Health&Fitness Talk

Supporting Healthy Life Styles

Breast or Bottle? Breast or Bottle?
by Kimberly Allen, RN One of the first and most important decisions new parents have to make is how to feed their new baby. ... Breast or Bottle?

by Kimberly Allen, RN

One of the first and most important decisions new parents have to make is how to feed their new baby.  Most major medical organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics or AAP, the American Medical Association or AMA as well as the World Health Organization or WHO  recommend breastfeeding as the best option for babies.  However, there are advantages as well as disadvantages to both.  Weighing the pro’s and con’s and making a decision is a very personal decision that all new mom’s must make.

breast feed

Breastfeeding is a natural way to give a child all the nutrients it needs. Although for mothers who cannot breastfeed, formulas have come a long way.

Some of the things to consider when trying to decide which is more beneficial for your baby, human breast milk is considered the perfect food for babies.  It has the perfect balance of nutrients including carbohydrates, calcium and protein as well as fats.  Breast milk is also much higher in cholesterol in than formula.  Cholesterol is important for brain growth and it also supplies the building blocks for hormones and intestinal bile as well as vitamin D.  Breast milk is also loaded with amino acids which are the building blocks of proteins.  Breast milk is also more easily digested than formula.  While formulas today have been carefully formulated to resemble breast milk one very important component in breast milk is not in formula, antibodies.  Breast milk contains antibodies that pass from the mother to baby.  These antibodies protect your baby from numerous common as well as more serious infections ranging from ear infections and diarrhea to meningitis.  Infants that are breastfed are less prone to allergies than infants that are formula fed.  Breastfeeding can also reduce the risk of your baby developing  certain health problems like asthma and diabetes as well as obesity.  Also, according to the AAP breastfeeding can also prevent SIDS.  There are also other advantages to consider , for example breast milk doesn’t cost anything and it’s always there,  On the other hand formula costs tends to range between $54 and $198 a month, depending on the brand you choose to use.

As with most things there are also disadvantages to breastfeeding,  To begin with breastfeeding requires a significant amount of time and commitment,  For one thing because babies are able to digest breast milk easier and faster they need to be fed more often which can be tiring for mom.  Also, unless mom pumps her breasts to provide milk only she can feed the baby.  Women that choose to breastfeed also need to watch what they eat and drink because almost everything mom consumes can be passed on to your baby through the breast milk.  that includes alcohol and caffeine.  To avoid passing any alcohol to your baby you must wait at least 2 hours after a single alcoholic beverage before nursing.  Your caffeine consumption should also be limited to no more than 300mg per day total including coffee and other beverages like colas.  Other health conditions affecting mom that require medications can also be a concern and should be thoroughly discussed with your doctor.

While breastfeeding is considered the best option by many it’s not for everyone.  Some women have difficulty with breastfeeding and like any new skill they are uncomfortable with breastfeeding. Many new moms may not be able or willing to make the necessary time and commitment needed for breastfeeding to be successful.  Women that feel they are unable to breastfeed should not feel guilty.  As with so many other things in pharmaceuticals scientists have been able to better match the ingredients in today’s formulas to that of breast milk.  And if finances are a concern don’t hesitate to use a less expensive formula as they are all basically the same.  Just because something is more expensive it doesn’t mean it’s better.  also, even though it is true that breastfed babies have fewer infections, most babies don’t get serious infections, whether they are breastfed or bottle fed, in the first few months.
Remember what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for all.  The most important thing to remember is that “a happy, unstressed mom is the best mom.”  So if you feel that bottle feeding is the best option for you needs then it’s also the best for your baby’s needs also.

Kimberly Allen is a registered nurse with an AND in nursing. She has worked in ACF, LCF and psychiatric facilities, although she spent most of her career as a home health expert. She is now a regular contributor to, dispensing advice and knowledge about medical issues and questions. You can reach her with any comments or questions at