A big decision new moms must make for their little one’s nutrition is breast vs. formula.
Some people can be uncomfortable around women while they are breastfeeding. However, if you pull out a bottle of formula, there are those who may criticize you for not feeding your baby what they might consider "nature's perfect food" -- breast milk.
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Welcome to mommy guilt. No matter what you decide, other people will surely have an opinion. Only one thing really matters: Which choice is right for you?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breast milk as the best nutrition for infants. Babies should be breastfed exclusively for the first six months, according to the AAP. After other foods have been introduced, the AAP encourages mothers to continue to breastfeed until baby is at least a year old, and as long after that as both mother and child are willing.
Breast milk is good for your baby in many ways:
It provides natural antibodies that help your baby resist illnesses, such as ear infections.
It's usually more easily digested than formula. So breastfed babies are often less constipated and gassy.
It may lower the risk of sudden infant death syndrome in the first year of your baby's life.
It may raise your child's intelligence. Studies show breastfed babies have higher levels of cognitive function.
Breast milk may even help your child in later years, by reducing the risk of being overweight, and of developing asthma, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, Hodgkin's disease, leukemia, and lymphoma.
Breastfeeding is good for moms, too. Women who breastfeed have a reduced risk of breast cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and ovarian cancer.
But let's not forget a key reason many new moms want to breastfeed. It's a wonderful bonding experience with your baby.
Breast milk can also be pumped which will allow for public feedings and other family members to participate in feeding.
Formula feeding is also a healthy choice for babies. If you use a formula, your baby will get the best possible alternative to breast milk. (You should not attempt to make your own formula or feed an infant cow's milk.)