Nutrition is crucial for the development of children, and infants depend on breastmilk or infant formulas for nutrients. The World Health Organization (WHO) states that correct feeding in the first three years is crucial to the proper development of a child and promotes a disease-free healthy life. Understand the difference between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding and the pros and cons of both methods.
Improper feeding schedules and practices make up to one-third of child malnutrition cases. Breastfeeding is a practice followed by most mammals to feed their young ones. However, due to busy work schedules or genetic factors, some mothers are not able to breastfeed their children. Such mothers embrace powder or liquid infant formulas that aim to provide similar nutritional value. This article discusses the pros and cons of breastfeeding and bottle-feeding.
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Pros and Cons of Breastfeeding
The WHO report shows that 2 out of 3 infants do not receive proper breastfeeding during the recommended six months duration.
- Breast milk is clean, safe and loaded with antibodies that boost immunity in children.
- Colostrum, the breast fluid released just after childbirth, is rich in antibodies and highly nutritious with low sugar and high protein content. It helps in preventing infections.
- It is a complete food solution for children up to 6 months old and provides all necessary nutrients and energy.
- Breastfeeding enhances the mental and physical development of a child.
- Breast milk is naturally designed in such a way that allows easy digestion for a child.
- Research suggests that breastfed children are intelligent and less prone to developing diseases and conditions such as obesity and diabetes.
- Breast milk reduces the chances of developing leukaemia or lymphoma.
- Women that breastfeed their children are also at a reduced risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, type 2 diabetes and osteoporosis.
- Breastfeeding helps women shed pregnancy weight as milk-production burns 300-500 calories daily.
- Breastfeeding delays menstruation. It is a natural birth control method and an economically viable option.
There are some downsides to breastfeeding, most of which are manageable through assistance and expertise.
- It may cause discomfort to the mother in the first few days after childbirth. Sometimes, the supply of milk is irregular. It may even cause mastitis, a severe breast infection.
- Keeping track of how much the infant had can be challenging.
- Mothers need to avoid certain medications, alcohol and caffeine to ensure the health and safety of their children while breastfeeding.
- It is an engaging and challenging task for a mother and can cause occasional irritability. The time demanded from a mother during breastfeeding may also prevent her from returning to work.
- Breastfeeding may also make women feel they have lost control over their bodies. The lack of support from members of the family and society can make the task more difficult.
Pros and Cons of Bottle-Feeding or Infant Formulas
In certain circumstances, breastfeeding may not be possible for some women, resorting to bottle-feeding with the use of pumped and stored breast milk or infant formula.
- One of the advantages of bottle feeding is that it reduces the dependency on the mother. This allows other family members or caregivers to feed the child.
- Keeping track of how much the infant had is easier.
- Bottle-feeding allows the building of a bond between an infant and other family members, similar to the bond built between a mother and child during breastfeeding.
- Infants digest formula slower. Bottle feeding may keep the infant satiated for longer durations than breast milk.
- Infant formulas though approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), are rich in salts, free sugars and trans fats. Its components may degrade the nutritious values and lead to increased chances of obesity and poor diets among infants.
- Warming the formula to ambient temperature is a challenge.
- These ready-made products do not provide as much protection against diseases as breast milk. Storing breast milk for long periods also reduces its nutritional value.
- Bottle-feeding can be costly. Considering the need for bottles, nipples, and formula.
- Keeping the bottles clean and disinfected is a cumbersome task.
- Infant formulas can cause digestive problems. Such as bloating, constipation or diarrhoea.
- The powdered formula needs to dilute in clean water, which is a health concern for people who do not have access to clean drinking water.
Proper feeding is crucial for a child’s growth and development, especially in the early years of their lives. Mothers may choose either bottle-feeding or breastfeeding, depending on their needs and circumstances.
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