Breast vs. Bottle
Deciding between breastfeeding and bottle feeding can be a difficult decision for new mothers. With the constant barrage of free samples and coupons, it may seem easier to simply feed your baby formula. Although there are pros and cons to both methods, experts agree that breast milk is the ideal choice for your baby’s nutrition.
Only about 2% of mothers are unable to breastfeed their children due to medical issues. If you have any concerns, you should consult your baby’s doctor or a lactation consultant. For those mothers who cannot feed their children, formula is an excellent alternative that provides many of the nutrients that newborn babies need.
If you are unsure about what to feed your baby, it is important to learn as much as you can about each side of the decision. Below are some issues to consider before making your choice.
Delivers the perfect food for babies. Breast milk contains ideal amounts of carbohydrates, protein, and fat. It also delivers digestive enzymes, vitamins, minerals, and hormones that are important for infants.
Is good for Mom too. Mother’s who breastfeed have a lowered risk of breast cancer and often find it easier to shed those pregnancy pounds. In addition, breastfeeding provides a perfect opportunity to create a powerful and unique bond between mother and child.
Can be much more convenient. Breast milk requires no preparation or sterilization and is always at exactly the right temperature. There is no extra equipment to carry around, and you are always ready to nurse.
Can transfer impurities from mother to child. ANY medications you take may enter the breast milk and affect the baby. It is important to maintain adequate nutrition, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of rest. Also, caffeine should be limited to 300 milligrams (about 3 cups of coffee) per day.
May need to be fed/pumped more frequently. Not only do breast-fed babies usually need to eat more often than bottle-fed babies, but the mother may need to pump breast milk if she is going to be away from the baby.
May be more convenient and allow more flexibility. Now, not only mom can feed the baby; the baby can be fed by anyone, anywhere, at anytime (so long as they have a warm bottle of pre-mixed formula). This also allows mom the ability to be away from her baby in order to go to work, run errands, etc.
Requires preparation. Mom will need to sterilize bottles, sterilize nipples, (find coupons), buy formula, mix formula, and heat formula in order to feed the baby.
Costs more. Even considering money saving coupons, bottle feeding will cost more than breastfeeding, which is free.
Can’t compare in complexity. Formula has improved, but still cannot completely meet the specific nutritional needs of an infant, which change as the baby develops.
It is important to note that switching between breastfeeding and bottle feeding during the first two months of life may cause nipple confusion. Specialists recommend using only one method for these first months, after which most babies adapt to bottle nipples easily.
Once you have settled on one method, you will undoubtedly have more questions, such as “How should I get started?” and “How often should my baby eat? And how often?” You can find answers to these questions and many more in our Nutrition & Feeding section.