Breastfeeding versus Formula Feeding: what are the differences?
One of the most important roles of new parents is providing good nutrition for your growing baby. There is so much information available about breastfeeding versus formula feeding. What are the facts?
According to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for most infants. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first six months with continued breastfeeding alongside the introduction of appropriate foods for one year or longer. According to WebMD, there are many benefits to breastfeeding:
- Breast milk provides the ideal nutrition for infants. It has a nearly perfect mix of vitamins, protein and fat. Nursing babies also have the advantage of receiving the benefits of your good nutrition and the effects of prenatal vitamins and supplements (such as DHA) you take.
- Breast milk is easier for your baby to digest than formula.
- Breast milk contains antibodies that help your baby fight viruses and bacteria. Studies have shown that babies who have been exclusively breastfed for the first six months, without any formula, have fewer ear infections, respiratory illnesses, and problems with diarrhea.
- Skin-to-skin touching, physical closeness and eye contact achieved through breastfeeding helps you bond with your baby and helps your baby feel secure.
- Breastfed children are more likely to gain the right amount of weight as they grow, rather than become overweight children.
- Breastfeeding burns calories and can help you lose pregnancy weight faster.
- As a breastfeeding mother, your risk of breast and ovarian cancers is lowered, and your risk of osteoporosis may also be reduced.
Benefits of formula include:
- Formula feeding is also a healthy choice for babies, according to WebMD.
- Formula is flexible, since pumping breast milk doesn’t have to fit into your schedule. You can leave formula with the babysitter or day care center.
- Your partner can help with nighttime feedings and share a bonding experience with baby.
- Scheduling feedings may be easier, since formula isn’t digested as quickly as breast milk and formula-fed babies don’t need to eat as often, especially in the first few months.
“Research shows that breastfeeding is best for newborns,” explained Dr. Shalini Bhargava, pediatrician with PIH Health. “However, you and your baby are unique, and whether breastfed, formula-fed or a combination of both, the important thing is that your baby is well fed, cared for and loved,” she said. “Remember that the smallest amount of breast milk, even when supplemented with formula, is beneficial to your child’s health and development.”
To learn more about the wide range of pregnancy and childbirth services at PIH Health call 562.967.2876 or visit PIHHealth.org.