For centuries, new mothers had no option but to breastfeed their babies. Whether they did it themselves or had a wet nurse fulfill the duty, breastfeeding was an expected and accepted way of life. Then along came formula. Suddenly, there was a choice regarding how babies receive nutrients the first few months of life.
And while it’s only been an option for a few decades, baby formula has changed the baby nutrition landscape forever. Wondering what’s best for you and your baby? Welcome to Baby Nutrition 101.
It’s cheap, convenient, and helps new moms drop the pounds they put on during pregnancy. Unfortunately, breastfeeding isn’t always an easy task for new mothers. Perceptions that breastfeeding should come naturally leave frustrated mothers wondering what they’ve done wrong when things don’t quite go as planned. With a little determination, most new moms eventually figure out how to breastfeed properly, though it can result in nipple tenderness and pain.
Regardless, most new moms feel confident that nothing beats breast milk. Challenge a breastfeeding mother’s choice and you’ll be blasted with a wide range of research data – and rightly so. Studies in recent years have shown an amazing number of benefits to breastfed babies, ranging from improved intelligence to a stronger immune system for fending off ear infections, allergies, and other bothersome conditions from day one. To help interested mothers breastfeed, many workplaces have even begun offering a private room for pumping breast milk during the day.
For the greatest benefit for baby, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends women breastfeed children for the first 12 months of life.
Whereas breastfeeding is convenient since there is no preparation necessary, bottle feeding is convenient for a totally different reason. With infant formula, mom, dad, grandpa, grandma, and even older brothers and sisters can handle the responsibility of feeding the new baby. This frees mom up to perform activities that may otherwise prove difficult, including running errands in the middle of the day or returning to a demanding, high-stress job. However, the cost of formula and the fact that it isn’t quite as good for baby as breast milk makes many mothers think twice before choosing infant formula over breast milk.
Regardless of their feelings about infant formula, it’s the only choice for some mothers. When a mother has a disease that can be passed through breast milk, most physicians recommend the safe approach – formula. Diseases, such as the autoimmune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), and medications for certain conditions may rule out the possibility of breastfeeding. A few children suffer bad allergic reactions to breast milk, and they must be bottle fed as well.
Deciding between the bottle and breast is deeply personal. The most important thing for new mothers to remember is that breast milk and formula both offer a range of benefits for their newborns, and both have a handful of disadvantages. Choosing the option that fits your lifestyle and what you want for your new child may not be easy, but it’s necessary. Therefore, do the necessary research and make your decision with confidence. Your baby only gets one childhood, and it’s up to you to make it memorable
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