In the breastfeeding versus formula feeding debate, both sides present valid arguments for the pros, and both sides have their downfalls.
The debate between breastfeeding versus formula feeding has long been a raging one on parenting forums, in mommy playgroups and anywhere else that moms or soon-to-be moms gather. It can get really heated and nasty at times, with one side coming down harshly on the other, often leaving hard and hurt feelings in its wake. It really shouldn’t be this way, as both sides have valid arguments, and both options have pros and cons. New moms and moms-to-be need to look at these pros and cons of breastfeeding versus formula feeding and decide which option is best for them. All others should respect that decision, even if it’s not the choice they would have made.
Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding
- Breast milk contains everything your baby needs to grow and thrive in the most ideal composition. While there are some exceptions to this, for the most part, breast milk really is the most complete form of nutrition for your baby.
- When comparing breastfeeding versus formula feeding, breastfeeding is definitely the less expensive option. In fact, it’s completely free!
- For moms who have no one to take on night feeding, it can help them get more sleep, since there are no bottles to grab and warm up in the middle of the night. The act of getting out of bed to prepare a bottle completely breaks your sleep cycle and makes it harder to get back to sleep.
- The antibodies passed to your baby through breast milk may help decrease their chances of developing certain infections.
- If you take in too little of certain nutrients, the quality of your breast milk can be compromised, which means your baby will not be getting the best nutrition.
- On the other hand, taking in too much of certain substances (alcohol, caffeine, mercury in fish) can be dangerous to your baby. Talk to your doctor for a list of foods and substances that you’ll need to avoid.
- Certain medications can pass into the breast milk and harm your baby. Any medication that passes into your breast milk can be potentially dangerous. Even if a medication is labeled “typically safe,” it is difficult to predict long-term effects until generations have passed.
- Some women may find breastfeeding uncomfortable and even painful, either physically or psychologically, for many reasons.
Pros and Cons of Formula Feeding
- Formula contains all the necessary nutrients your baby needs to grow and thrive. Advances in formula over the years have come a long way. It’s still not as ideal as breast milk, but it’s pretty close.
- Moms can take necessary medications without worrying about they will harm their baby by passing it through to the milk supply.
- Typically, when it comes to breast feeding versus formula feeding, the latter allows more flexibility, especially for working moms, as she won’t need to express milk for those times she can’t be there, or find a private place to nurse the baby (while all women should be free to nurse in public, not all women feel comfortable with it).
- Moms don’t have to worry about their diets as much. While everyone should of course try to maintain a healthy diet, those who formula feed have no worries about maintaining the quality of their breast milk. For extremely picky eaters or those with certain special diets, this is a major plus.
- Your baby doesn’t receive antibodies from formula, and therefore may not have that added protection against certain viruses. This is typically the number one point against formula in the breastfeeding versus formula feeding debate, and it is a good one. Still, there are many formula-fed babies who rarely ever catch a cold, and there are breast-fed babies who are sick every season. So many other factors come into play when it comes to your child’s immune system.
- Both formula and the all the supplies for bottle-feeding can get very expensive, especially if your baby will only drink out of a certain type of bottle (babies can be very picky). The average cost of a can of formula can be over $20.
- Midnight feedings require, at the least, stumbling out of bed to warm up a refrigerated bottle and at the worst, preparing the bottle from scratch, so it can cut in on your sleep time. Even if you’re using a bottle warmer to speed up the process, it’s still a huge pain.
- Some babies are allergic to certain types of formula, which may require switching brands or types. In some cases, this can significantly add to the overall expense. While you’re trying to figure out the ideal formula, your baby can suffer from gas pains and other digestive issues.
Breastfeeding versus Formula Feeding : Which Side Wins?
Honestly, neither side “wins”, because there is no absolute right or wrong. Both make excellent points about the pros and cons of each option. What it really comes down to is that when it comes to breastfeeding versus formula feeding, the only right decision is the one that works best for you and your child. No woman should be condemned or judged for her decision.