Benefits of Human Breast Milk Over Formula for the BabiesDr. Ashok Modi
MBBS, MD – Paediatrics
DNB – Paediatrics
Breast milk for babies is hands down the best nourishment that you can offer to your infant. Loaded with antibodies and nutrients, breast milk is good for babies as it ensures that they are protected against pathogens and are in the pink of health. However, there has always been a debate between breastfeeding vs. formula feeding and which one is the better option.
Many believe that formula helps busy mothers who, due to their lifestyle or other pressing needs, are unable to breastfeed. However, experts clearly state that breastfeeding follows a natural process which is always the better choice.
What Does Human Breast Milk Comprise Of?
The first stage of human breast milk contains colostrum which protects the baby’s inner stomach lining; the second phase, that is the transitional milk, helps the baby to grow and develop a healthy body and the third phase, the mature milk, helps maintain this strength and amplify it. Every drop is essential for the baby’s development. It comprises of:
- Stem cells that are necessary for repair
- Lipase – an enzyme that supports the digestive and immune system
- Hormones and nucleotides that play an important role in developing healthy sleep patterns
- Prebiotics called human milk oligosaccharides
- White blood cells
- Good bacteria: Probiotics
- Long-chain fatty acid for brain and eye development
How is Human Breast Milk for Babies Better Than Formula Milk?
1. Living Fluid
Human breast milk is a living fluid that modifies itself as per the growing baby’s needs. The breast milk composition is unique to every mother and baby. This milk helps the baby recognize his/her mother as it has the same smell as the amniotic fluid that nourished while she was in the womb. Formula milk is not a living fluid and is processed from cow’s milk. Sure, it can have all the nutrients, but the natural link is missing which is personal and connecting a baby to mother
2. Breast Milk is Linked to Better Behavior
We are aware that breast milk will improve the cognitive abilities of a baby, but did you know that it also can impact the emotional intelligence? This is something that no milk can mimic
3. Physiological Benefits
As we know that human milk has antibodies and stem cells, it helps fight infections, prevents diseases and unlocks the potential for the baby to have a healthy future. The protective composition in the milk increases and helps fight off pathogens that are making your baby sick. Therefore, a baby who is breastfed recovers faster than the one who has been fed formula. Breast milk also keeps deadly diseases like lymphoma and leukemia away and builds stronger bones.
4. Promotes Optimum Weight
Studies state that breastfed babies are at a 13-14 percent lower risk of developing obesity as breast milk helps maintain an optimum weight gain. This is because of the healthy bacteria that are transferred from milk to the baby’s gut which affects fat storage and reduces the risk of obesity. Breast milk is also rich in leptin, a hunger regulator hormone, that modulates appetite in babies as per their bodies and maintains healthy hunger patterns. So how much breast milk does a baby need to keep obesity at bay? Well, the duration is what matters in this case, but it should be at least 8 times a day.
5. Ensures A Long and Restful Sleep
Though there is an ongoing debate about what helps babies sleep for longer – breast milk or formula, it is clear (thanks to several research articles) that breastfeeding helps a baby fall back to sleep much faster. Breast milk encourages the production of oxytocin that calms the baby down and lulls her into a restful slumber. Other hormones and nucleotides present also help align the sleeping pattern by developing healthy circadian rhythms in babies.
Formula milk can compensate for breast milk but cannot replace it, for it is pure, natural and completely organic that develops along with the baby. However, some mothers might not be able to help their babies with their own milk and may turn to formula milk.
Negate the use of formula by using donor pasteurized breast milk. This will not only overcome the scarcity of natural breast milk but also ensure that the baby gets nourishment from a natural and safe source.