Are you considering formula feeding your baby and now you are looking at the pros and cons before deciding?
Or perhaps you are unable to breastfeed and worried if formula feeding is as bad as it is made out to be?
The decision to feed your baby formula is often met with a lot of criticism.
What most people don’t understand is that most of the time formula feeding is the only choice for some moms.
No one can dispute the fact that breastmilk is the ultimate best source of nutrition
If you can’t breastfeed and you are worried that your baby will be getting the raw end of the deal, don’t be.
In this post, we’ll look at the pros and cons of baby formula.
It is not a post to promote formula feeding over breastfeeding, but rather to make you aware of the positives and negatives if you can choose between the two.
It is also to help you feel rest assured that even if you are unable to give your baby the treasure that is breast milk, formula feeding has a lot of advantages.
The Pros And Cons Of Formula Feeding vs Breastfeeding
Let us take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of formula feeding. We will first go over the positives and discuss the negatives thereafter.
Advantages Formula Feeding
1. You Can Ask For Help With Feeding Baby
This has got to be the best about formula feeding.
When you breastfeed, no one else can feed your baby, unless you are pumping.
That means whether you are sick or not, you have to feed them.
If you haven’t had time to rest and your baby wakes up just before you put your head down, you have no choice but to breastfeed.
With formula-feeding on the other hand, you can ask someone to help you feed your baby while you lie down, eat, or take a bath.
Isn’t that just great?
This is also a great way for dad to bond with baby during feed times.
Sometimes the reason isn’t as simple as wanting to rest, you could be unwell and unable to feed your little one.
With formula feeding, you can rest assured that your baby will still get the necessary nutrition even when you are unable to feed them.
2. You Know Exactly How Much Your Baby Drinks
One thing you can be sure of when your baby is on formula is how much milk they are drinking.
I remember when I was breastfeeding my first baby, I used to stress so much wondering if they drank enough.
I was a first-time mom and didn’t quite understand this whole breastfeeding thing, plus I wasn’t really sure how much milk comes out per feed, and if anything is coming out at all.
So when I started using baby formula, I was more at ease with being able to track exactly how much my baby was drinking, especially during that overwhelming first week with a new baby.
3. You Can Eat Anything You Want
When you are breastfeeding, your baby drinks what you eat. That means you need to always keep an eye on what you are eating.
Moms who formula feed don’t need to watch their diet for their babies’ sake.
There are cases where a baby has a cow’s milk allergy, for example, and reacts to the mother’s breast milk because mommy takes her coffee with milk.
In this case, when your baby drinks formula, you don’t need to cut out anything from your diet. All you need to do is make sure you choose the right formula for your baby.
4. No Sore Or Cracked Nipples, Painful Breasts And Discomfort
Breastfeeding doesn’t always go as we had imagined.
Sometimes when you are looking forward to enjoying this amazing experience with your baby, you are met with poor latching, engorged breasts, sore cracked nipples, and discomfort.
This usually happens in the early stages of breastfeeding when you are still trying to get used to it because sometimes it can get tricky at the beginning.
For some moms, unfortunately, the struggle doesn’t end and it makes you resent breastfeeding.
Formula feeding saves you from all those troubles, you just need to get bottle nipples that your baby likes and you are good to go.
5. No Need To Worry About Not Producing Enough Milk
As expensive as baby formula is, once you know how much milk your baby drinks per feed or per day, week, etc, you have the advantage of knowing how much formula is left before you run out.
Once you know that and have stocked up, you don’t have to worry about your baby running out of milk.
If you are breastfeeding and have a problem with a low milk supply, producing enough milk is a constant struggle.
6. Great Solution When You Are Unable To Breastfeed
As mentioned before, breastfeeding isn’t a courtesy everyone enjoys. For some mothers, that option is not available.
Baby formula is the most available solution for moms who are unable to breastfeed for any reason.
Maybe your baby can’t tolerate breast milk, you have a low or no supply, or perhaps you are on medication that is not suitable for a newborn, formula feeding saves you a lot of stress regarding your baby’s nutrition.
7. No Worrying About Passing Illness To Your Baby
Illnesses come and go, and because you are an adult, your immune system can handle them and heal a lot quicker.
This might not be the case for a small baby.
It is said that if you come down with something, by the time you realize that you are unwell your baby would have already caught it.
It is obviously good news when your baby recovers well and no problems arise.
In some cases, babies with an immature immune system may take longer to recover and this will undoubtedly stress any parent.
You don’t have to stress about directly passing any of your illnesses to your baby through breast milk if you are formula feeding. In fact, you can even maintain a safe distance from your baby for a few days if you are unwell and let someone else feed your baby.
8. Fortified With Additional Vitamins Not Present In Breastmilk
As naturally perfect as breastmilk is, studies have shown that it actually doesn’t contain all the necessary nutrients that your newborn needs, for example, Vitamin D, Iron, and Vitamin K.
It is even recommended that breastfed babies get supplemented with these in addition to drinking breast milk.
On the other hand, baby formula has been fortified with these vitamins and iron and there is no need for additional supplements to be taken.
9. Baby Stays Fuller for Longer
Formula-fed babies don’t feed as often as their breastfed counterparts. This is because formula takes longer to digest therefore your baby will feel fuller for longer.
A feeding schedule for a formula-fed baby is quite easy and quick to establish because of this.
They usually feed every 2.5 to 3 hours if your baby finishes a bottle, you don’t have to worry about feeding until the next feed.
Some moms even suggest feeding your baby formula before a nap if you want them to sleep longer.
P.S. Unless hunger is the reason your baby wakes up quicker, what they eat before sleeping won’t solve the problem.
Disadvantages Of Formula Feeding
There are two sides to every story. After all the benefits of using baby formula, here are the negatives to consider.
1. Preparation Is Time Consuming
You first need to measure out the correct amount of formula and mix it with the correct amount of water. Bear in mind that the water must be clean and be at the correct temperature.
Even if you have everything prepared or pre-measured and all you need to do is mix, you still spend time preparing.
Don’t forget all the washing that comes with formula feeding. You need to make sure that there is always a clean bottle or two for the next feed.
If your baby is still small or has a weak immune system, you also need to add sterilization to the mix.
This is where breastfeeding takes the cup. No preparation, no warming up, no washing of any equipment.
One thing about formula milk is that it is expensive. A month’s supply can cost around $130 on average.
That is a big dent in a household budget.
Breast milk comes free of charge. The only thing you need to make sure of is that you eat well.
Read Also: How To Save On Baby Formula (9 Genius Tips)
3. Takes Trial And Error
You might spend time looking for a formula your baby will like or tolerate.
Cow’s milk allergy and eczema are common in formula-fed babies, sometimes your baby just doesn’t enjoy the taste of the formula you have chosen.
In other cases, your baby formula of choice might cause constipation and other side effects of formula e.g. gas, diarrhea, and indigestion.
If your baby struggles with these conditions or there is a family history of food allergies, etc, it might take a few tries before you find the formula that your baby takes well.
Unlike breastmilk, baby formula is man-made. It is going to be the first processed food your baby eats.
If you take a good look at what is used to make formula milk, the long list of ingredients used there is enough to send you packing.
I honestly don’t have any idea what some of the things are.
The thing is, formula attempts to replicate breastmilk, at least in terms of nutrition. The goal is to provide the best alternative to the breast.
5. You Must Always Make Sure There Is Enough Supply
Everything that needs to be stocked up on runs out, baby formula is no different.
Whether your budget allows it or not, you must always make sure your baby has enough milk until you buy again.
With breastfeeding, as long as your milk supply is consistent, your baby will always have enough.
6. Miss Out On Added Benefits Of Breastfeeding
Besides the nutrients and antibodies that come free of charge, breastfeeding provides an ultimate bonding environment for mom and baby.
It even promotes the much recommended skin-to-skin contact between mommy and her baby.
With formula, it is a skin-to-silicone nipple, unfortunately.
7. Increased Risk Of Infections Or Illnesses Due To Lack Of Antibodies
Even with its added vitamins and close attempts to bring it as close to breastmilk as possible, formula milk still lacks the antibodies present in breastmilk.
These antibodies are necessary to reduce the risk of infections or illnesses in a baby’s gut, for example, diarrhea (source). Therefore, formula-fed babies are at a higher risk of contracting such illnesses compared to their breastfed counterparts who will get these antibodies in their intestines to protect against infections.
The use of feeding equipment also increases this risk. If baby bottles and nipples are not cleaned thoroughly or sterilized, the bacteria that develops in leftover milk increases the chance of your baby getting sick.
8. Increased Risk Of Obesity
Studies have shown that overfeeding formula to your baby increases the chances of them being overweight later in life.
This is because formula-fed babies grow and gain more weight rapidly than breastfed babies.
9. Miss Out On Colostrum
Colostrum is the first milk your breasts produce and it is rich in nutrients.
Since a newborn baby only drinks a little during the first few days, this rich milk will provide the nutrition needed and antibodies to stay healthy.
Colostrum also helps your baby’s immune system fight off infections during the first few days of life, especially in the tummy.
Another thing is that breastmilk evolves as days go by and produces the right milk made the right way for your little one.
With baby formula, unfortunately, the same formula you feed during the first few hours will be the same formula you will be feeding for the next six or twelve months. It does not change to suit your baby’s nutritional needs as days go by.
Baby Formula Frequently Asked Questions
Are Formula-fed Babies Healthy?
Studies have shown that even though baby formula is man-made, its production is strictly regulated to ensure high standards.
Formula-fed babies still get the necessary nutrition plus additional vitamins not present in breast milk.
Can You Breastfeed And Use Formula At The Same Time?
There is nothing wrong with supplementing your baby with formula, whether you choose to do so or it is due to uncontrollable circumstances.
It is safe and allows you to give your baby the best of both worlds, so to say.
Can You Mix Formula With Breastmilk Instead Of Water?
Baby formula contains instructions that state the correct ratio of water to milk. These ratios have been tested to ensure the right amount of nutrients is served per feed.
Using breastmilk in the place of water will result in a concentrated composition that is more likely to cause constipation and other health complications due to increased nutrients.
You can, however, prepare baby formula separately with water and mix it with breastmilk afterward to feed your baby
Weighing Up The Pros And Cons Of Baby Formula
When comparing the advantages and disadvantages, breastfeeding will always come first, undoubtedly.
It is important to remember though that not everybody can or even wants to breastfeed.
Formula feeding is enough to provide your baby with all the nutrition they need and even has some added benefits as you have read in this post.
To moms who have to formula-feed, and those who can but would rather skip breastfeeding, weigh the pros and cons of formula feeding vs breastfeeding and make the right choice for you and your baby, no one else.