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Congratulations on entering the world’s most noble job and life’s biggest blessing – motherhood! You must surely be overwhelmed with this new phase in life and we’re sure you are enjoying your little one immensely. Breastfeeding is one of nature’s best gifts to both mother and baby and is highly recommended for the overall health of both. It even gives you time to bond with your baby.
Sometimes due to certain complications or inability, some mothers are unable to breastfeed. In such cases one may wonder whether it is okay to substitute human milk with cow’s milk. For moms who need some information on feeding babies cow’s milk over human milk, this article should help.
Should You Give Cow’s Milk Or Breast Milk To Your Baby?
It is always recommended by experts to give breast milk to your newborn up to at least one year of age. Cow’s milk is not advisable till your baby turns at least 10 to 12 months old. The main reson for this is – your infant’s digestive system finds it difficult to break down cow’s milk. Also, cow’s milk is less nutritious as compared to breast milk. In case you are unable to supply adequate milk to your newborn, a pediatrician may recommend you to supplement your breastfeeding with cow’s milk or formula milk (depending on other healthy, dietary, and feeding patterns and concerns).
Comparing The Benefits Of Human Milk And Cow’s Milk For Babies
1. Breast Milk Contain Antibodies While Cow’s Milk Doesn’t.
Breast milk contains antibodies that help boost your baby’s immunity to combat bacterial and viral infections, and in turn protects your infant from the risk of various diseases and infections. In fact, one of the types of antibodies, called IgA, can be obtained by the baby only through the mother’s breast milk. On the other hand, cow’s milk does not contain any of the antibodies that your breast milk has. You might now realize why breast milk is essential for baby’s immunity.
2. Water Content In Breast Milk Is Adequate.
Your breast milk comprises of adequate amount of water that not only quenches your baby’s thirst but also meets your baby’s water needs. Contrarily, the water content in cow’s milk doesn’t match up to your baby’s water requirement.
3. Breast Milk Contains Greater Amount Of Fats Than Cow’s Milk.
Your breast milk comprises of more healthy fats than cow’s milk. Cow’s milk contains significantly lower amounts of the essential fatty acids that are so good for your baby’s growth and development. What’s more, they are present in a form that is easy for the baby to absorb and derive nutrition from.
4. Breast Milk Is More Easily Digestible Than Cow’s Milk.
This is primarily because cow’s milk contains a much higher amount of proteins, as compared to breast milk. The human body requires more energy to completely digest proteins. This makes cow’s milk hard for the baby to digest. Some cow-milk proteins are also known to cause allergies in infants.
5. Breast Milk Has More Carbohydrates Than Cow’s Milk.
This is why breast milk provides good quality nutrition to the baby, allowing the baby to remain energetic through the day. With good energy levels, everything else progresses smoothly too – growth, sleep, and play!
6. Breast Milk Has Right Amounts Of Vitamins And Minerals Too.
If you eat a balanced diet while nursing, your breast milk offers right amounts of essential vitamins and minerals to the baby, meeting all his nutritional needs. Cow’s milk, on the other hand, contains almost no vitamins, excess of minerals like sodium, phosphorous, potassium, and very little of iron. While all these are essential minerals, if they are not given in the required quantities, they can cause more harm than good.
What If You Can’t Breastfeed Your Baby?
They say motherhood is an instinct. Everything just clicks, falls into place, kicks in, once your baby is put in your arms. But this is not entirely true. There are a lot of new things you have to learn, fast. Learning to breastfeed your newborn can be quite the challenge for a new mother. If for some reason you are unable to breastfeed your infant, however, you may have to devise different solutions. For most mothers, expressing breast milk and then feeding it to your baby with a spoon or a bottle will be the best alternative to breastfeeding. Other mothers may have to resort to supplementing their breast milk with external milk.
One may believe that cow’s milk is more natural, and should be the obvious choice over formula milk, but that is not true. Formula milk is designed especially to be similar to breast milk. Cow’s milk – although natural – is too different from breast milk (as we have seen above). The priority should always be: breast milk > formula milk > cow’s milk.
If you are unable to produce enough breast milk to meet your growing baby’s needs, you can alter your diet to increase your breast milk. Just like you are the best mom for your baby, your breast milk too is the best nutrition for him too. Remember – you are equipped with everything your baby needs, just follow your instinct and let nature take its course.