Breastfeeding vs. Formula feeding
Choosing how and what to feed your baby is a personal decision that deserves careful and thorough consideration.
Pros and cons of breastfeeding and formula feeding
Breastfeeding has many advantages.
Breastfeeding is the natural nutritional source for infants less than one year of age. Most health care professionals recommend breastfeeding for your baby’s first year if possible.
Experts agree that breastfeeding your baby for any length of time, regardless of how short, is of benefit to you and your baby.
Even if you are not able to breastfeed exclusively, you can supplement by formula and continue mixed feeding.
You can provide your baby with breast milk by either breast-feeding or by feeding your baby breast milk from a bottle.
Health Benefits : It has been proven by research that breastfeeding is nutritionally best for babies. Breastfed babies are less likely to contract infections as mother’s antibodies are passed to baby through milk.
- Breast milk is the best source of nutrition for the first 6 months of life. It contains appropriate amounts of carbohydrate, protein, and fat, and provides digestive enzymes, minerals, vitamins, and hormones that infants require. Breast milk also contains antibodies from the mother that can help the baby resist infections.
There is less likely-hood of mother developing breast or ovarian cancer
Perfect for babies : Breast -milk is meant for human babies by nature and is unique. It is impossible to replicate it artificially. Milk changes consistency during day and night and based on baby’s requirement.
- Always available : You do not have to worry about carrying bottles, water and other equipments when you travel with baby. You can feed the best food for baby whenever required.
Bonding : It establishes a beautiful bond between mother and baby.
No sterilization required: Breast-milk is ready to serve whenever baby is hungry. No worries about sterilizing equipment or infections.
Inexpensive : Breast-milk is free as oppose to formula which can be quite expensive.
- Baby gets used to different tastes : Babies get used to different variety of foods through mother’s diet
Challenges of breastfeeding
- Mother has to be near baby all the time to feed.
- Mothers have to be careful about their diet and cannot have anything that may not be suitable for baby.
- Initial breastfeeding days can be quite challenging for mothers both physically and emotionally.
Even though breastfeeding is recommended by doctors, many women are not able to breastfeed either due to choice or medical reason or work. In such cases, bottle feeding can be the saviour.
Bottle feeding has it’s own advantages
Anyone can feed : Biggest advantage with bottle feeding is that mother need not be with the baby to feed. Anyone can feed the baby at any time. If mother is away for work, she can express breast milk and that can be given in a bottle by a care-giver.
Baby feels full for longer : Formula makes baby full for longer duration.
Easy to keep track : One can know exactly how much a baby has fed on a particular day.
No restriction on mother’s diet : Mother does not have to worry about how what she is eating can affect the baby.
Fortified formula : Formula is fortified with vitamin and minerals in exact quantity. Especially after 6 months, formula-fed babies get appropriate amount of iron from formula.
Bottle feeding also has its challenges:
- Baby does not get natural antibodies present in mother’s milk
- Baby does not regulate intake hence you don’t know how much to feed.
- Formula is expensive and costs can pile up after a while.
It should be noted that though breastfeeding has serious benefits and should be encouraged, formula-fed babies develop and thrive as well as breast-fed babies.