The ongoing debate between formula feeding and breastfeeding seems older than time itself. While many experts agree that breast milk is best, it’s not always as simple as that. Whether it’s the convenience factor, an inability to breastfeed, or some other reason, many new moms choose to feed their babies formula, and that’s just fine.
Of course, as with any controversial subject, untruths and inaccuracies abound, and formula feeding is no different. So, let’s get to debunking some of the most common myths and misconceptions about formula feeding.
Myth 1. Formula Isn’t Nutritionally Complete
While it’s impossible to exactly replicate breast milk, baby formula is a close and complete substitute. Today, the safest baby formula options are made following strict guidelines to ensure they are nutritionally complete and suitable for babies.
The infant formula production process is heavily regulated to ensure bubs are getting adequate amounts of water, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. All of this is geared toward encouraging proper growth and development.
Whether you breastfeed, formula feed, or offer a combination of both, as long as your pediatrician is happy and your baby isn’t gassy, fussy, or spitting up excessively, these are good indications that you’re providing adequate nutrition.
Myth 2. Bottle-Fed Babies Don’t Bond as Closely with Their Mothers
Bonding has very little to do with how your baby eats and more to do with skin-to-skin contact and how much you interact with your child. If you’re concerned about a lack of bonding with your bottle-fed infant, make skin-to-skin contact a priority during feedings. Be sure to also smile, sing, make eye contact, and talk to your little one. And please don’t worry – bonding takes place regardless of whether you breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby.
Myth 3. Formula-Fed Babies Aren’t as Smart
When infant formula was first invented, it was true that children who were fed formula were a tad behind their breastfed counterparts developmentally. Today’s formula composition, however, includes important developmental ingredients such as DHA and ARA – two fatty acids found in breastmilk that boost brain development.
Researching the difference in brain development between formula-fed and breastfed babies will result in mixed views on the subject, but ultimately, there is no scientific evidence that feeding your baby modern formula will result in a less intelligent child. Genetics plays a far larger role in a child’s cognitive abilities.
Myth 4. Mixing Breastfeeding with Bottle Feeding Causes Nipple Confusion
If your baby seems to prefer one nipple over another, it’s more likely nipple preference than nipple confusion. Most babies can take a pacifier and go back to a bottle or breast just fine, so experiment with different nipples to find one your baby likes. If your baby prefers the breast, look for a wide, slow-flow nipple for the bottle to mimic how breastfeeding feels. If your baby prefers the bottle, try supplementing less with the bottle and offering more breast time to encourage better nursing.
Myth 5. Formula-Fed Babies Sleep Better
This is a long-standing misconception. The theory is that formula is harder to digest, so the meal stays with the baby longer, improving sleep as bub isn’t woken up so soon by hunger pangs.
Babies wake in the middle of the night for many reasons – hunger is only one of them. Your little one’s temperament is a huge factor in how well they will sleep, so they’ll probably wake at night for several months whether they’re formula-fed or breastfed.
The debate between breastfeeding and formula feeding will likely continue, but with accurate information, you can make an informed decision as to the best way to feed your baby.