The milk debate: Breastmilk or formula?

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Should you feed your baby breast milk or formula? We have some personal insight from different mums and the low-down on this whole milk debate.

The milk debate: Breastmilk or formula?

Breastmilk or formula

Feeding your baby formula milk is now the social norm.

When you become a mother, there are many important decisions you have to make and it seems that choosing whether your baby will be breastfed or formula fed is one of the biggest decisions of all.

Breast-feeding is highly recommended by doctors for newborns, but depending on the circumstances, some mothers may choose to formula feed their babies instead.

We talk to a few mothers about their personal choices and give you the low-down on this milk debate so that you can choose what’s right for you.

The rise of formula milk

If you are watching a television show where there is a scene showing a mother feeding her baby, it will most likely be milk from a bottle, as opposed to the baby latching on. Granted that it could be expressed breast milk, but it has become the norm in mainstream media to depict such imagery.

Even in the toy stores, baby dolls are sold with milk bottles as part of their accessories and little girls will pretend to feed their little bundles of joys from a bottle.

But when exactly did formula milk make its way to our supermarket shelves? And when did it start becoming the norm and culturally accepted?

You may be surprised to discover that bottle feeding babies is not a relatively modern concept and has possibly been around for centuries.

In fact, there is archaeological evidence of various kinds of ancient bottles and alternative feeding methods for babies, according to Ellie Lee, Director of the Centre for Parenting Cultural Studies at the University of Kent.

milk debate, baby, feeding device

During the Renaissance period, cows’ horns were with leather nipples were repurposed as baby feeding devices.

For centuries, mothers who were unable to breastfeed or chose not to, would engage the help of a “wet nurse”- a lactating woman who would breastfeed the baby for the mother. This could be a hired nurse, a family member or even a friend.

But as the world industrialised and women were joining the workforce, new mums looked for other alternatives to feed their babies, thus the demand for wet nurses began to decline. Many mothers even tried to make their own formulas – something we do not recommend anyone to attempt now!

It was only in the 1950s that the developed world fully embraced formula milk and it soon became the feeding method of choice.


What about breastfeeding? Is it really a natural instinct between mothers and babies? Read on to find out!