You are here

Breastfeeding vs. Bottle Feeding: What You Need to Know


Of all the important decisions you will need to make as a new parent, one of the most impactful will be whether to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby. There’s no doubt that breastfeeding has several health benefits for your baby, but, for busy parents, it may not be the most convenient option.

The following information will help you make an informed decision. However, it’s important to remember that both are healthy ways to ensure your baby receives needed nutrients.


Health Benefits of Breastfeeding During the First Six Months

According to the World Health Organization, breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life is integral to not only the health of the baby but the health of the mother as well.1 The WHO recommends that breastfeeding is initiated within the first hour of life.

They also recommend that breastfeeding occurs on demand, according to the child’s wants and needs at all times. The only instances in which breastfeeding is not recommended is if the mother has HIV or an infant has been diagnosed with classic galactosemia.

Breastfeeding in the first hour of life and for the first six months can benefit babies in many ways, including:

  • Providing all needed energy and nutrients
  • Promoting cognitive and sensory development
  • Protecting babies from chronic and infectious disease
  • Assisting with quicker recovery from illness
  • Reducing overall infant mortality from pneumonia and diarrhea

Exclusive breastfeeding also has several health benefits for the mother, including:

  • Reduced risk of ovarian cancer
  • Reduced risk of breast cancer
  • Quicker recovery from childbirth
  • Delayed return of menstruation


Additional Benefits of Breastfeeding

There are obvious health benefits for mothers who breastfeed their babies. However, breastfeeding also provides many additional benefits.

Meets Nutritional Needs at All Life Stages

In addition to the benefits of breastfeeding during the first six months of a baby’s life, pediatric specialists say there are also benefits to doing so past this time. As babies grow and their nutritional needs change, so, too, does the composition of breast Mom and Her Babymilk. This makes breastfeeding an always-healthy and convenient means of feeding your baby, as your body will automatically adjust itself according to your baby’s needs.

Time, Ease and Bonding

Breastfeeding itself costs only time, and there is no need to be concerned with the temperature of breast milk, as it is always ideal. As well, regardless of where you and your baby may be, or what time of the night it is, breast milk is always readily available and does not require you to have bottles, bags, and other feeding necessities with you.

For the nursing mother, breastfeeding provides the opportunity to bond with her baby. This is because breastfeeding releases “feel good” hormones like oxytocin, which enhances emotional connection, adding to the feeling of maternal fulfillment. This all-important emotional connection at the beginning of life also benefits infants and mothers throughout their lives.2


Disadvantages of Breastfeeding

Of course, there are also disadvantages to breastfeeding. For example, if not using a breast pump to provide an additional supply of milk, the mother must always be present to feed her baby. Although using a breast pump to ensure additional milk is available, a mother will have to take the time to do this.

No Guarantee of Success

Contrary to what some may believe, breastfeeding is both a natural act and a learned behavior. To that end, breastfeeding may not feel natural or comfortable for the mother, especially if her child doesn’t seem to enjoy the process.

It is because of this that the WHO and UNICEF have lobbied for the active support of mothers via the strengthening of supportive breastfeeding practices via OBGYN doctors, in hospitals, and at home.3

Time Commitment

Despite the fact that supplying your baby with breast milk does not incur a financial cost (unless other costs, such as that for a breast pump and maternity bra are factored in), it does require a significant time commitment, especially during the first six months when babies feed frequently.

This can be a disadvantage for mothers who must adhere to a work schedule, run errands, or engage in travel.

Dietary Changes May Be Necessary

Because what the mother eats and drinks can be passed directly to her baby through breast milk, she must be more aware of what they consume. This can pose a challenge, at first, because mothers will have to become knowledgeable about certain contaminants.

For example, physicians advise women who are breastfeeding to not consume fish with high mercury content. As well, breastfeeding women should wait at least two hours following consumption of one alcoholic drink before breastfeeding and limit their daily caffeine intake to 300 milligrams or less.


Health Benefits of Formula

Formula is also a healthy choice for feeding your baby. Thanks to technology, formula provides the best possible alternative to breast milk, providing parents and infants several benefits.Formula Health Benefits

The complex combination of necessary nutrients contained in formula is ideally balanced, which may not always be the case for breast milk. For mothers whose breast milk contains insufficient nutrient amounts, their babies will need to receive supplements, say women’s health specialists.


Formula is very convenient for busy parents. Not only does using formula allow babies to be fed any time, but it also eliminates the need to have the mother present for feeding, as anyone can bottle-feed formula.

The convenience of choosing formula also extends to scheduling. Not only does feeding formula allow for a schedule that’s more aligned with working hours, but, since formula is digested slower than breast milk, feeding is not required as frequently.

A Shared Bonding Experience

Where breastfeeding allows a bond between mother and child, formula allows both partners to share the bonding experience. As well, this can also help distribute feedings between partners, which can assist with getting needed sleep in addition to bonding benefits.

No Dietary Changes Needed

Formula also offers benefits in terms of diet, because no changes are needed on the mother’s part. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the mother cannot change her diet if she feels this is necessary or a healthier choice for her.

As well, if the mother prefers to consume certain items like alcohol, formula feeding will allow her to do so, as long as consumption is done in moderation, which is how all physicians will advise their patients.


Disadvantages of Formula

There are also some disadvantages to formula, including the following.


Likely the biggest disadvantage of formula is that it can be very costly, even if it is a basic and not a specialty product.

Preparation Time and Work

Formula must be prepared properly in order to ensure it can be easily digested by the baby.

Formula preparation takes time, which can detract from required hours of sleep. As well, in addition to preparing formula, parents must always ensure there is a sufficient supply of sterilized bottles and nipples available for feedings, which can also be time-consuming to prepare.

When away from home with the baby, formula feeding requires preparation of formula beforehand so that it can be taken with you. A baby bag, complete with formula, bottles, nipples and other supplies will need to accompany parents whenever they leave home.

Possible Gas and Constipation

The fact that formula takes longer than breast milk for babies to digest can result in firmer stools that are harder for babies to pass, which can result in constipation. As well, babies who are formula-fed may have more gas, which can be painful and result in a loss of rest and the need for pediatric care.

Combination Feeding

Many parents choose breastfeeding as the main source of nutrients for their baby and use formula as a supplement. This can allow the baby to receive healthy breast milk, and the parents to work and run errands when they need to.


Breastfeeding and Guilt

Many mothers experience significant feelings of guilt when they have difficulty getting their infant to breastfeed. However, issues with breastfeeding have nothing to do with maternal incompetence, nor do they mean that something is wrong with an Women's Health Adviceinfant.

According to the Office on Women’s Health, many things may cause breastfeeding problems, including a low or oversupply of milk, sore nipples, and plugged ducts, to name a few.4

Lactation consultants and pediatricians can help mothers experiencing breastfeeding problems to overcome them. However, a mother can also experience guilt as the result of negative reactions from others about how she has chosen to feed her baby.


Get Advice from Leaders in Women's Health

It’s true that one of the most important decisions a mother can make is how she will feed her infant. However, this decision is up to the mother and no one else to make. In doing what you feel is best for your baby, you are always making the right decision, whether that is to breast or bottle feed.

Crystal Run Healthcare’s team of obstetricians and gynecologists help and educate women about their own health, as well as the health of their infants. We can also assist new mothers with breastfeeding issues, as well as recommend local resources where additional help may be obtained.

We are dedicated to the health of women of all ages and offer respectful, confidential, and non-judgmental advice and care. For more information about a Crystal Run location near you, call 1-845-703-6999.