There are advantages and disadvantages to both breastfeeding and formula feeding. Some things to consider when deciding which to choose are: cost, convenience, nutrition, and the health benefits to both the baby and to the mother. In terms of cost, an advantage to breastfeeding is that breast milk is free. It’s estimated that breastfeeding can save you thousands of dollars a year, depending on the brand of formula that would have been used instead. According to the American Pregnancy Association, formula costs from $54 to $198 per month, as of 2011 (Coila, 2011).
In addition to the cost of formula, bottle feeding mothers must also purchase bottles, nipples, and bottle sterilizers to keep the bottles clean. Breastfeeding mothers might need to purchase bottles, nipples, and breast pumps, but these are one-time expenses that don’t compare to the high cost of formula. When looking at convenience factors, there are pros and cons to both feeding methods. There is no preparation time involved with breastfeeding, as breast milk is always the perfect temperature, and you don’t have to mix formula, or clean and sterilize bottles and nipples.
Breast milk is readily available at any time and any place, as long as the mother is around. A big disadvantage to breastfeeding is that the mother is basically the only one who can feed the baby, unless she has used a breast pump to make extra bottles of milk ahead of time. Another disadvantage of breast feeding is that any medications and alcohol consumed by the mother can enter the breast milk and affect the baby, so the mother needs to pay careful attention to her alcohol and medication intake. A major advantage of bottle feeding is that anyone can feed the baby.
The mother is able to return to work and social activities without the worry of breast feeding duty. The mother can eat and drink what she wants, without worrying about the milk being affected. In addition, the mother is able to feed in public without having to go to a more private place to nurse the baby. A bottle feeding disadvantage is that you always have to carry bottles, formula/mixing items with you. As far as nutrition goes, breast milk contains the perfect proportion of nutrients that your baby needs, including protein, carbohydrates, fat, and calcium.
Breast milk is easier to digest than formula and is easily absorbed. The nutrients in breast milk change over time to fulfill your baby’s changing nutritional needs. Some disadvantages with breastfeeding are that there is a degree of uncertainty about how much milk the baby is actually getting. Also, breastfed babies may need vitamin D supplements, as breast milk is often lacking in that. Infant formula provides all the nutrients a baby needs, including vitamin D. With bottle feeding, the mother is also able to see exactly how much formula the baby is getting.
Bottle fed babies may eat fewer times a day, as formula doesn’t digest as easily and quickly as breast milk does, so the baby may be hungry less often. Some babies have difficulty tolerating some of the nutrients found in certain formulas, so that can be a disadvantage. Research indicates that breastfed babies may have less frequent: ear infections, stomach or intestinal infections, digestive problems, allergies, skin problems, and urinary or respiratory tract infections. Breastfed babies also may have less risk of becoming overweight, developing high blood pressure, diabetes, iron-deficiency anemia, or tooth decay in childhood.
Studies show it may protect against allergies and asthma in the future as well. There are health benefits to a mother that breast feeds her baby. Breastfeeding can help women lose pregnancy weight more easily, because the body naturally burns calories to produce breast milk. In the long-term, a breastfeeding mother also has a lower risk of eventually developing breast or ovarian cancer. Although doctors and experts agree that breast milk is best for babies, ultimately the decision on which feeding method to use comes down to personal situations and preference.
Courtney from Study Moose
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