Breastfeeding or Milk Powder?

This issue of whether to breastfeed your baby or use formula is a long standing one and still continues today. There are differences of opinion about whether 'breast is best' or if milk powder is a better choice.

There are women who feel guilty if they can't or won't breastfeed but at the end of the day it is your decision. Do what is right for you.




Breastfeeding

So, what are the advantages of breastfeeding? We should be saying 'where do we start' as there are numerous benefits from breastfeeding your baby.

The main benefit is: breastmilk provides all the nutrients your little one will need. It contains chemicals called 'antibodies' which help protect your baby against a range of diseases: and reduces their risk of developing conditions such as eczema and type 2 diabetes later on.

Plus breastmilk is great for mum as well. If you are a new mum reading this then you will be pleasantly surprised to learn that breastmilk protects you against a variety of conditions such as ovarian cancer. It also reduces your risk of developing breast cancer as well.

Breastfeeding also helps with bonding. It is Mother's Nature's way of building a strong emotional bond between you and your baby. Babies have been breastfed since time began and who can argue with a natural method that can be traced back over thousands of years!

Breastmilk is free, available on demand and always at the right temperature.

And here is an added bonus:

It uses up to 500 calories in a day.

If you decide to breastfeed your babies then don't worry if you find it difficult to start with. It does take a bit of practice but you will soon get the hang of it. Ask your midwife or health visitor for advice.

Milk powder

Milk powder – or formula milk such as SMA, is a milk product which is very similar to breastmilk. It is comprised of cow's milk and vitamins and minerals which are designed to provide your baby with the nutrients he or she needs.

Most milk formulas are made of cow's milk although there are soya and hydrolysed protein versions as well. The type of formula milk you use depends on your baby's age, state of health and dietary requirements.

Formula milk is available in tins or packets and is easy to make up. But remember to used boiled water – at a temperature of 70C – to kill off any bacteria. Let this cool before feeding your baby.

There is a risk of bacterial infection with formula milk so only make a formula when your little one is ready for it. Do not be tempted to make up a few bottles in advance as this will increase the risk of infection.

Good hygiene is important when making up formula milk as your baby's immune system is underdeveloped which means that he/she is at risk of diseases and infections. So sterilise everything and follow the manufacturer's instructions to the letter.

Starting on solids

Once your baby has reached the age of 6 months you can start him/her on solids. Introduce him/her to a variety of foods but do this gradually to give his/her digestive system time to become used to these.

There are certain foods which are known to cause an allergic reaction so be careful if you decide to introduce this into your baby's diet.

Wheat based foods, soft cheeses, eggs and shellfish should not be given to any baby under the age of 6 months old. If your baby is over 6 months old then try these one at a time and see if they cause a reaction when they do. If this occurs then obtain medical advice as soon as possible.