Breast or bottle? Even before your baby is born, you’ll need to consider just how you plan to feed. Experienced mothers will have their preferences and many will offer you their unsolicited advice. While experts agree that breast milk is the ideal food for infants, many mothers cannot, or would prefer not to nurse.
Commercially prepared baby formulas offer a high quality alternative to breastfeeding and are formulated to contain all the necessary ingredients to support a growing baby’s healthy development. The important thing is that you choose what works best for you, so knowing a little about your choices may be helpful.
Reasons to Breastfeed
Proponents of breastfeeding cite a number of reasons why they feel it is the best choice. Not only is breast milk nutritionally superior to baby formula, breastfed babies typically experience less gassiness and spitting up than bottle fed babies. Additionally, mother’s milk provides babies with valuable antibodies not present in commercially prepared formula.
Breastfed babies are less prone to respiratory and ear infections, Asthma, Allergies and diabetes than those who are bottle fed, and evidence suggests that breastfed babies are even at a reduced risk of cot death.
In addition to the health benefits for your baby, mothers who breastfeed benefit too. Getting back to your pre-baby weight and fitting into your skinny clothes will be a bit easier if you breastfeed, since it not only burns calories but actually helps to shrink the uterus.
Additionally, studies show that mothers who breastfed their babies have a lower incidence of premenopausal breast cancer than their bottle feeding peers and there is some evidence suggesting that breastfeeding may reduce a woman’s chances of getting ovarian and uterine cancer.
Unlike bottle feeding, breastfeeding mothers do not have to worry about toting a supply of bottles everywhere they go. They are always ready to feed whenever their baby is hungry, and do not have to concern themselves about finding a place to prepare and warm formula. And breastfeeding is certainly more affordable than bottle feeding!
Reasons to Bottle Feed
Not all mothers are able to breastfeed. Women who are HIV positive or have AIDS, as well as mothers who are undergoing chemotherapy treatments, are not good candidates for breastfeeding. Also, some medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, make breastfeeding inadvisable. For these women, as well as those who simply prefer to bottle feed, formula provides a balanced, nutrient rich diet for their baby’s first year of life.
Bottle feeding can be easier than breastfeeding in several ways. Bottle fed babies can be fed by the father or other caregiver without the need to pump milk, which, in the middle of the night, can be a big advantage! Also, formula digests more slowly than breast milk, so bottle fed babies typically remain satisfied for longer stretches of time than breastfed babies. This can be particularly beneficial in families with several children to care for, especially those with multiples.
Breastfeeding mothers have to be careful about their diets since many foods and beverages will affect the quality of their milk. Spicy food, some vegetables, and chocolate (oh no!) can make the mother’s milk hard for her baby to digest. Formula feeding mums do not have to concern themselves with how their diet will impact their baby’s meals, so they are free to eat whatever they choose.
If you choose to bottle feed, be sure that you purchase baby formula, rather than attempting to feed a homemade recipe. Today’s high-quality formulations provide growing babies with all of the necessary nutrients in balanced, paediatrician recommended ratios. Homemade formula will not be sufficient to meet the nutritional demands of a developing baby.
Whether you choose to breastfeed your baby or opt for commercially prepared infant formula, the important thing is that you do what makes you comfortable.