As a breastfeeding advocate who helps moms interested in breastfeeding or struggling with it with encouragement and resources, I’m so disappointed to find out that a few mommy bloggers decided to review the Similac StrongMoms Baby Journal iPhone application for money paid by Abbott Lab, some even though they are educated about breastfeeding and breastfed their own babies.
Formula companies are at it again, marketing aggressively to new moms. I openly boycott Nestle for their unethical practices of pushing their wares, but the fact that a formula company is now using mommy bloggers to sell their product is a new low.
I first saw an ad for the Similac app on a blog that so far has impressed me and then received a tweet from The Marketing Mama that she had written a post about this questionable app.
This is upsetting to me on so many levels:
1. This application is to promote one thing only: Similac formula.
This application is a marketing campaign, and the fact that Similac even included tracking breastfeeding efforts of moms in their app is a joke, because obviously Similac isn’t in the business of helping you succeed with breastfeeding — they want to sell as much formula as possible and encourage you to “immediately connect with Similac’s live Feeding Expert for your infant feeding questions.” Enough said. “Feeding Experts” are not educated, knowledgeable lactation specialists.
I understand that this application has many other features that mothers might like and find helpful, and that’s fine. I’m focusing here on the fact that a formula company is including a breastfeeding feature on its app and wants moms to buy into Similac’s claim that it help them with breastfeeding when all it will do is instill doubts about the “correctness” of them feeding their child.
Because how much a baby is drinking while nursing can’t really be measured as it can with bottles, a common concern new moms have, this app will probably lead to more moms using formula because they have “Similac” on their mind using this application all day and only need to push a button to be connected with a formula sales person.
If you want or need to feed your child formula and use this app, go right ahead, just don’t expect this tool to help you with breastfeeding. You’d be much better off to call your local La Leche League leader or find other resources like Kellymom that are truly interested in you succeeding with breastfeeding.
The best advise I ever got about breastfeeding was from my doula, who said, “If you want to breastfeed and want to succeed, toss out the sample of formula you’ll get so you aren’t tempted to use it.” I did.
Not having formula in the house makes you work harder at learning to breastfeed because you don’t have anything in the house that could substitute for breast milk. How long do you think it will take for a sleep-deprived new moms to think of switching to formula after having this app in her face every few minutes and after that baby doesn’t act like it should according to the application?
2. This application will mess with your head if you are a new mom.
One of the headlines on the website promoting this app reads: “Get in sync with baby’s needs.” That’s the last thing this application will do. I never followed a schedule with my son — because babies don’t follow a schedule. Schedules are for adults; babies are only about getting their immediate needs taken care of right away.
Breastfeeding is all about learning to tune into the cues of your baby and about feeding on demand — when the baby is hungry and not about when an application beeps. I literally threw out the schedule I got from the hospital I was supposed to fill out — my son was nursing every 25 minutes in the beginning; there was no way he wasn’t getting enough milk.
3. Do we really need one more thing to distract us?
Do you really need or want an application to keep track of the number of poopy diapers? I have blogged about my resistance to even get a smart phone because I don’t want to be one of those Blackberry-addicted moms. For my taste, we already have too many electronic distractions in our over-scheduled, beeping, blinking life.
Yes, I forgot which breast I let my son nurse on last once in a while, but what’s the big deal? I can’t imagine having to pick up my phone every few minutes to record something. That would have made me terribly nervous as a first-time mother. My suggestion: have your husband/partner buy you a pretty nursing bracelet to keep track of the feedings.
Another great tip I got from my doula was to stay in bed with my baby — for days. Someone else can do the dishes. Your most important job in those crucial first few days is to take care of yourself, to conserve your energy, and to really get to know your baby.
If you want to breastfeed, there is only a small window for you both to learn to do it right to succeed with it, so wasting time with an application isn’t what I would have chosen even if this app would have been around.
4. I wish bloggers would be more discerning about letting themselves get used and bought to promote brands. This goes for saying no to “a change to win” a $10 gift card for a product review that’s going to take you an hour to write or getting a lot of money or trips from big companies.
There is a frustrating trend of mommy bloggers being pursued by brands to write paid reviews. I have blogged about saying no to many product review requests — I rather spend that time with my family and have less money and just buy one less sweater, as I have mentioned here before.
I’m very cautious to attach my name to any company — I have worked to hard to establish myself as a professional blogger and brand. Being associated with this Similac controversy that already has made national headlines (“Abbott Pays Bloggers For Positive Reviews of Its Similac App“) would be my worst nightmare.
I’m not saying I won’t do a paid review or become a brand ambassador, I’m saying I research the company as much as I can and see if they and their product stand for what I stand for. I’m not naming the names of the bloggers involved here because this is not about name calling, this is about thinking twice about being part of a marketing campaign. I feel bad for bloggers who find themselves in the middle of a bad situation like this.
I wonder how much Abbott paid these mommy bloggers and if they still think it was worth pushing a product that really doesn’t do anything to further breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding isn’t about counting every burp and running to your phone every few minutes, it’s about taking time to bond with your baby and meeting his or her needs.
Was it worth attaching themself to such a questionable product? Couldn’t they see that this app would cause a great uproar, especially from breastfeeding supporters?