Formula VS Breastfeeding: Which is Best?

by Aimee Brown, PA-C

Billings OB-GYN Associates

Deciding how you will feed your baby is not an easy decision. While you're weighing the pros and cons, talk to your doctor or lactation consultant. These health care providers can give you more information about which option may be the best for you and for your family.

Breastfeeding is the recommended method for newborns. A number of health organizations including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) — recommend breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of life.

Some women are not able to breastfeed or are limited in their ability to produce breast milk. In these circumstances, and for other reasons, formula feeding may be necessary.

Benefits of Breastfeeding:

  • Breast milk contains the right balance of nutrients for your baby and is known to boost your baby's immune system. It provides natural antibodies to help your baby fight off illnesses, such as ear infections, respiratory infections, allergies, and GI infections.
  • Breast milk, in most cases, is more easily digested. Babies may be less constipated and gassy.
  • Breast milk may lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
  • Some studies suggest that children who are exclusively breastfed have slightly higher IQs then children who are formula fed.
  • In many studies, breastfeeding has been identified in reducing risk factors for childhood obesity, asthma, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and certain cancers.
  • Women who breastfeed have reduced risks of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, diabetes, and heart disease.

Breastfeeding Considerations:

  • All types of formula are fortified with essential nutrients.
  • Formulas can easily be adapted for infants with significant GI issues or allergies.
  • Your spouse and others can feed formula-fed babies. Bottle feeding will allow others to share in infant bonding and can also help give mom a break.

Formula Feeding Considerations:

  • Formula fed babies are often more gassy and have firmer bowel movements.

For more information about feeding your infant, contact your doctor or a local lactation consultant:

About the author… Aimee Brown joined Billings OB-GYN Associates in 2011 as a Physician Assistant. She graduated from the University of Utah Physician Assistant program in 2001. Aimee and her husband Michael have four children; Maisee, Emilee, Alex and Ivee. They enjoy spending time outdoors including hiking, skiing and playing as a family. In addition to chasing four children, Aimee enjoys biking, gardening, and photography.