Infant Feeding: Breast or Bottle?
You are a new mother or are anticipating the birth of your child. As you prepare for your baby's arrival, there may be many questions you may have. One might be: Should I breastfeed? Here are some points to consider when deciding to breastfeed or bottle-feed.
Benefits of Breastfeeding for the Baby
- Proper nourishment—Breast milk contains almost all of thenourishment that babies need during their first 6 months oflife. However, vitamin D supplementation is needed because breast milk is low in this vitamin. Supplementation with vitamin D will need to be continued until your baby is getting enough vitamin D from other sources, such as vitamin D-fortified formula or sun. Starting at age 4 months, your baby will also need an iron supplement until he or she starts getting enough iron from food sources, like infant cereal. If your baby is premature, he or she will likely need to take iron starting at 1 month.
- Immunity boost—Breast milk contains substances not found in formula that helpprotect babies from illness. These substances include antibodies, immunoglobulins, activeenzymes, and hormones.
- Fewer illnesses—Compared with bottlefed infants,breastfed infants are less likely to develop:
- Possible protection against certain conditions—Breastfed infants may have protection against sudden infant death syndrome, type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes, asthma, atopic dermatitis, and leukemia.
- Boost to brain development—The nutrients found in breastmilk enhance how your baby's brain develops. Breastfeeding may even have a positive impact on your child's IQ and school performance.
- Easy digestion—Breast milk is easy for babies todigest.
- Bonding—The skin-to-skin contact involved inbreastfeeding can enhance bonding between mother and baby.
- Jaw development—Sucking at the breast promotes good jawdevelopment. It is harder to get milk from the breast than from abottle.