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How does breastfeeding compare to formula-feeding?

  • Formula can be harder for your baby to digest. For most babies, especially premature babies, breastmilk substitutes like formula are harder to digest than breastmilk. Formula is made from cow's milk, and it often takes time for babies' stomachs to adjust to digesting it.
  • Life can be easier for you when you breastfeed. Breastfeeding may seem like it takes a little more effort than formula-feeding at first. But breastfeeding can make your life easier once you and your baby settle into a good routine. When you breastfeed, there are no bottles and nipples to sterilize. You do not have to buy, measure, and mix formula. And there are no bottles to warm in the middle of the night! When you breastfeed, you can satisfy your baby's hunger right away.
  • Not breastfeeding costs money. Formula and feeding supplies can cost well over $1,500 each year. Breastfed babies may also be sick less often, which can help keep your baby's health costs lower.
  • Breastfeeding keeps mother and baby close. Physical contact is important to newborns. It helps them feel more secure, warm, and comforted. Mothers also benefit from this closeness. The skin-to-skin contact boosts your oxytocin (OKS-ee-TOH-suhn) levels. Oxytocin is a hormone that helps breastmilk flow and can calm the mother.

Did you know?

In some situations, formula-feeding can save lives.

  • Very rarely, babies are born unable to tolerate milk of any kind. These babies must have an infant formula that is hypoallergenic, dairy free, or lactose free. A wide selection of specialist baby formulas now on the market include soy formula, hydrolyzed formula, lactose-free formula, and hypoallergenic formula.
  • Your baby may need formula if you have certain health conditions that won't allow you to breastfeed and you do not have access to donor breast milk.

Talk to your doctor before feeding your baby anything besides your breastmilk. To learn more, visit the Breastfeeding a baby with health problems section. To learn more about donor milk banks, visit the Breastfeeding and special situations section.

You can get more information on Breastfeeding and related subjects on Women’s Health.gov

This is a public information by  Women’s Health. For copyright please check Here.
office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, womenshealth.gov (or girlshealth.gov)


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