Formula Vs Breast Milk: Are They The Same?
- Anoush Gomes
- 4 Min Read
- Fact Checked
While it is recommended that a newborn be fed breast milk for at least up to 6 months of their life, there are reasons as to why that may not happen. Some mothers may choose to not breastfeed, while others may have medical conditions that allow them to only formula feed their child. Formula vs breast milk has been a debate for a while in the community of mothers but the truth is that it is up to the mother to decide how she feeds her child. As long as the child is meeting their dietary requirements, gaining the appropriate weight and is able to digest their food well, they’re doing just fine.
But, is formula and breast milk the same thing? Read along to know more. This article will cover:
- Formula vs Breast Milk
- Benefits of Breast Milk over Formula
- Components of Breast Milk
- Benefits of Formula over Breast Milk
- Components of Formula
- Free Breastfeeding Guide – A Downloadable PDF curated by experts.
Formula Vs Breast Milk
The decision to breastfeed an infant can be overwhelming, so having all the facts straight can also help a mother’s decision. From knowing what the components of breastmilk and formula milk are to how they can positively or negatively impact the health of your child, can be crucial to a mother.
Benefits of breast milk over formula
The benefits of breast milk over formula milk is largely focused on the health of the child. Because breast milk contains so many components (listed below) that help a baby’s growth and development among other things, it’s often chosen over formula milk. There is no guessing game when it comes to breastmilk as it has the best and required nutrition for a child. From providing proteins, carbs, fat and antibodies to reducing the risk of illness in your child, breast milk has it all. Breast milk is easily digestible by infants. One of the main reasons besides the ones already mentioned, mothers chose to breastfeed or formula feed because of the bond she creates with her child during a feeding session. This experience helps a lot with emotional support of both mother and child.
Watch the video below to understand why breast milk is considered as important part of a baby’s diet.
What are the components of breast milk?
Breast Milk contains water, lactose, various essential fats, certain strains of lactobacillus bacteria, nutrients, vitamins and antibodies that can directly affect your baby’s health. Following are the few components of breastmilk that make it a super food for growing infants.
(1) Antibodies: protects against illness by preventing pathogen binding
(2) WBC’s: protects against infections
(3) Hormones: helps promote bonding and regulates GI system growth and appetite
(4) Positive bacteria: protects baby’s digestive system
(5) Long chain fatty acids: helps in development of brain and nervous system
(6) Enzymes: supports child’s immune system and digestive system
(7) Stem cells: aid in organ development, regeneration and repair
(8) Growth factors and nucleotides: helps in gut development and healthy sleep-wake patterns
Benefits of formula over breast milk
While there is a rumor that breastfeeding is the only way to keep your child healthy, facts are facts. Formula feeding your child is perfectly healthy as well. Formula milk should NOT be homemade, and you should never feed your child cow milk. Cow’s milk is hard to digest for babies under 12 months due to the high protein content. It also doesn’t provide necessary nutrients that a baby requires for growth and development.
There are many reasons that mom’s choose to formula feed their babies.
(1) It’s more convenient than breastfeeding, especially for working mothers
(2) It allows for a more flexible feeding schedule
(3) Mothers are better able to keep track of how much their infant is eating
(4) Fathers are able to bond more with their infant through bottle feeding
(5) Mothers don’t have to change or worry about what they are consuming
What are the components of formula milk?
While some formula milk does contain cow’s milk, there are some that do not. Finding the right formula for your infant can also depend on their health when they are born and what their specific diet and nutritional needs are. These can only be done with the help of a pediatrician who can assess the needs of the infant.
However, there are still main and basic components that all formula milk concoctions should contain.
– Whey and casein
– Fish oil derived fatty acids and DHA
– Plant and animal sourced vitamins and minerals
– Probiotics, enzymes, amino acids
The composition of formula milk varies from age to age as the baby’s demands change with age. The protein ratio of whey:casein should be comparatively higher in infant formula milk of less than 1 year. So it is essential to use infant formula based on the age to meet baby’s needs and aid in growth and development. Yes there are minor disadvantages of giving formula milk over breast milk as it will lack a number of other substances, but that is the best alternative source of breast milk especially infants less than 1 year of age who have an immature gut.
Formula vs breast milk can be a debate, but it really depends on the mother and child. As long as the baby nutritional needs are met, the way you feed your child should feel comfortable for the both of you. You can weigh the pros and cons and also speak to a specialist/pediatrician who can give you more information and help you decide.
For more information, here’s a complete Breastfeeding Guide curated by our doctors. Download this Free Breastfeeding Guide and get answers to all your questions.
Watch the video below by neonatologist and pediatrician Dr. Aparna C to understand the benefits of breastfeeding.