Choosing to breastfeed or bottle-feed is a very personal decision for mothers. The American Pregnancy Association recommends breastfeeding if possible, but many mothers find it difficult or inconvenient. Bottle-feeding a baby is not necessarily unhealthy, and many babies thrive on formula. Parents need to be well-informed before making the decision to bottle-feed or breastfeed, as both have their advantages and disadvantages.
One of the advantages of breastfeeding is that breast milk contains all the nutrition a baby needs, as long as the mother leads a healthy lifestyle and eats a nutritious diet. Breast milk contains some nutrients that are not present in formula, and because of this, breastfed babies are less likely to have skin problems, asthma, allergies and ear infections. Breast milk is also easier to digest and is the best way to meet the nutritional needs of a baby. Breastfeeding is free, does not require any preparation and is always the right temperature.
Breastfeeding can be very demanding, especially in the first few months, as babies need to eat as often as once an hour, day and night. For some mothers, breastfeeding can also be painful in the beginning, until the baby learns how to breastfeed properly. A mother also needs to lead a healthy lifestyle and always be present when the baby needs to eat. A working mother must pump and bottle breast milk at work to be able to provide the food for her baby. Pumping can take longer than breastfeeding and has to be done multiple times a day to maintain the supply.
Many parents find bottle-feeding to be very convenient because Mom can have somebody else feed the baby and wake up during the night -- at least part of the time. Bottle-feeding can also help fathers feel more included in the baby's life, as Dad can bond with baby during feedings. Babies who are bottle-fed usually feel fuller for longer periods of time, as the formula takes more time to digest, which means they need to be fed less often. Mothers also do not need to follow specific nutritional guidelines; therefore, they can diet or drink caffeine, among other restrictions for breastfeeding moms.
One of the disadvantages of bottle-feeding is the cost. Depending on the formula brand, bottles and other accessories, bottle-feeding can cost parents between £35 and £128 a month at the time of publication, according to the American Pregnancy Association. Bottle-feeding also means that parents need to prepare bottles and wash them multiple times a day. While some babies drink their bottles cold or at room temperature, many prefer the formula warm. This can be a disadvantage for parents, as heating up bottles takes time and it can be inconvenient to warm bottles when you're not at home.