What are the benefits of breastfeeding? What about formula?
A fed baby is a healthy and happy baby. Both breastmilk and formula contain all the nutrients a newborn requires while being easily digestible. Before the transition to solid food, your baby will subsist entirely on a diet of breastmilk, formula, or a combination of the two.
Breastfeeding Benefits (for mother and baby):
- Emotional regulation. Breastfeeding helps mothers meet their emotional needs while bonding with their babies.
- Protection from infection. Breastmilk contains antibodies that protect babies from some infections.
- Potential lowered risk of medical problems. There is a correlation between breastfeeding and a lower likelihood of medical problems such as diabetes, asthma, and allergies.
- Cost-Effectiveness. Breastmilk is cheaper than formula (however, please note that while the breastmilk is free, some equipment such as pumps, pads, and nursing bras may be required).
- Convenience. Always having the food the baby needs on you is more convenient. No need to prep a bottle for an outing or make one in the middle of the night.
- Exposure to new tastes. Breastmilk can vary in taste, as the different foods the mother eats can flavor the breast milk, exposing the baby to new tastes before starting solid foods.
Formula Benefits (for mother and baby):
- Contains supplementary nutrients. Formula gives babies great nutrition and often adds in additional vitamins.
- Keeps them full. Formula digests more slowly than breastmilk, so babies who formula-feed may have longer stretches before getting hungry again.
- The whole family can help with feeding. Formula allows for the feeding responsibilities to be shared across caregivers (versus relying solely on the mother to nurse and/or pump).
- Independent from mother’s diet. Formula can more easily eliminate ingredients that your baby may be sensitive to without eliminating anything from your diet.
- Can easily measure how much your child is eating. While feeding should really be based on understanding your baby’s hunger cues, many parents find assurance in being able to track how much their baby is eating to better understand any changes in their patterns.
This article has been reviewed by our team of experts.
Disclaimer: The contents of this article does not constitute medical advice. If you have concerns about any health or medical condition, diagnosis, or treatment you should consult with your pediatrician or a licensed healthcare provider.