This article has been medically approved by Superintendent Pharmacist Shilpa Shailen Karia, MRPharmS. - GPhC Reg No: 2087328
Mothers have to make so many decisions on how to raise their children and what can give them the best start in life. Perhaps the first choice you need to make is whether to bottle feed or breastfeed your newborn.
While most paediatricians will agree when it comes to baby feeding that “breast is best”, there are of course times when it's just not practical, or possible, to breastfeed. In such cases, the option of bottle feeding can come as a blessed substitute for mothers.
If you're considering bottle feeding, this information may help you have a better picture of the benefits and the downsides, so that you can make a more well-rounded decision.
Advantages of Bottle Feeding & Formula Feeding
- When feeding your baby with formula feed, you can measure exactly how much food your little one is getting per feeding. This is useful in understanding how much food is necessary for your baby to feel full.
- Bottle feeding helps parents share the work of feeding. Babies who are breastfed usually need to eat every two or three hours. When it comes to bottle-feeding, since the bottle does the work, mum doesn't have to be the one on call at all times. Bottle feeding allows anyone in the family to help out when it comes to feeding little Junior.
- Mums who choose to bottle feed their baby don't have to worry about altering their diet to meet the needs of their baby. Caffeine, alcohol, and calorie intake are more flexible. Nursing mums are advised to take in about 500 calories per day, which can make weight loss difficult.
- Formula-fed babies will generally eat less often than breastfed babies because baby formulas take longer to digest than mother's milk.
Disadvantages of Bottle-Feeding & Formula Feeding
- Certain studies suggest that mums who breastfeed are less likely to develop breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis later in life. (4)
- Some research has seen mothers who bottle-feed are more likely to experience postpartum depression. Though the exact cause of this is up to considerable debate, studies do suggest that mothers who breastfeed are less prone to experience postpartum depression than mothers who don’t. (5, 6)
- Studies have suggested that women who breastfeed are less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes later in life. (7, 8)
- Breast milk contains more nutrients than formula and helps promote brain growth and development. Breast milk also helps improve your baby's immunity.
- Breast milk is easier on the digestive system of a newborn than formula is.
- Nursing provides comfort to your little one and can help calm him when he is upset, sick, or dehydrated. Nursing also strengthens the bond between mother and child.
- Bottle feeding is less convenient during midnight feeding sessions as it requires your full attention to get up and prepare the bottle.
- Formula food can be an expense.
- Breast milk contains infection-fighting antibodies that formula food can't duplicate.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, try to continue until about 12 months. If you wean your baby before 12 months, avoid giving them cow's milk feedings, but instead iron-fortified infant formula to replace the iron intake from breast milk. For more information on how to start weaning, check out our article on the best practices and advice for mothers here.
In most cases, the most ideal nutrition for your little one is breast milk, as it provides the ideal nutrition that is necessary for your baby's development, especially during the first six months.
However, should you decide that bottle feeding works out better for you, then go for it guilt-free! There are advantages and benefits to bottle feeding. Remember, when it comes to how you feed your baby, nobody knows your little one better than you.
Whether you opt for the bottle or breast, the choice is entirely your own.
- NHS - Bottle feeding advice
- NHS - Start4Life - Expressing and bottle feeding
- Web MD - Breast vs. Bottle for Feeding Your Baby
- Healthline - Breast-Feeding vs. Bottle-Feeding: The Pros and Cons
- Breastfeeding and Postpartum Depression: An Overview and Methodological Recommendations for Future Research
- Comparison Of Prevalence Of Postpartum Depression Symptoms Between Breastfeeding Mothers And Non-breastfeeding Mothers
- National Institutes of Health - Breastfeeding may help prevent type 2 diabetes after gestational diabetes
- The Telegraph - Breastfeeding for six months slashes type 2 diabetes risk by 47 per cent, study shows