The first nutritional decision you should make about your newborn child is how to feed it. The following guidelines on breastfeeding and formula feeding can help you make the right decision for you and your baby.

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Chest or bottle?

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for approximately the first six months of life. After introducing solid foods into the baby’s diet, breastfeeding should continue during the first year of the baby’s life and even longer, if desired by the mother and the baby.

But not all moms can or prefer to breastfeed their baby. The decision to breastfeed or bottle a baby is usually based on how comfortable the mother is with breastfeeding her child and her lifestyle. In some cases, breastfeeding may not be recommended for the mother and the baby. If you have questions about whether you should breastfeed your child or formula, talk to your pediatrician.

Remember that your baby’s emotional and nutritional needs will be met regardless of whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed.

About breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your newborn has many advantages. Perhaps the most important thing is that breast milk is the perfect food for the baby’s digestive system. It contains the nutrients that a newborn needs and all its components (lactose, proteins – whey and casein – and fat) are easy to digest. The formulas marketed for babies try to imitate breast milk and are close enough, but can not reproduce its exact composition.

Also, breast milk has antibodies that help protect babies against many infectious diseases, such as diarrhea and respiratory infections. Research shows that breastfed babies are less likely to develop medical problems, such as diabetes, hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol), asthma and allergies. Breastfeeding can also reduce the chances of a baby becoming overweight or obese later on.

Breastfeeding is also very good for mothers. When breastfeeding, mothers burn calories and recover their form faster. Breastfeeding a baby can also protect mothers from breast and ovarian cancer.

Some mothers find that breastfeeding is easier and faster than giving a bottle; no preparation is necessary and it is impossible to run out of breast milk in the middle of the night. In addition, breastfeeding is cheaper. Mothers who breastfeed their babies need to eat more and may want to buy bras and breast pads, and a breast pump or other equipment. But these expenses are usually less than the price of formula milk for babies.

Breastfeeding a baby satisfies different emotional needs, both of the mother and the baby: the skin-to-skin contact between the two favors the emotional connection and the fact of providing a complete feeding to the baby can help a new mother to gain confidence in your ability to take care of your newborn.

Limitations of breastfeeding

With all the advantages of breastfeeding, why do not all mothers choose to breastfeed their babies?

Breastfeeding requires an important commitment on the part of the mother. Some women who have just had a baby feel too bound by having to breastfeed their newborns. Because breast milk is easily digested, breastfed babies tend to feed more often than those who eat formula. This means that babies can be asked to breastfeed every 2 to 3 hours during the first weeks of life. Although it can be exhausting for the mother, after a very short time, the babies will request the breast less frequently and sleep more at night.

Some mothers need to go back to work outside the home or separate from their babies from time to time for other reasons. Some of these mothers choose to feed their babies formula milk so that another caregiver can give them a bottle. Mothers who decide to continue feeding their babies with breast milk can use a milk pump to collect their own milk, which another caregiver will give the baby with a bottle. This allows babies to continue to enjoy the benefits of breast milk but can not breastfeed.

Other family members (mainly parents) may wish to share the task of feeding the baby. While the mother breastfeeds the baby, the father or siblings may want to be close. Helping the mother to get comfortable or providing a wipe to burp the baby when he needs it, will allow them to be part of that experience.

Once breastfeeding is well established, other members of the family can collaborate, giving the baby bottles of breast milk previously extracted when the mother needs to rest.

Sometimes women feel embarrassed or worried about breastfeeding. These feelings usually disappear as soon as they master the procedure of breastfeeding the baby. It often helps to ask for advice from other women who have experienced the same experience. Most hospitals and maternity centers offer accurate training on breastfeeding techniques to first-time mothers.

Your pediatrician or nurse can answer your questions or put you in touch with a breastfeeding consultant or a support group.

In some cases, the mother’s health may affect her ability to breastfeed. For example, mothers who are doing chemotherapy for cancer and those who are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV, the virus that causes AIDS) should not breastfeed.

If you have a medical condition or take medication regularly, or if you or your baby becomes sick, talk with your doctor about whether it is appropriate to breastfeed. If you must stop breastfeeding for a while, continue to pump milk to maintain your production.

In some situations, it may not be possible to breastfeed; for example, when the baby is sick or when it is premature. Mothers should talk with their child’s doctor about how to express and preserve breast milk. Even if the baby can not suck from the breast, you may be able to administer breast milk through a tube or bottle.

Sometimes, mothers with inverted nipples may have difficulty breastfeeding. But, with the help of a lactation consultant, this problem can be solved. Likewise, women who have undergone cosmetic surgery on their breasts should be able to breastfeed successfully. If you have any concerns, talk to your doctor.

Avoid the use of pacifiers or bottles until breastfeeding is well established, which usually occurs after the first month of life. Giving it to the baby before that time can generate a “teat-nipple confusion” and cause the baby to lose interest in the mother’s breast.

About feeding with formula

Commercial formula milk is a nutritious alternative to breast milk. Bottle feeding offers more freedom and more flexibility to the mother, and it is easier to know the amount of milk the baby is receiving.

Because babies digest formula milk more slowly than breast milk, bottle-fed babies tend to take fewer intakes than breastfed babies. The bottle facilitates the feeding of the baby in public and allows the father and other family members to help feed him, which can help strengthen emotional ties .

Limitations of feeding with formula

Just as breastfeeding has its own requirements, so does breastfeeding with formula. Bottle feeding requires organization and preparation, especially if you want to go out with your baby. In addition, formula milk is quite expensive.

It is important to make sure you have enough formula milk on hand, as well as bottles that are clean and ready for use.

Here are some recommendations to feed a baby with formula:

  • Carefully follow the directions on the label to prepare the formula.
  • Bottles that are out of the refrigerator for more than an hour and the remains of formula already prepared that remain in the bottle should be discarded.
  • Prepared bottles can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours and can be heated carefully before giving to the baby. It is not necessary to heat the formula, but most babies prefer it that way.
  • The bottle can be heated by holding it under a stream of hot running water or by placing it in a pot containing hot water. The bottle (breast milk or formula) should never be heated in the microwave. The milk can heat up unevenly, leaving hot parts that could burn the baby’s mouth.

How often do newborns eat?

Your newborn will make between 8 and 12 shots a day during the first weeks of life. At first, mothers can breastfeed the baby for 10 to 15 minutes in each breast and then modify the duration of the feeding as needed.

Breastfeeding should be on demand : that is, the breast should be offered to the baby when he is hungry, which usually happens every one to three hours. As the newborn grows, you will need to nurse less often and spend more time between shots. Newborns fed formula milk will take between two and three ounces of milk every two to four hours. Newborns should not spend more than four to five hours without being fed.

The signs that indicate a baby is hungry are the following:

  • move your head from one side to the other
  • open mouth
  • take out the tongue
  • put your hands and fists in your mouth
  • put the lips as if to suck
  • rubbing against his mother’s breasts
  • cry

It is not necessary to follow a feeding schedule; Over time, you and your baby will establish a routine. Babies know (and let their parents know) when they are hungry and when they are satisfied. Watch for signs that your child is satisfied (slow down, release bottle or breast, close mouth, get away from the breast or bottle) and stop feeding him when he detects them.

As your baby grows, you will start eating more at each feeding and will lengthen the periods between feedings longer. There will be times when your baby will seem more hungry than usual. Continue feeding on demand. If you breastfeed your baby, do not worry: breastfeeding stimulates the production of milk, and it will adapt to the needs of your baby.

How can I know if my newborn baby eats enough?

Often, new mothers worry that their babies do not eat enough. It is important that all newborns visit the pediatrician between 48 and 72 hours after being discharged from the hospital. During this first visit, the pediatrician will weigh and check the baby, and resolve any questions or questions that you and / or your partner have about feeding the baby.

You can be sure that your baby is eating enough if he seems satisfied, wetting between six and eight diapers a day, moving his belly regularly, sleeping well, being alert when he is awake and gaining weight. If your baby is upset, cries, seems hungry and does not seem satisfied after feeding, he may not be eating enough. If you are worried that your baby is not eating enough, call the doctor.

Many infants regurgitate a small amount of milk after taking or while belching, but babies should not vomit after taking. If you vomit after each feeding, you may have an allergy, a digestive problem, or a problem that requires medical attention. If you are concerned that your child regurgitates too much, call the doctor.

Should newborns receive nutritional supplements?

Breast milk has the perfect combination of vitamins and iron easily absorbed by newborns. A healthy baby suckled by a healthy mother does not need any vitamin or nutritional supplement, with the exception of vitamin D .

The AAP recommends that all breastfed infants begin receiving vitamin D supplements in the first days of life and continue to take them until they drink enough milk formula or milk fortified with vitamin D (starting in the year).

Iron-enriched milk contains the right combination of vitamins and minerals for a baby, so supplements are usually not necessary. Infants who drink less than a liter (or about a quart) of formula milk per day may need vitamin D supplements.

Water, juice and other foods are usually not necessary during the first 6 months of life. Breast milk or formula provides everything a baby needs from a nutritional point of view until he starts eating solid foods . Talk to your pediatrician if you have questions about how to feed your newborn.


This article is purely informative, we do not have the power to prescribe any medical treatment or make any kind of diagnosis. We invite you to go to a doctor in the case of presenting any type of condition or discomfort.