The question of whether to select breastfeeding or bottle-feeding is a mother’s personal choice. Regardless of whether she chooses breastfeeding or instead elects to use formula, feeding time is an essential activity in which both a mother and child form a close relationship with each other. When choosing a feeding method, mothers consider various factors, including short-term and long-term health advantages for both mother and child, financial considerations, and the level of comfort during child feeding. They can also take into account lifestyle characteristics such as the convenience and duration of one method of feeding over another, the possibility of the mother returning to work, and whether other family members may serve as potential caregivers. While some mothers prefer formula-feeding due to its convenience and nutritional characteristics, as well as health and lifestyle benefits, others consider breastfeeding the best option, ensuring mother-child contact.
Advantages of Bottle-Feeding Compared to Breastfeeding
For infants, human milk remains the gold standard for nutrition. However, the fact that a child for some reason cannot receive it or a mother prefers another option can lead a woman to resort to artificial feeding. Not all women have the opportunity to feed their babies with human milk; this situation may be caused by poor health, an acute need for medication, or a lack of lactation (Fewtrell et al., 2013). The decision of a particular mother regarding feeding may also be defined by other factors as well as her personal views. In this connection, using formula is a good alternative.
One of the key advantages of bottle-feeding is the quality of the product. Even though it cannot imitate human milk, formula presents an excellent alternative when breastfeeding is impossible. For one thing, it offers a more nutritious alternative for children when compared to cow’s milk, which was once used before a commercial formula mixture became widely available. Today’s infant formula contains many nutrients that are found in small amounts or may even be absent from the human milk of many women. Some mothers feel too tired and stressed in the first months after giving birth to pay sufficient attention to their own diet. In fact, many women’s nutritional state may be less ideal than it was before pregnancy, and thus, some nutrients may be limited or completely absent from human milk (Fewtrell et al., 2013). For example, baby formula is fortified with iron and vitamin D to reduce the possibility of anemia in infants. In addition to formula, various purees may be given to children, who quickly become accustomed to “adult” food, whereas babies up to a year old can refuse to nurse, causing feeding challenges for their mothers.
The convenience of formula feeding is another essential benefit both for a mother and her child. A woman can schedule the child’s feedings and not have to get up at night since her husband can give the child a bottle. Children who receive human milk must be fed more often than those who are not breastfeeding as artificial food is digested more slowly than human milk (Kendall-Tackett, Cong, & Hale, 2013). This is an advantage that gives a mother more time to rest between feedings. Since after the birth of a child, the life of a woman changes, bottle-feeding allows her to more easily return to her former way of life. She can put on the clothes she wants, eat whatever she wants, and take any medicine she might need. If a newborn fed on formula exhibits an allergic reaction, the mother has a better chance of working out which specific suspect ingredient may be to blame. A breastfeeding woman, on the other hand, will have to seriously revise her eating habits to determine what is causing the baby’s problems, and she will likely have to abstain from many foods (Kendall-Tackett et al., 2013).
The connection between a mother and her child is significant, and it develops largely during child feeding. While using a bottle to feed, a woman and her baby can still enjoy emotional intimacy, but there will not be a special skin-to-skin connection that is unique to their relationship. Nevertheless, eye contact and emotional comfort are still provided by formula-feeding (Fallon, Komninou, Bennett, Halford, & Harrold, 2017). Most importantly, mothers who bottle-feed tend to be more calm and relaxed as they do not have any concerns about lactation insufficiency as a threat of malnutrition (Fallon et al., 2017). Is her child eating enough? Does he or she have enough nutrients from the mother’s milk? These questions potentially torment all nursing mothers. A woman with a baby on formula-feeding understands that her baby is eating quality-controlled and balanced food that is ideally adapted for the child’s stage of development. Such babies usually eat well and gain appropriate amounts of weight as formulas are more nutritious and slower to digest.
A mother will also be able to engage in other activities due to the ability to leave a child for a while, if necessary. Bottle-feeding is freeing, and a woman is able to take the time to walk, go shopping, or to a meeting with friends (Fallon et al., 2017). For example, a father or grandmother can mix formula in a bottle and feed a baby. In addition to less wear and tear on the breasts, a woman prevents such problems as cracks on the nipples and their drying out. These injuries are extremely painful, and they significantly complicate breastfeeding. Furthermore, a bottle-feeding mother is better able to sleep all night. Formula is digested more slowly than human milk, and in giving her baby a bottle for the night, a mother has every chance for a long night’s sleep. All the mentioned points allow mothers to rest and recover from delivery, thus improving their physical and psychological condition.
Benefits of Breastfeeding Versus Formula-Feeding
Evidence shows that human milk is an ideal food for a child since it is easier to digest than formula, leading to less chance of constipation or diarrhea. Breast milk also contains nutrients vital for brain tissue growth such as amino acids, taurine, and fatty acids (Koerber, 2013). Breastfeeding ensures immunological protection against sore throats, colds, streptococci, and ear infections, as well as gastrointestinal diseases. This is because mothers transmit antibodies to their children through their milk, which helps to increase immunity and protect from diseases. Recent evidence shows that infants usually have fewer allergies than newborns receiving formula, especially when compared to cow’s milk (Koerber, 2013). Research also suggests that breastfed infants may be less likely to develop asthma, diabetes, and excess weight compared to bottle-fed infants.
Breastfeeding facilitates a mother’s recovery period by improving her health. Some key benefits to health include the physiological recovery of a woman after childbirth. Mothers are likely to face less postpartum blood loss if they are breastfeeding, as stated by Odom, Li, Scanlon, Perrine, and Grummer-Strawn (2014). Since breastfeeding also burns more calories, nursing mothers return to their normal weight faster and more easily restore their bodies to their before-pregnancy state. Among long-term health advantages, it is important to note that breastfeeding also protects a woman’s health: Mothers who breastfeed have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and osteoporosis over the years.
Importance of Research
The research in the field of child-feeding options is an essential resource for both average readers and scholars. Since breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are both widespread feeding methods, their proper use is of great importance. While mothers should receive adequate information about the mentioned options to be able to make an informed choice, scholars should conduct new research studies to determine any advantages, drawbacks, and opportunities that formula-feeding and breastfeeding present. For example, it is possible to note that mothers who use breastfeeding should focus on a certain schedule of nutrition by the hour, while there are rules how to feed a newborn with a formula. In other words, some feeding techniques in formula-feeding may differ from those of breastfeeding.
In conclusion, bottle-feeding can successfully replace breastfeeding regardless of the cause of such a transition, be it a lack of human milk, digestive problems on the part of the child, or some other reason. Modern technologies in the food industry allow the production of quality adapted formulas, making it possible to guarantee a child’s timely growth and development. Bottle-feeding is convenient and safe, allowing others to feed a baby in the absence of the mother, who can safely leave the house for a short time without the risk of lactostasis or even mastitis. This supports a mother’s involvement in social life, better health outcomes, and an improved psychological condition that also affects her child’s well-being.
Fallon, V., Komninou, S., Bennett, K. M., Halford, J. C., & Harrold, J. A. (2017). The emotional and practical experiences of formula‐feeding mothers. Maternal & Child Nutrition, 13(4), 1-14.
Fewtrell, M. S., Kennedy, K., Murgatroyd, P. R., Williams, J. E., Chomtho, S., & Lucas, A. (2013). Breast-feeding and formula feeding in healthy term infants and bone health at age 10 years. British Journal of Nutrition, 110(6), 1061-1067.
Kendall-Tackett, K., Cong, Z., & Hale, T. W. (2013). Depression, sleep quality, and maternal well-being in postpartum women with a history of sexual assault: A comparison of breastfeeding, mixed-feeding, and formula-feeding mothers. Breastfeeding Medicine, 8(1), 16-22.
Koerber, A. (2013). Breast or bottle? Contemporary controversies in infant-feeding policy and practice. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina Press.
Odom, E. C., Li, R., Scanlon, K. S., Perrine, C. G., & Grummer-Strawn, L. (2014). Association of family and health care provider opinion on infant feeding with mother’s breastfeeding decision. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 114(8), 1203-1207.