Different moms have different needs. For some, breastfeeding isn’t an option, for either medical or personal reasons.

Breastfeeding vs Formula: Why Breastfeed?

If you can breastfeed, this is definitely the way to go. Breastmilk has hundreds of ingredients to build strong bodies and brains, and scores of special immune boosters (even white blood cells) to enhance immunity and prevent illness…and it reduces SIDS.

In addition, breastmilk is always clean, warm, and available (which will save you hours of time and hundreds of dollars). Breastfeeding can also help you lose weight (your baby sucks out of you as many calories as you’d consume running 3-5 miles a day). Amazingly, nursing can even reduce your risk of breast and ovarian cancer!

Breastmilk vs Formula: Why Formula Feed?

If you don’t breastfeed, there are several good formulas available that will deliver all of the nutrients your baby needs. Formula is easy to work around your sleep schedule. (At bedtime, just put a thermos of clean warm water and a baby bottle with pre-measured formula powder by your bed. Then, when your baby gets hungry, mix them together and voilà! You have fresh formula without having to totter down to the kitchen and start from scratch.) Formula also allows your partner to give a feeding, giving you the chance to catch up on a little sleep.

Is It Okay to Breastfeed and Formula Feed at the Same Time?

Supplementing breastmilk with formula is perfectly fine—in fact, it’s preferable to dropping breastfeeding altogether. It’s especially helpful if you have difficulty expressing breastmilk. Keep in mind that your body will adjust to the number of times you breastfeed, so as you breastfeed less, you will start to produce less breastmilk. However, combining breastmilk and formula is recommended over completely dropping breastfeeding altogether.

Breastfeeding vs Formula: The Decision is Yours

While the discussion about whether to breastfeed or formula feed has sparked an ongoing debate, ultimately, the best way to feed a baby is up to you. Though breastfeeding has proven health benefits, it doesn't come easily for all moms. If breastfeeding isn’t an option, then formula is a great alternative. At the end of the day, what really matters is that baby’s getting fed—and breastfeeding isn’t causing undue physical or emotional stress on Mom. For more information on breastfeeding and breastmilk, check out these helpful articles:

About Dr. Harvey Karp

Dr. Harvey Karp, one of America’s most trusted pediatricians, is the founder of Happiest Baby and the inventor of the groundbreaking SNOO Smart Sleeper. After years of treating patients in Los Angeles, Dr. Karp vaulted to global prominence with the release of the bestselling Happiest Baby on the Block and Happiest Toddler on the Block. His celebrated books and videos have since become standard pediatric practice, translated into more than 20 languages and have helped millions of parents. Dr. Karp’s landmark methods, including the 5 S’s for soothing babies, guide parents to understand and nurture their children and relieve stressful issues, like new-parent exhaustion, infant crying, and toddler tantrums.

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Disclaimer: The information on our site is NOT medical advice for any specific person or condition. It is only meant as general information. If you have any medical questions and concerns about your child or yourself, please contact your health provider.