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Breastfeeding (cont.)

Comparison With Formula-Feeding

  • The ideal food for human infants is human milk. Human milk contains all the right ingredients - protein, carbohydrates, fats, vitamins, minerals, and water - in just the right balance. No formula can make that claim. Infant formula manufacturers attempt to artificially duplicate human milk. Formula feeding is a practice that is relatively recent - about 60 years - compared to the beginning of humankind (not to mention all other mammals) relying on breast milk.
  • Formula does not contain the disease-fighting factors or the digestive enzymes that breast milk has. The nutrients in formula are more difficult for a baby to digest and absorb than the nutrients in human milk, requiring the baby to handle excess waste. Some formulas may have a less than optimal composition by containing too much salt and/or not enough cholesterol, fats, lactose, zinc, and iron, among other nutrients.
  • Some infants fed a cow's milk-based formula may develop allergies to the proteins in the cow's milk. Infants who are allergic to cow's milk often are also allergic to "hypoallergenic" (non-allergy-causing) soy formulas.
  • During the early months, a formula-fed baby may develop signs of allergy to or intolerance of a particular formula. These signs may include the following:
    • Bouts of crying after feeding
    • Vomiting after most feedings
    • Persistent diarrhea or constipation
    • Colic with a distended tense painful abdomen after feeding
    • Generally irritable behavior
    • A red, rough sandpaper-like rash especially around the face or anus or in both places
    • Frequent colds and ear infections
    • Red itchy rash especially in the folds of the elbow and knee joints
      • These signs, or the baby's preference, may lead you through a series of different formulas, often each more expensive than the last.
      • Formula-fed infants may be exposed to a variety of environmental substances used during the preparation of the formula or carried as a minor contaminant from which breastfed infants are protected.
      • The protein in formula (cow's milk or soy-based) may be too large for infants to digest and may lead to stomach discomfort and intolerance to formula.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 8/18/2014
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Patient Comments & Reviews

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