Written by Ben Bunting: BA(Hons), PGCert.
As a new parent, you must be wondering whether breastfeeding is absolutely necessary, and if formula is up to the job. Afterall, formula could be considered a more convenient option for some.
However, breastfeeding is the best possible choice for your new-born. But despite how the evidence is stacking up, formula is still the go-to choice for many new parents. So why is that?
Let's have a closer look at the pros and cons of breastfeeding vs formula and what the best options are for new parents.
You may be more interested in how to breastfeed than if you should breastfeed or bottle feed.
Wondering if formula is good for baby? Or maybe you're simply curious about breastmilk vs formula?
Either way, we have answers to all these questions and more.
This article covers the following points:
- Health benefits of breastfeeding
- Formula milk for babies
Breastfeeding is the natural way to feed your baby. It can provide your baby with an ample supply of nutrients.
Formula milk may be considered a more convenient way to feed an infant. However, it is important to know that a child will receive the best diet from breastfeeding.
It is also important to remember that your child may go through several different foods before reaching a steady diet of formula milk or other pureed food.
Breast milk is always the best choice for your baby, but it is important to remember that not all mothers can breastfeed, so if this is a possibility for you, use formula as an alternative option.
Health benefits of breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is the recommended way of feeding babies and ensures that they get the best start in life.
In addition to the health benefits, breastfeeding may make your baby less prone to illnesses in the future.
However, some mothers feel that breastfeeding their children is difficult because the milk takes time to mature in the breasts and the baby tends to become bottle dependent.
This is where the idea of formula milk comes into the mix.
Nutritional content of breast milk
Formula milk has been taken over by many parents and has been marketed as the convenient, healthiest, best infant food. It's important to be aware of the advantages and disadvantages of both breastfeeding and formula milk.
That's because breastmilk is rich in nutrients, which include the following:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
- Amino acids
As well as benefiting your health, breastfeeding is one of the easiest and least time-intensive ways to ensure your child gets everything they need without being a financial burden for you.
Formula Milk for Babies
Although breastfeeding is not always easy, it can boost your baby's health and feel secure.
Bottle-feeding can create confusion, cause a leaky gut, and could lead to weight gain. In contrast, breastfeeding can dramatically decrease your infant's odds of becoming ill.
Formula milk, also known as infant formula, is usually made from cows' milk that has been treated to make it more suitable for babies.
There are two types of formula: a dry powder you make up with water, or a liquid formula you can give yourself. It's convenient to use ready-to-feed liquid formulas, but they tend to be more expensive and will require more time to use.
Babies are fed the nutrients they need to grow and develop from formula milk. However, compared to breast milk formula milk doesn't have the same benefits for you and your baby, and does not offer the same immunity protection.
Nutritional Content of Formula Milk
In infant formula, a majority of cow's milk proteins are mixed with goats' milk proteins. Glucose and other carbohydrates, protein, vegetable, fish and other oils, vitamins and minerals are all added to the milk base.
If a substance or nutrient has been proven to improve the development of a baby, it must be included in all formulas.
In other words, buying a more expensive brand of formula does not mean that your baby will grow or develop more than if you were buying cheapest ones.
Are they vegan or vegetarian friendly?
For babies under six months old, most of the formula consists of animal milk protein.
Formulas containing soya are suitable for vegetarians but are not recommended for babies under six months old except under medical supervision.
However, vegan infant milks are not available in some regions since even those without animal proteins contain vitamin D which is often sourced from sheep's wool.
It is recommended that you should provide a formula consisting of animal sourced nutrients for the first year of a child’s life before moving on to plant-based sources.
When formula is prepared safely, babies are given nutrients they need to grow and develop.
Yet formula milk can't provide many of the same health benefits as breastfeeding, such as the protection from infections and other illnesses.
That is because breastmilk contains living cells, hormones, and friendly bacteria, which change continuously to meet the baby's needs, breast milk is particularly good for a child.
This is a product that cannot be reproduced by other means.
Can I use both at the same time?
When you continue to breastfeed as well as feed your infant formula, your breastmilk will continue to provide nutrition and protection to your infant.
Therefore, you can use both side-by-side. Some may not wish to breastfeed in public or away from the privacy of their own home, as such the use of formula alongside breastfeeding is completely safe.
Breastfeeding is the best option to the health of your child. It contains nutrients that cannot be replicated by manufactured formulas using animal sourced ingredients.
However, breastfeeding isn't always an option, in which case a formula can be used, and regardless of the costs, the quality and the ingredients should be similar across varying brands.
Therefore, you do not need to opt for the most expensive product.