Breastfeeding is Best for Baby
By Dr. Sally Robinson and Dr. Keith Bly
One of the first choices that parents have to make is whether their
baby will be breast or bottle-fed. Though this is a personal choice,
there are many benefits to breast-feeding that parents should consider:
Breast-feeding allows antibodies to pass from mother to baby.
Antibodies are produced by the body as defense from conditions,
such as ear infections, diarrhea,allergies, whooping cough, and
coughs. Breast-fed babies often have fewer infections than babies
that are fed formula.
Breast milk is easier for a baby to digest and contains more
nutrients that your baby needs.
It is free.
Breast-feeding is more convenient because there are no bottles
to mix or sterilize and breast milk is free from bacteria.
It does not have to be heated, unless it is pumped and stored
Pumping breast milk can allow either parent to feed the baby and
allow for the same flexibility that bottle-feeding. Babies that
are fed formula may have more gas and firmer bowel movements than
those fed breast milk and formula does not provide antibodies. If
possible, do not microwave your babys bottles. Microwaving
changes the composition of breast milk and heats it irregularly
and may burn your baby. Always check the temperature of any bottled
milk by squirting a few drops on your hand before you feed
you choose to breast-feed your baby, make sure that you let the
hospital staff know so that your baby is not given a bottle. Breast
milk may take a few days to come in, especially if you have been
given pain medication or anesthetics during delivery or a caesarean
your baby as soon as possible after birth. If you are having problems
finding a comfortable position or your baby is having trouble latching
on properly, ask a nurse to help you. It may take a few tries before
your baby latches on properly. You may have to wake your child up
to eat to ensure that he or she is getting enough to eat and that
your milk supply will increase. Newborns may seem to nurse constantly
during the first few weeks of life.
distractions to a minimum while feeding your baby. It may take a
few days before you find the most comfortable feeding position for
you and your baby. To make nighttime feedings easier, you may want
to consider putting your childs crib or bassinet in your room
for the first few months, but only if there is no smoking in the
is associated with a higher risk of sudden infant death syndrome.
For nighttime feedings, keep the room dark and stimulation to a
minimum. This will encourage your baby to fall back asleep. Because
babies grow at different rates, you may wonder if your child is
getting enough nutrients to develop properly. Four to six wet diapers
per day is a good indicator that your child is getting enough to
may not be an option for mothers with medical conditions, such as
HIV, AIDS, or some types of hepatitis and those undergoing chemotherapy
or treatment with certain medicines. Check with your doctor if you
have any of these conditions.
Sally Robinson is Professor of Pediatrics, and Dr. Keith Bly is
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical
Branch at Galveston Children's Hospital. For more information, visit: