Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding - Which One Is Better?

breast feeding

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In the list of all the debates and controversies revolving around motherhood, parenting and pregnancy, the debate between breastfeeding and formula feeding definitely tops the list.

If you breastfeed your baby, you may have to deal with some uncomfortable and embarrassing situations in public. If you decide to formula feed, you may be scolded for not giving your baby the ‘natural’ food that he or she needs; not to mention all that mommy guilt that strikes in afterwards.

If that sounds like you, well, don’t worry, we have made this simpler for you – find out what’s the right choice for your baby. Check out below who’s winning in the fight against breastfeeding & formula feeding.

[ Read: Breastfeeding In Public ]

Breastfeeding vs Formula Feeding:

Now here we will discuss in detail about both types of feeding and the benefits of breastfeeding versus formula feeding.


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Why Breastfeeding?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), breast milk is definitely the best source of nutrition for infants. Babies younger than 6 months should be exclusively fed breast milk, and slowly weaned after other solid foods are introduced.

The AAP also recommends continuing breastfeeding till your baby is at least a year old, as long as both you and your baby are willing. Here are some more points on the side of breastfeeding:

  • Breast milk is thought to reduce the risk of sudden infant death (SID) syndrome in babies.
  • It is also more easily digestible than formula milk, which usually tends to leave your baby constipated or gassy.
  • Breast milk is the best source of natural antibodies that protects your baby from a range of illnesses and infections by strengthening its immunity.
  • Breast milk is also thought to improve cognitive functioning in children and is thought to raise your child’s intelligence.
  • Recent studies have also confirmed that breast milk may reduce the risk of several health issues including lymphoma, diabetes type 1 and 2, high blood cholesterol, asthma, leukemia and obesity later in life.

And that’s not all! Breastfeeding is thought to have many benefits for the mom too. Women who breastfeed tend to have a lower risk of osteoporosis, ovarian cancer, diabetes, breast cancer and heart disease. It also helps strengthen the bond between the mother and the baby.

Breastfeeding Challenges:

Breastfeeding is easy for some mothers, but again some others may take time to get used to it. Both mom and her baby require an ample amount of time to get on par with the nursing routine.

Some common concerns of the mothers, especially in the first few weeks to months include:

  • Uncomfortable Feeling – There are chances for the mother to feel uncomfortable during the initial phase of breastfeeding. Many moms overcome this with proper education, practice and support.
    Latch-on Pain – It is normal for the first week and will last less than a minute for each feeding. But, if the mothers are troubled throughout the feedings and if the nipples turn sore, it is good to get help from your doctor.
  • Frequency – Breastfeeding requires a high commitment from new moms, especially in the initial stages where babies feed frequently. Breastfed babies feed more often than babies who are on formula feeding since breast milk digests quicker than formula feed.
  • Diet – Nursing moms should be aware of their food habits since what they eat can pass through the breast milk. They should not eat fish high in mercury. Also, the alcohol and caffeine intake should be cut down since they can cause problems like irritability and restlessness in babies.
  • Medical Conditions – Conditions like HIV/AIDS, treatments like chemotherapy and being on medications may make breastfeeding a bad option. A new mom should also check with her health care provider to know whether it is safe for her to breastfeed with any particular condition. Also, she should check if she in on over the counter medications or herbal medications.

[ Read: Diabetes In Children ]

Why Formula Feeding?

While formula milk may not be as nutrient rich as breast milk, it is also a healthy choice for babies. A lot of moms tend to find formula feeding convenient for a variety of reasons.

  • Formula feeding is flexible. You can manage to get your chores done knowing that your baby is well fed.
  • You can share the job with your partner, particularly during night time feedings.
  • You can also have your favorite foods once in a while, which is not possible in the case of breastfeeding.
  • Formula milk is manufactured under sterile conditions and is usually composed of all the vitamins and minerals that your baby needs during his crucial developing period.
  • Formula milk is developed in an attempt to duplicate mother’s milk. It is a complex combination of fats, sugars, proteins and other nutrients, which are the best for your growing baby.

[ Read: Newborn Tips For Dad ]

Formula Feeding Challenges:

There are certain challenges new mothers need to consider when adopting formula feeding.

  • Unable To Match The Breastmilk Complexity – Formula feeds duplicate the breast milk complexity and the baby’s needs also change.
  • Lack Of Antibodies – FFormula feed does not contain any antibodies that are commonly found in breastmilk. Therefore, it will not play any role to improve the immunity of your baby against infections.
  • Expensive – Formula feed is expensive and depends on the type you use. Powder formula is least expensive, which is followed by concentrated formula and then ready to feed formula being highly expensive.
  • Bowel Problems – Babies can have problems with gas and bowel movements. Formula fed babies are likely to be more affected than breastfed babies.
  • Preparing Feed – Formula feeding requires planning and organization so that the feed is always handy to feed your baby. Proper storage is essential to prevent bacterial formation that may harm the baby. It is also important to keep the necessary supplies accessible, clean and ready to use.

Making A Choice – Breastfeeding Vs. Formula Feeding:

It is not at all easy to decide how will you feed your little one. Some women may choose one method before the delivery and then change later after the birth. And some women choose to both breastfeed and formula feed according to their comfort and lifestyle. It is, therefore, better to check with a health care provider as they can give you the right options and help you with the best decision.

Both breastfeeding and formula feeding has their own perks, and the basic idea is to keep your kid well fed and ‘healthy.’ It is best to stick with breastfeeding for at least 6 initial months of your baby’s life, and then move on to formula feeding if you find it difficult or inconvenient to breastfeed.

Trying to balance breastfeeding with formula feeding is a good trick – You can breastfeed in the comfort of your home and carry formula milk for when you’re travelling or outdoors!

Share with your views on the topic breastfeeding vs formula feeding below.



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