If you listen to some breastfeeding advocates, you’d think that anyone who bottle feeds their baby is participating in some form of socially acceptable child abuse. Yes, it’s true that breastfeeding does have certain advantages. Some of those advantages aren’t nearly as prevalent as advocates might like you to believe, but no one will argue that breast milk is, on average, better for baby than formula.
Sometimes, however, a woman is either physically unable to breastfeed, or she may choose not to breastfeed for any number of reasons, which may be personal, cultural or social. If your baby is being bottle fed, it’s important to recognize some of the benefits:
Bottle feeding can be done by anyone, even dad. Yes, feeding time is a special time of bonding between mother and baby. But bottle feeding allows Dad to participate in that bonding time, as well. This also means that Dad can feed baby in the middle of the night sometimes, allowing Mom some much-deserved (and needed) rest
Formula has the addition of specific nutrients baby needs, such as iron and Vitamin D. Now, as long as a breastfeeding mom is getting enough of these nutrients, there’s no reason that breast milk won’t have them, too. However, formula insures that, no matter what your diet consists of, your baby is getting what he needs.
Babies also take longer to digest formula than they do breast milk. From a practical perspective, this means that your baby is going to feel more full and be more satisfied for longer between feedings. A breastfed baby might need to be fed every 2 hours or so, while a bottle fed baby may need to be fed every 3 or 4 hours. This is especially useful at night, allowing parents to get longer stretches of sleep.
These benefits don’t suggest that anyone should choose bottle feeding over breastfeeding. What we’re saying is that, if you’re unable to breast feed or choose not to, you don’t have to feel guilty, and that there may be a handful of advantages.