Choosing whether to breastfeed or formula feed a baby is often a decision that should be carefully thought about to ensure that your baby obtains the necessary nutrients to help him or her grow. To expectant and new parents, this decision can be difficult especially if they aren’t knowledgeable about both options and don’t know how they’ll affect the health and well-being of their baby.
Below are a few factors that can help you understand both choices so that you can decide what is right for you and your baby.
Breastfeeding is healthier for your baby
The first element that an expectant or new parent should know is that breastfeeding is the best choice to consider to properly nourish your baby and decrease harmful illnesses. Many organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend that infants be breastfed for the first 6 months and encourage mothers to continue until at least 12 months. When a mother breast feeds her child, she passes along powerful antibodies that aid in strengthening a baby’s immune system, which helps fight—or decrease—infections such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, or meningitis. Parents also find that breast milk is easily digestible and have very few problems with diarrhea or constipation.
Breast milk contains plenty of vitamins and minerals but makes small amounts of vitamin D
Although breast milk contains many vitamins and minerals, it does not make enough vitamin D that is crucial for proper baby growth. Many pediatricians and other health practitioners recommend that babies receive vitamin D supplements the first 2 months, and up until the baby receives enough vitamin D through fortified formula or milk. Children who lack vitamin D are at greater risk of developing skeletal deformities that can affect a baby’s development and can delay his or her crawling or walking.
Fortified formula is a nutritional alternative to breast milk
Many medical concerns and other factors often impede women from breastfeeding. Although breast milk is the best choice of nourishment for your baby, fortified formula can give your baby the necessary nutrients that’ll help him or her grow. If you have trouble lactating or have your own personal reasons as to why you choose not to breastfeed—you can be sure that fortified formula is a nutritional alternative.
Fortified formula is costly
Unlike mothers who breastfeed and don’t spend a cent on milk, mothers who buy fortified baby food not only spend money on costly formula, but also need to purchase baby bottles, nipples, and other supplies to feed their baby. They also have the responsibility of warming up bottles—so that formula could be appealing to the baby—and must thoroughly wash the bottles so they’re clean and ready for next use. Mothers who breastfeed, on the other hand, always have fresh warm milk everywhere they go and don’t have the need to spend on anything. They are also less likely to consult or visit the doctor because breastfed babies seldom get sick. Every natural nutrient in breast milk keeps the baby sane and saves parents from purchasing prescriptions or over-the-counter medicines.
Formula feeding challenges
Parents who decide to formula feed their babies should remember that babies have feeding needs that need to be properly addressed in a timely manner. Babies should not be kept waiting to be fed. Making sure that you have enough formula handy and available is crucial so that your baby obtains his nutrients when he or she needs them. Careful planning and organization are vital to avoid jeopardizing your baby’s feeding time. Parents should also be aware that, until this day, formula has not been able to match the complexity of breastmilk. Unlike breast milk that changes as your baby matures, fortified formula doesn’t change as the baby’s need change, so it’s important for parents to be mindful of this before officially sticking to formula.
Making a choice
Making a choice takes time. Mothers often wait until they’ve talked to pediatricians who can clear their doubts and make them feel more at ease about their decision. Other mothers decide after pregnancy to officially determine if the choice will work out for the both. Overall, remember that your choice will affect you and your baby and careful thinking should be considered while you are weighing out your decision.