There are ways in which baby formula is similar to breast milk: they both provide energy, hydration and nutrients, so your baby will grow whichever milk he is given. However, having that basic knowledge doesn’t mean that you should then avoid delving deeper into the comparison between the two. When you do that, it then becomes clear that there is a fine line between both options.
How Does Baby Formula Compare to Breastfeeding?
In the long term, there does not appear to be significant differences between formula fed babies and breast fed babies. This does then open up the possibility that we have been wrong to have certain fears surrounding the use of formula and that it may very well prove to be a useful option for parents at different times.
But then, allow us to explore each option further to give you a better explanation of both the similarities as well as the differences between the two along with the concept of bottle feeding.
There are a number of clear health benefits associated with breast milk that every mother should know. Also, the composition of the breast milk does indeed change according to the needs of the baby at that time. This is clearly something that marks it out as being different to formula.
There are also a number of rather important antibodies contained within breast milk. These antibodies will help protect your child against a variety of diseases and illnesses. This includes:
- Bacterial Meningitis
- Ear Infections
- Urinary Tract Infections
- Respiratory Tract Infections
Also, research indicates that breast milk can help reduce the chances of SIDS, which is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.
Additional studies also point to breast milk helping lower the chances of the child becoming obese when they are older along with better heart health, a lower risk of diabetes, and even reduce the chance of developing certain cancers.
In other words, there are several clear health advantages to breast milk.
If we then turn our attention to formula milk which is created by a company in a laboratory. Often, this is actually made from cow’s milk which has been altered to then make it suitable for bottle feeding.
There are different formulas on the market that offer various advantages. Also, they are created for different stages in the development of the baby. They will change baby formula according to what it is believed that your child will require at different points. However, it does lack the various antibodies that appear in natural breast milk. This opens up the possibility of your child not having the same immune response as they may have otherwise had.
In saying that, there is no doubt that formula milk does contain nutrients, minerals and vitamins that are essential for the healthy development of your child. There is also the argument that you know the exact amount since everything is so carefully measured.
However, studies have indicated that children brought up entirely on baby formula are at risk of having more issues with their digestion while feeding. Some link this to the concentration of vitamins and minerals, so there is a fine line between giving them what their body needs and there being too much of it. In general, formula feeding is completely safe.
The Advantages of Breast Milk
So, let’s look at the advantages associated with breast milk.
Of course, those antibodies and the way in which it lowers the risk of your child developing a whole host of conditions is a huge advantage. Also, there’s no chance of contamination which is another bonus.
There is also the argument that it provides a real source of bonding between mother and child. Many argue that this alone can improve the development of the child even if they are fed with a split between breast milk and formula.
The Disadvantages of Breast Milk
There are some disadvantages of breast milk, and they should not be overlooked in any way. First, there’s the time associated with feeding the child. It is known that this approach can take substantially longer than formula.
You can get around this by expressing milk in advance, but then you need to think about storing it.
The Advantages of Formula Milk
Even though it fails to have any of those health benefits, the formula milk option does still come with a number of advantages. First, there’s the convenience factor especially if you are out and about when it’s time for them to feed. Also, with so many places now offering bottle warming facilities, it’s a whole lot easier than ever before to feed your child.
You will also quickly realise that this option is quicker than breastfeeding. Gone are the days of sitting there for an hour or more in the middle of the night.
The Disadvantages of Formula
The disadvantages of baby formula are easy to understand. Not only is it lacking in those antibodies, but there’s also the fear of contamination when it is initially manufactured. The fact it cannot adapt itself to fit in with what the baby needs is another disadvantage even though companies have worked hard to eliminate that as a problem.
The Similarities Between the Two
Finally, there are a number of similarities between the two which is also something that you should take into consideration should you be wondering which option to take.
Of course, both can be stored in advance even though it does mean you need to spend time expressing milk which takes longer than mixing formula.
Overall, both have their advantages even though it’s perhaps fair to say that breast milk is better in a more general sense than baby formula. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t a place for formula. There is also no harm in mixing up usage and taking advantage of the positives related to both. Your baby is not going to suffer in any way if you breastfeed them at home and prepare a bottle with formula milk for when you are out and about.
The antibodies contained within breast milk will protect your baby in those early days. Using that particular option at that point does, therefore, make perfect sense.
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