Being a parent isn’t easy! From the very first day your little one is born to the day they leave home, you are faced with many difficult decisions. One of the first challenges you’re faced with is what should be the simple task of feeding.
The breastfeeding and bottle feeding debate has been around for years and it’s one thing you’ll never be short of advice on. Everyone has an opinion, but it’s important to make the decision based upon what’s right for you.
So how do you decide whether to breastfeed or bottle feed? Here we’ll look at the pros and cons of each option to help you make a more informed decision.
Breastfeeding – The Pros
The majority of experts agree that breastfeeding is the best option for your baby. It comes with a wide range of benefits that definitely shouldn’t be ignored. Below you’ll discover some of the biggest pros to breastfeeding your little one.
Health benefits – Your breast milk contains natural chemicals and white blood cells which aid in fighting off illness and building a strong immune system. This is especially important in the first few months of your baby’s life as this is a time they are more prone to infections.
Another important health benefit according to the American Academy of Paediatrics, is that it can help to prevent sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). It’s also effective at preventing asthma and allergies. Your milk basically contains everything your newborn needs to stay happy and healthy.
It’s easier for baby to digest – As it is natural, your baby will find it much easier to digest breast milk than they would with formula. This means they’ll be less likely to vomit after feeding.
A free, constant food source – Having a baby is expensive and there are so many things you need to buy. If budget is a worry, breastfeeding is definitely the best option due to the fact it’s absolutely free. You also produce a constant level of milk so it’s always available whenever your little one needs to feed. You won’t have to spend time making up a formula and checking it’s the right temperature before giving it to your child.
A steady balance of nutrients – Your baby’s nutritional needs change as they get a little older. Your body knows this and automatically varies the content of the milk depending upon what stage your infant is going through. So you can be 100% sure that your child is getting the right level of nutrients at all times.
Better bonding – The act of breastfeeding itself really deepens the bond between mother and baby. It’s not always a pleasant experience, but the connection you feel is definitely worth the discomfort you may feel.
These are the main advantages of breastfeeding, so what about the disadvantages? You aren’t often told much about the potential cons, but there are some you should be aware of.
Breastfeeding – The Cons
While there aren’t many cons of breastfeeding, it’s still worth being aware of the few potential issues it can raise. They include:
You always have to be available for feeding – If you’re purely breastfeeding, you need to be physically present and available during feeding times. This can make it difficult when you’re out and about if there aren’t any suitable breastfeeding locations.
If you’re going to be away from your baby, you’ll need to pump milk into bottles – There will be times when you are away from your little one. This means you’ll need to use a breast pump to make up bottles to be used when you’re not around. Of course, as well as being inconvenient, this also presents another dilemma in the fact you then need to train your baby to drink out of bottles as well as from the breast.
Some medications can prevent the suitability of breastfeeding – When you’re breastfeeding, you’re not supposed to take certain medications. There are a lot of drugs that can be harmful to your baby if passed on through breast milk so you will need to discuss this with a doctor if you are on any medications.
It can be an uncomfortable experience – One thing many new moms aren’t prepared for is just how uncomfortable breastfeeding can be. While the discomfort level will vary depending upon your pain threshold, it’s surprising how uncomfortable it can be considering no teeth are involved! So it’s definitely something that may take some getting used to.
Your baby might not take to breastfeeding – Breastfeeding is the most natural experience in the world, so it can be devastating if you’re struggling to get your baby to actually take to it. This is something else you aren’t often told and it can leave you feeling like a failure if it doesn’t work out. Not all babies take to breastfeeding no matter how hard you try. So this is something you potentially need to be prepared for.
So as you can see, there are potential issues that can arise from breastfeeding. Being aware of them gives you a better understanding of whether in your case, breast truly is best.
Bottle Feeding – The Pros
At one time, bottle feeding was frowned upon and considered irresponsible parenting. These days however, thanks to progress made with the types of formula available, bottle feeding can be nutritious and in some ways better for your baby (especially if you’re experiencing any of the downsides of breastfeeding).
There are actually quite a few benefits that come from bottle feeding, such as…
Anybody will be able to feed your baby – There are times you may not be able to feed your baby due to other commitments or because you’re simply exhausted and need a break. If somebody else is stepping in for a while, bottle feeding ensures your little one won’t have a problem when it comes to feed time. They’ll be used to taking a bottle and so whoever is stepping in for you shouldn’t have a problem getting them to drink the formula.
It’s less stressful than breastfeeding – Despite being a natural thing, breastfeeding can be traumatic and stressful for some new parents. Babies pick up on the stress of their mother, so if you’re not happy they won’t be either. This in turn will lead to problems feeding. If you’re happy using a bottle, your baby will be happy too and after all, that’s the most important thing you need to consider.
You can still experience a great bond – One of the biggest things that can be off-putting about bottle feeding is that it takes away the bonding experience that comes with breastfeeding. However, there are ways you can still bond with your infant while they are bottle feeding.
Maintaining eye contact, physical touch, and talking to your little one while they are drinking from the bottle really helps with the bonding experience.
Fewer feeding times – While not exclusively true, formula feeding your baby may result in fewer feeding times. This is because it takes a little while longer for your baby to digest formula than it does with breast milk. So there is the potential you won’t have to feed them as often.
Bottle Feeding – The Cons
There are quite a few potential disadvantages of bottle feeding rather than breastfeeding. However, most are purely inconvenient. They include:
Additional cost – When you’re bottle feeding, you need quite a few accessories, as well as the formula itself. The bottles will also need to be sterilised so you’ll need the right equipment to handle this too. If you have a fairly low budget, you may find it a struggle to afford formula on a regular basis.
Proper preparation is required – Formulas these days do tend to come with all of the nutrients your baby needs and would otherwise get from breastfeeding. However, it will depend entirely upon how you prepare it each time. If you don’t prepare it exactly the same, the nutritional content will differ in each bottle.
Allergies – Many parents find their little one doesn’t take to formula. As it isn’t natural, there is a chance your baby may develop an allergy or become ill after drinking the formula. If this happens you will need to experiment with a few different formulas to try to find one they can tolerate.
So there you have it – the pros and cons of both breastfeeding and bottle feeding. No matter which one you choose, never let anybody else make you feel bad about your decision. You need to do what is right for both you and your baby. So carefully consider the advantages and disadvantages of both options before making a decision.