Woman Writes Open Letter To Stranger Who Told Her “Breast Is Best” As She Was Buying Baby Formula

Baby holding a baby bottle with breast milk for breastfeeding. Mothers breast milk is the most healthy food for newborn baby. There is empty blank billboard and copy space for text and design
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Annie Ferguson Muscato was shopping at her local Target for baby formula when a total stranger felt compelled to tell her, “Breast is best.” So in response, Annie wrote a powerful and deeply personal open letter to that individual and posted it to her Facebook page. It’s a cautionary reminder that none of us knows anyone else’s story, and that we should all think about everything we might not know before we speak. In the case of Annie’s 2-month-old baby… “fed is best”.

Via Annie’s Facebook page

Dear Stranger in Target,

You didn’t need to tell me, “breast is best” as I was buying a can of baby formula, because I already know.

I know that my husband and I excitedly took the four hour breast feeding class when I was pregnant.

I know that my baby immediately did skin to skin and ate from my breast within an hour of her birth, because it was important to me.

I know that we saw a lactation consultant before we took her home, and again a few weeks later.

I know that we struggled at first. That some nights we both cried together. That my dear friends swore it would get better. I know they were right, and it did.

I know “breast is best” just like you do.

But, let me tell you what else I know.

I know that my baby began screaming after she ate. Writhing in pain. Inconsolable.

I know over the last month and a half I have exclusively pumped and tried slow flow bottles of breast milk, I have tried different positions, I have seen another lactation consultant.

I know I have held my child, my baby, while she screamed for hours- one day for eight hours straight.

I know we have been to see the pediatrician at least twice a week since she has been born.

I know that I tried cutting soy, and dairy, and leafy greens from my diet to make my milk more digestible for her.

I have pumped- and I’m still pumping- enough to have hundreds of ounces of breast milk in my freezer even though she will likely never be able to eat it. All because “breast is best.”

And then finally, we tried the hypoallergenic dairy protein free formula you saw me buying today. And the screaming lessened. And my baby started smiling. She started interacting. She started sleeping. And I cried. Because I thought breast was best. I thought my body failed her. I thought she wouldn’t be as healthy on formula.

I know you think I must not care or I’m lazy, or maybe you were genuinely trying to be helpful and thought no one had ever told me the benefits of breast feeding.

But, you are wrong. What I know that you don’t is that breast ISN’T always best. I know happy, healthy baby is best. I know FED is best. 

What I’m sure we both know is that parenting is hard. Really hard. That sometimes what we plan for and what we want just doesn’t work out, but we are all here trying to do what’s best for our babies.

So, dear stranger, next time you see someone buying formula, try to remember that mamas should support each other. Think about everything you might not know. Remind yourself that “fed is best” and smile because it means someone loves their baby enough to do what’s best for them.

Another Mom Doing Her Best and a Happier Formula Fed Baby

P.S. Dear friends, please feel free to share this in the hopes the people who need the reminder see it. (And I will in turn promise not to bombard your wall with any more essays about parenting!)


  • Sana

    I Always will have d guilt dat i dint breast feed…i knw not how it all happened…nipple confusion people say…but my dauty dint suck breast at all….she z 4 months old now all time fed with formula…still try my breast n she just licks it…as any other object around….donno whr things went wrong…i still think bak n get no answer….at birth i thought milk hasnt produced coz nothg came wen she sucked…..now all worried abt consequences on my baby doll….n lil bit worry abt me tooo …heard chances of breast cancer more on women who dont feed their kids

    • jean szymanski

      when I had my children we weren’t expected to breast feed. A few did, but it wasn’t expected. All the new formulas were the rage. Besides, I had 3 children in 5 years, not at all sure they could have gotten all the nutrients they would have needed from my body. My kids are all healthy of mind and body. Do what is best for you and your baby. Healthy and happy is what is best, however you get there.

  • Chris

    Thank you for this. My oldest daughter is nearly 20 now and the guilt I was given by others for not continuing to breast feed her was horrible. And the guilt I carried for not trying with the 2nd was also horrible. The dirty looks in the hospital, in the clinic and in public when I’d whip out a bottle…people can be so rude.

    So thank you for this. Good stuff. People should mind their own business!

  • Queenie

    Why does nobody just address the offending party when the incident occurs anymore? Enough with the open letters. Look directly at Dear Lady in Target and tell her “Mind your own business. You don’t know our situation.” Done and done.