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Should You Breastfeed or Formula Feed Your Newborn

Deciding if you should breastfeed or formula feed your newborn is a big decision. While there are benefits to both, the most important thing to remember is that your baby is fed proper nutrition. Here are some facts and tips that may help you make your decision.


A study in the early 2000s looked at the differences in babies that were breastfed versus formula fed. The study revealed that with breastfeeding:

  • Any breastmilk was beneficial, either nursed or expressed into a bottle
  • The rates of upper respiratory infections were reduced
  • There were lower rates of hospitalization and ear infections
  • There was lower risk for asthma, celiac disease and type I diabetes
  • There was some improvement in rates of sudden infant death syndrome
  • There were lower rates of diabetes later in life

Most of the benefits are seen with six months or more of exclusive breastfeeding, but some benefits can be obtained from any amount of breastfeeding. There are also benefits to breastfeeding moms. Moms will burn about 500 to 800 additional calories a day while breastfeeding. However, don’t use that calorie deficit to lose weight. It’s important to eat a nutritionally balanced diet and take in a lot of water to stay hydrated while breastfeeding.

Tips for Breastfeeding

Latching: The first two or three days after birth is a key period for making sure baby can latch onto your breast. Be sure to consult with a lactation consultant on the best technique before leaving the hospital and contact your pediatrician if you have questions after you’ve left the hospital.

Low Supply: The more you breastfeed, the more breast milk you produce. This can mean pumping more into bottles for later use. You can also use nutritional items such as mother’s milk tea or special cookies for breastfeeding moms if your milk supply is low.

Oversupply: Block feeding can help with an oversupply of breast milk, which is when you feed from one breast for about a three-hour period. If baby is hungry twice during that three-hour period, you stay with one breast. Then, in the next period, switch to the other breast. This helps give one breast a break so that it learns to produce less milk.

Formula Feeding

There are many types of formulas available and that is a wonderful thing. It gives parents a lot of choice should the baby have allergies or other sensitivities. At the outset, though, start with a standard formula and see how baby reacts. A standard infant formula will be cow’s milk-based and contain sugar, fat and protein. After that, different formulas change fats, sugars and protein types and combinations.

When deciding on which formula to buy, brand name doesn’t really matter. What’s important is how your baby reacts to the formula.

If you are a second or third-time mom and you had difficulty breastfeeding, didn’t enjoy it or experienced problems, formula feeding may be the right decision for you. Remember, millions of babies are formula-fed.

Switching from Breastfeeding to Formula

Tried breastfeeding and it didn’t work or isn’t for you and you need to switch to formula feeding? It is important to make sure baby is familiar with bottle feeding when making the switch. It can also be helpful to have another caregiver feed baby at first, as your child may be expecting milk from you. Once they are used to the bottle and handling the formula well, then you can start to wean baby off breastfeeding.

Choosing a bottle for you baby is a trial-and-error process. Even if you already have children, every baby is different and may require a different kind of bottle. It can be helpful to have a bottle that has a venting mechanism, so baby doesn’t swallow a lot of air. You can even find a “bottle box” online with five or six different brands of bottles included, which allows you to see which one is best for your newborn.

Whether you breastfeed or formula feed, here are a few things to expect while feeding:

  • If breastfeeding, your baby will feed for about 10 to 25 minutes at each breast for the first three to five days of life. As your baby gets older, and nurses more, feeding will become quicker as baby becomes stronger.
  • If formula feeding, your newborn baby will eat one to two ounces of formula every two to three hours. They will gradually take more formula as time goes on and they become stronger.
  • Your baby may have the urge to spit up after every meal. This urge can last for several months after birth.
  • It is normal for babies to lose weight within the first three to five days after being born. If fed properly, they should be back to their birth weight by 2 weeks of age. Contact your pediatrician if you find that your baby seems regularly unhappy, in pain or spitting up an entire feeding.
Breastfeeding;Newborn;3-6 Months;6-12 Months Pediatrics