Should I Breastfeed or Use Formula?

Fran Majidi
November 3, 2020

It is a question every new mother faces. Should I breastfeed my baby or use formula? It is a very personal and very important decision, choosing how to best nourish a newborn baby. We will look at the pros and cons of each feeding method so you can decide whether breastfeeding or formula is right for you and your young family.

Experts believe breast milk is the best nutritional choice for infants. But breastfeeding may not be possible for all women. And formula provides a healthy alternative for these women and their babies.

Advantages of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding helps defend against infections, prevents allergies and protects against chronic conditions. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends babies be breastfed for the first six months and breastfeeding is encouraged until at least 12 months, even after other food is introduced.

Some of the benefits of breastfeeding are helping babies fight off infections such as ear infections, diarrhea, respiratory infections and meningitis. Breastfeeding also may protect against asthma, diabetes and obesity.

Other benefits of breastfeeding include nutrition and ease of digestion. Breast milk is easily digested by a newborn baby. Breast milk naturally contains many of the vitamins and minerals that newborn babies need.

Breast milk is free and the costs of formula can add up. With breastfeeding, there are no bottles or nipples to wash and get ready. All you need is you and your baby to breastfeed. Breastfeeding burns calories for the new mother and helps to shrink the uterus. So nursing moms may get their figures back sooner than other moms.

Breastfeeding is good for moms too. Breastfeeding helps to lower the risk of breast cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease as well as uterine and ovarian cancer. But breastfeeding has its downside and difficulties.

Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

Some moms take to breastfeeding right away. For others, it takes awhile to get comfortable. There is the latch-on pain in the beginning and the timing and frequencies of the feedings can be challenging. You will be feeding your child or using the breast pump throughout each day. You could be feeding every two or three hours in your baby’s first few weeks.

A breastfeeding mom will need to be careful of what she eats and drinks since food and drink gets passed through to the baby through breast milk.

Using a Formula to Feed Your Baby

Here is a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of using a formula to feed your newborn child. Some mothers use formulas to supplement breastfeeding so there are ways to use both methods together.

Advantages to Formula

Infant formulas are nutritious alternatives to breast milk, providing vitamins and minerals needed by newborn babies. These formulas attempt to duplicate mother’s breast milk using a combination of proteins, sugars, fats and vitamins. Here are some advantages to using formula to feed a newborn baby. Your partner can share in the feeding duties and have the opportunity to bond with your little one.

And because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk, babies taking formula often need to eat less frequently than babies that are breastfeeding. So there will be more rest for sleep-deprived young parents. Women who are not breastfeeding don’t have any restrictions on their diet since there is no worry that food or drink will get passed on to the baby.

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Disadvantages of Formula

Here are some downsides to using formula.

Formula, unlike mother’s breast milk, does not contain antibodies so it can’t protect a baby against infection the way breast milk can. With formula, you have to plan and organize your schedule to make sure there is always enough formula on hand for your baby. You also have to have the bottles and nipples clean and ready to go when you need them. Formula can be expensive, and it varies in price and consistency. Choose the formula that works best for your baby. Make room for formula in your family budget. A baby that takes formula may have more gas and constipation than breastfed babies.

Making the Decision

Some women choose to breastfeed and supplement their baby’s diet with formula. Some begin breastfeeding and turn to formula entirely. Others choose breastfeeding or formula right from the start and stick with it. So make the best choice for you and your family. Enjoy the wonderful bonding time that feeding a newborn can provide.

Baby Health Insurance

Don’t forget to buy baby health insurance for your young family. You are eligible to buy this health insurance at any time during the year after the birth of the child. Health care services for newborns are among the most expensive medical expenses. Getting health insurance for your baby can help pay for these expenses.

After giving birth, a newborn baby is covered for the first 30 days of their life as an extension of the mother’s policy. But starting on day 31, this extension of mother’s coverage ends. It is a good idea to shop for health insurance for your newborn before you give birth. So you’ll have the plan and provider in mind before your little one even arrives. If you are worried about how you will pay for baby health insurance, check out the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) in your state. This program provides low-cost and no-cost coverage for infants as well as children and teens. So if CHIP works for your family you can keep your child enrolled for many years. Otherwise, start shopping by entering your zip code below.

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