Breastfeeding vs. Formula: Pros and Cons

There are several reasons why a parent will choose breastfeeding over bottle feeds. The decision between the breast and the bottle is a controversial one that divides friends and family members. The decision should be a purely personal one, with the mother of the baby deciding how comfortable she feels breastfeeding and how this fits into her plans. The parents of a baby can feel pressure to breastfeed regardless of their fitness to do so. The personal choice should be made with the health of the baby and her parents in mind.


Breastfeeding is supported by the world’s top medical groups, including the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP recommends breastfeeding as the exclusive option for mothers for the first six months, with the World Health Organization reporting breastfeeding should be used for the first two years or more.


The controversial area of bottle-feeding can take two forms. Mothers choosing to return to work can pump and freeze their breast milk and provide it for their baby via a bottle. The second option is to use formula, which does not contain the same nutrients as breast milk, but is a close match.

The Pros of Breastfeeding

The benefits of breastfeeding are easy to see and include the health benefits breast milk provides for a growing baby. Breastmilk is a natural byproduct of pregnancy and provides the correct vitamins, minerals, and nutrients. A mother with a healthy diet will be able to provide the correct nutrients for her baby when she chooses to breastfeed.

Busy mothers have the chance to limit preparation time for every feed when breastfeeding. There is little preparation needed to start breastfeeding, which limits the time the mother has to make her baby wait for food.

Among the benefits of breastfeeding is the lower incidence of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Several studies have shown breastfeeding limits the development of medical conditions including:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Obesity

The Cons of Breastfeeding

The dream of most new mothers is to breastfeed their baby, but some have difficulties achieving their goal. The cons of breastfeeding are few and can be eased by the assistance of a lactation expert. Some new mothers can feel discomfort in their breast when breastfeeding, which can lead to the mother feeling they do not want to feed their baby naturally.

Breastfeeding has become popular because of the ability to monitor the intake of food. Breastfeeding makes it difficult for a mother to track the amount of milk their baby is drinking. A mother needs to monitor the food, alcohol, and medication she takes when breastfeeding to avoid causing problems for her infant.

The Pros of Formula

Baby formula is monitored and tested by the Food & Drug Administration, meaning it is safe for parents to use with their children. Baby formula has been scientifically-formulated to replicate the makeup of breast milk. The nutrient value of baby formula provides the daily requirements for growth.

The benefits of baby formula include the time that is available when parents choose baby formula to feed their infant. Bottles can be prepared ahead of time and stored in a refrigerator for extended periods of time. Working parents choose formula over breastmilk because of the problems associated with expressing enough milk to feed their child each day.

When a parent is concerned their baby is eating too often and not getting enough breastmilk, the switch to baby formula can ease parental concern. Babies fed with baby formula have been shown to eat less often and see fewer infections.

The Cons of Baby Formula

Perhaps the biggest issue facing parents choosing baby formula is their high cost. It is possible to choose a low-cost baby formula because its ingredients are tightly-controlled. There are many ways baby formula can cause issues for a family, including increasing the infections and medical conditions an infant is likely to face.

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