Knockoff_BorderAny fashion savvy gal knows the difference between a Chanel bag and a 42nd Street knockoff. While it doesn’t take much to identify the crooked and glued-on Chanel insignia, other knockoffs can be harder to spot, because the differences are masked well; this is exactly what the billion-dollar formula industry banks on.

Despite their small-print disclaimers that breastmilk reigns supreme, formula companies want you to believe that feeding your baby packaged nutrition is pretty close to the real thing. But the bottom line is that despite years of research and gazillions of dollars spent, formula still only contains a fraction of the micronutrients present in breastmilk. For an astounding side-by-side comparison, click here. The difference is staggering, with the list of breastmilk’s naturally occurring good stuff stretching nearly five times longer than its knockoff!

While there are some similarities between breastmilk and formula, formula is simply an inferior stand-in. The overlap of essential nutrients—proteins, fats, and carbohydrates—are simply manufactured replications of breastmilk’s naturally occurring good stuff.

The proteins, for instance, are contrived from cow’s milk and no matter how much I want to believe that cow’s milk was majestically sent to this earth for purposes of my daily latte, it is species-specific milk preordained to grow baby cows. It is, in essence, “cow breastmilk.” Likewise, it is species-specific milk that is meant to grow human babies and the naturally occurring proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in human breastmilk are perfectly designed to do so.

Despite what the fancy packaging claims would have you believe, the nutritional supplements added to formula—the vitamins, minerals, DHA, etc.—are simply additives which are not as bioavailable, or readily absorbed by the baby’s body, as breastmilk’s naturally occurring equivalents. Not even the best of the knockoffs comes close to matching the nutritional punch of breastmilk. Like a real Chanel bag, breastmilk is a total knockout!

Ingredients aside, the coolest thing about breastmilk is that its secret recipe changes in real-time to address the precise needs of your individual baby at any given moment. While formula offers a one-size-fits-all approach to nutrition, breastmilk accounts for age, growth, and even environmental exposure when mixing up its magical mealtime concoction. Full of probiotics, anti-infectives, and naturally occurring antibiotics, breastmilk offers immunological protections impossible in factory replication.

Like all knockoffs, formula has served its purpose, providing a source of adequate nutrition for millions of babies over the years. But when you want to give your baby the very best, breastmilk is the real McCoy. And what’s more, it’s free! Now if only an authentic Chanel bag was equally as affordable…