Having a child is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make in your life.
There are so many considerations that expecting parents must think about or may worry over, especially if it’s their first child. Given this, it’s important to do your best to make all the ‘big’ decisions before your baby is born, including whether you’ll breastfeed or use formula.
Believe me, there’s more than enough to do once your bundle of joy gets home.
Once home, you’ll begin the fun of sleepless nights as a new parent – and that isn’t the time to be thinking about how you plan to feed your newborn!
This decision is vital because the first few months of nourishment decide your child’s future health, including whether his or her immune system will work efficiently. In fact, breast milk impacts infant immunity significantly and may even protect babies from the Coronavirus.
How are you supposed to make this life-altering decision while simultaneously coping with the daily stress of impending parenthood?
Fed is Best for Newborns, No Matter Which Option You Choose
Ensuring your baby receives enough nutrition goes beyond the ‘formula versus breastfeeding debate’, and must be satisfying in both quantity and quality. You can’t compromise the two; this isn’t negotiable.
Your child’s eating reflexes are taught from their first days of life, and this is imperative in the secretion of gastric juices and how the human body transforms food into energy after eating.
Whether using breast milk or formula, your baby must receive between 780ml to 200ml of milk each day from less than six months up to 18 months.
You Can Choose to Breastfeed and Use Formula
Did you know that you can choose to use both options?
You can breastfeed and use formula, if needed. There’s no hard and fast rule that says you can’t!
However, it’s generally recommended to develop a breastfeeding routine first (for at least the first four weeks, if possible) before introducing bottle feeding to 1) maintain your breast milk supply and 2) ensure your baby doesn’t become ‘nipple confused’ or reject either option.
If you choose to exclusively breastfeed, your baby receives the optimal nutrition necessary for those first crucial weeks of development. After four months or so pass, it’s then a matter of choice whether you’d like to continue to nurse. If you’re undecided, it may help to speak with a lactation consultant to discuss your options. Every mom must make the right choice for her and her baby.
If you feel that your breast milk supply is a good enough alimentation for your baby – and confirm with your doctor that this is true – you can continue breastfeeding for as long as you feel comfortable doing so, up to two years or longer.
If you’re unable to breastfeed or choose to exclusively use formula, you don’t need to worry! While formula doesn’t provide the same antibodies or protection from illness as breast milk, FDA-trusted brands are well equipped to handle your baby’s nutritional needs and offer various vitamins and minerals to help baby grow.
In fact, some breastfed babies require supplementation with formula due to various issues like insufficient weight gain, latching problems, and prematurity. There’s no shame in the formula game – all that matters is your baby receives the nutrition he or she needs to thrive.
The Main Differences Between Breastfeeding vs Formula
Here’s a quick comparison to help you decide which option may be best for you and your little one.
- Is free! No purchase or late-night store runs required
- Offers infants different taste profiles based on mother’s food intake, making it easier to transition to solid foods
- Is convenient – can be done anytime, anywhere, with no sterilization or bottles needed
- Can promote higher IQ
- Provides skin-to-skin bonding
- Benefits mothers, too!
- Ensures easy digestion for baby
- Is convenient – can be done by anyone, including other family members or caregivers
- Provides great flexibility for on-the-go moms
- Requires less frequent feedings due to longer digestion time
- Gives moms freedom to eat whatever they want! No need to worry about passing allergens or alcohol to their babies
As you can see, both offer positives that must be considered when making the decision to breastfeed or use formula.
Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding are Both Valid Choices
Of course, the final decision is up to you!
Take the time you need to consider all the aspects of both options and make an informed choice for you and your baby. If you’re still unsure, please consider reaching out to a professional lactation consultant for help.