For those who are unfamiliar, “fed is best” is a counter slogan to “breast is best.” In the not so distant past, baby formula was seen as equal, if not superior to breastmilk. In an effort to promote breastfeeding, the slogan “breast is best” was created in the 1990’s.
Happily, the culture around breastfeeding has changed drastically since then. While issues surrounding nursing in public still remain, it is now widely known and accepted by parents that breastfeeding is superior to formula. It IS the best source of nutrition (and antibodies!) for infants.
Of course, as a result, there are always those lovely people that assume that if you aren’t breastfeeding then you must not love your child and are either horrible, ignorant, or both. To them, “breast is best” is an opportunity to brag that they’re the best.
Enter “fed is best.” Basically, “fed is best” is a shorthand way of saying: “For those of you who don’t breastfeed, I’m not judging you. I know you have good reasons for using formula, and I’m not trying to make anyone feel guilty. You are a good, capable parent.” Which is a fantastic, important sentiment that I agree with. But I HATE when people use this phrase!
First of all, breastmilk IS the best source of food. Countless studies confirm this. It’s not even slightly up for debate. So, in a way, the statement “fed is best” is a bit misleading. I worry that people may hear this phrase and think that the benefits of breastfeeding aren’t actually that significant.
Secondly, we don’t do this with anything else! When your kid (or someone else’s) pukes on all their clothes and the only things left are a tie-dye shirt with a hole in it and plaid shorts, we don’t say “clothed is best!” Once they’re older, and you feed them donuts instead of wheat berries with coconut flakes and agave nectar, we don’t say “breakfast is best!” We acknowledge that life happens, things aren’t always optimal and move on!
Lastly, and specifically, the statement “fed is best” is just dumb. It essentially means “alive is best.” Ummmm, yeah. I think we can all agree that babies staying alive is indeed best. Do we really need a slogan celebrating this?
We can be compassionate and kind to our fellow parents while not diminishing the medical fact that breastmilk is better than formula. We don’t need to use the slogan “fed is best.”