“Breast is best” is no doubt something that all expectant and new moms have heard over and over again. Breastfeeding support is more pronounced than ever before with hospitals encouraging mothers to breastfeed immediately after labor and doctor’s offices offering multiple pamphlets on why breast milk is much better than formula.
While the benefits are abundant, what about those of us who cannot or absolutely do not wish to breastfeed? Are our children doomed? Though there are obvious benefits to breast milk, formula is not the awful poison that extreme pro-breast supporters describe. Here are five “facts” that are not always true about formula fed babies;
1. Formula fed babies are overweight.
While some studies might show a higher rate of obesity in formula fed children, other factors do come into play. Were these children also inactive and/or fed a poor diet later on? Were the formula feedings regulated or just given whenever baby whimpered? There are too many other variables in obesity to just claim that any extra weight was strictly due to formula.
2. Formula fed babies are sick more often.
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The correlation between breast milk passing on mother’s antibodies and immunities to their babies who haven’t yet developed a strong immune system seems to be a no-brainer, but is this always true? What if the mother’s immune system is weak itself? Does she then pass on no immunity benefits? What about the formula feeding mothers who keep their babies away from anyone with illnesses? There are plenty of always sick breastfed babies and plenty of never sick formula fed babies. Again, there are too many other variables.
3. Formula fed babies are gassier.
As a new mom, this “fact” was one that I heard a lot. It turns out, it wasn’t true for my formula fed daughter. Nor was it true for my breastfed nephew, who had a miserable first few months. Breastfed babies can get extremely gassy depending on the mother’s diet. Likewise, formula fed babies might just need to switch formulas to solve the problem. Bottles or position of feeding might also be the cause of the gas. Not fully burping baby could also be the culprit. Again, other variables come into play.
4. Formula fed babies perform poorer than breastfed children in school.
There are way too many external factors involved in this one to cause any worry to a formula feeding mother. Parental involvement, home environment, television/other artificial stimuli, diet, exercise, and even sleep patterns all have to do with school performance among other things.
5. Formula fed babies develop less of a bond with their mother.
If a mother chooses to prop their baby up with a bottle and go about their business while their baby feeds, then of course major bonding time will be lost. Obviously with nursing, one is attached and cannot escape somewhat of a bond. However, if a nursing mother is distant and not paying much attention, the bond will be less than the mother holding a bottle while smiling and talking to her child. The bond is not so much due to the breast milk, but the time spent. Bonding can be done with either feeding and it can be avoided with either feeding as well. The choice is up to the mother.
Of course, this article is not meant to dispute the rewards of breast feeding in anyway. Breast feeding is great for mother and child. However, being a mother who could not breast feed and was made to feel guilty, I feel the need to show that formula fed babies can turn out just fine.
My 4 year old has never been sick, wasn’t a gassy or fussy baby, is very active and intelligent, weighs a normal amount and shares a close bond with me. Four years after the guilt of not feeding her nature’s best, I have no regrets and neither should any other mom.
Article by Christy R
Christy Rasmussen is the mother of one very active preschooler with baby #2 due in December. She holds degrees in business and in political science/government, but discovered her love of writing after starting a blog for fun about her parenting experiences.
For more related articles on bottle feeding and breastfeeding, see:
Breastfeeding: Changes in the breasts
5 things you NEVER knew about breastfeeding
Breastfeeding Basics – Starting Well