By Marie Haaland // SWNS
Parents are faced with 1,750 difficult decisions in their baby’s first year, according to new research.
Between planning childcare, learning about formula ingredients and decorating the nursery, these decisions add up fast — a survey of 2,000 parents with an infant found respondents are faced with about 34 tough decisions per week.
Choosing a name for their baby was found to be the most difficult decision new parents face (37%), followed by deciding whether to breastfeed or to use formula (34%).
Commissioned by Enfamil and conducted by OnePoll, the survey found the decisions don’t end if parents decide to use formula — choosing which formula to give their little one (29%) was another of the hardest decisions parents face in the first year.
Over half (52%) of parents surveyed use formula — whether exclusively or as a supplement for breastmilk — and it turns out, three really is the magic number.
That’s because respondents report trying three different formulas for their baby before finding one that worked, and the average parent put in about four hours of research before choosing a formula.
It’s not surprising to see new parents dedicating so much time to their decision: Two-thirds (66%) admit to being overwhelmed by the number of options for baby formula and they were most likely to have felt overwhelmed because of the number of unknown ingredients (61%).
When choosing a formula for their infant, the ingredients were found to be the most important factor (53%) followed by the inclusion of DHA (47%) — which stands for docosahexaenoic acid.
“DHA is a type of Omega-3 fat found in breastmilk that is important for the growth and development of an infant’s brain,” said Dr. Christina Valentine, M.D., a neonatologist, pediatrician, physician-scientist and registered dietitian who specializes in maternal and infant nutrition to improve health outcomes.
Additionally, she co-leads The Global Human Milk Research Platform, is an active neonatologist and an Associate Visiting Professor at the University of Cincinnati (UC).
“After birth, a baby’s brain grows rapidly supporting healthy mental and visual growth through the early infant stages to later in life. Optimal nutrition including DHA in an amount global experts recommend† and found in breastmilk on an average worldwide¹, is important for every infant’s neurodevelopment,” added Dr. Valentine.
Considering the benefits of DHA, it’s therefore not surprising that many new parents do place an importance on it — 63% would choose one formula over other leading brands if they learned it had a global expert-recommended amount of DHA.
“More and more of the biggest global health and nutrition experts like The World Health Organization, The United Nations, The World Association of Perinatal Medicine and Early Nutrition Academy, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, and Dieticians of Canada recommend that DHA should be included in all infant formulas at a minimum amount of 0.20% of total fatty acids,” said Dr. Valentine. “The European Union has gone one step further and has mandated all infant formula sold in Europe should contain an even higher level (0.5%-1% of total fatty acids) of DHA.”
Interestingly, 43% of parents surveyed were under the impression that all formula brands have a globally-recommended amount of DHA — but that’s not true.
“DHA is found in most U.S. baby formulas, but what parents don’t realize is that the amount of DHA differs by brand,” continued Dr. Valentine. “Enfamil is the only leading formula brand to provide DHA at a global expert-recommended amount*† and as naturally present in breast milk on average worldwide (0.32% of total fatty acids¹).”
When choosing a formula, parents are most concerned about finding one to support their infant’s immune system (41%). That’s followed by brain-building (40%), easy-to-digest nutrition (34%) and eye development (25%).
“There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to feeding your baby, and I encourage parents to do what works best for them, among the many decisions they have to make,” said Dr. Valentine.
*Enfamil has not been shown superior to the other leading brand in supporting infant development.
†World Health Organization recommended amount of DHA is 0.2% - 0.36% of total fatty acids. Similac = 0.15% Vs Enfamil = 0.32% of total fatty acids.
WHAT NEW PARENTS LOOK FOR IN THEIR FORMULA
Inclusion of DHA as an ingredient 47%
Brand name 37%
My baby's diet preferences/allergies 37%
Easing specific feeding issues 34%
MOST DIFFICULT DECISIONS IN THE FIRST YEAR OF PARENTING
Choosing a name 37%
Breastfeeding versus using formula 34%
Figuring out childcare 30%
Which formula to use 29%
Where the baby sleeps 27%
Decorating the nursery 21%
How to sleep train 20%
Whether to post pictures on social media 19%
Finding the right pediatrician 19%
Whether to parent as their parents did 19%
Reference1) Brenna JT, Varamini B, Jensen RG, Diersen‐Schade DA, Boettcher JA, Arterburn LM. Docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acid concentrations in human breast milk worldwide. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;85(6):1457‐1464.