Similac Mom: Formula for Grownups

A friend sent me a blog post a few weeks ago explaining the release of a new product: Similac Mom. It doesn’t seem to be available in the US, but it sure is for sale in lots of other countries around the world. It’s a product designed for pregnant and postpartum women to drink, purportedly to complement a mom’s healthy diet.Similac product for moms

According to the manufacturer, “it’s a ready-to-use beverage that provides complete balanced nutrition packed with protein, vitamins, minerals and other essential nutrients as part of a prenatal regimen or after childbirth.” Also, “Healthy babies start with healthy moms. That’s why now more than ever, it’s time to really take care of yourself. Part of feeling your best is making sure you get the extra nutrition you need so you have energy for you and your baby.”

My initial reaction is that I don’t *hate* it. From a business perspective, of course Similac would target pregnant and nursing mothers. Breastfeeding is the biologically normal way to feed a baby, and it’s free, so the company needs to get at a family’s funds with another product. Similac also manufactures a prenatal vitamin, which is basically the same as all the other prenatal vitamins.

Here, they aren’t marketing a human milk substitute, but rather a “health” drink. It’s in the same vein as herbal tea, right?


The second ingredient in the vanilla flavor is sugar. I will admit that I can’t quite figure out how to read the nutrition label, but it seems like there is a lot of sugar. Dr. Freedhoff explains that there is more sugar than a Coca Cola.

The nutrition label lists calories as “energy,” which I suppose is true if you are thinking about the scientific process of heating one gram of water one degree Centigrade…but regardless, there are 225 bits of energy in a bottle of adult formula.

The product strikes me as awfully similar to SlimFast or Carnation Instant Breakfast. Except sugar is the third ingredient on those drinks. My point? Similac Mom might indeed have protein and healthy fats, but it has way too much sugar to be ethically marketed as a health drink for pregnant or nursing moms. But what makes it different than SlimFast? Than any of those bottled drinks we know are bad for us but we buy anyway?

I feel worried that the advertisement claims Similac Mom is recommended for pregnant and lactating women by “leading doctors.” Who are these doctors? On the website, one of them is Sonja Wicklum, who studies weight loss and works with Ottawa Civic Hospital Weight Management Clinic and Bariatric Center of Excellence. It’s interesting that Dr. Freedhoff, who wrote the blog post opposed to Similac Mom, seems to work for the same university as Dr. Wicklum. I digress–the drink is super sugary!

Some pregnant women commented online that the drink was the only thing they could keep down while pregnant. In these cases, fats and sugars would indeed be important. So there’s that.

My other problem, of course, is that when moms sign up to receive samples of Similac Mom in the mail to support their increased nutritional needs while breastfeeding, they are sent $80 worth of coupons for infant formula in addition to their vanilla or chocolate adult formula. Here’s where it all starts to get slippery and enter the realm of marketing practices I (and the World Health Organization) find unethical.

I recognize that few adults have time to always prepare whole foods, that the modern, Western diet is not balanced, and that we need packaged, processed foods sometimes. Like I said, I don’t hate this product. I hate that it’s found in the infant aisle (conveniently located near the infant formula) and I hate how Similac is dancing with the WHO code here.

When I am breastfeeding and parenting and working and too busy to cook my own crackers from scratch to dip in homemade hummus, I personally prefer a Luna bar. At least those have fiber!

2 comments to Similac Mom: Formula for Grownups

  • I am confused by this product. I ended up on Similac’s mailing list after my son was born and recently they sent me coupons for Similac Mom. I thought it was a joke at first! Formula for moms. What will they think of next?

  • Helen

    This is just one more attempt (and a sucessful one) to increase Abbott Nutrition’s market share. There is Similac for babies (in all different varieties), Similac Step 2 (for babies 6 months and older), Similac Go and Grow Stage 3 (for toddlers/picky eaters), Pediasure (age 1-13)with recipes, Ensure (for weight gain, for weight loss, for before and after surgery, when one is too busy to eat, when one is too ill or elderly to eat) and now Similac Mom. Cradle to grave, we can drink our meals out of a can, courtesy of Abbott Nutrition.

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