Breast Milk or Formula? A Complete Guide

Article By
Published On
13 Jul, 2021
Read Time
3 minutes

Midwives, doctors, and the World Health Organisation recommend that babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months of their life. But there're many reasons why parents might need to make the switch from breastfeeding to bottle feeding at any stage.

When it comes to bottle feeding, there's no doubt that expressed breast milk is the most natural source of nutrition for your baby, but for parents who give their baby formula, there's no need to worry. There are advantages of bottle feeding with either breast milk or formula, and we're here to support you and provide the information you need to know. 

Breast milk or formula: How do I know which one to choose?

When it comes to choosing whether to give your baby breast milk or formula in a bottle, there's no right or wrong choice, just what's best for you and your baby. Let us help you decide which option is best for you and your unique journey.

Bottle feeding breast milk

Breast milk is natural food for your baby, filled with all the specific nutrients that they need. It's like their own favourite unique recipe that's made by you just for them. Expressing breast milk using a pump and feeding it to your baby in a bottle rather than directly from the breast means that they'll still be able to enjoy all the nutritional advantages of breast milk. 

Some of the many benefits of breast milk include...

  • It's easy to digest and reduces the likelihood of your baby getting constipated or gassy
  • It ensures your baby gets all the nutrients they need and adapts depending on their individual needs
  • It can help protect your little one from illnesses such as obesity, cardiovascular disease, asthma, and diabetes down the line
  • The more breast milk you produce, the lower your risk of developing serious diseases such as breast cancer, ovarian cancer, osteoporosis, and obesity
  • It's free and natural
  • It supports your baby's immune system

Bottle feeding formula

There's lots of support out there if you do want to continue breastfeeding or expressing your breast milk. But if you do choose to feed your baby formula in a bottle instead, you should discuss your options with your doctor, midwife, or health care provider.  

The truth is, some parents are unable to breastfeed or express breast milk, and the only other option available is to give their baby formula milks. These milks are specially developed and balanced with all the nutrients a growing baby needs to thrive. They're made to mimic the nutrients of human breast milk.

If you do give your baby formula milk, there's no reason for you to feel guilty. Your baby will still grow and thrive. If you and your baby are happy and healthy, that's all that matters.

Giving your baby formula milk in a bottle means that...

  • You have a little more freedom. Formula feeding can be more convenient for some parents, and there's no need to use a breast pump
  • Your partner and family members can be more involved with baby's feeds
  • You don't have to worry about what you eat. If your little one is allergic to dairy or soy, you might need to adjust what you eat if you're breastfeeding. If this is the case, formula can be helpful as it comes in dairy- and soy-free varieties
  • Your baby may stay fuller for longer
  • Your mental pressure is relived if medical issues have prevented you from breastfeeding, your breast milk supply is low, or you've felt overwhelmed by breastfeeding

Can you mix breast milk and formula?

Yes, you can. In some cases, parents choose to feed their baby both breast milk and formula milk in a bottle.

This is known as combination feeding and can be really helpful for parents who intended to exclusively breastfeed their baby, but their plans haven't worked out for whatever reason.

It can also be a practical choice when parents are planning to go back to work, or experience a drop in their milk supply.