There are many decisions that new parents have to make, and one of the most important is how to feed their baby. Breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding is a debate that has been going on for years, and there is no clear answer as to which one is better. Some people swear by breastfeeding, while others prefer bottle feeding. Here, we will discuss the pros and cons of both methods and help you decide which one is right for you and your baby.
Both the mother and the infant can benefit from nursing. It delivers optimal nutrition and a unique bonding experience that many mothers value. Breastfeeding is recommended by a variety of health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the World Health Organization (WHO). Breastfeeding can help protect your baby from infections, allergies, and a variety of chronic illnesses. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be nursed exclusively for the first six months of their lives. Breastfeeding is recommended for at least 12 months and maybe longer if both the mother and the infant are willing. (KidsHealth, 2018)
Commercially manufactured infant formula is a nutritional alternative to breast milk, and it even offers several vitamins and elements that breastfed newborns require supplements to obtain. Commercial formulas, which are made under sterile circumstances, seek to replicate mother’s milk by combining a complicated combination of proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins that are impossible to make at home. If you don’t nurse your child, it’s critical to stick to professionally manufactured formula rather than attempting to make your own. Breastfeeding may be too difficult or unpleasant for some mothers for a variety of reasons, including medical issues. (KidsHealth, 2018)
Benefits of Breastfeeding
Breastfeeding has unrivaled health benefits for both mothers and newborns. Breast milk is particularly customized to fulfill the health needs of a developing baby, making it the clinical gold standard for infant feeding and nutrition.
Breastfed babies are less likely to develop obesity, infections of the gastrointestinal tract (diarrhea/vomiting), asthma, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), Type 1 diabetes, acute otitis media (ear infections), severe lower respiratory disease, and necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) for preterm infants. Breastfeeding can help a mother’s risk of developing blood pressure that is too high, ovarian and breast cancer, and Type 2 diabetes. (CDC, 2021)
Basics of Breastfeeding
First and foremost, knowing how to latch is critical, as poor latching is the leading source of breast discomfort. On average, feeding sessions can last 20–30 minutes. When it comes to nursing success, it’s better to feed newborns when they’re hungry (on demand) rather than on a schedule. However, because newborns aren’t usually born hungry — their hunger usually develops during the third day — there isn’t likely to be much demand at first. As a result, you may need to take the initiative — even push — at first. For the first few weeks, a baby should have at least eight to twelve feedings per day, even if demand isn’t yet at that level. (Bellefonds, 2022)
Who Can Help Get You Started
You can consult your baby’s doctor, a postpartum doula, a lactation expert, local mom’s groups, friends, and relatives who have breastfed in the past and get help from them. When it comes to bottle feeding or breastfeeding, both have their pros and cons, and ultimately the decision is up to you. If you’re able to breastfeed, it’s certainly worth a try—for both you and your baby. But if breastfeeding isn’t possible or doesn’t work out for you. Don’t stress! Bottle feeding can be just as good. Whichever way you choose to feed your baby, the important thing is that they’re getting the nutrition they need to grow and thrive.
“Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding (for Parents) – Nemours Kidshealth.” Edited by Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, KidsHealth, The Nemours Foundation, June 2018, kidshealth.org/en/parents/breast-bottle-feeding.html.
“Why It Matters.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 23 Aug. 2021, www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/about-breastfeeding/why-it-matters.html.
Bellefonds, Colleen de. “Breastfeeding: Basics and Tips for Nursing Your Baby.” What to Expect, 11 Jan. 2022, www.whattoexpect.com/first-year/breastfeeding/basics/.