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Getting beyond the ‘mom guilt’ over what my child eats

Teresa and her babyThis Sunday, I will be celebrating Mother’s Day with a whole new perspective – as a first-time mom to an amazingly perfect little girl.

Back when I was a kid, my dad used to warn me not to get between a mama cow and her calf out in the pasture, because the cow will trample you. Now I know how the cow feels – overprotective to the extreme.

I’ve learned that “mom guilt” isn’t just a clever Instagram hashtag; it’s all too real. I can’t count how many times a day I google information on whether my baby is sleeping too much or not enough, whether it’s OK to give her a pacifier, if I’m putting her in the car seat correctly or whatever little worry that pops into my head.

And like every mom, one of those worries is whether she’s eating well and growing like she should.

When you’re a soon-to-be mom, a lot of formula companies send you samples and coupons in the mail. I was sent a free sample of a non-GMO (genetically modified) formula. And after our daughter was born, the hospital gave us more free samples of the same non-GMO formula, which I assume they got as a promotional gift from the company.

I know from talking to experts like Dr. Ruth MacDonald, professor chair of food science and human nutrition at Iowa State University, that there is no difference nutritionally between foods made with genetically modified corn and soy ingredients and those that are non-GMO. But there is a difference in price. The non-GMO formula is more expensive, and those formula costs add up quickly during the baby’s first year.

I’ve compared the labels on both the non-GMO and conventional baby formula, and they are nearly identical in nutritional content. So as long as it has the vitamins, protein, etc., that my baby needs, I’m comfortable feeding her the conventional formula as recommended by our pediatrician.

Yet I wonder if other moms pay the extra money for formula labeled “non-GMO” because of the mistaken belief that it’s healthier for their babies.

A few months back, I read in disbelief a New York Times article about one mom’s worries that organic formula wasn’t “organic” enough for her baby. She ended buying an expensive formula shipped in from Europe.

I understand all too well the endless worries and lost sleep when it comes to caring for our precious babies. But whether the formula is made with GMO ingredients is not one of them.

As long as the formula is proven safe, it is approved by our doctor and our baby girl is eating and growing like she should, I’m OK with my choice.

Instead, I’ll worry about what I can control, like keeping food safety in mind by refrigerating the formula properly and washing my hands before touching the baby’s food.

When we first brought baby home, I asked my own mom if I’ll ever stop worrying about my daughter. She told me that even when your daughters grow up, you never stop worrying. It melted my heart to hear her admit that.

So happy Mother’s Day and thanks to the moms and grandmas for all you do to care for your babies, throughout life and beyond. Like those calves out in the pasture, we will always be protected by our mamas.

By Teresa Bjork. Teresa is senior features writer for the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.