Breastfeeding vs Formula: Pros and Cons

Deciding whether to breastfeed or use formula is one of the most important decisions a mother has to make. Weighing breastfeeding vs formula pros and cons takes some time and serious contemplation. Medical professionals consider breastmilk to be the best source of nutrients for infants.

However, nursing isn’t a choice all mothers get to make. For some, it’s not possible. Other mothers chose not to nurse because of their lifestyle, or because they might be suffering from specific medical conditions.

Baby formula is a healthy alternative for mothers who are not able to nurse. Formula has the nutrients a baby needs to grow healthily.

Some mommies are concerned that they are hindering the bonding process by not breastfeeding. That couldn’t be further from the truth.

Loving mommies will always establish a unique bond with their precious ones. Feeding, no matter the form, is an excellent way of strengthening that bond.

All About Nursing

Breastfeeding can be an excellent experience for both the mother and the child. It provides the child with the ideal nutrients and promotes a one of a kind bonding experience that all mommies cherish.

A great deal of health institutions, such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization recommends nursing as the best option for infants. It can help their immune system fight against infections, and it also helps prevent allergies from developing, as well as plenty of chronic conditions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics advises mothers to exclusively nurse for the first six months of their baby’s life. The recommendations go beyond that – nursing is strongly encouraged until at least the twelfth month. If both the mom and her kiddo are willing, even longer than that.

Fighting of Diseases

Infants that breastfeed are at a lesser risk of hospitalization than formula-fed babies. They develop fewer infections throughout their infancy.

When a mother nurses her child, antibodies pass to the infant and strengthen their immune system. Thus, the chances of getting numerous infections severely lessen. Such infections could be:

  • ear infection
  • respiratory infection
  • diarrhea
  • meningitis

Nursing can also protect your child against:

  • obesity
  • allergies
  • sudden infant death syndrome
  • diabetes

Nursing is especially good for premature-born babies.

Nutrition and Digestion

What is known as the “perfect food” for an infant’s digestive system, fat, protein, and lactose, are all the main ingredients of breast milk. All of these can easily be digested by a newborn infant.

Nursed babies have fewer digestion issues than formula-fed babies. Breastmilk is more digestible, so nursing infants tend to have fewer bouts of diarrhea or constipation.

It also has plenty of vitamins and minerals a baby needs. With the exception of vitamin D. The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that all infants start receiving vitamin D supplements during their first two months of life.

The baby should continue receiving vitamin D supplements until they start taking in enough vitamin D through formula or milk, which is after their first birthday.

For exact details, it’s best to talk with your family doctor about this.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration mandates that all commercial formula producers must ensure their formulas contain all the nutrients a baby requires. That includes vitamin D as well. But still, no matter how hard they try, no commercial formula can exactly match breastmilk.

You must be wondering, why is that? After all, we’ve seen an exponential growth of medical breakthroughs recently. The reason is that breastmilk is living matter produced by the mother’s body for her own child – it’s not something that can be exactly emulated in a factory.


No Charge

Breastmilk doesn’t cost a single penny. On the other hand, constantly buying formula can amount to a lot of money. In case you’re not using a pump, there is no need for bottles, nipples, and other equipment that can be quite expensive.

Since nursing infants are less likely to succumb to illness, you probably won’t need to make many visits to the doctor’s office. Which means fewer co-pays and fewer bucks being spent on prescription and over-the-counter drugs.

Different Tastes

Breastfeeding mommies usually need three hundred to five hundred additional calories per day, which should come from a diversified, well-balanced diet. This way, you introduce your child to a variety of tastes through your breastmilk.

The flavor of the milk depends on what you have been eating. By consuming food from their “culture,” nursing babies accept solids more easily.


Breastmilk always comes fresh, unless you are pumping of course. But still, there are no last-minute runs to the supermarket. Breastmilk is available no matter if you are at home or out and about.

Update - 2019.01.22When mothers nurse, they do not have to wash bottles or nipples.

Smarter Babies

Although it hasn’t been 100% confirmed, some research suggests that humans who were exclusively nursed as infants have higher IQs than those who weren’t.

Skin to Skin Contact

Many women quite enjoy the experience of bonding so intimately with their little ones. Skin to skin contact enhances the emotional connection between the mom and her baby.

It’s Beneficial to Mothers, Too

When a mother is able to entirely nurse an infant, she might feel more confident in her parenting abilities. Nursing also burns calories and contributes to the shrinking of the uterus. Because of that, breastfeeding mothers could possibly return to their pre-birth shape and weight sooner.

Numerous studies suggest that nursing lowers the risk of breast cancer, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and hypertension. It is also thought that breastfeeding can be a factor in lowering the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer.

Mom and baby

Breastfeeding Challenges

While it comes easy and naturally to some, it can be a bit difficult to get used to for others. Mothers and their children need a lot of patience when it comes to getting used to the routine of nursing. Here are some common concerns.

Personal Comfort

In the first week of nursing, and up to the tenth day, latch-on pain is common. It ought to last less than a minute with each nursing. However, for some mothers, it can hurt throughout the feeding. If your breasts and nipples become sore, it would probably be best to ask for advice from a lactation consultant or your family doctor.

More often than not, it’s about using the proper technique. But not always. Sometimes, pain is a result of something else, possibly an infection.

Time and Frequency

Nursing is a big time commitment, especially when starting out. Infants require frequent nursing in the beginning. Having a pumping or nursing schedule can make it difficult for you to work, run errands, or travel.

Breastfeeding infants have a need to eat more frequently than infants who are taking formula. The reason being, breastmilk digests faster than formula. A baby might need to be fed every two or three hours in the first couple of weeks.


Mothers who nurse have to constantly be aware of what they consume. What they eat and drink passes to their child through breastmilk. To some degree of course, and depending on the substance. Nursing mommies shouldn’t eat fish that has a high mercury content and should eat less fish with low mercury content. Alcohol can also be passed to the baby through breastmilk, in small amounts.

If you have had a single alcoholic unit, you should wait at least two hours before nursing, so that the alcohol wouldn’t be passed to your baby.

If you like drinking coffee, try to keep it below the recommended three hundred milligrams per day. That amounts to three cups of coffee. Caffeine can cause your baby to become restless and irritable.

Maternal Medical Conditions

If the mother has HIV or AIDS, she should not breastfeed because there is a chance of her infecting the child with the virus. Mother undergoing chemo or taking certain medication might not be fit for breastfeeding as well. If you are having some medical problems, make sure to consult your doctor or lactation consultant.

Even if you are not suffering from some serious illness, but are just taking some over-the-counter or herbal medication, be sure to check with your doctor whether it is safe for you to breastfeed. If you have had breast surgery of any kind, you might experience difficulties with your milk supply if the milk ducts of the breasts have been severed. This is another case when it is best to consult with a lactation specialist.


All About Formula Feeding

Commercially sold baby formulas are a nutritious substitute for breast milk. They contain vitamins and nutrients that nursing infants have to get from supplements.

They are produced under sterile conditions and try to duplicate breastmilk. Manufacturers do so by using a complex mixture of vitamins, sugars, fats, and proteins. Creating such a formula couldn’t possibly be done at home.

If you are not nursing, it’s essential to use only certified formula and not make it yourself. Medical conditions are not the only possible encumbrances when it comes to breastfeeding. For some women, it might prove to be too stressful or difficult. There are plenty of reasons why a woman might choose not to breastfeed.


Feeding a baby by a bottle is something that can be done by both parents at any time. It also stands when the mother pumps her breastmilk. This way, the couple shares their feeding responsibilities, and both get to be a part of that wonderful, bonding process.


Once the bottles are all set up, the mother can leave her child with her partner or caregiver, knowing that her precious angel will be well-fed and taken care of. If you opt for formula, you won’t have to make a strict schedule and abide by it.

You won’t have to interrupt your work that way. It also means you won’t be having to search for a secluded place to breastfeed in public. Because formulas are not so quick to digest, formula-fed infants typically do not need to be fed so often.


Mommies who decide to feed their baby formula do not have to worry about their diet. You are free to eat or drink whatever you want, as you won’t have to worry about how will it affect your child.

Formula Feeding Challenges

However convenient it may be, formula still comes with some challenges. Therefore, it’s important to make an informed decision.

Lack of Antibodies

Breastmilk contains antibodies. However, formulas do not. Antibodies found in breastmilk protect against infections and illnesses, so it’s a considerable disadvantage being that you won’t find any formula with antibodies.

Not as Complex

Commercial baby formulas do not possess the complexity of breastmilk. Breastmilk changes as the needs of the baby change.

Baby Formula

Planning and Organization

Breastmilk comes at just the right temperature and is readily available. It also comes in an unlimited supply. Formula feeding your infant takes some know-how.

You have to be sure of what you need and when you need it. Parents always need to buy formula and have it ready in order to avoid those late-night runs to the seven eleven. Besides, it’s crucial to have the necessary supplies, such as nipples and bottles, always by your hand. Because otherwise, you are risking having a starving and very fussy baby to answer to.

With eight to ten feedings in a day, a mother can easily get overwhelmed. Careful planning and organization are very important.

The Cost

Formula can be quite pricey. Powdered formulas are least expensive while ready formula is the most expensive. Concentrated formula typically falls in between.

Special formula (like soy or hypoallergenic) costs much more than the basic formula. In the first year, you can expect to spend approximately $1500 on basic formula.

Making a Choice

Having to decide how you will feed your little angel can be quite tough. As much as you would like to plan ahead, you’ll only know the right choice once the baby comes. A lot of mothers make one decision and then change their minds after the birth.

Remember, you are not limited by one option. You can do both – breastfeed and supplement with formula. With the proper knowledge, you will surely make the best decision for your family.


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