Hey guys, I don't know if you know this, but there's a real debate about breastfeeding versus formula feeding babies. Among a group of 10 moms, it's not unusual to find 11 different opinions on the subject. Of course every parent wants what is best for their child, but the question remains: are there differences between kids who are breastfed and bottle-fed? Moreover, are there long-term differences?
I've always fallen firmly on the side of "no." I mean, I have a 6-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter. My son was combo-fed (breast milk and formula), my daughter was exclusively breastfed and, aside from different personalities (which, I am led to believe, is common among all humans literally everywhere) I don't notice any tremendous developmental or physiological differences between them. When watching them with their peers, I couldn't begin to tell you who among them was breastfed or bottle fed. (Or, for that matter, who was worn in a wrap or pushed in a stroller, who was cloth diapered, who went to daycare, or which ones had how much screen time.)
But on a recent trip to my son's first-grade class, I ran into someone who ever-so-kindly set me straight.
Delilah Richardson-Turnbluth* is the mom of one of my son's classmates. We were both volunteering at a school book fair and had been assigned to staff a table together. The other parents gave us wide berth. I thought I saw one mom mouth "Run!" to me, but I couldn't be sure.
"Hi," I said as I sat beside her. "I'm Jamie."
"Did you breastfeed your child?" she asked. This caught me off-guard, mid-handshake. Flustered, I tried to take back my hand, but she, weirdly, wasn't letting go.
"Ummm... yeah. Both of them," I replied.
"For how long?"
"Huh? Uh, 17 months and 21 months apiece."
She squinted and looked into my eyes.
"That's under the World Health Organization's recommendation of at least 2 years," she informed me, but then let go of my hand and smiled. "Still, sadly I've heard worse. Welcome."
At that very moment, a child tripped in front of our table. As I stood to assist them, Delilah rolled her eyes. "Obviously bottle-fed." I was gobsmacked.
"Wait, what?! Are you serious? That's not something you can tell just from looking at a child." Delilah threw her head back and laughed. You know the way Maleficent laughs in Sleeping Beauty when she does something particularly evil? Yeah, it was like that.
Everyone noticed and the sympathetic gazes I received were palpable.
"Oh Joanie..." she said.
"Oh you have so much to learn, Janet."
And here, my friends, is what this gem had to teach me:
Breastfed Kids Are Smarter
"It's just science," Delilah assured me. "All studies, across the board, have asserted that breast milk is literally liquid IQ."
"How do you mean?" I asked.
"Like, it has 'I' hormones and 'Q' hormones and, like, that's what travels to your brain to make you smart. Did you know that every genius on the planet was breastfed as a baby?"
"Actually, I'm pretty sure that's provably untrue," I replied. "I've also read a number of studies that show that there's no definitive conclusion on whether there's a measurable difference between breastfed and bottle fed babies in terms of intelligence."
"Fake news," she sniffed.
Bottle-Fed Kids Are Universally Illiterate
"I wrote a strongly-worded letter to the school board to block them from attending this fair," Delilah confided, then shiftly turned her gaze to the children milling around the stacks of books. "What's even the point? It's not like they can get anything out of it. They're only going to distract the breastfed kids from being able to fulfill their academic destinies."
"I'm pretty sure bottle-feeding doesn't cause illiteracy. That doesn't even make sense. Reading is something you have to learn."
"They'll never learn!" she screamed. "Don't even try! Give up on them! They're hopeless!" She regained her composure and smiled conspiratorially. "I wrote a strongly-worded letter to the school board about that, too."
Breastfed Kids Never Get Sick
"Do you mean breastfed kids have stronger immune systems?" I asked. "Because I know there's something interesting research that suggests that there may be long-term immunities among breastfed kids."
"No, I mean they never get sick."
"Like... ever? I'm pretty sure that's impossible."
Just then Delilah's child approached our table. She beamed.
"Hello, sweet darling!" she cooed. Her kid sneezed on her. Her eyes flashed and she turned to me in full fury. "You saw nothing, do you understand? Nothing! No one will believe you anyway!"
Bottle-Fed Kids Are Allergic To Everything
"They can't even drink water," she tsked. "They all have to live in bubbles and eat a specially formulated nutra-mush made of chemicals that only makes things worse."
As I repeatedly banged my head against the desk, I saw another volunteer holding up a sign from across the room that said "Do U want me 2 call the cops? Blink twice 4 yes!"
Breastfed Kids Glow
"It's because the breast milk is so good for their auras, you know." Delilah smiled and gazed out at the room. "I mean, just look at them! Look at all those shiny, happy children. It's enough to blind you."
I can assure you that I did not witness one glowing child.
Bottle-Fed Kids Also Glow, But In A Bad Way
"It's all the nuclear waste they use to make formula," she scoffed. "They all have that blobby, neon-green haze about them. Like the radioactive spider that bit Spider Man."
"Whoa, wait: baby formula is definitely not made with nuclear waste!"
"Oh dear, naive Jasmine..."
"What do you think all those nuclear power plants do with the sludge they produce?" Then she tapped the side of her temple like she'd just said something simultaneously ingenious and obvious.
Breastfed Kids Are Compassionate &Kind
"Always," she continued. "Without exception, in all situations. They do not have a mean or even naugty bone in their perfectly healthy bodies.
"I'm pretty sure kindness and compassion are something kids learn through modeling and socialization," I countered as soon as she suggested this. But she couldn't hear me. She was too busy pulling her kid off of another child who, the former insisted, had been "looking at him funny."
Bottle-Fed Kids Are Burgeoning Serial Killers
"What does that even mean?" I asked, exhausted by the conversation at this point.
"It means have you seen Dexter."
"He was bottle-fed," she mouthed. Once again, my head found the desk.
Breastfed Kids Develop Telekinetic Abilities
"That's not a thing." I wasn't even looking at her anymore, and my voice was flat, free of any and all affect.
"Absolutely it's a thing! Not only that, it's a thing that they use for good," she prattled on. "In fact, when my daughter gets older, I'm going to send her to Xavier's School For Gifted Youngsters. Have you heard of it?"
I raised my eyes skyward and took a deep breath.
"Do you mean where the X-Men live in the comics?"
"And in real life, yes! Fun fact: guess what all the evil mutants have in common..."
Bottle-Fed Kids Grow Fur & Walk On All Fours
"Also, they don't even talk! They make this... ummm... it's like loud barking noise. Like... rrrrruff! Ruff!"
At this point I finally had to look at her again. I gripped the hair at my templed and whipped around to face her.
"Oh for f*ck's sake, Delilah. Those are dogs!"
She looked scandalized.
"Well there's no need to resort to name-calling. The poor things have it bad enough."
Bottle-Fed Kids Never Learn To Love
"It's tragic," she sighed as the book fair drew to a close.
I watched all the children run to their parents and shower them with hugs and kisses before heading back to their classrooms. Some of them clasped a friend's hand on their way out. "These poor bottle-fed children and parents will just never know what they're missing."
Breastfed Kids Are Happier
It was her final assertion. For once she didn't follow-up with any sort of explanation. She just let it hang in the air, as though it was an incontrovertible statement of fact. But I knew she was wrong. Because no one, in the history of the world, has ever been as happy as I was leaving that conversation... and I was bottle-fed.
*Not pictured, because she's not real, because this is satire. Like, literally everything in here is satirical, so please don't e-mail me.
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