The “Fed is Best” Controversy

Rachel discussesThe argument over “Fed is Best” seems to come up regularly in mom groups. I frequently see these posts on Facebook with moms on both sides getting really heated. I think this is inevitable with an emotionally charged subject.

The debate over breast milk versus formula can get super ugly.  

Before going any further, I want to be very clear that formula is a perfectly healthy way to feed a baby and it has definitely saved lives.

I want to support all moms.

But I must admit that I am struggling with this phrase and I think we should be able to discuss the actual language we use. My critique of a phrase is NOT a critique of formula or moms who use formula.

I’d like to be able to be able to talk about this phrase from a less emotional standpoint. I’ve boiled my thoughts down to a single point that does not address formula or breast milk.

It comes down to semantics.

What does “fed is best” mean?

Taken at face value, is it telling moms that they should feed their baby? Since feeding isn’t optional and the term best is a superlative adjective and implies that there are adequate alternatives, this statement seems paradoxical.

I’ve been trying to listen and really understand the intended meaning of the phrase.

Lots of moms have shared what the phrase means to them, some I would agree with and others I would not.

For instance, if the phrase is intended to mean “The health and happiness of mom and baby are more important than what baby is fed” then I wholeheartedly agree.

But is that what it means? I don’t know because that is not what the actual words mean.

Why can’t we just SAY what we mean?

I’m not sure any of these catchy slogans are actually helpful for moms. We sacrifice meaning for brevity. 

What does this “fed is best” mean to you?


About Author


Hey, I’m Rachel.

I have three awesome sons and an amazing husband. I left my professional career to be a stay-at-home-mom and love it. Since then I spend most of my time chasing my wild boys and trying to keep the house from looking like a complete disaster.

Occasionally, I get to read a cheesy romance novel, attempt crafty things, or binge Netflix. But when I’m not doing that, you can find me here trying to help you figure out the easiest ways to feed your family, live on one income, or make some of the millions of decisions moms tackle every day.


  1. McKayla says:

    You literally took the words right out of my mouth! I’ve had this exact argument with so many people. Also, I went through the same excruciating pain when nursing, I don’t think it went away until just about the 2 month mark… But we made it 6 months, until my milk dried up. Thank you for finally saying what needs to be said!

    1. Rachel says:

      Thanks! Sometimes I think I’m the only one who thinks this stuff.

      1. Vanessa says:

        Rachel, sometimes you think you are the only one who thinks this stuff?? Are you joking? It’s been done before countless times. “Fed is the Bare minimum” is the lactivist mantra. The McDonald’s and other junk food comparison has been done countless times. Nothing you said is original. Same lactivist propaganda we have seen countless times.

    2. Vanessa says:

      You kidding? This BS has been said many times before. It originated with the lactonut Milk Meg and you can’t go to any Fed is Best discussion online without bitter lactivist saying “Fed is the Bare minimum”.

      1. Ashley says:

        What are you ever talking about? She didn’t say anything negative she literally just said that the term “fed is best” seems to be interpreted differently through different people and organizations. Stop being an a**hole for no reason. Of course no one is saying you should feed your child or let them starve to death. Get your panties out of your butt and chill out.

  2. Greta Frey says:

    How awful of you. To state that a mother who ‘s baby fell under the category of being underfed or dehydrated was a lack of education and support is extremely arrogant. First of all, it’s not that rare anymore from r mothers to have a low supply. It doesn’t matter how many supplements you take, how many times a day you pump, your body just refuses to make it. So yes FED IS BEST! Especially for mothers struggling with postpartum depression who could already feel like a failure don’t need rude absurd women like yourself making them feel guilty for making the quality of their own life and their baby’s life better.

  3. Nicole says:

    Totally agree. Thank you for saying it!

  4. Rachel says:

    Sorry you feel that way.

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