Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding – 10 Differences You Must Know About
Mother’s milk is best for the baby! You should supplement with formula. Feeding your baby is a subject of great discussion where everyone has some advice or the other to share. As mothers, feeding is also something that makes us anxious as we wonder whether or not our baby is well-fed. Doctors suggest that the child be exclusively breast-fed for six months. Mother’s milk is definitely the best option for your baby. However, there could be various factors that can lead to the introduction of formula milk in your baby’s diet. So, what are the differences between them? Will choosing one over the other impact your baby in any way?
Let’s put this straight – mother’s milk is unparalleled. There is no doubt about it. In fact, most of the medical associations in the world, including the World Health Organization (WHO), have reinforced the importance of mother’s milk over anything else. However, formula feeding has become an increasingly popular choice as well, because it fits into the lifestyle and situation of many mothers today. It makes an alternate feeding option when breastfeeding is not possible due to reasons such as the mother’s illness or unavailability, any medications she could be taking, or under supply of breast milk.
When Setting Out to Make A Choice for Your Baby, It Is Critical to Consider The Differences between The Two Options, and How They Can Affect Your Child:
1. Breastmilk Protects Against SIDS
Mother’s milk has been found to prevent the risk of infant death to a significant extent. The risk of sudden infant death syndrome or SIDS is considerably lower in breastfed in babies
2. Breastmilk Provides Natural Immunity
Breast milk provides an infant with key natural antibodies that help in developing the immune system of the child. It also helps prevent infections that are common in the initial months. According to further studies on the subject, breastmilk also reduces the chances of diseases like diabetes, bad cholesterol, asthma, leukaemia and obesity. Formula doesn’t contain the antibodies that breastmilk contains.
3. Breastmilk Digests More Easily Than Formula
Breast milk is easily digestible. This means the chances of constipation and gas are lower when you breastfeed your baby.
4. Mothers Benefit from Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is not only great for the baby but for the mother too! Mothers who breastfeed tend to have a lower risk of osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, diabetes, heart disease and breast cancer! Formula, of course, doesn’t have any of these benefits.
5. Breastmilk Strengthens Muscles
Breastmilk is excellent to boost the growth of your newborn by strengthening the muscles and bones at the same time.
6. Formula Feeding Is Required Less Often
If you are formula feeding the baby, he needs to be fed less frequently. This is mainly because formula milk takes more time to digest than breast milk.
7. Formula Feeding Lets You Regulate The Amount of Milk
It is a good way to know how much milk your baby has taken in a feeding. This is not possible when he is breastfeeding.
8. Formula Feeding Negates Side Effects of Medicines/Diet You May Be Taking
Formula is the safest option if you are undergoing any medical treatment. You can continue with your medicines, if any, without worrying about their side-effects on your baby. Nursing moms also need to follow a strict diet since the food they eat can pass to the baby through the breastmilk. This means that fish, alcohol and caffeine need to be cut down drastically because they can cause irritability in babies. So if your medicines require you to eat one of these, breastfeeding is not a good option.
9. Formula Helps with Nutrition Once You Start Weaning/Solids
Babies take time to get used to solid food. Initially, they may reject or spit it up. Once you start trying to wean your baby off breastmilk, nursing will obviously decrease. However, babies may not get all the required nutrition from solid food. But babies who continue to be formula-fed at this time get the required nutrients.
10. Breastmilk May Improve Brain Power
Some studies indicate that infants who are fed breast milk, especially within the first 28 days of life, may have better brain development and cognitive outcomes. No such results have been noted for formula fed babies.
How to Choose between Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding?
With all the different recommendations you receive, it can be a difficult choice to pick between breastmilk and formula milk for your baby. First and foremost, if you are able to give enough time and have adequate milk to breastfeed your baby, then there is nothing better for the newborn. So, in this case, if you have no particular ailment, you should prioritize breastfeeding. Mother’s milk will fulfill the physical, neurological, and psychological needs of your newborn efficiently.
However, in today’s fast paced life, many new mothers have to join back work after a few days or months of childbirth. For them, formula feeding or mixed feeding becomes the ideal option. The baby can be fed without your presence. This is a great advantage for working women. Additionally, your partner can feed the baby and get more attached to him as well. You may also have to opt for formula if your milk supply is low or inadequate or if you are recovering from a complicated pregnancy or delivery. Many women suffer latching problems or sore nipples which can make nursing difficult for them. Here again, formula can help ensure your baby is well-fed.
As a matter of course, we would suggest breastfeeding your baby at least for 6 months before switching to formula milk. Goes without saying, the choice would be largely dependent on your lifestyle and situations. Formula is expensive too, depending on the brand and type you use. Powder formula is the least expensive while ready-to-feed formula is the most expensive. So do this only if you can fit it into your lifestyle and day to day situation.You also need to be very careful that you prepare it as instructed as not doing so can be very harmful for the child.
Finally, if you are not able to breastfeed for some reason, don’t feel pressurised or bullied because someone tells you formula is unsuitable for babies. Formula is created specially keeping in mind the needs of little ones and is the choice that many women before you have opted for. It contains vitamins and minerals that a baby needs during his development period, and is perfectly safe when chosen and prepared correctly. There is no need to feel guilty if it is your choice.
What are your views on the breastfeeding vs formula feeding debate? Share your opinion in the comments below.