A big decision new parents must make for the little one’s nutrition is whether to breastfeed or give formula. No matter what you decide, other people will surely have an opinion, but only one thing really matters: which choice is right for you and your baby?
There are pros and cons to both breastfeeding and formula feeding, but the Canadian Paediatric Society recommends breastfeeding for the first six months of life. At about six months, your baby may be ready for other foods, but you can continue breastfeeding as long as it is comfortable for you and your baby.
Benefits of breastfeeding
There are several benefits to breastfeeding your little one. Some of these benefits include:
Breastmilk provides natural antibodies that help your baby resist illnesses, such as ear infections.
It is usually more easily digested than formula, so breastfed babies are often less constipated and gassy.
Breastfeed babies are less likely to be overweight into adulthood.
It is good for moms too. Studies show that women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease and ovarian cancer.
Benefits of formula feeding
If you find you can't breastfeed, relax. Formula feeding is also a healthy choice for babies. If you use formula, your baby will get the best possible alternative to breastmilk. It’s not true that bottle-fed babies are constantly going to the emergency room with ear infections. Likewise, moms who breastfeed are not immune to cancer.
In fact, there are benefits to that option as well. Busy parents can easily become overwhelmed with a newborn, and breastfeeding severely inhibits your ability to have personal time away from your baby. If you do find that time, you often pay in advance with hours and hours of uncomfortable breast pumps, just to make sure that junior gets the good stuff. Formula can be much more convenient, and you can’t underestimate the benefits that can have for a mother’s mental health. To add to that, formula isn’t digested as quickly as mother’s milk, so your baby may be able to go longer between feedings. Longer naps, more peace and quiet for mom and dad. It’s not all bad.
If you choose to go the breastfeeding route, there are few things that you should keep in mind:
Notably, breast milk doesn’t contain much vitamin D, so it’s recommended that breastfeeding moms give their babies a vitamin D supplement. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist first to ensure you are giving the correct dosage.
Iron levels stores begin to deplete as your baby nears six months so you’ll want to talk with your doctor or pharmacist about how to add iron into your baby’s diet. Proper dosing is important. Too much iron can cause you baby to become constipated and is potentially toxic.
Getting the most out of bottle-feeding
Remember that the benefits are relative, and there are other ways to make sure your baby gets the nutrients he or she needs. If you do opt for formula instead of breastfeeding however, follow these tips to get the most out of it:
Remember, fed is best
Whether you choose to feed your baby formula or breast milk is a very personal decision, and there’s not one answer that’s right for everyone. If you have concerns or questions, your doctor or pharmacist can give you more suggestions to help make this time in your life as happy and healthy as possible for you, and your precious baby.