This article compares breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding and reveals the facts regarding advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding and bottle feeding. Read ahead to know what care should be taken while breastfeeding and bottle feeding.
Everybody is aware of the fact that breast milk is the best milk for babies. There are several reasons why mothers start bottle-feeding their babies with cow milk or formula milk. Bottle feeding a baby with breast milk is also possible, especially in case of working mothers.
Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding
Breast milk is naturally rich in nutrients which are essential for proper growth of an infant. Cow milk or fortified formula milk is a good ‘substitute’ for breast milk. Breast milk needs no processing and there is no (or least) possibility of contamination and infection during breastfeeding. But cow milk needs to be pasteurized for the safety of the user.
Being natural, breast milk is easy to digest and hence, the baby doesn’t suffer from digestion problems like constipation or diarrhea. Cow milk or formula milk needs to be introduced gradually. Sudden change over, from breast milk to cow/formula milk, can severely affect the digestive system of the infant. Initially, dilution of cow’s milk with water may be needed. For that, you will have to boil the diluted milk, store it in the refrigerator and heat it again when required. Dilution, boiling, bringing it to normal temperature, bottling, storing the leftover milk properly, cleaning the bottles, etc., are the procedures required during bottle feeding.
Sterilizing and warming the bottles is the task which is to be done carefully during bottle feeding. Breastfeeding requires cleaning the breast or nipples with a wet tissue or water and changing the position of the baby in between. The baby should suck milk at one breast, then the mother should change the side and allow the baby to suck milk from another breast. This should be followed by the mother every time she feeds her baby. Whatever way the mother feeds her baby, she is supposed to hold the baby straight and pat lightly on the back, after feeding. This leads to burping and release of gas from the stomach.
Breast milk helps strengthen the immune system of the child. Exclusively breastfed children hardly ever suffer from infections, allergies or stomach problems. Moreover, they exhibit better learning skills and higher IQ than formula fed children. Breastfed children are less susceptible to Chrohn’s disease, juvenile diabetes, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), etc.
They have perfectly aligned and strong teeth and strong bones. Depending upon the shape of the nipple of the milk bottle, a baby may develop teeth problems like improper alignment of teeth leading to cavities and tooth decay. Children who are not breastfed, are likely to suffer from abnormal cholesterol levels. Disorders like asthma are more prevalent in bottle fed children.
If breast milk is not available in sufficient quantity or if the mother is not available for feeding or if the baby is having difficulty sucking, then and then only, you can start feeding the baby with a formula that contains all the essential nutrients. Cow’s milk (whole) can be introduced to the baby after his/her first birthday. A newborn infant may find it difficult to digest certain elements present in cow’s milk.
If you are using a glass bottle to feed your baby, then you should always be very careful. Small glass chips or cracks can hurt your baby. Besides, breast milk is always available at the right temperature. Breast feeding does not require any preparation. You will have to calm down the baby; if the milk bottle is not ready when the baby is hungry. Nighttime feeding especially tests the patience of the parents!
Do you know that breastfeeding helps introduce various tastes to the baby? As mother consumes various types of foods, all types of tastes are naturally introduced to the baby. The system in the body is so amazing that breast milk composition keeps on changing according to the needs of the baby! A working mother can use a breast milk pump to extract the breast milk. Other family members or the caretaker can feed the baby with this milk in absence of the mother.
When a baby is exclusively breastfed (baby consumes only the breast-milk and no other liquid or solid), the mother would not have menstrual periods. Breastfeeding helps lower the doses of insulin for a diabetic mother. In fact, mothers who do not breastfeed, are likely to develop type 2 diabetes. A mother is less likely to develop osteoporosis and breast cancer (and certain other types of cancers) if she breast-feeds her baby. Breastfeeding promotes smooth and fast contraction of the uterus. It helps bring back the uterus to its normal size quickly. This helps reduce the chances of postpartum hemorrhage. Moreover, breastfeeding involves burning of calories and it helps lose weight.
Breastfeeding Vs. Formula Feeding
These days, various baby formulas are available in market. You need to select the best baby formula and read the instructions on the label. Formulas contain sufficient protein and fat. They come with vitamins A, C, D, E, K and minerals like iron, calcium, etc. Formulas contain all the essential nutrients. According to some studies, children who are exclusively breastfed may develop vitamin D deficiency. But formulas contain sufficient vitamin D. While preparing a formula, if you are adding water to the powder, then make sure that the water is safe and clean. It is advisable to use boiled water for pre-term babies as their immune system is weaker than the normal babies. You are supposed to select the best and reliable brand.
You are supposed to heat the mixture before serving. Shake the bottle and make sure that the formula mixes with the water properly. Heating in microwave should be avoided. You can prepare the formula mixture required for the whole day and keep it in the refrigerator. You may have to face problems like, the mixture not coming out or coming out too quickly from the nipple, deteriorated nipple, etc. You have to adjust the flow rate as the baby gets bigger. While breastfeeding, you don’t have to worry about anything. Just cleaning the nipples and wiping the mouth of the baby after feeding is what required.
Some babies may exhibit symptoms like skin rash, vomiting, diarrhea and constant crying (due to stomach pain). Allergy or lactose intolerance can be diagnosed by examining the stool culture. If a cow’s milk-based formula is leading to health problems, you may choose a lactose-free formula for your baby. While breastfeeding, you usually don’t have to worry about the health of your child but you may be required to feed the baby more frequently than a formula fed baby.
Working mothers may find it difficult to breastfeed the babies for months. Breast feeding mothers may feel tired and stressed, as breastfeeding involves only mothers. Bottle feeding may help relieve the pressure on mothers. A baby milk formula or cow’s milk may fulfill the necessities of the body regarding nutrients but breastfeeding is the sweetest experience that helps develop an emotional bond between the mother and the baby. It gives immense satisfaction to the mother and a feeling of safety to the baby as well. Both have their own sets of advantages and disadvantages. The mother has to decide which method is convenient for herself and for her baby.