When I was pregnant with Miss M, I was naturally nervous. She would be my first child and I wanted to do everything right. I read books, talked to people and surfed communities (like iVillage) online for information. I took the opportunity to sign up for whatever I could – baby magazines, free samples, everything. Figured it wouldn’t hurt to have too much information.
One thing I remember is all the diaper bag offers presented by formula companies. “Bring this coupon to the hospital for your free diaper bag containing money saving coupons and samples.” Being a freebie-geek, I thought that was totally awesome.
Until a friend warned me that those were just marketing gimmicks. “You know, Nicole, you shouldn’t switch formulas. It isn’t good for the baby. Those companies give you their sample so you’re stuck with them.”
That made me so sad. But I took the samples anyhow because I had opted for breastfeeding. I wanted multiple backup options on hand should there be problems. I had friends with infants also so I always had the option of sharing what I wasn’t going to use. But I remember how skeptical they were whenever I had a Parent’s Choice (Walmart brand) or other store-brand product to share. Store brand to many people means generic. Generic translates to ‘not as good’.
I don’t know about other people, but my impression of generic and store brand is “Try first. Judge after.” We actually found that the Toys R Us and Walmart brands of diapers worked better for our daughters than any of the major brands. How did we know? We tried.
Unfortunately, when it comes to formula, it’s more difficult. I remember when I was a new mom that I relied on what I was told and read. The big brands said “Ours is superior.” Since formula wasn’t my main focus, I was able to brush it aside. But for moms who rely on formula, I’m not sure they can do the same. Actually, there was a lawsuit between Mead Johnson and PBM Products Inc regarding the nutritional value of brand name formula. PBM Products supplies stores like Target, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Walgreens and other retailers with their store-brand formula. The courts agreed, even after appeal, that store-brand formulas are nutritionally equal to branded formulas.
New moms are concerned enough with whether they are making the best choices for their new baby. Moms, in general, have enough to worry about. Adding something to the equation, like unsubstantiated fear about whether the formula you are buying is sub-par, is just not fair. Some moms may opt for the brand name – either because they are familiar with it or it has been recommended to them. But some moms need to look at the price because they either want to save money or they can’t afford the name-brand. So for moms who want to have some options, now they don’t need to fear that they are short-changing their child on nutrition in order to save money – especially in a down economy! If you’re wondering how much price difference there is, check out the Parent’s Choice (Walmart brand) formula calculator.
Note: These opinions are my own. I opted for breastfeeding my children and didn’t have a need for purchasing formula. However, I feel that it’s important for moms to know that they have quality options at all price ranges.