Baby Feeding: an Evaluation of the Options

Baby feeding is an area that is well-researched and about which there is almost too much information. However, many health professionals have little to say beyond the fact that breast is best and formula milk is inferior. This is not always a helpful evaluation, nor is it a complete picture of the options available. So read on and make a more informed decision about your own baby’s needs.

Breastmilk is made by your body for your specific baby. Colostrum, the substance you will produce before breastmilk, is tailored to a newborn’s needs, and as you go your body will provide antibodies to any diseases currently in your system, allowing your breastmilk to protect your baby from these diseases by the simple expedient of feeding them. Additionally, breastmilk changes over time as your breasts produce the milk your baby needs at his or her stage of development. Downsides include the fact that breastmilk is so easily digested your baby may be hungry more often, the fact that it is not always easy, and the fact that your breasts are required accessories for feeding then baby.

Formula milk, the obvious second choice, is often derided as being hideous by breastmilk activists. While formula milk is not the ideal food for a newborn baby and cannot hope to achieve the greatness of breastmilk, it is by no means an awful choice and provides your baby with all the nutrients he or she needs for adequate development. All formula milk has to adhere to certain standards, so you need not worry that some brands will sell your baby short. Downsides include the lack of antibodies and the fact that, while the heavier and less easily-digestible substance keeps baby quiet for longer, it is more likely to cause tummy upsets and some babies can find it difficult to keep down.

Getty imagesBottle-feeding expressed breastmilk is an option that is often not mentioned at all by midwives and health visitors. In cases where there are latching issues or the mother feels too strangely about allowing her baby to suck on her nipples, expressing breastmilk and then feeding it by bottle is an excellent way to get the ideal nutrition into your baby. This also means that when your baby needs to be away from mum, he or she will be used to the bottle and happily able to take food from other people. Boots and other such shops will sell a wide array of pumps including hand-powered and electrical breastpumps as well as all the necessities required to freeze and defrost it. Downsides include the added time required to express the milk, and the fact that you will face prejudice both from breastfeeding advocates and from people who disapprove of breastmilk.

Making a choice for your baby’s nutrition can seem like the impossible task, but armed with the full complement of options you can make an educated decision to suit your family and your baby’s needs equally.

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