What is better? The heated debate over methods of feeding babies has begun since a quality breast milk substitute came on the market.
The only truth is that breast milk is the best source of nutrition for babies, especially for the first six months. It gives your baby exactly what he or she needs at the right time and in the right proportion. Breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients for a baby’s further growth and development. Even the quality formula can not substitute the protective factors, stem cells, and a variety of beneficial bacteria. But there are many cases when breastfeeding is not possible for various reasons, and formula milk comes to the rescue. Most concerns associated with it, for the most part, are exaggerated. Yes, there are no antibodies in the formula, but they are not always present in breast milk either. At the same time, contrary to popular belief, there are as many vitamins in baby food as there are in natural nutrition.
In This Article
What do babies get with breast milk?
The breast milk composition is not constant and changes during feedings depending on the lactation period.
Breast milk is also known for its balance of protein and fat components. And its proteins are rich in essential amino acids and are well absorbed by the baby’s body. In the first six months of life, the baby does not need anything but breast milk with a sufficient amount of fluid that the baby well absorbs. If your baby is offered extra drinks for a long time, it can decrease your baby’s appetite.
Breastfeeding as a protective factor
Breastfeeding has a number of essential benefits, despite the nutritional characteristics. First in importance is its protective function, making breast milk the best cure for the baby. It contains substances that protect babies from pathogens and stimulate the immune system’s development.
Thus, breast milk is a truly irreplaceable product to nourish children in their first year. It is superior to all substitutes, including infant formula. But if for some objective reasons lactation is not possible, a woman should not suffer and consider herself a bad mother. Love and care are much more important for the baby’s development than the type of feeding.
Psychological benefits of breastfeeding
For many women, breastfeeding provides a sense of calm and satisfaction. The emotional bond created between mother and baby during breastfeeding positively affects the mother’s psychological state, reducing the risk of postpartum depression. Also, breastfeeding lays the foundation for a strong mother-child relationship. But touching, stroking, kissing, and talking are all nuances that form bonding. Feeding is only one aspect of mother-baby communication.
Can formula fully substitute breast milk?
Unfortunately, this is not entirely true. Yes, it is nutritious, but it does not have all the benefits of breast milk. Milk formula has become an excellent option for many families. All modern baby formula composition is as close to breast milk as possible: the baby gets all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients necessary for harmonious development.
There are no significant differences between the two in comparing breastfed and formula-fed children. There is no evidence that babies get any different, better immunity with breast milk. Of course, breastfeeding is the most natural way to feed a child, but if parents have to switch to formula, there is nothing wrong with it.
How to choose a formula for your baby?
Most parents don’t know how to choose the right formula. You have to understand that formula is not just a product from the supermarket.
Before choosing a formula, you should always speak to your pediatrician. After examining the child and collecting the medical history, the doctor will be able to make recommendations. The pediatrician should determine if family members tend to have allergies and intolerance to certain foods. Maybe someone has an intolerance to cow’s or goat’s milk. If there are digestive issues, the doctor can recommend a therapeutic formula or baby probiotics.
There are different types of formula with various additives, all of which are similar to breast milk but not identical to it. The formula must be suitable for the child’s age: there are different stages of the formula with different energy values. Most formulas are made on the basis of cow’s and goat’s milk. There are also soy-based formulas for kids with lactose deficiency. For example, some formulas eliminate dysbiosis, frequent regurgitation, rarely cause allergic reactions, and so on. The main point is that baby food should have a simple composition without harmful ingredients and tons of preservatives, sweeteners, or flavorings. In this case, parents should pay more attention to organic baby formula, among other options.
How to know if your baby doesn’t tolerate the current formula well?
Despite the fact that baby formula from quality manufacturers is more or less similar in composition to each other, the baby’s reaction to them can be completely different.
You should only feed your baby with freshly prepared formula. Do not give the formula leftover from the last feeding.
And it is essential to follow the instructions on the package on how to dilute it! Failure to follow the preparation instructions may lead to overfeeding the baby and tummy problems.
Any allergic symptoms such as rashes, swelling, skin redness, stool changes, vomiting, colics, and bloating should alert the parent. In this case, you should immediately stop giving the formula and see a doctor who probably will recommend switching to a new formula.
What you need to know about the formula:
- Milk formula cannot replace breast milk. When choosing between donor milk and formula, donor milk is better. The baby formula is for those situations where all other feeding options are not possible.
- Parents should get a pediatrician’s recommendation to choose the right milk formula that meets their child’s nutritional needs.
- It is not recommended to dilute the formula in advance in order to avoid digestive issues in babies.
- Before choosing a new formula, make sure that the current one is given according to the rules: the feeding schedule and the instructions for dilution of the product.
- Parents should not switch their baby to a therapeutic formula only on their initiative.