Bottle feeding is the alternative to breast-feeding. Although formula provides all of the nutrients a baby needs to grow and thrive, there are advantages and disadvantages to choosing to feed a baby with formula. These considerations extend not only to the baby but to the mother as well.
Advantage: Measuring Intake
When a baby is formula fed, the parent is able to see exactly how much she drank at each feeding. This is useful because the parent will know how much her baby is eating and how much she needs to feel full. Consequently, the parents will not second guess if the child is getting enough nutrients or gaining weight appropriately.
Advantage: Shared Care
Because the baby is not breast-feeding, she does not have to be with her mother all of the time. When a baby is breast-fed, she needs to be with her mother every two to three hours. However, with bottle feeding, anyone can feed the baby, and this provides the mother with quite a bit more freedom.
Advantage: Not Altering the Mother's Diet
A mother who formula feeds does not have to worry about her caffeine intake, her alcohol intake or her caloric intake. A nursing mother needs to eat about 500 extra calories a day, so losing the baby weight can take longer and be more difficult. A mom who uses formula can go back to her pre-pregnancy habits sooner.
Disadvantage: Not as Helpful to Mother's Health
Nursing a baby is very beneficial to a mother's health. According to the Family Doctor website, a mother who breast-feeds is less likely to have breast cancer, ovarian cancer and osteoporosis. Additionally, a nursing mother is less likely to deal with post-partum depression or Type 2 diabetes.
Breast milk has been proven to be more nutritious than formula in terms of promoting brain growth. Breast milk is fortified with iron and also provides immunities to the baby for as long as he nurses. Additionally, the baby can easily break down the nutrients, so breast milk is easier on a baby's digestive system than formula, says the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Nursing also provides a tremendous comfort to a baby and can console him when he is sick, upset or dehydrated.
In terms of night feedings, breast-feeding is more convenient. Instead of getting up, going into the kitchen and preparing a bottle, a mother can pull the baby into her bed and relax while he helps himself to the milk.