Infant Feeding: Breast or Bottle?
You are a new mother or are anticipating the birth of your child. As you prepare for your baby's arrival there may be many questions you may have. One might be: Should I breastfeed?
Here are some points to consider when deciding to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
- Proper nourishment—Breast milk contains almost all of the nourishment that babies need during their first six months of life. However, vitamin D supplementation is needed because breast milk is low in this vitamin. Supplementation with vitamin D will need to be continued until your baby is getting enough vitamin D from other sources, such as vitamin D-fortified formula. Starting at age four months, your baby will also need an iron supplement until he starts getting enough iron from food sources, like infant cereal. If your baby is premature, though, he will likely need to take iron starting at one month.
- Immunity boost—Breast milk contains substances not found in formula that help protect babies from illness. These substances include antibodies, immunoglobulins, active enzymes, and hormones.
- Fewer illnesses—Compared with bottlefed infants, breastfed infants are less likely to develop:
- Possible protection against certain conditions—Breastfed infants may have protection against sudden infant death syndrome, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, asthma, atopic dermatitis, and leukemia.
- Boost to brain development—The nutrients found in breastmilk enhance how your baby's brain develops. Breastfeeding may even have a positive impact on your child's IQ and school performance.
- Easy digestion—Breast milk is easy for babies to digest.
- Bonding—The skin-to-skin contact involved in breastfeeding can enhance bonding between mother and baby.
- Jaw development—Sucking at the breast promotes good jaw development. It is harder to get milk from the breast than from a bottle.
Last reviewedDecember 2012by Brian Randall, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.