Considering the pros and cons of bottle feeding and if it’s the best method for your baby?
When my wife was pregnant with our daughter, we faced many questions as prospective new parents! One of them was exactly this question. Read on to find out what I discovered about this feeding method for babies.
The advantages and disadvantages of bottle feeding need to be considered by parents before deciding on the right feeding method for their babies. Bottle-fed babies can drink infant formula and breast milk with this method. The biggest disadvantage is the cost of bottle feeding.
- The pros of bottle feeding include shared feeding duties, easier scheduling, freedom for mom to eat and drink whatever she likes, and reduced discomfort from breastfeeding.
- Bottle feeding makes it easier to send babies to daycare!
- The cons of bottle feeding include high costs, formula allergies or intolerance, bonding challenges, and judgments from breastfeeding parents.
- Bottle-fed babies drinking formula don’t get the health benefits of breastfeeding.
- Most side effects of bottle feeding can be mitigated.
Pros of bottle feeding a baby
Your spouse can help with feeding
Sharing feeding duties with your spouse is one of the biggest advantages of bottle feeding. Feeding babies takes up a lot of your time, day and night, and bottle feeding allows you and your partner to take turns.
Here’s a father talking about his positive experience of feeding his babies which be some source of inspiration for you.
Try not to get into the situation of your baby accepting bottles from nobody except for mom.
Grandparents, older siblings, and reliable friends can be entrusted with bottle feeding when you or your spouse aren’t available. Sharing bottle-feeding duties is a wonderful way for siblings, fathers, and relatives to bond with a newborn baby.
Scheduling feeding times is easier
Bottle feeding makes it easier to schedule feeding times which allows both parents to plan their day better. Having a feeding schedule creates an established routine for everyone in the household which is vitally important in the first days of being a new parent.
You can use the following general feeding guidelines to help you establish a schedule for your bottle-fed baby up to six months old:
- Newborns: 8 to 12 feeds per day, every 2 to 3 hours. One to two-week-old babies drink 1 to 2 ounces of milk before increasing to 2 to 3 ozs from two weeks old.
- Two months old: Feed 4 to 5 ounces every 3 to 4 hours.
- Four months old: Feed 4 to 6 ounces every 3 to 5 hours.
- Six months old: Feed up to 8 ounces every 4 to 5 hours.
Moms don’t have to watch what they eat and drink
Breastfeeding moms have to be careful what they eat and drink as it can affect the taste of breast milk, causing the baby to reject their feed. Some foods or beverages consumed by mom may not agree with your baby’s digestive system.
Eating food such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, beans, and cabbage can cause your baby to battle gassiness, bloating, and colic. Caffeine drinks can make your baby edgy, or super-hyper! Formula bottle feeding can help you manage these conditions while mom can still enjoy her favorite vegetables and latte!
Moms won’t feel discomfort such as leaking or sore breasts
Breastfeeding can cause messy and embarrassing leaks and sore breasts. Expressing breast milk regularly for bottle feeding helps moms to manage milk flow and reduce these discomforts. This is particularly useful when breastfeeding moms need to return to work.
Some mothers aren’t comfortable breastfeeding in public and bottle feeding allows moms to go out with their babies without disrupting the feed schedule. Another discomfort many breastfeeding moms battle with is sore or cracked nipples and bottle feeding allows time for healing to take place.
It’s easier to send baby to daycare
If you’re returning to work while your baby is still drinking breast milk or formula, bottle feeding makes it easier to send your little one to daycare. It’s important to start introducing your baby to the bottle two to four weeks before they start daycare. This way you can avoid the situation when your baby is not taking bottle at the daycare.
If you’re breastfeeding, you can pump breastmilk for bottle feeding and slowly transition to infant formula if it’s easier for you once you’re back at work.
Cons of bottle feeding a baby
Baby formula is expensive
Are you wondering why baby formula gets locked up in the supermarket? Rising living costs are forcing desperate parents to steal infant formula because it’s expensive. Even the cheapest brand has increased by over 22%, making it harder for parents to formula-feed babies.
It can cost you anywhere between $4,500 and $10,000 in the first year to feed your baby with infant formula. You’ll need to work out how many baby bottles and nipples you need to purchase which is another costly exercise.
It makes it difficult to bond with baby
Bottle feeding can hamper the natural bonding that takes place between the baby and the mother during breastfeeding. Skin-to-skin contact allows your newborn baby to bond with their moms in their first days. The production of oxytocin and prolactin during breastfeeding reduces maternal stress and increases bonding between the mother and her baby.
Nursing mothers also tend to spend more time with their babies which allows for more opportunities to bond.
You may receive judgment from others
Breastfeeding vs bottle feeding is a contentious debate that rages on between parents! Health experts such as The American Academy of Pediatrics and the World Health Organization strongly advocate that babies should be breastfed for at least their first six months. Breastfeeding is considered healthier for babies, especially in their first year.
Parents who choose to bottlefeed their babies are often judged or at the receiving end of snide remarks and dirty looks from breastfeeding advocates! This can make it difficult for sensitive moms (and fathers) to opt for the bottle-feeding method particularly if close relatives or friends continuously call them out for using the bottle!
The risk of baby being allergic to formula
Some babies develop food allergies or an intolerance to infant formula. Ingredients such as cow’s milk protein or soy can be the culprit for your baby having an allergic reaction to formula. Symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and skin rashes can indicate your baby is allergic to formula.
Formula intolerance is another issue that makes it difficult for your baby to digest the milk properly. This could result in dehydration or poor growth and development.
Your baby won’t have the health benefits of breastfeeding
The health benefits of breastfeeding include:
- Reduced risk of developing allergies and food intolerances.
- Breastmilk fulfills your baby’s nutritional needs for healthy growth and development.
- Your baby can be protected from short-and long-term diseases and illnesses.
- Antibodies in breast milk help your baby develop a strong immune system.
Another added bonus is that breastfeeding can reduce the mother’s risk of getting breast and ovarian cancer, high blood pressure, and Type 2 diabetes.
Does bottle feeding cause gas?
Bottle feeding can cause gas, especially for babies with sensitive tummies or immature digestive systems. If your baby is battling with gassiness consider comparing anti-colic and regular bottles to reduce the build-up of air bubbles in the milk, the most common reason for gas.
Anti-colic bottles are specially designed with internal venting systems or valves in the teats to draw air bubbles away from the milk while your baby feeds. Your baby can also be reacting to an ingredient in the formula which causes gas and experimenting with a different brand can help with gassiness. Switching to a hypoallergenic formula may also reduce gas buildup.
Watch this video which demonstrates paced bottle feeding.
Are there side effects to bottle feeding a baby?
There can be side effects to bottle feeding your baby and being aware of them can help you to manage them more effectively should they arise. Common side effects of using this feeding method include:
- Risk of infections: If the bottles aren’t properly cleaned and sterilized, they may introduce germs and bacteria to the milk consumed by your baby. Practicing proper hygiene and washing bottles properly can prevent this from happening.
- Overfeeding: Bottle feeding allows for a continuous flow and supply of milk which could result in your baby consuming more than they need during a feed. Overfilling the bottle and not using the right measurements can also cause overfeeding and obesity in babies.
- Ear infections: Using the incorrect bottle feeding position can cause milk to flow into the eustachian tube which increases the risk of painful ear infections. Feeding your baby in a semi-upright position can prevent this issue.
- Tooth decay: Feeding formula or juice from bottles can lead to tooth decay from a young age. Continuous exposure to sugary drinks can result in cavities and other dental issues as your child grows up.
Which bottles are best for your baby?
Knowing which bottles are best for your baby depends on their age, feeding styles, and digestive issues. Knowing how long babies use 2 to 8-ounce bottles tells you which size to get and when. Some babies love the squishy feel of silicone bottles while others prefer glass or plastic types.
Ergonomic designs are important for small hands, especially for older, more independent babies who want to feed by themselves. If your baby clicks while bottle feeding, it could be because the nipple flow rate is wrong or they’re not latching properly. Finding the best bottle prevents your baby from rejecting it when it comes to feeding time.
Weighing up the pros and cons of bottle feeding will help you make an informed decision when deciding on the best feeding method for your baby. Bottle feeding worked well for me as a father, allowing me to play an active parenting role while raising our baby daughter.
Here’s one last benefit of bottle feeding to consider – you can pre-make bottles for night feeds which makes nighttime feeding less stressful for parents and their hungry babies!