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Baby Formula was First Created in 1865 Due to a Decline in Wet Nursing and Increased Infant Death

Wet nursing, the feeding bottle, and formula use are all part of the history of infant feeding. Wet nursing was the safest and most popular alternative to the natural mother’s breast milk before the invention of bottles and formula. Wet nursing was gradually replaced by artificial feeding as a result of society’s negative attitude toward it, as well as the breakthroughs in formula formulation. But did you know why the baby formula was invented in the first place?

In 1865, scientist Justus von Liebig created, patented, and commercialized a baby formula in liquid and powdered form for better preservation. The best infant food was supposed to be Liebig’s formula, which contained cow’s milk, wheat, malt flour, and potassium bicarbonate.

The Creation of Baby Formula

In the 18th century, the first chemical analyses of human milk and animal milk were conducted. Jean Charles Des-Essartz published his Treatise of Physical Upbringing of Children in 1760, which discussed and compared the composition of human milk to that of the cow, sheep, ass, mare, and goat. 

Des-Essartz supported human milk as the best source of baby nutrition based on chemical features. Many scientists attempted to create non-human milk to resemble human milk, using mother’s milk as the model.

Justus von Liebig, a chemist, invented, patented, and marketed an infant meal in 1865, initially in liquid form and then in powdered form for improved preservation. Liebig’s formula included cow’s milk, wheat, malt flour, and potassium bicarbonate, which was thought to be the ideal baby diet.

Following the success of Liebig’s infant food and the introduction of evaporated milk, many new commercial products and formulas were quickly produced. 

There were 27 patented infant food brands by 1883. These commercial items were powdered carbohydrates such as sugars, starches, and dextrins that were supposed to be mixed into the milk. The food was fatty but deficient in essential nutrients such as protein, vitamins, and minerals. Individual nutrients were introduced over time. (Source: National Library of Medicine)

What is Best for Babies?

Breastfeeding has remained the medically preferable mode of baby feeding throughout the history of wet nursing, the feeding bottle, and formula. Despite this preference, scientists have been attempting to make a synthetic formula comparable to human milk since 1865.

Although the nutrients in synthetic formulas appear nearly equal to those in breastmilk, manufacturers acknowledge formula labeling that breastmilk is the best form of nutrition for babies.

When compared to breastfeeding, the amount of each formula nutrient varies greatly. Furthermore, the composition of formulas does not vary as the child ages. As a result, the formula fails to meet the nutritional needs of a developing newborn, making digestion more challenging.

Breastfeeding versus formula-feeding digestion and absorption differences have been related to several concerns, including poor child health outcomes.

Breastfeeding is connected to the prevention of undesirable health issues, while formula feeding is associated with their growth, according to research. It is still the most excellent source of newborn nourishment and the safest form of infant feeding. (Source: National Library of Medicine)

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