Breastfeeding vs Formula – The Great Debate

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New parents have long been debating the use of either breast milk or bottled formula milk. While each of these options has its advantages over the other, it might be a good idea to implement a balance between the two, as each is more helpful during different stages of your baby’s life.


Breast milk contains more than 100 ingredients that the formula industry simply can’t duplicate. For example, breast milk is full of antibodies that protect babies from illness and help them develop their own immune systems.


Formula has a higher protein content than human milk. However, babies more easily and completely digest the protein in breast milk, so it may be more healthy to breastfeed during the first few months of growth, as this is when protein storage and build-up is most important.


Breast milk has higher carbohydrate content than formula and has large amounts of lactose, a sugar found in lower amounts in cow’s milk. Research shows that animals whose milk contains higher amounts of lactose experience larger brain development.


Minerals such as iron are present in lower quantities in breast milk than in formula. However, the minerals in breast milk are more completely absorbed by the baby. In formula-fed babies, the unabsorbed portions of minerals can change the balance of bacteria in the gut, which gives harmful bacteria a chance to grow. This is one reason why bottle-fed babies generally have harder and more odorous stools than breastfed babies.


For these reasons, it may be in your baby’s best interest to remain on the breastfeeding diet for the first few months, and then switch to formula once the immune system and digestion have been strengthened.


Healthshare South Africa is one of the most successful hospital and pharmaceutical management service providers in the country, and forms part of the larger Healthshare group, which provides quality services throughout the African continent.


To find out more about Healthshare SA’s portfolio and how to have Healthshare manage your hospital/pharmacy/training program, visit the Healthshare website, or send an e-mail to for further info.

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