There are many benefits to breastfeeding a baby rather than using formula. Human breast milk contains all the nutrients babies need each day, plus many substances that help keep them healthy and promote development. Formula can be a messy inconvenience to many new mothers already struggling with overwhelming new demands and schedules. Breast milk provides all the nutrition a baby needs. It contains antibodies that help protect the infant from infections. Through your breast milk, a baby is protected from illnesses to which the mother is immune and also those to which she has been exposed to.
Breast milk also helps infants establish bacteria in their intestines that aid in digestion. Formula can also supply all of an infant's nutritional needs. However, it does not contain the antibodies or growth factors found in breast milk. Many nutrients are more easily absorbed from breast milk than from formula; for example, iron-fortified formula contains more iron than breast milk does, but babies' bodies absorb more of the iron in breast milk. Breast milk is easier to digest, so breast-fed babies are rarely constipated. Because they swallow less air when feeding, breast-fed babies may spit up less and have less gas and abdominal cramping than bottle-fed babies.
Breastfeeding has been shown to be protective against many illnesses such as painful ear infections, upper and lower respiratory ailments, allergies, intestinal disorders, sudden infant death syndrome and even meningitis. It has even been proven that babies fed breast milk have a lower risk of food allergies. Babies who are breast-fed may be less likely to be overweight during childhood. Children fed formula tend to suffer more ear infections, and their illnesses tend to be more frequent and severe. The convenience of breastfeeding has no comparison.
There are no bottles to sterilize and no formula to buy, measure and mix. No one has to stumble to the refrigerator for a bottle and warm it while the baby cries. If she's lying down, a mother can even doze while she nurses. Breast milk is always stored properly and a mother's body produces milk on supply and demand. A mother's breast milk is made to order to her baby. Overall, breast milk provides every vitamin and nutrient that a new infant needs.
It provides nutrition, health benefits and convenience to a new mother and her infant. Breastfed babies benefit from appropriate jaw, teeth and speech development. This means that babies who are formula fed may experience more trips to doctors and dentists. Research shows that a child's immune system is not fully matured for many years. While it is developing, the infant will be protected by being breastfed. Does this mean that breastfed babies never get sick? No, they can and do.
However, there is overwhelming evidence that breastfed babies generally suffer less severe and less lengthy illnesses than a baby not receiving his own mother's milk.