Opting for Baby Bottles:
When to go for Formula Feeding?

Why would you ever want to replace your breasts with baby bottles? And by that I don't mean using expressed breast milk in a baby bottle, but to replace it completely with formula milk. You may be surprised to know that there are many instances in which formula feeding actually becomes the perfect choice. Believe it or not, no matter how excellent and irreplaceable breast milk is, there are instances in which bottle feeding (also referred to as top-feeding) may not just become an option, but the best option.

Why formula feeding?

A dear friend of mine gave birth to a cute and cuddly baby daughter few years ago and in her pregnancy she always planned to breastfeed her. There was never any bottle, formula milk or bottle sterilizer in her baby’s shopping list. But right after her baby daughter's birth, she realized that she was struggling with breastfeeding. No matter how hard she tried, her daughter was unable to latch on properly – the newborn was empty stomached most of the time, hence was crying and being sleepless all the time. Formula milk filled baby bottles came to the rescue.

Still not giving up hope, my friend tried different breastfeeding positions, ate a lot of things that a breastfeeding mom was supposed to eat to get the milk flow right, but still ended up with a frustrating baby and a depressed self! To make the situation worse, too much trying and unable to produce adequate milk, she suffered from sore and bleeding nipples – not to mention the guilt of not being a useful mom. Holding on tight to the rope of hope, she got a breast-pump and breast-shield.

Guess what... still no luck!

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Yawn...!!

So the moral of the story here is: Sometimes you just cannot breast-feed – you want to but you can't. Why? That, she found out a year later when she got diagnosed with “a-year-old severe” Prolactin issue in her body.

There are instances when you just cannot breastfeed – it could be a medical reason like my friend's or a social one, for instance, you do not find it convenient to go to office and breastfeed at the same time.

In most of these instances you can express your breast-milk in baby bottles, and can even freeze this milk. If you think you will have to leave your baby with a caregiver or nanny for a longer duration or do not like the idea of breastfeeding your newborn in public, you could then go for formula milk.

Formula milk will provide your baby with the right amount of proteins, minerals, vitamins, sugars, fats and almost everything that breast milk could have. Although breast milk still has a lot of complex yet useful entities that scientists and doctors cannot find in formula milk, still the formula-milk available in the market today is the closest option we have.

If you have a premature newborn, different types of special preemie formula milk are available in the market with all the necessary nutrients that help your infant develop and catch up with the early arrival. My article on bottle feeding a premature baby will guide you through.

When not to breastfeed:

There are some medical conditions in which you are strictly told not to breastfeed. If that's the case with you, your doctor will inform you all about it keeping in mind your medical condition and history. In all such circumstances, infant formulas prepared in baby bottles should be used. Read this to find out when you should not breastfeed.

Advantages of formula feeding:

Bottle feeding newborn can give you the following advantages:

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  1. You can leave your child with a caregiver and go out, without worrying about the baby’s feed.
  2. Feeding a baby in public is a lot easier than breastfeeding in such places.
  3. No sore nipples. You do not have to worry about a biting-baby when your baby starts to pop-out his/ her teeth.
  4. You can eat anything you like. Since breast-milk is influenced by what the mother eats and there may be a couple of things that the feeding mother is told not to eat, you do not have to worry about this if you are bottle feeding.

Challenges in formula feeding:

No matter how fuss-free bottle-feeding sounds, there are a lot of challenges that come with this option. Let’s have a look:

  1. Too much expense! You need to set a budget for feeding accessories such as baby formulas, baby bottles along with the sterilization options, as it is quite expensive as compared to the “free” breast milk option.
  2. For bottle feeding, you need extra equipment like baby bottles and bottle sterilizer.
  3. Bottle-feeding is time consuming. You need to prepare the milk, make sure it has the right temperature and sterilize the bottle every time it’s used.
  4. A formula milk can never ever be a complete substitute of breast milk, so even if you are formula feeding, and for that, choosing the best brand available in the market, your baby is still missing out on some very important nutrients along with antibodies.

Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding:

If you are wondering why formula feeding is not respected much among doctors, make sure you understand the benefits of breastfeeding and the challenges of formula-milk. If you feel that bottle-feeding is the only option left for you, don’t get disheartened. The friend of mine we talked about earlier switched to formula feeding her daughter, who is 4 years old now and is considered as the brightest kid in her pre-school. For all we know, baby bottles come to the rescue and can really become true blessings when needed!

For detailed information on formula feeding, go to our Formula Feeding section.

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