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Breastfeeding vs. Infant Formula

written by: Beth Crayon • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 11/28/2010

Infant formula vs breastfeeding has been debated for years. Each option has their own advantages, but only one is known as the best for a baby. Remember to check out all the advantages of each option before making a decision to help you make the best choice for you and your baby.

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    Mothers are naturally concerned over the healthiest options for their newborn. This is especially true when it comes to nutrition and health. Many mothers find themselves debating whether breast milk or infant formula is healthier for their bundle of joy. Before beginning a feeding routine for a baby it is best to research each method of feeding to discover the pros and cons. Out of the advantages experts have picked one winner out of the battle of infant formula vs breastfeeding. Although all mothers may not be able to breastfeed, it is the number one choice of specialists for the best nutrition for babies.

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    The Advantages of Breastfeeding

    Breast milk is considered the best nutritional option for a baby according to the American Medical Association, American Academy of Family Physicians, World Health Organization and the American Medical Association.

    In additional to the nutritional benefits, breastfeeding is provides a chance for the baby and the mother to form a deeper bond. It is not only for bonding experiences, however. Breast milk is a natural food that contains all the nutrition a baby needs in each stage of his or her young life. It provides the baby with many antibodies that help prevent common infections such as diarrhea, meningitis, ear infections and respiratory infections, as well as:

    • Ear, respiratory, and urinary infections
    • Tooth decay and mouth infections
    • Diarrhea and intestinal diseases
    • Asthma
    • Obesity
    • Allergies
    • Diabetes
    • Leukemia and lymphoma
    • Anemia

    Breast milk is easier for a baby to digest than any formula. It also provides many health benefits to the mother. If a mother breastfeeds then her uterus will be able to return to the original size much more quickly, her period will be postponed for many months, she will become calmed by hormones produced by breastfeeding such as prolactin, and she will be able to lose weight more quickly because breastfeeding burns calories. Perhaps the best part is mothers will have a decreased chance of developing diabetes, anemia, depression, osteoporosis, breast and ovarian cancer and iron-defiency. The mother will be able to save more money because she won't have to buy bottles or formula. Without the formula cans and water used with formula the environment benefits.

    However, some mothers are unable to breastfeed for various reasons. Different types of formula is available for these reasons. Don't forget that formula has great benefits too.

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    The Advantages of Infant Formula

    Infant formula is a good alternative to breast milk as it contains many nutrients and vitamins. Most infant formulas contain special vitamins, sugars, proteins and fats that are found in breast milk. Formula has many advantages for the mother too, since it is convenient to serve, always easily accessible and flexible enough for feeding at home or on the go.

    Formula can be fed to a baby by almost anyone, so if the mother is busy she could make a bottle and leave it with a caregiver. The formula will digest slower than breast milk, so the baby will not be hungry as quickly after eating. This is especially helpful to mothers that are very busy and have a tight schedule. The baby can be fed the formula in private or public. One of the greatest advantages is the mother does not have to worry about the things she consumes affecting the baby. Mothers who enjoy caffeine or need to take medicine can take advantage of this fact.

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    Sources

    FamilyDoctor, http://familydoctor.org/online/famdocen/home/women/pregnancy/birth/955.html

    KidsHealth, http://kidshealth.org/parent/growth/feeding/breast_bottle_feeding.html