Perhaps the most important question expectant and new mothers ask is: which is best for me and my baby, the bottle or the breast? Formula feeding and breast feeding have been subject to much scrutiny over time and the reason is simple. The nutrients a newborn gets in its early life will have a large impact on how it will grow and develop. If you can, by all means breastfeed.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that a newborn be breastfed exclusive for the first six months of his/her life. We are talking about a real formula vs breast milk battle here. Exclusive breastfeeding means no formula, juice or water.

Breast milk contains so many nutrients that build strong brains and bones, boost immunity, prevent allergies, develop IQ and prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) such that extra is not needed. In our present, real-life reality, however, this is not feasible for many mothers.

Some Choose Not to Breastfeed, Others Simply Cannot!

a mother breastfeeding her child

Aside the absence of the mother, there are medical conditions that make the special breastfeeding bonding time between mother and baby impossible. A HIV positive mother, for example, is advised not to breastfeed her baby because the virus can be transmitted through her breastmilk.

A mother receiving chemotherapy for cancer treatment; a mother taking prescription drugs or using illegal drugs; a mother with inverted nipples; a baby who has a rare condition known as galactosemia and cannot tolerate the natural sugar found in breast-milk; a mother with little or no supply of breast-milk; and a mother who chooses not to are all examples where breastfeeding is not an option.

Be It for Personal or Medical Reasons, When You Cannot Breastfeed Your Child, What Do You Do?  

There are many additives and alternatives to breast feeding available so don’t worry, mummy, your baby will still get great nutrition and high IQ scores.

Supplement Nursing System SNS

Have you ever heard of Supplement Nursing System (SNS)? It’s a thin feeding tube that is attached to a feeding bottle, placed near the nipple while the baby is sucking.

So, the baby sucks through the nipple and tube. This is more of an additive than an alternative and it’s especially good for mums who have low supply of milk. You give what you can and the tube does the rest. If your baby is adopted, this is a great way to get that ‘breastfeeding bonding’ with your little one.

Nipple Shield

If your baby doesn’t latch on properly or you have sore nipples, a nipple shield can help. The shield is a little piece that covers your nipple. It helps the baby latch on better and has a suction that through which he can suck. This greatly reduces discomfort and can allow you to breastfeed for a longer time.

Breast Pumps

Breast pumps. This is another alternative for mothers. You simply express the milk and feed your baby! Your little one can still be placed on an exclusive breast milk diet and there are lots of great advantages with the pump – daddy feeding baby, anyone? This method also allows the baby to feed longer. Pump as often as you would feed your baby from your breasts.

Human Donor Breast Milk

Next up, human donor breast milk. Yes, I know exactly how that sounds. It’s not only blood that can be donated. Babies that are born preterm and/or with low-birth-weights are to be fed with mother’s own milk to reduce the risk of gut disorder, growth retardation, developmental delay and infections during their stay in the hospital.

Because of this, WHO recommends that babies who cannot get mother’s own milk should be given human donor breast-milk. Hospitals usually have programs for this and are given freely if your baby qualifies.

An alternative source is a friend or relative who is breastfeeding and has enough milk for two. But be sure you can trust the person’s hygiene otherwise do not hesitate to say no.

2 things you shouldn’t do as regards donor milk
  1. Do not buy milk online, ever.
  2. And please, do not use straight-sourced cow or goat’s milk to feed your baby.

Formula Feeding

And then, the almighty formula. Formula feeding babies is the best alternative there is to breastmilk. Commercial formulas are designed to duplicate mother’s milk by using a complex mixture of proteins, fats, sugars and vitamins in a sterile environment that is all the nutrition your baby would need. It’s very portable, easy to get, easy to mix – just add water! – and is easier than breastfeeding.    

Formula VS Breast-milk

Formula feeding and breast feeding? What should you know?

Though breast feeding might be the most nutritional and cost effective method for your baby, but the formula has got some advantages over the breast.

Babies digest breastmilk faster than formula which means that with breastfeeding, they’ll have to be fed more often.

It is convenient. Mummy, daddy, elder brother, elder sister, relative or a caregiver can feed the baby. This allows everyone to spend quality time with the baby and nobody is extra stressed. Imagine if there were two or three babies?

Formula vs breastmilk nutrition. The breastmilk is very readily available and because each mother produces it for her child according to the babies’ needs, the baby will always have the right nutrition. Because the formula is factory made and not exactly tailored to a baby’s specific needs, it may lack certain immunity-boosting elements. There are also babies requiring special nutritional requirements. Hence, they too need special formula to meet that requirement. 

Formulas can be combined with breast-milk in a formula vs breast-milk combination. Mothers who have to work often opt for this and for babies who are older than 6 months. Hence, these mothers employ formula feeding and breast feeding.

Formula Feeding for Newborns

How much formula will your baby need and how often? This isn’t an exact math. Every baby is different, and so the amount and frequency of their feeding will depend on the baby’s needs. You’ll need to learn your baby’s hunger and fullness cues. But there are a few general points to note on formula feeding for newborns especially in their first days, weeks and months of life. 

Your baby has a tiny tummy. They don’t need so much to be full. You can start with one or two ounces of infant formula every 2-3 hours and regulate from there. Give more if baby is hungry and less if not. This is where a formula feeding chart might come in handy. Charts are calculated based on your baby weight and age. You can easily get one off the Internet.  

As your baby grows, so will the tummy. Your baby will be able to drink more formula and last longer between each feeding. Babies usually take what they need at each feeding and stop when they are full.

Finally, what’s in your baby’s diaper should also give you a clue as to how much they’re eating. If enough is going in, enough will definitely come out. If you have any further questions or doubts, please talk to your pediatrician.

Mummy and daddy, don’t worry too much about how your baby will turn out. Formula feeding and breast feeding are all feeding and it’s entirely up to you to do what is best for your little one.

trivia question from our instagram page

Now, a little trivia for you. Can mothers who have had breast implants breastfeed their babies?

Oghosa Osadebamwen

My name is Oghosa, and you can call me just that. I love maths, I have a degree in biomedical science and an unearthly interest in language and grammar.