For the first 6 months of a newborn’s life, it is crucial that they get the best nutrition as it heavily impacts on their growth and development. That said, there is an ongoing debate on the perks of breastfeeding against using formula during the first crucial months of a baby’s life. While the general consensus is that breast milk is significantly more beneficial to the baby, formula is still being widely used albeit in highly unavoidable scenarios.
The decision to resort to formula is often a result of lifestyle choices and medical reasons that impede the production of breast milk by the mother. While infant formula is sometimes considered just as healthy as breast milk, most health organizations emphasize on the importance of breast milk during the first six months after birth. There are quite a few reasons for this, with the most outstanding being the fact that anti-bodies in breast milk are essential for the development of the baby’s immune system.
Babies who are nursed by their mothers after birth always develop a stronger immune system which makes them less prone to infections and chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes. This is mainly attributed to the presence of antibodies in breast milk, which act as a temporary immunity for the baby as their immune system strengthens.
Common infections suffered by formula-fed babies include:
· Bouts of diarrhea.
· Ear infections.
· Respiratory problems, and
In addition to constant hospitalization, formula-fed babies are also highly prone to allergies, obesity, diabetes and SIDS. The antibodies in breast milk are therefore very important during these early developmental stages after birth and could literally mean the difference between life and death.
Health reasons aside, nursing is a great way to enhance the mother and child bond. Skin-to-skin contact between the mother and child builds a strong emotional foundation between the mother and the infant. Nursing also instills a sense of confidence in the mother as it allows them to reaffirm their mothering skills. Other benefits of breastfeeding to the mother include lower chances of getting breast cancer, diabetes and heart diseases. It is also a great way for mothers to burn calories.
Studies suggest that babies who are breastfed tend to have a higher IQ compared to formula-fed infants. Backing this up is the discovery that most of the geniuses of our era were breastfed a significantly longer time than most of us, leading to an enhanced aptitude for learning and grasping concepts.
Breastfeeding is also highly convenient for the mother of the child. No preparation is required, no utensils are needed and best of all, you have all the baby needs wherever you are. The convenience factor is usually overlooked although parents who have no option but to formula-feed their baby understand how hectic it can be.
The only notable downside to breastfeeding is that some mothers are self-conscious doing it in public. Even in the comfort of their own homes, it can get pretty uncomfortable, especially when the baby begins teething.
All in all, formula feeding might be the next best alternative to breastfeeding although it lacks the immunity boost offered by the antibodies in breast milk. Formula feeding also gives the mother freedom to eat whatever she likes unlike breast milk which is usually affected by diet changes. It is important to weigh the pros and cons of both methods and seek advice from your doctor before settling on one.