You wouldn’t think that feeding babies would be a controversial topic. But, if you’ve spent any time on parenting forums or in Facebook mom groups, chances are you’ve witnessed major confrontations between people debating the merits of breastfeeding vs. formula feeding. Generally speaking, we like to say that breast fed is best when it comes to babies. That said, we’d never shame a mother who needs to formula feed her child. Motherhood is difficult enough and sometimes a mother can’t produce enough milk. She may be unable to make it work due to health issues, work schedule, or has psychological triggers that make breastfeeding untenable. However, breastfeeding does have some distinct advantages for those who are able to do it.
1. It Promotes Parent-Child Bonding
Research suggests that skin-to-skin contact is an excellent way for parents to connect with, and relate better to their newborns. Researchers have noted that mothers who use skin-to-skin contact immediately after giving birth, cuddle and touch their babies more, even as much as a year down the line. Breastfeeding is an excellent way to foster skin-to-skin contact. Even dads or other non-breastfeeding partners can share in this bonding experience by going shirtless and cuddling with the baby while feeding them a bottle of expressed breastmilk.
2. Health Benefits For Baby…
Breast milk has a number of health benefits. Breast milk is much easier for babies to digest because its protein content is exactly what the baby needs. Breastfeeding also protects against a variety of ailments, including allergies, eczema, respiratory infections, type 1 diabetes, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and spinal meningitis, and it even seems to reduce the risk of SIDS. Breast milk is also known to be an immune booster and helps babies have a better antibody response to vaccines.
3. …And It Benefits Mothers, Too
Babies aren’t the only ones who can see improved health from breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has immediate and long-term benefits for the mother as well. It helps release oxytocin in the mother’s system which stimulates uterine contractions. This helps your uterus shrink back to its regular size after birth, and it can also reduce the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging.
4. It Can Help Mom And Baby Get More Restorative Sleep
Formula feeding at night can be a nightmare. Having to prepare a bottle for a hungry, tired baby is anxiety-provoking for all parties involved. Sterilizing bottles and heating formula is difficult in the middle of the night: breastfeeding simplifies the process and helps you and your baby get back to sleep sooner.
5. It Has Economic Advantages…
Baby formula is expensive. The experts at La Leche League estimate that formula can cost anywhere from $134 to $491 per month. That kind of money can strain a budget over the span of a year. Even if you spend money on nursing bras and a breast pump, the fiscal savings are substantial.
6. …And Ecological Advantages
Many baby formulas are dairy-based, and livestock accounts for over 20 percent of greenhouse emissions in the world. Conversely, breast milk is basically carbon-neutral and it doesn’t require any packaging. Formul packaging generates tons of metal and plastic waste.
7. It’s Convenient and Portable
Leaving the house with a newborn in tow is no small feat. It requires diapers, wipes, clothing changes, baby-friendly toys, spit-up cloths, and the list goes on. Why weigh yourself down even more with bottles when you have a built-in food source at the ready?
8. It’s Recommended By Experts the World Over
Health and medical experts the world over recommend breastfeeding as the best option for feeding your child. These include the American Academy of Pediatrics, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization, among others. Some organizations recommend six months as the minimum recommended time for breastfeeding, and others say that breastfeeding is optimal through two years of age and beyond. But no matter their timeline, they all agree that breastfeeding is important for global public health.
Ultimately, no matter how you choose to feed your baby, the most important thing is that you find a solution that is safe and healthy for you, the child and your family. Baby