Turns out research shows that Similac Organic, the most popular organic formula on the market, is loaded with cane sugar--and that's not a small issue.
After a blind New York Times taste test likened it to Country Time lemonade, we worried about giving it to our babies. So we asked momlogic pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson to weigh in. "This story makes a small mountain out of a big molehill," she told us. Apparently, while other organic formulas use organic lactose to sweeten their products, Similac's use of cane sugar has some pediatricians worried that babies fed formula with cane sugar will prefer the sweeter brew, which might contribute to tooth decay, childhood obesity and a penchant for sweets.
ML: Do babies prefer Similac Organic?
Dr. Cara: Babies fall into two distinct categories: those who care about the taste of their formula and those who don't. Some babies are "cheap dates"--they will drink just about anything happily. Others are early gourmets who become picky about the taste or temperature of their milk. I am not convinced that this has anything to do with the sugar source.
ML: What do you suggest to moms who buy organic formula?
Dr. Cara: I make the distinction between big brand name formulas and mom-and-pop shop formulas. I discourage parents from using a formula that is manufactured on a small scale because I am not convinced that the check and balances (safety testing, infection control, etc) are in place the way they are for a major manufacturer like Enfamil or Similac.
ML: Can babies develop a sweet tooth from a too-sweet formula?
Dr. Cara: A child who is raised in a home with healthy foods and balanced meals will learn to eat well; a child who is constantly offered non-nutritious foods and sugary treats will not. I really don't think it matters if you start with pureed squash or applesauce--teaching your child how to make good food choices and preventing obesity is a years-long process.