Bottle or Breast- What's the Big Deal?

You've heard it said over and over again, "Breast is Best!" but what does that really mean? It is true that breastmilk provides complete nutrition for your baby and offers many long lasting benefits to both mother and baby. Benefits such as bonding, immunization, and protection against infections and many childhood diseases, as well as a decrease in developing breast cancer are just a few on the list, but the truth of the matter is simply this...Breastmilk is normal. Our breasts were designed by God for a specific purpose, to feed, protect, and nourish our young. Therefore, breastmilk should be the standard by which we compare all other substitutes.

Care to compare Breastmilk to Formula? Ok...Let's Compare!

Some of the benefits of the breastfeeding relationship include:

Benefits for baby include:

  • Breastmilk helps pass meconium in the first days of life.
  • Breastmilk is easily digestible.
  • Breastmilk is always the right temperature.
  • Preterm breastmilk is designed specifically for preterm babies.
  • Breastmilk contains important immunities for your baby.
  • Breastfeeding helps protect against diabetes, allergies, asthma, ear infections, bacterial meningitis, respiratory infections, eczema, multiple sclerosis, and many, many more health concerns.

Benefits to mom include:

  • Suckling at the breast helps the uterus to shrink.
  • Breastfeeding helps to prevent postpartum hemorrhages
  • Breastfeeding helps mom lose weight.
  • Breastfeeding helps diabetic mothers by decreasing their insulin need.
  • Breastfeeding mothers have a decreased risk of developing breast cancer, ovarian cancer, endometrial cancer, and osteoporosis.
  • Breastfeeding mothers have an increased protection against iron deficiency.
  • Breastfeeding mothers enjoy a delayed return of menstruation.
  • Breastmilk is a natural antibiotic and helps to heal wounds.
  • Breastmilk comes in a nicer package than formula!

On the other hand, the benefits of Formula are harder to see:

Taking an even deeper look into formula helps us to see why so many mothers are turning back to breastfeeding. When we compare the components of manufactured formula to breastmilk we find the following:

Formula contains an excess amount of:

  • protein (1.8 times)
  • vitamin E (3.2 times)
  • vitamin K (25.7 times)
  • riboflavin (3.2 times)
  • niacin (3.5 times)
  • folic acid (2 times)
  • vitamin C (1521 times)
  • calcium (2.8 times)
  • sodium (1.7 times)
  • potassium (1.5 times)
  • iron (35 times)
  • and zinc (4.2 times)

and an insufficient amount of:

  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin B6
  • beta-carotene
  • cholesterol
  • and fat among other things

Source: Breastfeeding Physiology Student Manual, Childbirth International

These artificially created vitamins and minerals are not absorbed as well into the body of a baby and therefore more may be necessary to provide nutrition. Breastmilk on the other hand changes on a daily and even more frequent basis to adapt to exactly what your baby needs at each and every feeding.

Formula fed babies have an increased risk of:


As you can see, the decision to give your baby formula can have life long lasting effects on their health and well-being. What we put into our children's bodies has a significant influence on their future and is not a decision that should be made lightly. Breast really is best and if possible our goal should be to provide breastmilk for our babies unless there are very rare circumstances that make that impossible.

For more information on breastfeeding please visit our other breastfeeding pages:

Breastfeeding Basics Breastfeeding FAQ Breastfeeding Links