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The Breast vs. Bottle Debate

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 15 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Breast Bottle Feeding Formula Breast

Deciding how to feed your baby is easy for some women whilst others agonise over the decision. There is little doubt that breast feeding is definitely best for your baby and also good for you, but there are some advantages to bottle feeding too.

The Benefits of Breast Feeding

Breast milk is free and it is totally natural, your milk is designed to provide your baby with all the nutrients he or she needs.Breast milk doesn’t need heating which reduces many risks, it comes at exactly the right temperature for your child.Breast feeding protects the nursing mother against many different conditions, including some forms of cancer.

Babies who are given breast milk are getting added anti-bodies and suffer less with illnesses such as diarrhoea, chest infections and ear infections.

Early studies show that breast fed babies may have higher levels of intelligence than bottle fed babies.

Breast feeding is a great way of bonding with your child and spending some quiet together time.

The Benefits of Bottle Feeding

The biggest advantage of feeding your baby from a bottle is that the feeding schedule can be shared and the father can use this time to bond with their child.

Bottles can be given everywhere without the worry of offending anyone by breast feeding; a very old-fashioned view but unfortunately it does still occur.

Bottle fed babies tend to sleep for longer periods than breast fed babies as they are fuller for longer.

The Disadvantages of Breast Feeding

The biggest disadvantage of breast feeding is that feeding cannot be shared and the mother must get up every night and during the day; this is difficult if it is not your first child and you must get up early every day. This can however be overcome if breast milk is expressed and given by the bottle, though combining breast feeding and bottle feeding can be quite a tough task and may not be suitable for very young babies.

Breast fed babies will need to be given supplementary vitamin K in the first few weeks as breast milk may not provide them with sufficient amounts.

Women who have blood-borne diseases may be discouraged from breast feeding as they can pass their condition on to their child using this method.

Those who have to return to work soon after having their baby may find the stress of trying to maintain breast feeding very difficult, if not impossible.

Some women do not produce enough milk to feed their baby by the breast.

The Disadvantages of Bottle Feeding

Bottle fed or formula fed babies can thrive just as well as those who are breast fed but they are likely to lack certain things that breast fed babies gain.

For example, bottle fed babies may not share the same bonding experience as those on the breast as the skin to skin contact is not the same, though this can be counteracted if the first few feeds are fed skin to skin.

Bottle fed babies need to have adequate sterilising facilities in order to maintain their health. These items can be costly, cumbersome and take up a lot of time whilst you get used to them.

Bottle fed babies tend to pick up more illnesses than those who are breast fed such as infections and diarrhoea as they lack the same level of immunity as those on breast milk and may pick up germs from teats and milk deposits left in the bottle.

Initial research suggests that bottle fed babies have more of a tendency to become obese than those reared on breast milk.

There is room for error when making bottles and getting the milk to water ratio incorrect, especially if you are in a hurry or are tired; this can harm your child quite significantly.

Formula often has to be warmed before the baby will take it and this poses a risk of burning their mouth, especially if a microwave is used to warm the milk which is why this practice is not advocated.

Tins of formula milk are expensive and can cost up to £10 a week, over the year this is quite a substantial amount of money.

Breast or bottle? The choice is yours but it helps to have a little knowledge about the advantages and disadvantages of each method.

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