One of the biggest decisions new parents have to make is whether to breast-feed or formula feed their baby. Health experts believe that breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants. However, breast-feeding isn’t possible for everyone.
The decision to breast-feed or formula feed your baby is based on your comfort level, lifestyle, and specific medical situations.
Breast Milk vs. Formula. What’s better?
The American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization say that breast-feeding is the best choice for babies. Breast-feeding helps prevent allergies, protect against many chronic conditions, and defend against infections. It is recommended to breast-feed your baby exclusively for six months, and breast-feeding is encouraged until at least a year old.
While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulates formula companies to ensure they provide all necessary nutrients in their formulas, infant formula can’t compare to breastmilk. Breastmilk is unique in that it is a living substance that each mother makes specifically for her child. It’s impossible to duplicate in a factory.
The alternative to breast milk is commercially prepared infant formula. Formulas even contain some vitamins and nutrients that breast-fed babies need to get from supplements. Commercial formulas attempt to duplicate human milk using a complex combination of proteins, sugars, fats, and vitamins you cannot create at home. Formula feeding has the added benefit of convenience and flexibility.
Formula feeding is something that either parent or another caregiver can do at any time. This allows the mom to share feeding duty and allows the partner to feel more involved in the feeding process and the bond that comes with it.
Choosing to breast-feed or formula feed is one of the biggest decisions a new mother will have to make, but there are benefits to both. While breastmilk is the ideal source of nutrients for babies, not everyone can or wants to breast-feed. Formula is specifically created to emulate the qualities of breastmilk, and it offers new parents more flexibility and convenience in scheduling.