Stuck deciding whether or not you should breastfeed or formula feed your baby? Here are some things parents wished they had known about formula feeding that you should consider.
The choice of breastfeeding or formula feeding your baby might feel like one of the biggest decisions you have to make before the arrival of your baby. When considering your options, there will be a lot of different opinions and reasons as to what is the “best” option for babies. Ultimately, the choice is up to you. In fact, both breastfeeding and formula feeding give your baby the vitamins and nutrients needed for a healthy development. To help you make the decision, here are 17 things parents have said they wish they had known about formula feeding their newborn baby.
- It doesn’t make you a “Bad” Mom
You might have heard the saying “breast is best,” and we are here to debunk that belief. There is no scientific research or evidence that proves that breastfeeding has significant health benefits over formula feeding. Formula is created to be almost identical to the exact vitamins and nutrients found in breastmilk. The only major difference between the two is that a baby will be able to receive antibodies from its mom when breastfeeding. This can help to strengthen the baby’s immune system and result in less infections. However, when it comes to providing the proper nutrition to help with your baby’s development, both formula and breast milk are equally great. Parents have reported feeling judged or shamed for choosing to formula feed their baby. Remind yourself that you are not a bad parent for choosing to use formula because at the end of the day, all that matters is you and your baby are happy and healthy.
- You Won’t Be Always On The Clock
The amazing thing about a bottle, is that anyone can help to feed your baby with it. There is a freedom that comes with formula feeding that mothers who are breastfeeding will not experience. You will quickly realize that your baby is constantly hungry. This is because they are rapidly growing and developing. Typically, babies will fall into a rhythm of feeding every two hours or so. If you are breastfeeding, this means you are going to have to sit down and properly breastfeed or pump every two hours throughout the day (and even at night!) With formula, you can prep the bottles beforehand so that feeding your baby is quick and easy. You will have more time in your busy schedule to focus on getting everything else done throughout the day.
- There Is The Option To Do Both
Who says you can only do one or the other, why not both? Some parents choose to both breastfeed and formula feed their baby, it just depends on what works best for their schedule and personal needs. If you are considering both forms of feeding, here are two things to keep in mind. Ideally, you should try to start with breastfeeding and then introduce bottle feeding. This is only because it will be easier for your baby to learn how to bottle feed after mastering the technique of breastfeeding. At around 6 weeks old, your baby should be comfortable enough with breastfeeding to start using a bottle for formula. Second, remember that you will still need to regularly breastfeed so that your body continues to produce milk. You should stick to mostly breastfeeding if you are considering splitting it up. We recommend working with a lactation consultant who can help create a step-by-step plan for you to follow to help the transition for your baby.
- You’re Free to Eat and Drink Whatever
It was a long nine months of following a strict, not-so-fun pregnancy diet. You likely had many nights dreaming of the day you could eat sushi again or unwind from the day with a glass of wine. And lucky for you, that time is now! Formula gives you the freedom to eat and drink whatever you want again. Nothing that you are eating or drinking will end up in your baby’s system so you do not have to worry about avoiding foods your baby is intolerant to or having to “pump and dump” after enjoying a few drinks.
- Your Travel Bag Will Double In Size
Breastfeeding moms really only need themselves to feed their baby while on-the-go. The milk is always ready-to-go… at the perfect temperature, so it is much more convenient to breastfeed in that sense. For formula feeders, you will find that your travel bag is packed full of pre-made bottles, a cooler to store the bottles at the right temperature, extra formula, clean bottles, bottled water, the list goes on. With so much to remember before leaving the house, your bound to forget something along the way. We recommend putting a quick checklist together on your phone that you can use to make sure you have everything you need for the day before running out of the house.
Learn more about formula feeding from Board Certified Pediatrician Dr. Caitlin Colvard:
- Going Back to Work Will Be Easier
The transition back to work after being on maternity leave is never easy. It will be hard to readjust to your old schedule and be apart from your new baby. But at least with formula feeding, you do not have to schedule out times to pump throughout the day. Some moms might not find pumping hard to schedule in, but it adds another level of stress to an already stress period of life. Formula will help ease the transition back into your old routine.
- Formula Is More Likely to Cause An Upset Tummy
Babies typically experience more digestive problems with formula than when drinking breast milk. This is because of the higher level of cow’s milk protein in formula than in breast milk. If you think your baby is having a hard time with regular formula, you should first consult with your pediatrician on their recommendations. They will likely recommend switching to a specialty formula. A speciality, dairy-free formula will be easier for your baby to digest and the symptoms should go away. After a few weeks, you can try reintroducing the old, regular formula to see if they still have any discomfort or if the symptoms seem to have gone away.
- You Will Still Develop a Close Bond to Your Baby
Feeding your baby, whether it is by breastfeeding or with a bottle, is a very intimate and special moment between you and your baby. So snuggle your baby in close and take it all in because the time will fly by! If you want even closer contact, feed your baby skin-to-skin (Dad can do this too!) Just because you are not breastfeeding, does not mean you cannot share this special bonding moment with your baby.
- Dads Can Play a Bigger Role
Formula allows for your partner to also have a chance to share this moment of bonding with your baby. Plus, you will get a few extra minutes of peace and quiet to yourself since you can split the responsibility. It can be extremely overwhelming being a new parent so being able to share the task of feeding is super helpful. With formula, one parent does not become the designated feeder.
- You Can Rely on Others for Support
One step better than relying on your partner for support, is calling on your friends and family to help! Who doesn’t want to get some time spent with a newborn baby? You can prepare bottles of formula in advance for your friends and family to feed your baby while you get out of the house to run some errands, go for a walk, or enjoy a date night. No matter how you choose to feed your baby, all moms need a little extra support here and there. Lean on your friends and family for advice and to watch your little one so that you can have a moment to yourself.
- There Is No Guesswork Involved
The most reassuring thing about formula is that you know exactly how much your baby is eating every single time. A huge concern shared by breastfeeding moms is not being able to know or track how much their baby is actually eating throughout the day. With nursing, there is no way to really know. Formula gives you a better look at exactly how much your baby is eating on a daily basis which can provide some peace of mind to their development process.
- Formula Doesn’t Have The Best Smell
If you did not know already, you will soon find out that formula does have the most appealing smell. When you first start preparing formula, you might notice the smell and it would be normal to feel like your baby will refuse to eat it. However, to a baby, formula actually tastes delicious. In fact, if you end up switching to using a speciality formula, you might notice that your baby has a harder time adjusting because speciality formulas lack the same sweet, creamy taste of regular formula.
- It’s Expensive
Your newborn baby is experiencing some very rapid growth and development. Because of this, they will have a pretty large appetite and will likely be eating every two hours or so. Parents report spending on average about $1,500 on formula in the first year alone. As a way to cut down on the overall cost of formula, look for company coupons or store sales throughout the year. Consider also buying formula in bulk to help with lowering the total cost.
- You Might Experience Judgement
As you begin to form your circle of other new parents, the topic of breastfeeding versus formula feeding might get brought up. With so many outside opinions weighing in, try to ignore any of the criticism or judgement from other parents. You are in control of how you choose to raise your baby and you know what is best for them. Many parents do not take into account that not all mothers have the option to breastfeed or that breastfeeding is sometimes just not the right option for their family. At the end of the day, your baby will be healthy and happy with formula which is all that matters.
- Your Health Takes Priority Too
Breastfeeding is a great option for your baby’s health, but a lot of people forget to account for the toll it can take on the mother. Breastfeeding is a very time intensive, stressful, and exhausting process. And you are responsible for breastfeeding about every two hours. Some breastfeeding mom’s might choose to split it half breastfeeding, half formula feeding. But regardless of what you choose to do, you need to prioritize your health just as much as you do your baby’s.
- Bottles are Temporary
Your day might be spent washing, putting away, and reorganizing the dozens of bottles you have laying around your house. It might begin to feel like everywhere you turn, there is another bottle just around the corner. But remember, this phase of life is so temporary. Before you know it, your baby is going to be transitioning into solid foods and you will quickly realize how fast the time is flying. You will blink and they will be growing in their first set of teeth and starting to explore the world of food!
- There is More to Motherhood Than Feeding
It can be easy for moms to let this one decision define the success of their motherhood, but remember there is so much more to being a mom than how you choose to feed your baby. What truly defines your success as a parent is the amount of love, care, and affection you have for your child.
All health-related content on this website is for informational purposes only and does not create a doctor-patient relationship. Always seek the advice of your own pediatrician in connection with any questions regarding your baby’s health.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.