It’s a scientific consensus that breastfeeding a baby has major benefits that go a long way. The essential nutrition the baby needs to grow, the bolstering of their immune systems to resist infections, and reducing the risks of SIDS as well as many other babies and maternal health benefits all come with breastfeeding. (1)
In fact, due to the numerous advantages of breastfeeding, it’s recommended by medical experts and organizations such as the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP) to feed your baby on breast milk entirely for the first 6 months of their life. (2)
Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to breastfeed regularly or even at all due to low milk supply, medical conditions or practical reasons. Some parents are lucky enough to have twins, or better yet, triplets! As amazing as it is, you might be finding that there isn’t’ enough milk supply to go around.
Therefore, finding a formula that’s closest to breastmilk is the next best thing for supplementing or replacing breastfeeding altogether.
Breastfeeding vs. Formula feeding
What is the actual difference between breastfeeding and formula feeding I hear you asking? I mean, people will criticize you for getting your breasts out and feeding a baby in public, but also for not giving your child nature’s own perfect baby food.
You just can’t win sometimes!
Let’s have a look at a comparison between the two, taking into account their practicalities and complications.
More Easily Digested: The baby has an easier time digesting breastmilk than formula, and so digests it quicker. This results in a less gassy or constipated baby and sometimes less colicky as a result.
Boosts Immune System: Which helps your child to fight off invasive pathogens and infections.
Lower Risk of SIDS: Breastmilk may reduce the risk of (sudden infant death syndrome) SIDS. Studies show it to reduce SIDS by 50%. (3)
Lasting Benefits: Studies have shown that breastfed babies are less likely to develop asthma, type 1 & 2 diabetes, Hodgkin’s disease, lymphoma, leukemia and high cholesterol. (4)
Increased Mental Performance: Breastfed babies also show greater cognitive function. Studies have shown a relationship between breastfed babies, brain size and their IQ in later years. (5)
Skin to Skin Contact: The contact between mother and child when breastfeeding is said to strengthen their bond and incite an emotional response of love in both mother and child.
Benefits Mom: Breastfeeding benefits you as the mom too, giving you a reduced risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and osteoporosis.
Public Feeding: Due to the norms established in society, some mothers just don’t feel comfortable feeding in public.
Disease Transmission: Certain diseases that pass through bodily fluids such as HIV can be passed through breast milk.
Sore Nipples: Breastfeeding can hurt sometimes!
Inconvenient: Sometimes you just don’t have the time to sit there and breastfeed your child, especially if you have to go to work or have other obligations.
Can be Difficult: Initially, breastfeeding can be difficult. Sometimes the child doesn’t latch or takes well to the milk at first and this can be stressful for new moms.
Formula Milk Pros
Convenient: It’s quick and easy to prepare, store and feed the child without any pain or as much a time loss.
Added Vitamins and Minerals: Formulas are, well formulated, to have an essential mix of vitamins, minerals, and nutrients which may not be present in optimal quantities in everyone’s breastmilk. Particularly iron and vitamin D.
Calorie Counting: Since the specific nutritional information of the formula is readily available, you have the ability to find out exactly how many calories your child is getting.
Inclusive: We mean that others, such as your partner or other families can join in with feeding your baby, allowing them to bond with your little one too!
Different Varieties: For babies that are lactose intolerant or have other allergies, the formula is a great solution as, for example, soy and lactose-free versions are available.
Slower Digestion: Even though this may make your baby gassier, it may also mean they will stay full for longer. This means fewer feedings are required per day.
Formula Milk Cons
Does not Taste the Same: Formula milk cannot fully emulate breastmilk, and that is in taste too. Some babies who are fed both ways don’t take well to formula milk due to the taste being different.
Missing Out on Advantages: The great boons of breastmilk such as mother-child bonding, increased immune development and others that we have mentioned can’t be obtained through formula milk.
Costs more: You produce breastmilk yourself, and other than pumps or similar accessories it’s free! Formula isn’t and has to be restocked every so often.
Can You Breastfeed and Use Formula at the Same Time?
In scenarios that you do have multiple babies to feed, or that you haven’t got time to breastfeed entirely due to work or other obligations, combining breastfeeding and formula feeding makes sense.
Your child or children are still receiving the benefits of breastmilk but the nutrition and calories are being supplemented by the formula. This helps to ensure they don’t miss out on the nourishment they need to grow.
You can recognize if you do have a low milk supply if your baby still seems to be hungry after a feeding. If you notice this, bring it up with your pediatrician or lactation consultant and they will give you the advice you need to go forward from there.
A downside to note when breastfeeding and using formula at the same time is that breastmilk works on a supply and demand basis. This means that if it’s demanded less, less will be produced.
You shouldn’t see any reduction in breast milk supply if you are only supplementing with formula a couple of times a week. It’s when you are using formula milk daily that you may see a drop in breastmilk.
Why Chose a Formula Closest to Breastmilk?
With all the benefits that breastmilk offers, it seems most reasonable to try and emulate that as close as possible when choosing the best formula for your baby’s development.
This applies especially if you haven’t the ability to breastfeed your baby sufficiently for whatever reason, it would be a shame for them to miss out on the advantages that breastmilk has to offer.
What to Look for in a Formula Closest to Breastmilk
It’s key to remember that formula milk can never be identical to breast milk. Breastmilk contains molecules that can’t yet be synthesized in
The most important function of breastmilk among all of its benefits is that it nourishes your baby and facilitates healthy development. This doesn’t just relate to them gaining mass but also the development of their bodily functions such as their eyes, brain, immune systems, and nervous systems.
For this, we first want an optimum caloric intake and this depends on their size, age and weight. Breastmilk typically has 20 calories per ounce and a general rule to feeding a baby is to multiply their weight in pounds by 2.5 to get the number of ounces they need in a 24 hour period.
For example: A 7lb baby should get around 17.5oz per day. (7 x 2.5 = 17)
We also want the formula to be packed with essential vitamins and minerals such as vitamin D, vitamin E, and nutrients that are also found in breast milk. The best baby formula will also be fortified with iron for which the body has many uses.
The Formula Closest to Breastmilk: Our Pick
A popular formula, that people generally hailed as the closest to breastmilk is a brand called Similac. We love it here because it has all the essentials a baby needs to grow and it also provides a lot of formula for your money.
Similac is an organic formula. It’s Non-GMO so no genetically modified ingredients were used in its creation and has no added artificial growth hormones. We have an article on organic vs regular formula which you are welcome to read to get a bit more info around the subject.
It’s sold at various vendors but you can check out Similac on Amazon through this link.
How to Introduce Formula Milk
As we mentioned previously, formula milk just doesn’t taste the same as breastmilk, and sometimes babies just don’t take to it as well because of that. And babies who are already accustomed to breastmilk are far more likely to protest.
If you already breastfeed and use formula at the same time, introduce formula into the feeding schedule slowly at first so they can get used to switching between the two. Alternate between the two but stick to breastmilk for most feedings.
Once they get a bit more used to the formula milk, you can start introducing it a little bit more into the feeding schedule and gradually increase it until it’s at the amount you want.
If you are starting with formula there shouldn’t be much of a problem introducing it to your baby. They will not have grown accustomed to breastmilk beforehand. If they don’t take to the formula and you have no other option, consult your pediatrician or medical consultant for advice.
Remember that formula milk needs to be warmed before feeding it to your baby and it is advised to not warm it up in the microwave. This is because the microwave can heat the milk unevenly, leading to “hot spots” which can burn your child’s mouth.
Instead, warm the milk by preparing the bottle first and submerging in hot water, that’s somewhere above 70 degree Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit) and test it by dripping some onto the underside of your wrist or using a thermometer.