Pros: Meets the same FDA requirements as Enfamil & Similac, yet is less expensive in cost.
Cons: Formula cannot truly replace breastmilk's unique and unmatchable qualities.
Despite the fact that the AAP (American Academy of Pediatrics) recommends that most babies be breastfed for at least the first year of life, a large percentage of them are given iron fortified infant formula at one time or another some time within this period. Be it solely because of personal choice, as a supplement to breastfeedings, or for numerous other reasons, the simple fact is that many babies are ultimately fed some formula since very few parents actually follow through with the AAP's guidelines. Myself included.
Even though I exclusively breastfed my 11 month old son, Tristan, for the first six months of his life, I began supplementing breastfeedings with iron-fortified formula soon after when my milk supply started to diminish because of lack of interest on his part until he finally self weaned at age 9 months. From then on, a large percentage of his nutrition has been provided solely with iron-fortified infant formula. This was by no means how I had planned things from the beginning, but we all know that sometimes things just don't always go as planned.
Anyway, because I had stocked up on various brands of milk based infant formula after registering at all the online sites to receive free samples, checks, and the like, such as Enfamil with Iron, Similac with Iron, and Nestle's Carnation Good Start while Tristan was still breastfeeding, it wasn't until only recently that I discovered a generic store brand just as good as the others when my stockpile was gone, only it was much lower in cost. That brand was Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice.
I had noticed Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice milk based iron-fortified infant formula months prior as I was preparing for the arrival of my third child in June 2000. Years ago, when my older children were babies, generic infant formulas were unheard of. You simply paid whatever price the major brands charged, such as Enfamil and Similac, and went on your way. And that's exactly what I did.
But now, today's parents have more choices when it comes to choosing which iron-fortified infant formula is best for their babies. After discussing the importance of such choices with each baby's pediatrician first, of course, new parents do not necessarily have to go with these major brands at all like in generations past. Suddenly, the makers of Enfamil and Similac have some MAJOR competition in the form of generic store brands found on the market today, such as Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice. Small wonder that most new parents come home from the hospital with "goodie" bags packed full of formula freebies and other samples from these major name brands! This is what they do, along with sending out additional freebies and valuable checks towards further purchases to those that register at their online websites, to keep parents paying for their higher priced, yet equal in quality, infant formulas instead of switching to the less expensive generic store brands, like Parent's Choice.
ALL infant formulas must meet certain FDA requirements and guidelines to be marketed in the United States by law. This is a little known fact that many new parents today remain unaware of. Many hospitals and pediatricians continue to promote the major brands, such as Enfamil and Similac, simply because these companies PAY them to do so! But if deeply questioned regarding this issue, most of them will reluctantly admit that the generic store brands, such as Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice, are of equal quality when it comes to providing nutrition for infants.
Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice milk based iron-fortified infant formula can be purchased in both the powdered and concentrated varieties. One 13 ounce can of concentrated Parent's Choice costs $1.88 each at my local Wal-Mart. Compare that to $2.97 for the same size concentrated can of Similac with Iron and $2.78 for Enfamil with Iron. That's close to a $1 savings for EACH can you buy! If your baby consumes at least 7 cans a week (that's 26 ounces per can when diluted as directed), that's an extra $7 each week that stays in your pocketbook instead of going to the major brands as extra profit for them. By purchasing generic store brands of milk based infant formula such as Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice, new parents can easily save up to 40% on their total formula bill. That's certainly nothing to sneeze at and worth investigating further.
To properly dilute each can of Parent's Choice formula, simply add the same amount of water to an equal amount of formula. An example of this 1:1 ratio would be adding 4 ounces of water to 4 ounces of the concentrated liquid. Proper dilution is VERY important to the health of your baby. If too much water is added, your baby does not get the adequate calories and nutrition needed for proper growth and development. If too little water is added, your baby can easily become seriously dehydrated as a consequence. Always follow the directions stated on the side of each can of Parent's Choice very carefully and consult a pediatrician for further measuring advice.
Store each unopened can of Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice milk based iron-fortified infant formula in a cool dry place until ready to feed. Always check the expiration date on the bottom of the can before serving. Shake each concentrated can of formula very well before opening and make sure the top of the can is clean so the formula will not become contaminated during opening. The microwaving of infant formula to warm is not recommended as "hot spots" can occur and your baby's mouth may become burned because of this.
After opening, each 13 ounce can of concentrated Parent's Choice formula may be served immediately after proper dilution or stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours for later use. I find it very convenient to prepare several bottles at a time so there is always a fresh one available at a moments notice. Freezing of infant formula is not recommended.
Compare the INGREDIENTS found in Parent's Choice milk based iron-fortified infant formula to those manufactured by Enfamil and Similac:
Skim milk, water, reduced minerals whey, oleo oil, lactose, coconut, soybean and high oleic (safflower or sunflower) oils, soy lecithin, potassium bicarbonate, calcium chloride, ascorbic acid, sodium bicarbonate, sodium citrate, ferrous sulfate, taurine, calcium citrate, cytidine-5'-monophosphate, zinc sulfate, calcium carrageenan, alpha tocopheryl acetate, disodium uridine-5'-monophosphate, adenosne-5'-monophosphate, niacinamide, potassium chloride, disodium inosine-5'-monophosphate, disodium guanosine-5'-monophosphate, cupric sulfate, vitamin A palmitate, calcium pantomanganese, sulfate, beta carotene, folic acid, phytonadione, potassium iodide, biotin, cholecalciferol, cyanocobalamin.
NUTRIENTS: per 100 calories (5 fluid ounces diluted)
IMPORTANT NOTE: If you suspect your baby has an allergy to cow's milk proteins, do NOT use Parent's Choice or any other milk based infant formula. Consult your pediatrician for advice on soy or other lactose free variations.
Even though breastmilk is best for babies, infant formula is an adequate replacement when breastfeeding is not chosen, when breastfeeding is supplemented, or when mothers are unable to breastfeed altogether for whatever reason. While seeking professional advice regarding which type of infant formula is best for you baby, inquire about the nutritional qualities found within the lower priced generic store brands, such as Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice. The similarities found when compared to the major brands, such as Enfamil and Similac, are quite remarkable. So for an equally nutritious yet lower costing alternative to purchasing the higher costing major brands, I highly recommend you give Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice milk based iron-fortified infant formula a try.
For more information regarding the quality of Wal-Mart's Parent's Choice and other generic store brand infant formulas, check out this website online:
UPDATE: November 2003
Now this Parents' Choice Milk Based Formula is fortified with special fatty acids (DHA-enriched) which are supposed to enhance mental and visual development in babies. Compare to the more expensive name brands as they've recently added this ingredient, too.
PMB Products, Inc.
Gordonsville, VA 22942
Wyeth Nutritionals, Inc.
Georgia, VT 05468
Questions or comments?