*** (Update – BreastfeedingArts is now MommaArts – check us out here for further info on lactation support, IBCLC, doula and postpartum care) ***
This has been bothering me for a while now. This is Enfamil brand Vit D drops, considered “#1 Brand Recommended by Pediatricians” in the country. A free sample is handed out in many peds office across the country. Did I mention free?
You know what that means? That means formula reps are in these offices providing free samples to hand out to breastfeeding mothers …. with the Enfamil brand boldly highlighted on the product. You think maybe it being free is how they can claim #1 brand status?
Now look at this screen shot below. This is Enfamil’s website. Hypothetically, baby is now 2 months old and you’ve run out of the free sample and need to buy more. You’ll likely have to buy more every month, at 10 – 15 bucks a pop, so that’s at least 100 bucks worth of D-Vi-Sol a year (I’ll come back to the economics of this in a minute). You know where these guys are shelved in many stores? Yup, right next to the formula. Meanwhile, look what’s smack in the middle of their webpage. Remember, you’re a breastfeeding mom trying find out where you can buy more Vit D in your area. What’s that? Why yes it is! A nice “buy Enfamil now” button ….
And what of the ingredients? Here they are, in order of how they appear on the box:
artificial caramel color.
Ok, now, I am NOT (really!) trying to sell you on anything. I promise. For around 20 bucks (depending on where you live and mark up) you can get Carlson for Kids drops where a single bottle lasts a year.
The advantages to buying these guys …
1. No formula cross marketing (yay).
2. You only need one drop (not dropper full) to babies tongue or your nipple or in a bottle of expressed milk a day. Therefor, a single bottle will last upwards of a year.
3. I promised I’d get back to those economics. $20 a year for Carlson versus $100 a year for Enfamil. Kind of a no-brainer right?
4. Ingredients: Vit D3 and coconut oil. That’s it. Just two ingredients.
The pediatrician where I work is a distributor of Carlson. As an IBCLC I take pride in working in an office where the MD is practicing responsibly and ethically. He buys Carlson drops and sells them to our mother/baby pairs (at the company recommended modest mark up). He’s not making a ton of money on these. But he is keeping mother/baby pairs in Vit D (for info on the importance of Vit D click here). And he’s doing so with a reputable brand without selling out to formula companies, handing out free samples or opening up questions on practice ethics. Bonus: it is a very clear message in support of breastfeeding.
I don’t see why more pediatric offices can’t say no to free samples. You don’t have to distribute Carlson brand. You don’t have to sell anything. Let’s just start with ending the free handouts from formula companies. An office could easily provide families with local information on brands, so individuals can make their own choices on what to buy and where to shop. If it’s a question of making sure they in fact go out and get Vit D, then do sell them yourself in the office. But handing out free samples sends the wrong ethical message. It takes very little effort to set up an account and become a distributor of a better brand like Carlson (and there are others out there).
Let’s keep Vit D supplementation cheap, with simple ingredients and free from formula Booby Traps. I like that idea, don’t you?