Commercially prepared infant formulas are a nutritious alternative to breast milk, and even contain some vitamins and nutrients that breastfed babies need to get from supplements.
Manufactured under sterile conditions, commercial formulas attempt to duplicate mother’s milk using a complex combination of proteins, sugars, fats, and vitamins that aren’t possible to create at home.
So if you don’t breastfeed your baby, it’s important to use only commercially prepared formula and not try to make your own. Besides medical concerns that may prevent breastfeeding, for some women, breastfeeding may be too difficult or stressful. Here are other reasons women may choose to formula feed:
- Either parent (or another caregiver) can feed the baby a bottle at any time (although this is also true for women who pump their breast milk). This allows mom to share the feeding duties and helps her partner to feel more involved in the crucial feeding process and the bonding that often comes with it.
- Once the bottles are made, a formula-feeding mother can leave her baby with a partner or caregiver and know that her little one’s feedings are taken care of. There’s no need to pump or to schedule work or other obligations and activities around the baby’s feeding schedule. And formula-feeding moms don’t need to find a private place to nurse in public.
- Time and frequency of feedings.Because formula is less digestible than breast milk, formula-fed babies usually need to eat less often than breastfed babies.
- Women who opt to formula feed don’t have to worry about the things they eat or drink that could affect their babies.
Formula Feeding Challenges:
- Lack of antibodies.None of the antibodies found in breast milk are in manufactured formula. So formula can’t provide a baby with the added protection against infection and illness that breast milk does.
- Can’t match the complexity of breast milk.Manufactured formulas have yet to duplicate the complexity of breast milk, which changes as the baby’s needs change.
- Planning and organization.Unlike breast milk — which is always available, unlimited, and served at the right temperature — formula feeding your baby requires planning and organization to make sure that you have what you need when you need it. Parents must buy formula and make sure it’s always on hand to avoid late-night runs to the store.
- Extra necessary supplies needed. It’s important to always have the necessary supplies (like bottles and nipples) clean, easily accessible, and ready to go — otherwise, you will have a very hungry, very fussy baby to answer to. With 8-10 feedings in a 24-hour period, parents can quickly get overwhelmed if they’re not prepared and organized.
- Formula can be costly. Powdered formula is the least expensive, followed by concentrated, with ready-to-feed being the most expensive. And specialty formulas (such as soy and hypoallergenic) cost more — sometimes far more — than the basic formulas.
- Possibility of producing gas and constipation.Formula-fed babies may have more gas and firmer bowel movements than breastfed babies.
Making a Choice
Deciding how you will feed your baby is not an easy decision to make. You’ll really only know the right choice for your family once your baby comes. Many women decide on one method before the birth and then change their minds once their baby is born, or in the weeks or months after. And many women decide to breastfeed and supplement with formula because they find that is the best choice for their family and their lifestyle.
While you’re weighing the pros and cons, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant.
Credit – www.kidshealth.org; reviewed by Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD –