To breastfeed or to bottle-feed? Every new mother must wrestle with this question. With so much information out there, it can be difficult to know if you are making the right decision. The good news is that there is no “correct” choice to make; there are advantages and disadvantages to both feeding options. Ultimately every mother must decide what works best for herself and for her family. We’ve laid out the pros and cons for you so you can make an informed decision.
- Breast milk contains a lot of nutrients in the perfect concentrations, which helps keep babies healthy. Furthermore, the composition of the milk will change over time to meet babies’ changing nutritional needs.
- Breast milk also contains a lot of white blood cells and other natural chemicals that help babies fight off infections, especially during their first few months of life.
- Babies can digest breast milk very easily, and they get to decide how much they drink at one time.
- Breastfeeding babies is thought to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, protect against allergies and asthma, decrease babies’ risk of obesity in the future, and promote healthy brain development.
- Breast milk is always at the perfect temperature, readily available (no preparation required), and free!
- And a plus for moms: breastfeeding can help mothers shed baby weight.
- Mothers must always be available when it is time to feed, which can be difficult for working mothers. Using a breast pump to prepare bottles of milk ahead of time is a good way to get around this problem.
- Moms must pump milk if babies miss a feeding.
- Certain medications are not recommended for use while breastfeeding, and some can interfere with breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor about which medications you are currently taking to be sure that breastfeeding is a safe option for you.
- Breastfeeding can be uncomfortable for some mothers. Also, some babies have difficulty learning to breastfeed. If your baby is having difficulties, but you would still like to breastfeed, consult with a lactation specialist.
- Bottle-feeding provides tremendous flexibility. Mothers don’t always have to be available for feedings, and bottles can be made and carried almost anywhere.
- Bottle-feeding also allows fathers to be more involved in feeding their babies. And, parents can get more sleep by taking turns feeding during the night.
- We know about many of the nutrients contained in breast milk, so formulas can be made to be as healthy and nutrient-rich as possible.
- There are a lot of formula options out there, but most are pretty much the same in terms of content. Don’t feel like you have to buy the most expensive brand to get a good quality formula.
- Bottle-feeding gives moms more freedom in terms of what they can eat. Some foods and beverages, if consumed by moms, can make breastfed babies uncomfortable and fussy.
- If mom is happy, baby is happy. If you find that bottle-feeding is less stressful for you or fits your needs best, then that’s probably the best option for you.
- Some babies don’t tolerate certain types of formula well. Parents may have to experiment with different types before finding the right one.
- The amount of milk consumed by babies needs to be determined by the caregiver or doctor.
- Formula can be expensive. As we said earlier, don’t feel like you have to buy the most expensive brand.
- Bottles and bottle supplies must be on hand whether you’re at home or out and about. Also, they must be washed frequently which can be time-consuming.
- Bottles must be prepared and warmed (at least to room temperature), which can also be time consuming.
- There may be beneficial components of breast milk that we don’t yet know about. Those may not be found in packaged formulas.