There are many benefits to breast feeding. No one would seriously deny that. However, some mothers are not able to breast feed, or choose not to for any number of legitimate reasons. All too often, they are made to feel as if they have somehow cheated themselves and their baby, and this simply isn’t true. While it’s true that there are advantages to breast feeding, it’s also true that there are legitimate benefits and advantages to bottle feeding.
For one thing, bottle feeding can be accomplished by anyone. This means that Dad can take a turn bonding with the new arrival. There is no question that feeding time is a special bonding time for mothers and infants. With bottle feeding, fathers also get to share that special bond with their son or daughter. This also has the advantage of giving Mom a little extra rest, since feeding duties can be spilt up. And when a mother is able to get a little more rest, it makes it that much easier and more enjoyable to care for the baby.
Another advantage to allowing others to feed the baby through bottle feeding is that other caregivers can feed baby. Whether grandparents, aunts and uncles, older siblings, or babysitters, anyone who is old enough to safely hold the baby can help. While no one is questioning that it’s important for mothers to bond with their infants, it’s not a bad thing for your baby to bond with others who care for her, too. This is also highly beneficial if Mom has lifestyle situations such as a job or other commitments that don’t allow her to be with baby at all hours of every day and night, an increasing reality in today’s world.
Another advantage to bottle feeding is that most commercially made baby formulas are fortified with iron and several vitamins, most notably Vitamin D. Many physicians suggest that breast fed infants should receive supplements of these important nutrients. That isn’t to imply breast milk isn’t healthy. It’s well known that it is. But, the nutritious value in commercially produced baby formulas also has some advantages. If you do bottle feed, make sure that your formula is fortified with iron and Vitamin D.
A final advantage of bottle feeding is that baby’s digest formula a bit slower than breast milk. What this means for parents is that baby will feel satisfied a bit longer between feedings. Whereas most infants need to be breastfed every 2-2 ½ hours, babies will generally only need formula every 4 hours or so. This means baby is able to rest for longer periods of time in between feedings, which also means that Mom and Dad can rest for longer periods in between feedings.
So, while no one will argue against the fact that breast feeding is best if you are able, you shouldn’t feel guilty if you choose to bottle feed your baby. In fact, as shown, there are several advantages, both for you and for your baby.