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All About Bottle Feeding

By: Elizabeth Grace - Updated: 1 Nov 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Breastfeeding Bottle Feeding Infant

When preparing for the arrival of a new baby, one of the very first decisions that you must make is whether to breastfeed or bottle feed. Both provide the necessary nutrients for a developing infant, so the choice is often a matter of personal preference.

Many mothers feel pressure from friends and family to breastfeed their newborns and experts agree that breast milk is the ideal and only necessary food for the first six months of life. Sometimes, however, a mother cannot or prefers not to breastfeed, instead choosing infant formula. Formula fed babies grow and develop perfectly fine, so mothers should do their best to avoid feeling guilty for bottle feeding.

Many years ago, mothers often tried to create homemade baby formula, but with today's nutritionally complete, commercially prepared formulas, it is definitely not considered to be a good idea to use homemade formula. If you choose to bottle feed, be sure to purchase one of the many high quality formulas that are available on the market today. Ask your health visitor or midwife for recommendations regarding brand and formulation. Once you have decided on a brand, be sure to mix the formula exactly to the manufacturer's specifications. Adding too much or too little water can make your baby sick.

Great Things About Bottle Feeding...

One of the biggest advantages to bottle feeding is convenience. Both parents are capable of feeding the infant, allowing the bottle feeding mother to alternate feedings with her partner, giving her the opportunity for better rest than her breastfeeding peers. Also, since formula digests more slowly than breast milk, bottle fed babies can typically wait longer between feedings than breastfed babies. Additionally, babies who are left with a caregiver must be able to drink from a bottle and if the baby is accustomed to drinking formula, the mother does not have to worry about whether she has been able to pump a sufficient quantity of milk to keep the baby satisfied until she returns. Even mothers who choose to nurse often supplement their milk supply with baby formula so that the baby always has access to a satisfactory meal.

When breastfeeding, mothers must watch their diet since some foods can affect their breast milk and cause their babies to be gassy and fussy. Infant formula is consistent, a big advantage for mothers who enjoy spicy foods, caffeinated beverages, some vegetables including broccoli and cabbage or chocolate.

And the Not so Great Things...

Bottle feeding does have its challenges, too. Unlike breast milk, which is always ready and at just the right temperature for feeding, formula must be prepared in advance and warmed, since most babies prefer warm formula to cold. When on the go with baby, bottle feeding mothers must tote along a supply of formula and bottles. If refrigeration is not available, the bottles will need to be made as needed, which can be a bit inconvenient.

Choosing to feed formula is naturally more expensive than breastfeeding, which adds virtually no cost to the family's budget. In addition to the formula and bottles, infant formula should be mixed with sterile water, at least for the first several months. The most basic bottle feeding supplies are bottles, teats, formula, bottled water and bottle cleaning brushes. Not only are there things to buy, but there is typically more waste with bottle feeding than with breast feeding. Once formula has been mixed, it must be used within a short time (typically 24 hours) or be discarded. Bottles left unrefrigerated for more than an hour should be discarded, as well.

Most times, if she chooses a diet free of irritating foods, mother's milk helps babies to digest quickly and easily with very little gassiness or spitting up. Formula fed babies have fewer bowel movements and can sometimes have stools firm enough to make passing them difficult. Additionally, many mothers must try several formulas before settling on one that does not upset their baby's digestive system.

The biggest disadvantage to bottle feeding is the fact that although commercially prepared formulas are insufficiently nutritious, and cannot match the quality of breast milk for the growth and development of infants. Mother's milk contains important antibodies which help protect babies against infection and illness.

Whether you choose to breastfeed your baby, bottle feed or a combination of the two, the most important thing is to enjoy the time snuggling with your newborn while you get to know each other. Before you know it your baby will be walking and talking, so enjoy those peaceful baby feedings!

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