Written by Pradeep
After going through labor and delivery, the next step for new mothers is adjusting to breastfeeding. With respect to our traditional and cultural values, most of us do not step away from breastfeeding unless we have some medical conditions that may not allow it. But with changing times and preferences of people, career/work, and determination to get back to the pre-pregnancy figure, mothers are moving to powdered milk as a substitute for breastfeeding. But do you know the advantages and disadvantages of powdered milk for your baby?
Some infants can also have certain medical conditions which makes it necessary to record how much milk they are drinking, and formula milk helps keep exact measurements. Moreover, a formula-fed baby can develop bonding with other members of the family as well, especially if the mother is not keeping good health. Read on to know more about powdered milk for babies.
Essentially, powder milk or formula is a substitute for breast milk. Not all women are able to produce breast milk enough to satiate their little ones. Some may undergo breast surgery or have problems with breastfeeding, while others may not have time to breastfeed due to financial conditions and the necessity to work. Some babies, owing to certain medical conditions, may also be fed formula milk.
Powdered milk is also known as dried milk that has been made by vaporizing the liquid content, leaving behind dry powder. Commercial formula milk is a complex combination of proteins, iron, sugars, fats, and vitamins, and is the manufacturing process happens under highly sterile conditions. Though new mothers may want to prepare their own baby formula, it is always best to opt for commercial formulas since they have the specific nutrients a growing baby needs.
Mothers who cannot breastfeed resort to feeding their babies with formula milk. Though the formula has many nutrients that a growing baby requires, yet it lacks the important antibodies that breast milk provides to the baby to fight infections and grow.
Feeding formula milk means the mother can get more rest and the other members of the family can also participate in the growth and nurturing of the baby. But it is expensive and can be a financial constraint on the parents.
Infant formula nowadays comes packed with minerals and is the next best alternative to mother’s milk. Though exclusively breastfeeding your baby is the best, especially during the first six months of life, the formula comes in handy when the mother is not able to breastfeed. But remember, infant formula can never replicate the mother’s milk in totality.
Some infant formulas are rich in iron, calcium, and vitamins, which in the case of breast milk depend on the dietary intake of the mother. This helps combat anemia in babies. This way, the mother’s dependence on her diet is reduced.
Some mothers may find it difficult to breastfeed their babies, especially when traveling. In such cases, formula milk becomes an easy and convenient way of feeding babies. It saves mothers the process of pumping and storing breast milk for emergencies or when they can’t feed their little ones.
Yes, you can pump and store breast milk. But what if you are sick, or out of town? Formula milk is easy to prepare and anyone can feed the baby.
Babies who are given formula along with breast milk in the initial months can be easily weaned from breast milk. However, this should be done under the guidance of a health specialist
The nutrients from food eaten by mothers pass on to the baby through breast milk. For this reason, mothers have to exercise caution in their dietary intake. For instance, caffeine/alcohol intake or herbal teas must be regulated. Powdered milk releases the new mum from such restrictions.
In cases where an infant is suffering from some disease and the mother needs to monitor the feeds, formula milk becomes helpful.
Formula milk is not easily digestible, hence the baby feels full for longer times. This means mothers get more time in between feedings as feeding frequency is less.
Apart from being the second choice to breastfeeding, powdered milk does have quite a few disadvantages as well, as listed below:
Breast milk is free, but you have to buy infant formula. They are available from various brands and age-wise, so choosing them could be difficult too. Additional expenses are borne towards bottles and nipples expenses.
Also, you will need to buy and store large quantities of good-quality formula to match the ever-increasing requirements of your growing baby. The formula also comes with expiry dates, so you may need to throw away old jars and be cautious when feeding.
The process of preparing the milk – warming water, mixing, transferring to bottle, etc. takes time and effort. For preparing the formula, you will need hot water. But when feeding your baby, you must make sure that the formula milk is at the right temperature.
In terms of sterilizing the bottles and nipples as well as keeping them ready for the next feed. Breast milk, on the other hand, is always at the right temperature and you can directly feed without much thought.
Mother’s milk contains many key components which formula milk may not have. While powder milk may have its own advantages, the baby will be devoid of certain essential nutrients.
Breast milk is tailor-made for a baby and is very easy to digest. When it comes to formula milk, though, digestion can be a problem. This may cause your little one to have an upset stomach or conditions such as constipation and gas in the baby.
Breastfeeding is a very special experience and activity, both for the mum and the baby. The baby sucking on your breast with occasional eye contact and your touch is what connects you to the baby.
Yes, you can give your baby a mixed feed of breast milk and formula milk. Your pediatrician will be the right person to guide you in this regard. They can suggest the right dose and how frequently you can feed each of the kinds of milk to your little one. Experts around the globe stress on feeding a baby with mother’s milk – exclusively till the first 5 months, and then till 12 months and further as far as possible.
Under certain circumstances, mothers can opt for formula milk. This can be helpful in cases where the mother is not able to produce enough milk. If you are weaning your little one before they reach one year, you can give them formula milk. Doctors suggest avoiding cow’s milk till the baby crosses one year.
Although it’s the mother’s personal decision to choose between breast milk and formula, most doctors and health institutes suggest that formula milk should not substitute breast milk. Beside the babies, mothers can also reap the advantages of breastfeeding. Breastfeeding relaxes the mum and helps with losing weight too. Breastfeeding reduces the risk of certain cancers such as breast cancer and ovarian cancer for the mother.
“While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for the baby” – Amy Sponger
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