All mothers ask themselves this question. It is well accepted that breastfeeding is the best and most natural option for nourishing a baby. However, for a variety of reasons breastfeeding may not be an option; or possibly it’s just a personal choice to bottle feed. |
Most professionals and professional organizations recommend breastfeeding babies, especially during the first year. Breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight infections and is the best nutrition for a baby. Breast milk also contains the right amounts and mix of nutrients that a baby needs. However, a baby will benefit from being breastfed for even a short period of time, even if only a few weeks.
Breast milk is also easier to digest than formula and helps protect babies from allergies. It also contains fatty acids that promote brain development and decreases the risk of baby being obese later in life. Most babies learn to latch on properly, but if they can’t a dedicated mom can use breast pumps and feed baby breast milk from a bottle. Also, moms who don’t produce sufficient milk, with is rare with regular feedings, may supplement with formula in a bottle. Once a baby learns to latch on properly, using a bottle or pacifier should not interfere with breastfeeding.
Occasionally, the mother’s health prevents her from breastfeeding or even pumping; and some medications may be contraindicated if breastfeeding. Consulting her doctor on options is the place to start in these cases.
Plenty of healthy, happy babies have been bottle fed with infant formula. So if you find yourself having to use formula or you simply choose that path, do not beat yourself up about and do not allow others to second guess your choice. Infant formulas have come a long way and many are close matches to the ingredients of human milk. In addition, many formulas are available to aid in digestion. Furthermore, how much nourishment a baby is receiving is easier to measure through bottle feeding. (Of course, breast milk can be given from a bottle as well.)
Moms should not worry about bonding with a bottle fed baby. Properly feeding a baby includes holding him or her close to your chest, holding the baby snugly and giving the bottle. In addition, dad, siblings, grandparents and friends can be more involved with baby’s care, allowing the special bonding to begin immediately.
Of course, formula can be expensive over the time baby uses it and no formula will exactly match the composition of breast milk. But, in the end, unless a medical issue is involved, the choice of breast v. bottle is a personal one. No matter what the mom chooses, her husband and other family members should show their support.
Learn more about baby birth video at our baby health care website.
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