The Choice Between Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding for Baby's Development


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By nature, mothers feed their newborn by breast milk. They even had to ask for their neighbors in the past if they did not have enough milk. Later science has been advanced, and infant formula was invented to do the same job as human milk. However, because of its excellent nutritional and health benefits, mothers have been highly promoted to breastfeed their baby if there is not a certain medical reason not to. The typical causes can be HIV or tuberculosis which can be transmitted to infants. In case that a woman is not able to produce enough milk, she could feed all the amount she can generate and then complement with formula. As a small volume of mothers’ milk, especially in the first 6 months, can be constructive for the baby. Yet more and more mothers choose bottle feeding for convenience in the twenty-first century. Accordingly, before making the decision on whether to breastfeed, bottle-feed with baby milk, or use a combination of both, parents should consider advantages between the two.

It is known that human milk is a unique mixture whose composition changes with time, reflecting the slower growth velocity in humans. Mature human milk holds about approximately 0.9 – 1.2 g/dL protein, 3.2 – 3.6 g/dL fat, and 6.7 – 7.8 g/dL lactose. Energy content ranges from 65 to 70kc al/dL highly correlated with the fat content (Worobey 2). Consequently, breastfeeding supplies the balance of fat and protein, which is ideal for a quickly myelinating nervous system. The baby in the first year needs exceptional care for its healthy development and brain growth. The World Health Organization and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months and inclusive breast milk in the infant’s diet until at least 1 year (Worobey 1). Breast milk is naturally intended to feed an infant, so it is easier to absorb. Breast milk also has many vitamins, especially vitamin D, and minerals that a newborn requires. Breast milk protects against many diseases such as type 2 diabetes, obesity, ear/respiratory infections, or even SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome), which is the unexplained death, usually during sleep, of a healthy baby less than a year old. This is because it helps enhance functioning of the immune system passively. Formula companies can never accurately imitate the contents of breast milk. When a baby is young, its immune system is not well-prepared for many of the common bacteria or viruses humans encounter. Parts of the immune system response, called immunoglobulins (Ig), are passed from the mother’s immune system to the baby through breast milk and give the baby temporary immunity to the things the mother has become sensitized to. Other factors that go along with immunoglobulins and help to protect the baby are factors that aid with digestion and the maturation of the lining of the digestive tract, proteins that protect against bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and white blood cells from the mother. This is part of why breastfed babies are often healthier, absorb milk better, and tend to have less digestive trouble than bottle-fed babies. Breast milk contains infection-fighting antibodies that formula food cannot duplicate. Breastfeeding is actually an investment in health, not just a lifestyle decision.

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Breastfeeding not only does the newborn good but it also benefits for moms. Certain studies suggest that the mothers who breastfeed less probably develop breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis later in life. They may also avoid developing Type 2 Diabetes. Besides, oxytocin is a hormone that is produced soon after birth and during breastfeeding. The more interesting part of the oxytocin response is its promotion of bonding and mothering behaviors. Breastfeeding can also promote maternal hormonal processes with psychological benefits.

“We already know that neonatal sucking stimulates oxytocin and prolactin release both having analgesic, relaxing, anti-depressant and anxiolytic effects. Furthermore, during lactation and during breastfeeding sessions, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and cortisol plasma levels decreased. The secretion of cortisol and ACTH are related to stress responses and this mechanism could explain the reduced risk of postpartum depression in these mothers” (Worobey 9-10).

Furthermore, human milk does not cost a penny, while the price of formula rapidly adds up and formula is less convenient during midnight feeding sessions as it needs time to prepare the bottle. Since breastfed infants are comparatively healthy, less money is spent for prescriptions and hospital services. As usual, nursing mothers require 300 to 500 extra calories per day to produce milk, which should come from plenty of healthy foods. This introduces breastfed babies to different tastes through their moms’ milk, which has various flavors depending on what their mothers have eaten. By tasting traditional dishes, breastfed infants more easily accept solid foods. Another big plus is breast milk is always fresh and ready for use.

Needless to say, bottled milk cannot be as good as breast milk. However, it does have some advantages for which mothers choose it as a perfect substitute. If prepared properly, it supplies nutritional content. During the first few months of life, formula-fed babies wake less often at night, take more naps, and sleep for longer stretches than nursing babies. That is because formula takes more time and effort to digest. In addition, the leading cause of cessation of breastfeeding in the early months is milk insufficiency. When feeding your baby with formula feed, you can measure exactly how much food your little one is getting per feeding. This is useful in understanding how much food is enough for the baby. More concerningly, bottle feeding helps parents share the work of feeding. Babies who are breastfed usually need to eat every two or three hours. When parents decide to bottle feed, the mother does always not have to be side by side with the newborn. Formula allows anyone in the family to help nourish the babies, especially when their mothers are at work. Obviously, economic burden is the thing many families must face, and some jobs require moms come back to work as soon as possible. Furthermore, bottle feeding in public is easily accepted and it is common knowledge that mothers do not want their breast to be presented in public when their little angels are hungry. Moms do not have to worry about altering their diet to meet the needs of their baby. Caffeine, alcohol, and calorie intake are more flexible. Mothers who bottle-feed may take medications as needed without worry of passing unwanted chemicals to their baby. Nursing mums are recommended to take in about 500 calories per day, which can make weight loss difficult.

From analysis above, breastfeeding is still the best choice for the baby’s entire development, especially during the first six months if mothers do not have any special medical situations. Nonetheless, for moms who cannot breastfeed or who decide not to, infant formula is a healthy alternative. Bottle feeding provides babies with the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. Indeed, bottle feeding has some advantages over breastfeeding. Also, mothers will always create a special bond with their children no matter how they feed their infants. Remember, nobody knows the little one better than its mom.

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