Pros and Cons of Bottle Feeding and How to Minimise the Negatives

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The decision to breastfeed or bottle feed your baby is a very personal. There are many mothers who prefer to only breastfeed, while there are others who prefer to bottle feed exclusively. 

 The decision can be a tricky, especially when societal pressures can make you feel guilty for choosing bottle-feeding over breastfeeding. However, the most important thing to remember is – what is good for your baby’s health and for your mental well-being.
Though heavily romanticised by society, truth is that breastfeeding can be initially stressful. The sore nipples, engorged breasts, biting aren’t quite pleasant. So, if you have decided to bottle feed you baby, good for you and more power to you!

So, here are a few things to consider that can help your decision of bottle feeding your baby. 

WHO Recommendation 

World Health Organisation recommends mothers to exclusively breastfeed babies at least for the first six months of their lives. Beyond that breastfeeding is encouraged for the first two years of the baby. Exclusive means, they should not be fed any other liquid or solids, including water. 

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Let us now take a look at advantages and disadvantages of bottle feeding.

Pros of Bottle Feeding 

Bottle feeding can mean giving your baby breast milk in a bottle or formula milk. For the sake of demarcation, here we will consider bottle feeding using formula milk only. 

  1. Anyone can feed the baby
    Breastfeeding relies solely on moms whereas bottle feeding can be done by anyone and even encourage fathers to participate more in caring for the child right from infancy.

  2. You can see the quantity
    With a bottle, you are absolutely sure of the intake quantity, while with breastfeeding it sometimes becomes difficult to judge. Also, you can always increase or decrease the quantity as per your baby’s needs. 

  3. Mother’s diet does not affect the baby
    Breastfeeding moms need to be cautious of their own food intake. They also usually need to eat food that increases their lactation. Bottle feeding however, is not dependant on a mother’s diet. Most branded formula available in the market are carefully tested and contain essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that your child needs for healthy growth.
  4. Less frequent feeding
    It has been observed that babies who are bottle fed need to be fed less often as those who are breast fed. This is due to the fact that bottle fed babies consume more milk and also as it takes longer to digest formula.
  5. Needn’t worry about surroundings
    Bottle feeding can be done in any public place without privacy worries. In situations where you are travelling or out with friends, sometimes it becomes difficult to find a safe and quiet place to breastfeed.

  6. More independence to moms
    As bottle feeding is less dependant on moms, it gives mothers the time for self care and also to take care of other responsibilities related to the house or work. Working moms especially find bottle feeding to be a boon.

Cons of Bottle Feeding 

  1. Breast milk is more nutritious
    Breast milk naturally contains all the nutrients – fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals that a baby requires. It can even be called as food customised for your baby’s needs. While formulas are getting better and better each day, they are still a tad inferior to the complexity of breast milk.

  2. Breast milk is easy to digest
    As breast milk is meant to be the natural food that an infant needs, it is easy to digest and the babies are less prone to stomach aches, colic pain and indigestion associated with bottle feeding.

  3. Bottle feeding is costly
    To bottle feed, you need to buy the formula, bottles, nipples and other products and this can be costly. Breast milk on the other hand is almost free. 

  4. Time consuming to prepare the formula
    The formula has to be mixed, prepared at the correct temperature. The bottles and nipples have to be sterilised each time  as the chances of passing infection through them is very high. Breastfeeding on the other hand can be done instantly, whenever needed.

  5. Bottle feeding can trouble baby’s immune system
    Breast milk lowers the chances of many infections in babies including ear infections, diarrhoea, respiratory infection and meningitis. It also protects babies from allergies, asthma and obesity. While formula milk is rich in nutrients, it does not strengthen the immune system as effectively as breast milk.

  6. Cumbersome to carry around
    While bottle feeding does not need privacy, you still need to carry the multiple bottles and formula with you whenever you go out. This can be troublesome while taking care of the baby too.
  7. Mother baby skin-to-skin contact
    Breastfeeding allows special bonding time between mom and child. The warmth of a mother’s body is especially beneficial for premature babies and many studies show it helps in their healthy growth.

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A happy, unstressed mother is the best mom. If you think bottle feeding is the option for you, here are few tips that can help minimise the cons.

Tips To Minimise Negatives Of Breastfeeding

  1. If a baby has sipped the formula milk from the bottle, it is best to discard it. If the milk has not be taken, you can still use it. Left over milk are more prone to spreading stomach infections.

  2. Always make sure that the nipples and the bottle are absolutely clean. They need to be cleaned in soapy water and then sterilised in boiling water each time to avoid any kind of germs from passing through the bottle.

  3. The formula milk does not need to be heated. It can be given to the baby at room temperature. Ideally, mix filtered water that is boiled and cooled down.

  4. The most expensive formula brand does not necessarily mean it is the best. Check the back label to compare the ingredients as most have the same ingredients. Rather, choose one that fits your budget.

  5. Ensure that your formula is iron-fortified. Most bottle fed infants show iron deficiency in their first year.

  6. If you have a choice, use cow’s milk-based formula over soy milk based one. However, if your baby is lactose intolerant, choose the soy milk.
  7. If your baby is fussy after feeding and shows colicky symptoms, opt for bottles like Comotomo or Philips Avent or Tomee Tippee which have anti-colic vents that reduce air intake.
  8.  Burp your baby frequently while being bottle fed. Preferably every 30 ml interval.

As someone said, whether you bottle feed or breastfeed, whether you give only organic home made food or store bought food, your child will definitely be eating junk a few years down the line. What is more important is that the baby has a happy mom who is pleasant to be around. So, rather than being pressurised to breastfeed, it is best to choose to bottle feed if it is taking a toll on your mental and physical health.

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