I'll cut right to the chase, dear reader. The nicest things anyone could say to a mom using formula have nothing to do with formula. Even though the formula versus breastfeeding debate has been raging for decades, it's time we all took a step back and agreed to the following: how we individually choose to feed our baby is a personal choice and no one's business. It can and might involve your partner, but it certainly doesn't involve the greater public, let alone strangers.
The breastfeeding versus formula debate has created so much angst for so many moms and it's time we really actively started to turn the tide. I remember formula feeding my daughter at church for the first time, all the while rehearsing in my head what I would say if anyone questioned my choice. We adopted our daughter when she was 3 days old with no advance notice, so breastfeeding wasn't really a choice I even got to make. Despite that, I had latent anxiety about what other people would think of me feeding her formula, and that comes from that really annoying, nagging voice that repeats "breast is best, breast is best" over and over.
I've already waxed poetic about how the best thing to say to a formula-feeding mom is nothing at all, but I want to take it a step further. Let's all start helping new moms change their inner dialogue from a panicked defense of their feeding choice, to a calm, confident feeling of peace about being a mom and making the best decision possible. That starts with just saying lots of nice things to all moms that have nothing to do with what they're feeding their baby.
"Wow, You Look Great!"
Because what mom doesn't want to hear that she looks great?
"Your Baby Is So Cute!"
If you want a 100 percent guarantee that you'll make a mom's day, try complimenting her baby. This one is also really safe if you're not sure whether the baby is a boy baby or a girl baby. Check those gender pronouns at the door, friends!
"Isn't It A Lovely Day Today?"
Again, totally different and appropriate subject that strangers and friends alike can talk about.
It never ceases to amaze me how a specific compliment about something I'm wearing or the way I've done my hair can give me a boost that lasts all day. However, I always seem to forget to do the same for others. Here's a reminder that moms can use this boost to remember that they're cute in and of themselves, that has nothing to do with baby.
"How Old Is Your Baby?"
I'm always fascinated by how old babies are. I had really accurate baby age radar when we had lots of foster babes in and out of our home, but it's starting to get rusty the older my daughter gets. Just refrain from exclaiming things like, "Whoa, what a giant baby for only being 2 months old!" Think more along the lines of, "Your baby is so strong!" It's much more affirming.
"Your Baby Looks Just Like You"
I loved to hear this whenever I was out with my daughter, even though I know, as an adoptive mom, that she mostly doesn't look that much like me. It's still fun to think about!
"I Love Your Baby's Outfit"
Complimenting the baby's style is really complimenting mom's style for getting him or her dressed in the first place. I was always so proud when someone noticed my daughter was dressed as adorably as I thought she was.
"You've Got To Tell Me Where You Got Your Bag"
Affirming a woman as a woman, not just as a mom, is so important for her own self esteem. As a stranger, you're not likely going to know much about how smart or strong or brave she is, so it's OK to start with her choice in accessories.
"We Loved Using Those Bottles!"
Oh man, I could go on and on about how much we loved the bottles we chose for our daughter, and a stranger's invitation to talk about them was a treat. It also functioned as a subtle confirmation of my bottle feeding choice.
"Where Did You Get That Adorable Swaddle?"
I like to follow this one up with, "I've got to pick one up for my next baby shower." Cute baby gifts for new moms is a great topic moms of any age or experience can connect on peacefully.