Similac StrongMoms iPhone/iPod App: A Danger to #Breastfeeding

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Similac is still “trying” to “help” breastfeeding moms. Even though they obviously benefit when moms don’t breastfeed, they still want to help them not use their products. The logic baffles me.

And with their newest app, moms can know everything there is to know about their babies – including, “predict a daily feeding schedule, and can instantly connect you with feeding tips and a live feeding expert” (quoted directly from the Similac app site)

When a company creates their own app, it is obvious why they are doing it – to advertise!  So we know that Similac hopes this app will increase sales of Similac brand infant formula.

Let’s look at what this app offers:

*Sleep – jot down when baby goes to sleep and when baby wakes up. Look at a graph to see at a glance what the baby’s routine is and how long baby normally sleeps.

*Diapers – keep track of every single diaper. Record the type of diaper and see how often baby is going to see if baby is healthy.

*Growth – record every weigh in and measurement from the pediatrician.

*Feeding – there are two different ways to monitor the feedings.  Moms using formula can keep track of when baby eats and how many ounces baby consumed. Breastfeeding moms can keep track of which side baby nursed on and for how long. All this information is kept in the app and then mom can look at all the information to predict when the next feeding will be.

All this information can be easily emailed to other people, including the pediatrician. And if there is ever a problem, there is a nifty little phone button that will instantly connect the mom to a Similac Feeding Expert!

Here is what I have a problem with:

Babies are not predictable

One of my biggest frustrations with Lizzie when she was an infant was her lack of routine! I could never predict when she was going to eat next. When she was 2 months old I’d sit down and nurse her for 30 minutes, then put her down so I could eat. 20 minutes later bam! She was crying and the only consolation was more nursing. Then the next day she would go 3 entire hours at a time without nursing. It changed day to day and I just had to be flexible and go with it. I have spoken with other moms who have similar babies.

It gets so frustrating in those first few months that you feel like you are always nursing and if you keep track of how often you are nursing you will have proof. See! She eats every hour for 30 minutes at a time! She must not be getting enough milk, I better supplement. Hmm…what with? How about Similac?

Nursing is not always about hunger

Some breastfed babies don’t need to nurse very often, and other seem to need to nurse around the clock. Nursing is not always about the hunger level of the baby but can also be a baby expressing the need to be comforted and close to mom.  This app makes breastfeeding seem to be only a way to meet a baby’s nutritional needs. It is so much more than that and you really don’t need to record the length and time of breastfeeding. One of my favorite quotes is, “Watch the baby, not the clock!”  The use of pacifiers to meet that extra sucking need is a personal choice, and if a mom chooses not to use one that is ok and she shouldn’t have the stress of seeing on paper how much she is breastfeeding. In fact, scheduling a breastfeeding baby is “clearly harmful and ineffective” according to WHO. Babies eat when they eat, you don’t need an app to tell you that.

The “Feeding Experts”

Let’s say it is late at night and a mom peeks at her Baby Journal app. She sees a graph that shouts “Look how much you are nursing! Every 30 minutes at some points! Are you making enough milk?” Then, there is that nifty little grey button. All she has to do is click it and a feeding “expert” is there to answer her questions. But what this mom does not know is that this expert is not a certified lactation consultant or affiliated with La Leche League.  Both of those organizations – the Board of Lactation Consultants and La Leche League – forbid their highly trained individuals to work for formula companies. It is a blatant conflict of interest.

You know what would be better?

If formula companies didn’t advertise! Ok, I know that isn’t going to happen anytime soon in the USA (who cares what the World Health Organization says) so if they are going to advertise, at least stop advertising specifically to breastfeeding moms.  That is where my issues lie. If Similac just has to make an app, then make it only for formula users. Don’t have “feeding experts” ready to answer breastfeeding questions.  If a mom has a breastfeeding question, I hope she can seek answers from highly trained La Leche League leaders or a lactation consultant.

Written by:: Annie

Annie Shultz has written 1949 post in this blog.

She is THE Mama Dweeb :) She created this blog back in 2009 and loves to inspire and connect with others through her writing. She also loves talking, dreaming, 90s pop and country music.

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Comments

  1. says

    Could the breastfeeding mom just not use the feeding part of the app? They can just use the other parts of the app to keep track of everything but the actual feeding. I can see how this app would be handy especially in the beginning. I remember going to the doctor and they asked me what his sleeping was like, how many dirty diapers etc. I laughed at them and told them I was too sleep deprived to track that kind of stuff. With this app I may have had a better chance of tracking it all.

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      Yes, they definitely can. But I am just confused and frustrated with why they even have that on there. I have no problem with them having a bottle of formula and keeping that on there – and yes the diapers and sleep can be helpful, but I just wish they didn’t even have the breastfeeding part.

      • says

        I am not similac so can’t speak directly for them. However I bet if they didn’t include the breastfeeding then some breastfeeding moms out there would make a fuss about similac not supporting breastfeeding and offering a tracking method in their app for it.

        • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

          Possibly…..but I have spoken with lots of pro-breastfeeding moms that hate an advertisements by formula companies and want these companies to especially stop targeting breastfeeding moms.

          Nope, the breastfeeding moms would make a fuss about the app in general and want it to go away, not ask to be included.

  2. says

    Know what grinds my gears? Formula used to be hidden in the baby department or aisle in Wally World, and now it’s right on ‘action alley’ so you have to walk RIGHT PAST IT to get to the meat and dairy cases. Grr. I think using apps to track your baby stuff is kind of.. .dumb? Who has time to sit and do that? I relied on my memory.. yeah about 8 poops a day or yeah about 10 wet diapers a day.. or whatever. It’s only a REAL issue if they’re basically inputting and not outputting at all or there is a BIG discrepancy.

    I agree that this is basically advertising in ‘app’ form. Babies do not follow a schedule, especially as a newborn. Eventually, you can get them onto a more regular one (in my experience), but not when they are so small and growing so much.

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      You are right – those first 3 months are crazy and that is when moms will most likely pick up this app and use it. By the time baby is about 4 months there is (usually) not a need to record things as much. And those first three months babies need breastfed every time they make signs for it, and for as long as they keep nursing.

      There is a huge difference in metabolism between breastmilk and formula and I hope moms don’t start comparing app charts to each other and get all worried and call their pediatricians when the breastfed baby eats way more and sleeps less than that formula baby.

  3. says

    I think the app would have been super useful for me during those first few months with each of my children. Maybe it’s the amount of kids or heck even the lack of sleep, but I couldn’t remember much of anything when they were tiny wee ones.

  4. says

    that whole thing just seems weird and i wonder why they would try to market to breastfeeding moms. My guess is that they are trying to hopefully sway them into switching to Similac after breastfeeding is done.

    I’ve used similac in the past with my first child so I’m not anti Formula but just making an observation and leaving you a comment :D

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      Thanks Tricia! I *think* they want to be the brand that the breastfeeding mom turns to when breastfeeding doesn’t work out, just like you said. This is where I feel badly for the mom and baby…..cause so many moms try and either get bad information or not enough support…..

      Thanks for stopping by!

  5. says

    Thanks for the post, Annie. As a breastfeeding advocate for the state of ND, I completely understand where you are coming from. I personally liked this app but do understand your point of a formula company producing it. I do not know that Similac is purposely trying to encourage breastfeeding moms to pick up formula instead but I can also see the subliminally message that is there in case the breastfeeding mom is struggling. I personally do not love that formula is such an easy way out and causes women to stop trying to breastfeed but I also think that breastfeeding is a personal choice and while best for baby – can not be shoved down a mother’s throat. I sometimes think that we breastfeeding moms can make formula moms feel terrible for their choice. Whereas I see that if a mom has negative associations and hates breastfeeding, she is going to pass this on to her child who she is “trying to do the right thing for” because of peer pressure. I have seen these babies being extremely unhappy and fussy and it seems to be passed for the mother who absolutely hates breastfeeding.

    Anyway, back to the app :-) Sorry for the rabbit trail – I do love the feeding part because I had a little one with jaundice. I was a first time mom, did not know that breastfeeding flushes out jaundice so did not “force” her to eat. She was preemie, did not breastfed well, and because of this was hospitalized. I arrived at the hospital with no clue the last time she had eaten, not knowing how long I had fed her, and which side I needed to feed her on last. I was exhausted and so was she. I wished at the time that I had something that helped me record these much needed recordings so for me this app would have been great. However, I can see that for many breastfeeding moms – it is not necessary. I am OCD about recording everything so it is useful for me but not for everyone. :-)

    I loved your perspective. I did not realize that the phone lines were not monitored by lactation consultants and this I think needs to be changed.

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      See, here is the problem with the lack of lactation consultants. Similac trains their own feeding experts because the International Board of Lactation Consultants forbids licensed consultants from working for formula companies. The conflict of interest is just too large for them to commend it. So mothers just need to be aware of this – but why would you call a formula company with breastfeeding questions anyways?

  6. says

    As an EBF mama to a five week old, I don’t have time to set up an app and fill it our every time my child poops and as you pointed out- you don’t breastfeed based on the time- you feed when your child is hungry (which is 24/7 for me right now!)

  7. says

    I agree with you – as a mom who ‘chose’ to formula feed, it bothers me immensely when people or organizations say I was selfish and bad for doing it – likewise I feel that a formula company has no right to push bottle feeding (using formula) on anyone and make them feel like they are failing at breastfeeding.

  8. chari says

    Great points, Annie! I think something like this just stresses more moms out than helps, regardless if they are breastfeeding or formula feeding. I was constantly breastfeeding my first baby for the first few months. Never once did I worry about sleep schedules, how many dirty diapers, etc. If I had to write down every time I fed him, changed a diaper, slept, etc. I would go nuts. And you know what happens when you feel stressed, your milk supply drops! Hmmm, wonder if that is the whole point of including breastfeeding moms on this app…..

  9. Gianna says

    It’s really up to the mom whether to pay attention or not.
    Good thing about apps is.. you don’t have to get one.
    With ads.. you don’t have to pay attention.
    With samples you don’t have to use them.
    I’ve breastfed 5 kids and will be bf another in the summer.
    None of this stuff never affected me and i’ve never used it.
    They can advertise all they want and it won’t affect me :)

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      Gianna, you have a really good point! I am hoping that posts like mine will educate moms who don’t know that breastfeeding is a 24/7 thing and formula is not as good as breastmilk. I have chatted with young, naive girls how took the samples from the hospital and thought, “well, the hospital gave it to me, it must be as good as my milk, maybe better!” And when times got rough, instead of calling La Leche League they just used the sample. I am afraid that this is what this app will do for those moms. They will use the app and call the “feeding expert” from Similac and start using their formula to “supplement” and eventually be formula feeding all the time.

      But for a lot of breastfeeding moms like you and me, the ads don’t affect us. That is wonderful :) We have the support and the knowledge :)

      • Gianna says

        What helped me was being well informed and having good support from my husband.
        With his help I was able to successfully nurse all my babies including our youngest (2 year old twins). He helped me so much! I bf them for 2 years and 3 months.. never had formula or any bottles. I was sad to quit but two months into my pregnancy was too hard. I get severely bad MS and can barely keep anything down! I still miss nursing them.

  10. Annette says

    I agree with you Annie! I am currently Breastfeeding my thrid child (11 months old) All three of my babies had to come home with formula supplement per Dr.’s orders. After 3 weeks of formula All of my babies refused to drink it any more. Sometimes they were at my breast for an hour and a half +. Most Docs say that is way too long but what could I do? My babies wanted their Liquid Gold. I just relied on my Mother’s intuition. For some reason my milk production starts out super slow. I am happy to report that my first 2 children nursed well into their 2nd year.
    My third child was born 10 weeks early at 30 weeks and was in the NICU for 59 days. He recieved donated breastmilk until he was 37 weeks old and then without even telling me they switched him to formula. I was told that it was standard procedure for babies 37 weeks and older to recieve formula. I was so mad! Ironically He went home with Dr’s orders to be supplemented, just twice a day, on a high calorie formula made by; you guessed it: Similac this particular type of Similac is super expensive it cost $15.94 for 36 ozs. My question is; Was my baby switched to formula at 37 weeks so that he would be use to some formula before he went home ? ( he went home a week and a half later.) Three weeks later when I told my Doc that he refused to take the formula she said “Well there’s not much we can do about that can we.” as long as he was gaining and growing she was happy. Thanks for letting me tell my story here. Breastfeeding is a subject near and dear to my heart! I also am very thankful to la leche and to the lactation consultants in the NICU who helped me BF my preemie and offered their dedicated support to insure that I was able to give my baby what he needed most;His mama’s White Liquid Gold.

    • says

      That is complete BS that they switched your baby to formula all on their own. If there was breast milk available either by donation, yourself or pumping then that is what your child should have been given. If he wasn’t gaining weight I can understand but YOU are the mother and it should have been discussed with you.

      This is coming from someone who believes breast or formula is up to the parent and we have no rights to judge. I tried to breast feed and after 3 weeks switched my son to formula.

    • Annie @ Mama Dweeb says

      Thank you for sharing your story! I had no idea they had policies like that in place – Giving babies formula without the mother’s permission? AWFUL!!

      And hooray for you for using donated breastmilk in the NICU! And for nursing for 1.5 hours at a time!

      Lucy is my 3rd child and i can relate. Lizzie and David both nursed quite a bit as well, but in the hospital Lucy would nurse for 45 minutes at a time every 2 hours. If you do the math, I had about 1 hour break between nursing sessions that lasted about an hour. But my milk came in and she is healthy.

      Liquid Gold is right!!

  11. says

    Annie, thanks so much for your comment on my blog and pointing me back here. When I wrote about this last night, I had no idea anyone else had started speaking out about it. I was horrified when I saw a paid blogger review about the app – from a breastfeeding mom. The fact that Similac is reaching out to mom bloggers via advertising and paid reviews is pretty shady. The fact the moms are doing it? Baffling. Thanks again.

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