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Breastfeeding vs. Formula-Feeding: 7 Common Breastfeeding Questions

Breastfeeding vs. Formula-Feeding: 7 Common Breastfeeding Questions

Here are seven common breastfeeding questions to consider when deciding between breastfeeding, formula-feeding, or both.

Medically reviewed by a board certified pediatrician

There’s a lot of information out there about breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding. It’s normal to have questions. Get answers so you can make an informed decision for you and your baby.

Breastfeeding Question #1: Can I breastfeed and use formula?

A: Many parents think they need to choose between breastfeeding and formula, but it doesn't have to be an either-or decision. Lots of parents feed their infants both breast milk and formula at some point during their baby's first few months. Offering both breast milk and formula is more commonly known as supplementing or combination feeding, and some surveys suggest supplementing may help moms breastfeed longer.

Breastfeeding Question #2: Do bottles cause nipple confusion?

A: Babies can experience nipple confusion, but that’s not necessarily due to the bottle versus the breast. Sometimes it can simply be due to a nipple preference. If you’ve been exclusively breastfeeding, your baby may understandably be surprised by a new nipple providing nourishment. You can experiment with different nipple styles to find ones that work best for your baby.

Breastfeeding Question #3: How do I switch from breast milk to formula?

A: There are many reasons parents may want to transition from breast milk to formula. Perhaps mom is returning to work, would like a more flexible feeding schedule, or maybe there’s a medical concern. Whether you want to supplement breast milk or switch entirely, you can be confident that formula will give your baby the nutrition they need to thrive. Here are some tips for switching from breast milk to formula:

  • If you plan to supplement, wait until your baby is three to four weeks old to help ensure you have an established milk supply. 
  • Transition gradually. Start by replacing one breastfeeding session a day with formula. 
  • When feeding your baby a bottle, cradle your little one in an upright, almost sitting position. To allow your baby to control the speed of the formula flow, hold the bottle at an angle tilted just enough to fill the nipple.1 
  • Since a breastfed baby will associate mama with mealtime, baby may transition to the bottle easier if someone other than mom gives those first bottles. Also, if mom has been using a particular chair or location for feeding, it can be a good idea to move those initial bottle feeds to somewhere else in the home. Babies are perceptive, and those little cues matter.

Breastfeeding Question #4: Will formula-feeding decrease my milk supply?

A: Adding formula to your baby's diet after your milk supply is established won’t necessarily make your milk disappear. Typically, your milk production adjusts so that you produce the amount your infant needs. That being said, the less you nurse, the more your milk supply will drop. 

To increase milk supply, you can: 

  • Boost the number of breastfeeding sessions. Milk production has a supply and demand relationship.
  • Offer both breasts during feedings and empty them completely. Hand express or pump if necessary.
  • Pump or express milk often between feedings, which can also help you avoid breast engorgement. 
  • Consider taking lactation supplements, also known as such as galactagogues. These are certain teas and herbs that have been traditionally used to help moms increase milk supply. Some of the most popular ones include blessed thistle, alfalfa, fenugreek, and goat’s rue. Many of these lactation supplements can be found at health food and vitamin stores, but check with your doctor before adding them to your diet.2  

For professional guidance on how to increase milk supply, consider talking to a lactation consultant. They’re specially trained to help moms manage breastfeeding issues.

Breastfeeding Question #5: Are breastfed babies healthier?

A: While breast milk has benefits that infant formula doesn't yet replicate, our Enfamil infant formulas have a range of nutrients and other ingredients to help support your baby’s health, growth, and development, such as: 

  • Prebiotics that help support the immune system.
  • The fatty acids DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA (arachidonic acid) that help support your baby’s brain and eye development.
  • Some of our formulas have additional components found in breast milk, such as lactoferrin that helps support digestive health. 

We also have formulas with targeted nutrition for babies with cow's milk protein allergy and other sensitivities.

Breastfeeding Question #6: Will formula-feeding prevent me from bonding with my baby?

A: Cuddles, kisses, warmth, and comfort happen whether you bottle feed formula or breastfeed. Your baby doesn't know how they’re being fed, only that they’re held, loved, and nourished. Bottle feeding can be a truly rewarding experience for both of you as you create special moments together. So, if formula-feeding lowers your stress levels and keeps you and your baby happy, that's a win for the two of you. 

These tips can help promote bonding while formula feeding:

  • Feed your baby in a quiet, comfy spot free of distractions such as a TV or loud noises.
  • Sing to your little one. They won’t care if you don’t have perfect pitch.
  • Unbutton your shirt and enjoy skin-to-skin contact with your sweet baby. It’ll help release oxytocin, the “love hormone” that promotes attachment.3 
  • Gaze into your baby’s beautiful eyes. That prolonged eye contact can help strengthen your bond.

Breastfeeding Question #7: Does Enfamil offer formula similar to breast milk?

A: From our everyday nutrition formulas to our specialty formulas, Enfamil infant formulas are closer to breast milk than ever before. All have nutrients that breastfed babies may only get from supplements, such as vitamin D. And like breast milk, our formula has important omega-3 fatty acid called DHA, a building block for your baby's brain and eyes.

The bottom line on breastfeeding vs. formula feeding

Try not to stress over the choice between breastfeeding vs. formula-feeding. Ultimately, it's not about breast milk versus formula; it's about what's best for you and your little one.

Thinking about transitioning to formula or adding it into your routine? Learn the best way to make the switch. Have more formula and breastfeeding questions? Chat with your doctor to get even more information.

“To me the first year is about surviving, doing whatever it takes to make baby and family healthy and happy.” – Enfamil® mom

 

All information on Enfamil.com, including but not limited to information about health, medical conditions, and nutrition, is intended for your general knowledge. It is not a substitute for a healthcare professional's medical identification, advice, or management for specific medical conditions. You should seek medical care and consult your doctor, OB-GYN, or pediatrician for any specific health or nutrition issues. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read on Enfamil.com.

References:

  1. When to Introduce the Bottle
  2. Boosting Your Breast Milk Supply With Galactagogues
  3. Breastfeeding vs Bottle Feeding Formula