with ingredients they support.
When choosing the right formula milk for you and your baby, there are a lot of things to take into consideration including the cost and the ingredients.
Elke Pascoe, founder of LittleOak, who produce an all-natural, goats’ milk based infant formula, is all too familiar with the pressures involved in making that tough decision. When pacing the formula aisles, Elke experienced first-hand the difficulties many parents face when navigating confusing nutrition labels and translating complex ingredient names.
It was her own experiences as a mum that prompted her to dig a little deeper into the ingredients inside Australian baby food. Elke became interested in the nutritional benefits of goats’ milk after her son started to develop skin irritations from dairy products. It was through her research that she began to explore infant nutrition and, by extension, infant formula.
Once she started to pull back the curtains on the ingredients that have long been used in formula, she felt that not only was there an opportunity but also a responsibility to do something better. And so her LittleOak company was born out of mothers’ needs and desires to feed children significantly better nutrition than what’s currently on the market.
While Elke says the ingredients in question won’t necessarily harm a baby, she felt that some infant formula was not providing the best available solutions on the market and went overseas to find out how she could do it better. When she returned to Australia, Elke established LittleOak, which was made slightly easier for the business owner due to her history in healthcare.
In this podcast episode, Elke talks to Sarah about some of the most common questions moms have when formula feeding or considering formula feeding for their baby.
In this episode, you will learn:
- How Elke’s son’s skin condition triggered her baby formula business
- How Elke built a brand that challenged the status quo
- Which harmful ingredients can be found in baby formula
- What new moms should look out for on nutrition labels of baby formula
- Tips for navigating a healthy relationship with formula
- What to do if you’re impacted by the current formula shortage
- The role of toddler milk
If ingredients like palm oil are so bad, why are they found in infant formula?
For cost, for price and for margin.
Maltodextrin is a filler, which is sourced from corn or wheat. It’s used to fill our products. If you ever see maltodextrin in any product, whether formula or otherwise, it’s largely because they want to lower costs.
Maltodextrin can cause inflammation in the gut and research in its early stages suggests that maltodextrin may reduce the number of good bacteria and increase the harmful bacteria.
Palm oil is particularly insidious across our food chain. A brand can still call out that they’re palm oil free or infant formula can call out that it’s palm oil free, but that just means it doesn’t have palm oil in the oil. It still has the derivatives through all of the other ingredients.
Elke encourages every parent to avoid anything that has palm oil in.
Palm oil inhibits the absorption of calcium, fat, and DHA in babies. These are three critical elements that every child needs to grow big and strong.
What should a mom be looking for when selecting her formula?
Always make sure to look for whole Ingredients, like whole goat milk or whole cow milk and avoid anything that’s got whey protein. As soon as you see skim milk and whey protein, it means it’s gone through so much processing to get to that point and there’s very little natural nutrition left in it.
- Elke strongly recommends goat milk. Goat milk is more naturally aligned to human breast milk. The spectrum of mammal milks goes from human breast milk, whale milk, polar bear milk, camel milk, goat milk and then right down the other end, you have cow milk. To get cow milk back to anything that looks like human breast milk, it’s got to go through a significant amount of processing and there are typically lousy, cheap ingredients that go into it.
- If you choose to go with a cow milk, then look for ones where the milk is the first thing on the ingredient list, not lactose. Lactose is a carbohydrate, so it means that your child is getting a significantly heavier carbohydrate load and children from zero to 12 months need more protein to fuel their growth and development.
- Avoid anything with palm oil in it if you can.
- Look out for things like DHA and ARA. Make sure the source of it comes from an algal source and it contains levels that actually make a difference. So they need to be at
- 16 milligrams per serve. Some of them just put a little bit in there to get a marketing claim, but not enough to make any difference.
In a nutshell, the big things to look out for are:
- wholesome natural ingredients
- no inclusion of palm oils
- DHA and ARA from algal sources and extracted naturally.
What are some tips for navigating a healthy relationship with formula?
Affordability is a critical issue for many families.
Formulas do have a place and yes, there are ones out there that do have these less favorable ingredients in. While they’re not best for a child, they’re not going to do any major harm to a child. Ultimately, a child fed is best and we encourage moms to understand what they’re giving their child and make the best decision for them and their children.
Get all the knowledge, get the education, and get the information that you need to make a good decision.
What is some advice for moms who are currently being impacted by the formula shortage?
The US government has opened the doors for other brands from around the world which is great but also means it’s even more important to make sure you read the label. Everything that’s flooding into the country right now may or may not be the best for your child.
Elke recommends reaching out to LittleOak who are always happy to help.
Whilst LittleOak is not FDA approved, they do meet the FDA guidelines. They are going through FDA approval now. Their toddler milk (12 months plus) is available in an FDA approved product, but their product for under 12 months is the one that has to go through clinical trials. However, all of their formulas are FDA compliant. So even though moms are buying it from their Australian and New Zealand stores, it still meets the local regulations.
If you go to www.thelittleoakcompany.com, you can order through the website and you can order through their Instagram (@littleoakcompany) and Facebook page (The LittleOak Company) as well. They ship from Australia and New Zealand and can get it to you within three to five days.
What is the role of toddler milk?
There is a really interesting discussion now around toddler milks because of the fortification.
The large majority of our children are low in iron, magnesium and vitamin D.
Children need to lay down really strong layers of iron and magnesium for their cognitive development and also for later in life as it is linked to anxiety. Research is starting to show a real correlation between the levels of these micronutrients and anxiety in teenagers.
As your child gets older and moves on, Elke certainly encourages Little Oak toddler milk.
It’s so important to get those levels up in our children across the world, because it really is having significant mental and physical impacts later in life. This particular toddler milk has no sugar and has a delicious, creamy flavor to it.
At www.thelittleoakcompany.com, they have a number of recipes around how you can include toddler milk, such as smoothies, to get that extra boost from the fortification.
More about Elke:
Elke Pascoe is the CEO and Founder of The LittleOak Company. She is passionate about children’s health and ensuring every child has the opportunity to grow and thrive. She started LittleOak to provide parents with significantly better nutrition for their babies and children than traditionally has been available.
Elke is driven every day to enable every child to be nourished with good, wholesome nutrition so that they can grow big and strong and, more importantly, to realize her own childhood dream to ensure no child goes to bed hungry.
Where You Can Follow LittleOak Company & Purchase Their Formula:
Visit their website to purchase their products and find a stockist near you.
Don’t forget to share this episode with any formula feeding mamas you know – it’s not one to be missed!