Deciding whether to breastfeed or formula feed your child is a personal decision for every mom. Breastfeeding is an obvious choice, except when it isn’t.
Birthing centers around the country are constantly promoting the benefits of breastfeeding (for good reason). On the other hand, breastfeeding is not an option for many moms. This dilemma can be troublesome and create doubt and guilt in mommy – that’s exactly the situation new moms should avoided.
The best way to feed your baby is one that works for both of you. So don’t stress. Be flexible and learn about the benefits of both methods. We’ve compiled some ideas for your consideration. If you want more information we recommend visiting the CDC website on infant nutrition.
Breast milk is good for your baby in many ways:
- It provides natural antibodies that help your baby resist illnesses, such as ear infections.
- Breastfed babies might be less constipated and gassy.
- Breast milk may even help your child in later years, by reducing the risk of being overweight, and of developing asthma, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, Hodgkin’s disease, leukemia, and lymphoma.
- Pumping breast milk can add some flexibility to feeding times by letting a partner or care giver provide the meal.
- Moms that breastfeed avoid the added cost of buying formula.
Formula feeding is also a healthy choice for babies. If you use a formula, your baby will get the best possible alternative to breast milk. (You should not attempt to make your own formula or feed an infant cow’s milk.)
Many moms choose formula for a variety of reasons:
- It’s convenient and flexible, often times fitting in more easily to a busy schedule.
- There is no need to pump breast milk, which isn’t always and easy task depending on the circumstances.
- Your partner can help out with nighttime feedings and share that bonding experience with your baby.
- Scheduling feedings may be easier. Formula isn’t digested as quickly as breast milk, so formula-fed babies don’t need to eat as often, especially in the first few months.
- You don’t have to worry about what you eat or drink. Moms who breastfeed may have to avoid certain foods, drugs and alcohol that baby can’t tolerate.
Clinical research provides an impartial review of how infant formula and bottle feeding can confer benefits similar to those of human milk and the act of breastfeeding. As some mothers are not able to breastfeed, infant formula studies and the moms that volunteer to participate in them are essential to developing trusted feeding options for all babies.
Some studies will include a breast feeding arm, so mom’s can volunteer for a research study regardless of the feeding technique they decide to use. But time is short. Patient volunteers need to decide to use one feeding technique exclusively for the duration of the study. Baby’s age will determine eligibility. Most studies will require babies to be 0 – 14 days old. Occasionally the entry age may be extended to 21 days. So the window for deciding how to feed your baby is pretty tight for moms that want to participate in clinical research. Participation in a study includes ample supply of formula, post study supply of formula, diapers during the study and a patient stipend for time and travel. There is never a cost to join an infant formula study.
Whichever way you choose to feed your baby — breast milk, formula, or a combination of both — the most important thing is that your baby is well fed, well cared for, and loved. So ditch the mommy guilt! In the end, the best feeding technique is the one that keeps baby on the way to normal growth and development.
If you are interested in volunteering for a clinical trial involving breast milk or infant formula, refer to our studies page to see if we are enrolling studies in your area.