Whether you’ve made up your mind about choosing to breastfeed or to go with formula – it is a personal choice that you and your family should make together. There are obvious benefits to breast milk, but formula isn’t just a second option. There is plenty of value and nutrition to be gained from formula, as well as some other benefits too!
Digestion Rates Between Breast Milk and Formula Differ
You might have heard the myth that formula fed babies need to eat less than breastfed babies. While every baby is different and has varying levels of digestive ability – this is mostly a true scenario. Both breast milk and formula contain the proteins whey and casein. Breast milk has more whey, which is easier for babies to digest; while formula has more casein, which babies digest at a slower rate.
While this is not the case in every child, if you use formula, it is safe to assume that you will likely be feeding them less than you would if you breastfed them. It should be noted that just because your child is formula fed, they may not readily wake up in the night to feed. You should still be waking your newborn to feed until around 6 months of age.
Formula Feeding Allows for Family Participation
Babies bring families together in a way that only they can and have since the dawn of humanity. However, there has been one act that has traditionally only been available to the mother of the child – feeding. Only mother can provide the special and important nutrition that baby needs to grow up strong and healthy. That is, until formula came around.
With formula, Mom can take a break from all the constant feedings that come with a newborn, and let Dad, Grandma or an older sibling take the job over. This not only comes with the obvious benefit of giving Mom some much needed downtime, but allows for greater family participation and connection with the addition to the family. Exposing baby to that kind of warmth and intimacy is essential for the optimum brain development and social attachment.
All Formula Contains the Same Essential Ingredients
With all the different brands, types and price points to choose from, selecting a formula can be a pretty overwhelming process. However, since the FDA is in charge of formula regulations, there are requirements for manufacturers to include particular amounts of 29 specific nutrients in each serving. Some brands will have included additional nutrients (such as an extra fortification of iron – which the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends an iron-fortified diet over low-iron formula, for baby’s first year). One of the most trusted brands is HiPP formula. Their formulas are of extraordinary quality and produced without genetically modified raw materials according to the European Union’s regulation for organic production.
Even the best organic baby formula will contain the same amount of the essential nutrients – although will likely contain additional vitamins, as well as require organic certification from the USDA. It is good to consider this when working out what brands will be appropriate for your family’s particular situation.
Toss Leftover Formula
It may seem like a great way to save money on formula by tossing any extra in to the fridge for later use. As tempting as that may be, this should be avoided at all cost. Bacteria from saliva may get caught in the bottle, multiply and develop into all kinds of nasty things. If you’re worried about waste, just give your baby a smaller portion than normal with a refill afterwards if they are still hungry.
Choosing whether or not to breastfeed is an important and personal decision, that is ultimately up to you to make for your family. But, if it is not possible for you to breastfeed (due to work or other constraints), formula feeding isn’t just second-best, it’s an alternative with its own variety of benefits.
Wendy Browne says
This is a helpful article. I exclusively breastfed my first two babies but had to supplement my third from the first few days as he lost so much weight. I'm 45 and just not producing like I did 17 years ago.