There is a huge push in the United States to increase the number of mothers who choose breastfeeding over bottle feeding. Breastfeeding is a personal choice that can take weeks to perfect. Some mothers choose to switch to bottle feeding before they have given the relationship that can develop during her and her baby as, a result of breastfeeding, enough time to grow. If breastfeeding is mom’s first choice, a breastfeeding group may offer the support she needs to perfect the latch.
Other moms know from the start they do not want to breastfeed. Bottle feeding offers a safe, healthy alternative to breastfeeding. Infant formula is regulated closely with nutritional guidelines set by the Food and Drug Administration. All formulas must offer a basic list of nutritional advantages to the baby. Among infant formulas there are four types:
- Milk-based: Milk-based formulas are the most popular and often the first formula a baby will receive in the hospital. The three top brands are Enfamil, Similac and Carnation, though store brands are growing in popularity.
- Soy-based: Parents who wish to stay away from animal products when feeding a baby often choose soy protein formula. Another reason parents choose to use soy-based formula is when infants show a sensitivity to milk; soy formulas are used to prevent an allergic milk reaction.
- Lacto-free: Lacto-free infant formulas are milk based, but lactose (milk sugars) have been removed. Lactose intolerance is not common in infants. Most often, if a baby is gassy or not responding well to a milk based formula, a soy-based formula will be chosen before a lacto-free formula.
- Specialty formulas: Specialty formulas are reserved for infants with special needs or those who have a medical reaction to both milk-based and soy-based formulas and tend to be very expensive. There are also special formulas for premature babies and babies born smaller than gestational size. If baby suffers from failure to thrive, a high calorie formula may be chosen to increase caloric intake.
Bottle-feeding with formula is a safe and healthy alternative to breastfeeding. According to many clinical studies, there is nothing better than breast milk for baby. Moms who choose not to breast feed can pump colostrum and breast milk to add to aninfant formula. This allows the baby to receive all the benefits of breast milk on mom’s terms.