Formula vs Fresh Milk For Toddler

One of the things I noticed on local TV in Indonesia is the ferocity of formula commercials – specifically the toddler formula – not the baby kinds.

While I was waiting to renew passport last week – out of boredom – I counted these commercials being aired on TV. 10 different formula commercials within an hour of a morning show. Shocking!

Not only on TV, parents are being constantly bombarded with formulas through magazines & newspaper ads also at the supermarkets. I’m not talking just formula for babies but mainly for toddlers.

This may have been a ‘normal’ practice in Indonesia for years on end now but I just never notice it before I became a mom.

Whenever I went to the groceries, on my way to pick up UHT Milk for Lil’ A, I always – and I mean ALWAYS being stopped by these formula associates offering me to try their magic-vitamins-loaded-formula-that-will-make-your-child-a-genius! Usually, I managed to politely decline them but there were times when I was just being a smart ass and challenged them in their knowledge about these formulas by telling them regular milk will make my son just as smart!

He’s been on UHT milk since we first got here and Lil’ A loves it, we tried a local pasteurized brand once but it gave him an upset stomach. He doesn’t really like chocolate milk, thank God! It was harder in China when the whole milk scandal exploded in 2008 – we had to buy imported UHT Milk from New Zealand there.

Sometimes I wonder if these formula fed babies/toddlers in Jakarta are so much chubbier because of the high consumptions of these ‘magic milk’?

IMHO, a formula is loaded with sugars! Don’t believe me? Go read the ingredient list. That’s what makes these kids so attached to their formulas. I know I might get stoned for this…but breast milk and pasteurized milk are way better than these formulas. Had a good laugh when I saw one commercial that claimed they had added colostrums. How on earth?!

Since Lil’ A was a preemie baby and his weight went down after a week of staying at NICU, I had to combine breast milk plus special formula for preemie. He then was breastfed for 8 good months (he stopped nursing himself and that was one of the saddest times of my life!) and 5 months on formula. Like AAP recommended, he’s off formula when he turned 1 year old.

Just as parents being bombarded with these mega millions industry here, I really think we as parents need to do a little more digging before giving formulas to our kiddos. And hey, they are expensive! Pasteurized and UHT milk is much cheaper.

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31 thoughts on “Formula vs Fresh Milk For Toddler

  1. liz Reply

    I’m still trying to figure out why there would be so many formula commercials!? So odd!

    You are totally right about the sugar/sweeteners in formula! Often it’s the first ingredient!
    .-= liz´s last blog ..Serves Me Right =-.

    • Maureen Reply

      That is odd, and to think that as an Asian country where breastfeeding in public is considered normal, these formula take over is amazing.

  2. alicia Reply

    I nursed as long as possible, but my second wasn’t easy and I had to let go at around 4 months. Long story for another day. Anyhow, that forumula nearly killed us back then. And I agree with what you are saying.

    • Maureen Reply

      Oh totally agree with the price of formula. Thanks God for those nestle discounts coupons we used to got in the mail. Here they are pricey and coupons are non-existent.

  3. gigi Reply

    I basically had children who hated my boobs with a passion. Or maybe my boobs hated them. Never did figure it out, but we were on formula completely by 6 weeks with both of our kiddos. With my son, we soon learned he couldn’t handle the powder version…or the regular version, so we ended up having to buy the Soy version in the premixed liquid bottles…I cannot believe how much $ we spent on formula a month…b
    .-= gigi´s last blog ..Birthday Cake Smackdown, 2010 =-.

    • Maureen Reply

      Oh I can relate to how expensive formula were but premixed is always seems to be more expensive. I understand and can relate to the need of having to use baby formula but here it’s the toddler formula that shock me and how much they are being ‘forced’ unto parents mind that their toddler MUST drink them.

  4. finnie Reply

    Exactly my concern! Sedih bgt ada pemulung ngetok pager rumah minta duit buat beliin susu formula bayinya..gile anak gue aja ga minum formula *demi menabung buat pendidikannya* ini lagi yg pendapatannya ga tetap bs ngasi bayinya formula..lebih sedihnya pas ditanya knp ga ASI, dia jawab ‘disuruh puskesmas minum formula’.. Rasanya mau pengsan dengernya!! Bukannya gue anti formula banget, toh kan bukan racun juga.. Tp kasian kan org ud idupnya pas2an gitu trus jd korban iklan krn ga pny pengetahuan..
    Dan soal iklan di TV emang gila bgt, dan yg terakhir tuh ada lagiiii penipuan massa ttg susu ada kolostrumnya? Lah yg asi aja cmn bs ngasi bayinya kolostrum 3hr – max 1mgg.. Dan kl abis mlahirkan biasanya dikasi ‘goodies’ dr berbagai merek susu tergantung yg lg sponsor.. Enak juga ya pny perusahaan susu formula..ud mahal kbnykan isinya gula trus laku keras pulaaa xP

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      OMG serius Fin? Itu pemulung canggih juga yah. Kalo soal abis lahiran dapet goodies emang dulu di US juga gitu Fin, malah lo bisa sign up pas masih hamil & nanti di kirimin discount coupons buat baby formula. Gw juga nggak menentang formula cuman yang gw heran buat anak-anak di atas 1 tahun itu kenapa juga mesti di cekokin formula? Those formula for toddlers are expensive and sugar loaded.

  5. Sylvia, Jake and Matt Reply

    Yeah, I keep hearing about UHT among the Indonesian mothers. Back then my mom used to have a milkman delivering fresh (pasteurized) milk every morning. When we were vacationing in Indonesia, none of my kids had milk during our stay there. I felt so bad, but they really didn’t like the milk there. Even the imported milk from Australia. We tried different brands, nothing worked. I am agree with you. Jake was on Similac and Matt was on Enfamil. My grocery bill was super high when they’re little, formulas and Huggies/Pampers, took a big chunk of my expenses.

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Sylvia, I don’t mind UHT since it is hard to get pasteurized milk here (I hear some stores have them but I haven’t actually check it out yet). I too had to tried different UHT milk brands when we were in China until we found a delivery guy that sells pasteurized milk. Oh tell me about it one baby on formula is costly enough so we were delighted when Lil’ A hit 1 year old and we can ditch them formula hahaha.

  6. vtree Reply

    aahh..this is sooo true…Indonesia is the heaven for formula’s producer (and mom-to-be milk), most of moms here are easily influenced by the commercial (marketing by fear..?).
    one funny fact, my bestfriend once told me that she has a friend who works in formula industry and the friend don’t want her child to have formula because she knows what’s in it….gosh..
    well, i actually give my son plain UHT and sometimes formula when he is being picky eater. However, i give him less than its recommended measure, because it’ll be too sweet if you made it in full measure.

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Hi Vtree…yeah I think those formula companies here makes billion more than lets say in America because there, 99.9% baby will stop taking formula when they hit 12 months old. Unlike here where you have formulas for 9-10 years old!
      Good to hear you and your son prefer UHT milk! Keep up the good works, mom!

  7. otty Reply

    Hi Maureen! I know your blog from MD.

    A very nice post, and I couldn’t agree more. Most parents believe that formula for toddlers is way better than UHT/pasteurized milk. And when parents start considering to give UHT/pasteurized milk for their toddlers, usually the grandmas and society will start challenging them. Saying that UHT/pasteurized milk is not good enough, it’s only “snack” and not “the real milk”.

    Anyway, if you happen to be around at a supermarket, try to look for Indomilk/Diamond/Greenfields pasteurized milk. I drink those brands and will give it to my son when he reaches 1 yo.

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Hi Otty! Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts on this. I’m so happy to hear that you have already made the wise decision not to load your son with sugary formula when he reaches 1! Kudos! Real milk doesn’t comes with ‘magic potions’ such as commercialized by these formula ads, real milk already comes with its own goodies that will do our children just fine.

      We’re now using Greenfrields 😀

  8. Tyas Reply

    hai Maureen, I share the same thoughts with you about formulas… unfortunatelly, I had “forced” my toddler with formulas for a year and a half because I was unable to breastfed her (this is the upsetting part of my life being a mom)… I somteimes do the way you do, challenging those formulas sales about their knowledge of good nutrition 🙂 and by the end of conversation I alwasy ask her whether they have children :P… the worst part of formulas like you had written is the sweet contains which had made my toddler can not enjoy drinking a plain UHT milk and her teeth became the victims…
    the good news, after travelling to Japan for 2 weeks where formulas are not cheap and when I forgor to bring enough formula milk from Indonesia, but certainly a blessing in disguise, we (me and my hubby) had succeed to make her drink those plain UHT milk, YAY! now althought she drinks it with a bottle, at least she drinks it :).
    anyway, thanks for your tips on travelling with toddler… they are really helping hands when I travelled to Japan last week :)…
    hoping to read more from you 🙂

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Hi Tyas, thanks for visiting my blog and also sharing your own experience. So happy to hear that my tips help you 😀

      That’s great to hear that your daughter is now drinking plain UHT milk. It’s a process to wean the bottle off, which is something I did when my son turned 1 years old.

  9. Lynda Reply

    I had to supplement with formula due to a rare glandular disorder. With my first, I switched him to whole milk when he was about 11.5 months. With my second, I switched him to whole milk around 10.5 months. No adverse reactions for either of them and I just couldn’t take supporting the formula industry any longer.

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Lynda, I too supplemented because my son was a preemie but that is so awesome to hear that you switched to whole milk so early and there’s no reactions. Those formulas are expensive for sure even with discount coupons it still burned up a hole in our pockets, don’t you think?

  10. Rachael Reply

    I have two kids who have both been formula fed because I’m physically unable to breastfeed. But at 1 year, we switched to cows milk. I don’t really understand the logic of keeping a child on formula past one year? Aren’t they getting all their vitamins etc from other sources by then? Wouldn’t you be just as well off feeding them some instant breakfast as chocolate milk or something if they need extra protein or vitamins, and saving yourself some money?

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Exactly my thoughts, Rachael! My son is still in that picky stage eater but that didn’t make me stuffed him with formula full of those magic stuffs like advertised here and he’s a healthy smart boy.

  11. ilmucts Reply

    I think raw milk is better because it’s natural for a child but I do not know though infant formula is not too bad and easy to find

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Raw milk still have the risk of containing some culture that could be dangerous for little tummy. Unless you know how the raw milk is being handled then I think it shouldn’t be a problem but pasteurized milk is safer for toddler. I’m not talking about infant formula, more about formula for toddler (kids older than 1 year old).

  12. Ivi Reply

    I stumbled through your blog while doing research on formula milk. My baby is breastfed and he’s gonna be a year soon so I wanted to know which formula is good.
    Found out that in overseas (western countries), 1 year old children are given fresh milk. I think many Indonesian mothers don’t know about this and believe that formula is the best option after breastmilk.
    Reading your blog shed some light in me.

    • Maureen Post authorReply

      Hi Ivi, you’re right most western countries already advised parents to switch to whole milk when their babies turn 1 year old. I think the formula for toddler here pays so much money to bombarded parents to think that formula is better when in reality they’re not.
      Thanks for stopping by and joining in the conversation 🙂

  13. Novie Reply

    I have to “unfortunately” gave my son formula milk from birth until he’s 1 year, but then a reminder came from my cousin who live in Australia to give my son fresh milk.

    Now he’s 1 year and 7 months and loves fresh milk and drink it like water. And especially when we travel, I get to travel light with only a small backpack with empty bottles. Because i could just stop by at any supermarket or 7-11 to pick up fresh milk.

    But i still have questions about UHT vs fresh milk (pasteurized). I read some articles that say that UHT is better because fresh milk/pasteurized milk is not sterile and needs to be cooked (?????)

    Could someone explain to me about the difference, and which one is actually better? or are they actually the same??
    Now i’m using Greenfields fresh milk and UHT Ultra plain.

    Thanks all…..

  14. angelina Reply

    My toddler still drinking formula. I’m not against fresh milk too but still find it hard to feed my kid with fresh milk. I only go to the supermarket to buy grocery once a month so I find it hard to keep such a extra big room in my refrigerator for stocking the fresh milk. Beside with the unpredictable black outs that we frequently have, how can I keep my fresh milk still fresh? Anybody can help me?

  15. Pei Wei Reply

    Hi Maureen,
    Found your blog as I Google about fresh milk. Love your post very much with great info! You know, in Malaysia, only recently a TV commercial broadcast about the high level of sugar content in growing up milk. So this particular formula milk company is introducing their very first non-added sugar version. I have 2 daughters. I breastfed my elder gal for 18mth (now she’s 3.5yo), she self-weaned off. My second baby who is now 4 1/2 mth old, is still on full BM. I’ve been giving my elder gal a special formula milk which is meant for picky eater, for almost 2yr. And now I’ve found out that the sugar content in her milk is high (11-15 teaspoons of additional sugar per day) . You can check the sugar level content thru this website Now I’m looking for other alternative for my gal. My friend has told me that her son’s paed doesn’t allow her to give her son fresh pasteurized milk due to high risk of bacteria/virus attack kid’s stomach. But I’ve yet to check with my gal’s paed about this matter. Really in dilemma now. Will talk to the paed about this before I make any decision.

  16. yham Reply

    hai. i happened to stumble on your blog as i’m doing my research about fresh milk and formula milk for my 2 yr. old.. im a bit worried at first, cause he dont like drink his formula milk. i already tried lots of formula but as always he dont want to drink it. until just out of curiousity and for his baon when we are out i bought some uht milk and to my surprised he likes it. and keep on asking for more. by the way he is breastfed for more than 2 years. he is recently weaned. so i think he still wants the taste of the breastmilk and the uht milk is the nearest? and thanks to your blog and im now more relaxed as not to forced his formula.

  17. vivian lai Reply

    hi, i came across your blog when i am trying to do research on formula VS cow’s milk after 1 year. i found most people here supported whole milk. however i’ve found elsewhere where people are saying coz of the way they raise cows are not organic, cow’s milk might have a lot of bad stuff in it that is not good for your toddler. what do you guys think about this?

  18. John Reply

    Interesting discussion about formula vs milk which I won’t try to add to here. But I have to say something about the circumstances that led you to counting the commercials… I was in Jakarta Selatan imigrasi office last week… would have been a lot less boring if I was counting formula ads on the TV too!!! hahahaha

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