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Breastmilk Verses Formula: The Nutrition Benefits of Breastfeeding over Bottle Feeding Your Infant


Breastmilk Verses Formula: What is the Best Substitute for Breastfeeding

Sometimes, breast-feeding just doesn't go right, and all the advice in the world can't prevent some women from finding it too painful. If you've worked with a lactation consultant, practiced various holds and techniques and still find breastfeeding uncomfortable, you may need to bottle feed your baby. In this case, you might be able to use a breast pump so your baby still gets the ideal—breast milk. If you can pump your breasts and store the milk, you're way ahead of the game: formula is expensive and a hassle! But in cases where even pumping breast milk won't work, I know, I know, all the experts say that breast milk is best, but guess what: lots of babies do just fine on formula. You can still bond with your baby! Bottle-feeding still involves plenty of holding, gazing and communicating, and these activities also stimulate the immune system and create a healthier baby and mom or dad. So, if you just can't do the breastfeeding thing, don't rack yourself with guilt. Consult with your pediatrician to find the best formula you can, and move on. After all, generations of babies have been bottle fed, and so will generations to come.

Benefits of Breastmilk Verses Formula

Some people think that after a few months, it's "natural" to stop nursing your baby and to use formula instead. This idea was created and perpetuated by companies that sold formula—until the recent scientific evidence for the greatness of breast milk overwhelmed any claims formula could make. Don't switch if you don't have to! Unless you have another health concern that affects your breast milk or a schedule that simply won't allow breastfeeding, there are no particularly good reasons for switching your child to formula at any age. Formula is markedly inferior to breast milk, as it fails to provide the immunity and nourishment so easily made by a woman's body.

Switching to Formula Sooner Instead of Breastfeeding

Some women move their babies on to formula because of pressure from family or friends, who feel that mothers shouldn't nurse beyond a certain infant age—say six months or a year. Even twenty years ago, no one understood the tremendous benefits of breast milk over formula, so that grandparents may find it unsettling and peculiar when their daughters continue nursing past the six month mark. But the American Acadamy of Pediatrics came out ten years ago to say that it's preferable for mothers to nurse their children even beyond the first year. In fact, some people think, the longer the better! Proponents of child-led weaning say that children will wean themselves as they develop. There's usually no reason to switch a child from breast milk to formula: if you can keep nursing until your child is on solid food, you'll save a lot of time and money.

The average age of weaning in the world is between the ages of 3 and 4 years, but in the U.S., children are often weaned by their first birthday. A lot of early weaning has to do with the fact that, in this "rich" country, more and more families are dependent on dual incomes, while the workplace has yet to make room for the family to the extent that employers will consider providing on-site child care for mothers with small children. If you're thinking of switching to formula because breast-feeding is hampered by your job, you're not alone. But consider finding ways to pumps and store breast milk so you child can continue to reap its benefits even if you can't always be together to nurse.

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