Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding

Whether to breastfeed or formula feed your baby is one of the first decisions a mother has to make. There is no right or wrong answer; it’s a question of what you as the mother feel comfortable with. However, many authorities, including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommend breastfeeding. Below we’ll go over the advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding vs. formula.

 Advantages of Breastfeeding vs. Formula

Breastfeeding is a great way to fight infections. Antibodies that are passed from you to your baby can help prevent ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections, and meningitis.

Breastfeeding is especially beneficial for premature babies and may also protect children against allergies, asthma, diabetes, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). Breast milk is also the perfect formula for a baby’s digestive system. It contains lactose, protein (whey and casein), and fat, all of which are easily digested by a newborn baby. It also contains all the vitamins and minerals a newborn requires. Breast milk is free, convenient, and doesn’t require extra time for mixing, washing, and sterilizing bottles.

Breastfeeding Disadvantages

As a nursing mother, you must cut down on foods and beverages that contain caffeine, which can cause restlessness and irritability in babies. But most mothers are used to drinking less caffeine anyway, because they kept their intake to a minimum during pregnancy, so this shouldn’t be hard.

Some mothers face medical conditions such as HIV or AIDS, or others that require treatment with medications that may make breastfeeding unwise. Mothers who’ve had breast reduction surgery may have difficulty if their milk ducts have been severed. In a case like this, a lactation specialist should be contacted.

Personal comfort is often a consideration for mothers wary of beginning this routine. Breastfeeding is a personal choice, and some mothers may just want to formula feed if these obstacles cannot be overcome.

 Advantages of Formula vs. Breastfeeding

Formulas are a nutritious alternative to breast milk, and many of them even contain iron. Formulas attempt to duplicate mother’s milk with a complex combination of proteins, sugars, fats, and vitamins.

Formula feeding allows either parent to feed the baby at any time of day. Because formula is digested more slowly than breast milk, formula-fed babies usually need to eat less often than breastfed babies. Parents who choose to formula feed don’t have to worry about the things they eat or drink affecting their babies.

Formula Disadvantages

The downside to formula feeding is the preparation required. You have to have enough formula in the home at all times to feed your baby. Plus, you must wash and sanitize your bottles and nipples to protect your baby’s health. Bottles left out of the refrigerator longer than one hour must be thrown out, along with any formula that a baby doesn’t finish, so some formula will be wasted every day.

Another problem with formula feeding is the cost. During the first year of life, the cost of a specialty formula can run to about $1,500. Powdered formulas are less expensive, but they must be concentrated.

Tips To Remember When Weighing Breastfeeding vs. Formula

Before making your decision, there are some things to keep in mind such as:

  • Most breastfeeding moms buy breast pumps and pump their milk.
  • Breastfeeding is difficult for the first week, but after that it gets better.
  • Breastfeeding is recommended for the first year.
  • When moms have poor milk supply, fennel tea may help. There is also a prescription medicine called metoclopramide (also known as Reglan).
  • Breastfeeding is a great way to lose weight after pregnancy (you need extra 500 calories a day to breastfeed and only 350 a day to be pregnant).
  • Breastfeeding is not a contraceptive.


This page was last updated on 06/2017

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