by Jessica Martin-Weber
You’ve seen it, the advertising of bottles and formula announcing how their product is somehow “like mom.” Or proclaiming that there are new developments that allows their product to be “more like the breast” while elsewhere on the packaging they say “breast is best.” It sounds amazing: new technology, new understanding, new science has unlocked some secret that makes this nipple shape and design more like a real breast than all previous nipple shapes or this specially formulated blend of ingredients more brain boosting like what is found in breastmilk than all previous specially formulated blends ever of all time in the history of feeding babies. Now it’s “more like mom” than ever before! Hey, this could be the answer to your breastfeeding troubles, this product will fix colic, sleep issues, calma your kid, teach them how to breastfeed, and probably even make your bed, because it’s MORE LIKE MOM!
Honestly though, I understand where it is coming from and it’s not the first time plastic and silicone has been confused as being “just like” the real thing, so really, it’s not that surprising. (Boobs, I’m referring to fake boobs. Which, really, when you think about it, bottles are just a different version of fake boobs. Portable, detached, feeding utensil fake boobs for feeding babies.)
But of course that’s what they’re trying to do, create, market, and sell something that is as close as possible to what human infants are born expecting. It’s probably not going to do so well with truly honest advertising that says “really nothing like mom but acceptable delivery system for infant nutrition.” Can’t imagine why brands would shy away from that approach. Besides, the basic shape is there and the design is sometimes there requiring the baby to suck to get anything from the teat (you may be surprised though, lots of bottles just run like a facet when you tilt them, some of the biggest culprits are those that claim to be for breastfed babies).
These claims, while highly contested, are on to something. It just makes sense to feed babies “like mom”. Their mouths are shaped for that, their brains are wired for sucking, and developmentally that’s really all babies can manage since forks and spoons are tricky at that stage and tubes are hopefully medically unnecessary. Having used a eye dropper to feed one of my infants, that’s also rather time consuming and messy. Having used bottles with all my babies (photographic evidence here because apparently if you’ve never posted a photo of it online, it never even happened and you’re a lying jerk), I can say a bottle tends to be a effective delivery system of infant nutrition. Very few people would argue against the basic design of bottles, it’s comparing it to mom that gets confusing and, well, kind of like lying. A predatory preying on someone who just wants to do what’s “best” for their child. These companies have financial motivation to convince someone that their product is like mom.
Because, let’s be honest here, how do they know it’s “like mom?” Aside from the obvious differences in materials (warm, living tissue vs plastic and/or silicone), each woman, shoot, for most of us, each breast is different. When they say more like the breast, I find myself asking “which one?” and when I read claims of a bottle design being closer to mom, I wonder “who?”
So, I did. I asked several of my friends to give me their interpretation of what a bottle that looked like them would look like. I asked them, if there was a bottle designed to be like their breast, what would be distinctive of their customized more like mom boob bottle, what we’re calling “Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM”. For several of us, that would require two very different options since each of the breasts on our chest are unique in their own right. Can’t be more like this mom with just one bottle.
Here are the renderings of these moms and what their breasts would look like topping a bottle, if bottles were truly more like THAT mom. Introducing “Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM” concept bottles that are truly, “more like mom”:
What would your Booble™ look like and what would be the unique features to make it “more like mom” for your baby?
With all the brands out there touting to be “more like mom” and promising silly things like teaching your baby how to breastfeed (biology taught your baby to breastfeed, the bottle is an attempt at copying your biology, plastic can’t teach a baby how to breastfeed!) and product names that make you think of breasts and breastfeeding, it can be confusing to find a bottle that works for your little one should they need it. How do you cut through all the gimmicks and marketing to truly find one that will meet your baby’s needs, particularly if you are breastfeeding? A popular suggestion is to find a nipple shape that looks like your breast, but aside from the potential awkward moment to check your boob selfie on your phone or to whip a boob out if you need to compare your own nipples to the bottle while you’re at the store (and then I bet you’ll wish you were shopping online), is that really helpful? I decided to ask my friend Amy Peterson, IBCLC and co-author of the book Balancing Breast and Bottle, Reaching Your Breastfeeding Goals for some guidance:
Don’t waste time looking for a bottle nipple that looks like your breast. The best way to choose a bottle nipple is to look at your baby’s latch on your breast, and then on the bottle nipple. The tip of the nipple needs to reach far back into your baby’s mouth, while the baby’s lips are slightly opened and rest on a portion of the nipple base. Surprisingly, many shapes marketed for breastfed babies are often the shapes that cause the worst bottle latch: a latch where the baby looks like he is sucking on a straw.
It’s probably a long way off for customized bottles made from silicon molds of each individual mother’s breasts, Boobles™ aren’t going to be happening any time soon. (Either a brilliant business idea or the worst idea ever.) Of course, the ridiculous claims and names of bottles aren’t about to go away any time soon either. Sifting through it all to find what works for you and your family, with the help of an IBCLC health care professional if necessary, skip the comparisons to your own breasts or those of a random woman in a stock photo used to make a sale and look for something that meets the needs of your baby. While the breast is certainly the best design for a human infant, though not always without problems that may make feeding difficult, there’s no bottle that’s going to really be anything like the breast. Unless of course plastic, silicon, glass, and/or rubber makes you think “more like mom.”
Here at TLB, how you feed your baby is secondary to that you feed your baby. Having a sense of humor, exploring some of the social and relational aspects of infant feeding and parenting, discussing information, and sharing our stories is really what we’re about. Phrases comparing infant feeding devices (doesn’t that sound so much cooler and refined than “bottle”?) to breasts are something we take issue with because ultimately we feel it’s confusing and it undermines the confidence families can have in feeding their babies well. Because, let’s get real, there can’t be many of us that look at a bottle nipple and say “hey, I resemble that teat!”
What would a Booble™ based on you look like and what kind of functional features would your customized Boobles™ have? Email your rendering of a custom designed Booble™ to firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject “My Booble™” in the subject and we’ll add it to our gallery of bottle designs that would actually be more like mom.
For me, aside from two different models, my Boobles™ would have one a bit more dense than the other and both would leak whenever a baby cried. I could never take them in public without some sort of cover.
Boobles™- MOST LIKE MOM!
*Please note, you don’t have to use bottles to feed your baby if you don’t want or need to.
** Please note, doesn’t have to be breasts either.
*** Also, this post is supposed to be humorous, not something to get worked up over.
****And Boobles™ aren’t really a thing.