Breastfeeding, Formula Feeding, or Both: The Ultimate Guide!
Formula or breast milk. It’s no secret that there are just two options for feeding an infant, and while breastfeeding may be the biological norm, it isn’t always the right choice, or completely possible, for every one. But when you’re tasked with making a choice, it can be hard to understand which is right for you.
This decision is not only very personal, but one that is often accompanied by unnecessary pressure, judgment, or confusion due to a lack of education about what is best. But you should feel proud and supported regardless of your choice, because guess what? BOTH are appropriate, and BOTH are amazing!
There ARE some marked differences in nutritional composition, feeding delivery, and style, which are important things to consider when making this choice.
Option A: Breastfeeding
In addition to the essential nutrition, breast milk includes immunological properties that evolve and morph by the HOUR to fulfill baby’s exact need. Your body and baby’s body work as a team, sending physical and hormonal signals so that your breast milk has just what your baby needs at any given stage of development.
Yet, as babies age, the amount of breast milk they consume stays the same on average; typically about 1-1.5 ounces per hour.. even when they are older!
Because breast milk is metabolized quickly and feedings are typically smaller in quantity, they happen more frequently, meaning that with this option, babies feed on demand and more often than formula fed babies. And, each time they are at the breast, baby consumes a different amount.
This is why sometimes a newborn or infant will request to eat more often during some parts of the day, or give longer stretches between feeds during other times a day.
Option B: Formula Feeding
With formula, feeding amounts and schedules can be more structured, and, because formula amounts are calculated based on your baby’s age and weight, baby typically eats the same amount each time. Some parents are more comfortable with this type of structured routine because it allows for more predictability and peace of mind.
Formula’s nutritional components remain the same per scoop (like breast milk, they contain all the essential nutrients baby needs!). This is why, as babies age, the amount of formula and bottle size they consume changes in order to fit baby’s development needs.
Option C: You Can Choose Both!
Many parents choose to “combo feed” their babies, which means providing as much breast milk as possible while also supplementing with formula. This is a great way to ensure that baby receives a consistent and thought-out amount of nutrition during any given day while also ensuring they are receiving the health benefits of breast milk at the same time.
Bottom line? The decision between breast milk and formula does not need to be all or nothing! Your feeding journey is unique and it should look however you want it to. It is so important to gather information for both options and find what feels best for YOU! It is also imperative to find with a lactation consultant you trust who can support you and work in tandem with your pediatrician to create the most perfect feeding plan for your baby—formula, breast milk, or both!