There are about 4200 species of mammals in the world including humans. One of the important ways in which mammals distinguish themselves from other classes is that they feed their young ones. Except humans no other mammal has even thought of an alternate to this great gift of nature.
All medical bodies of the world today strongly recommend breast feeding. With reference to the question on what is best for the baby, it goes without saying that breast feeding is best for the baby. The bigger question is why and for how long.
WHO Recommendations for Breast Feeding :
World Health Organization recommends exclusive breast feeding for 6 months for all babies. Semisolids are recommended after six months with continuation of breast milk. Hence ideally speaking no milk should come into the life of the baby till one year of age.
Breast milk is actually tailor made for each baby. The composition of breast milk of the mother of a preterm baby is different from the composition of the breast milk of a term baby. Further, as the baby grows, the composition of the breast milk also changes as per the need of the baby.
Advantages of Breast Feeding:
Some of the advantages of breast feeding are as follows:-
- It is free and is always available.
- The nutrient contents of breast milk are perfect for the baby. The content may vary from the mother of a preterm baby to a term baby.
- It has various factors which confer greater immunity to the baby to fight infections.
- It has also been thought to prevent against various allergic disorders like asthma.
- It may prevent the baby from diseases like diabetes and cardiac ailments when he grows old.
- There is data to show that breast fed babies may have higher IQ.
- It reduces the chances of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
- There is less chance of baby getting obese.
- It is easily digestible.
- It also helps the mother lose weight more easily and enhance the mother baby bonding
Breast milk vs Formula milk:
Formula milk is sometimes a compulsion in view of medical reasons. The method of administration of formula milk can be either by a feeding bottle or by ‘katori and spoon’.
The problems of formula milk may range from intolerance of feeds to greater chances of obesity. More important here is to emphasize that feeding by a feeding bottle is more harmful. This not only increases the chances of infections of chest, stomach, mouth, dental caries and so on, but also habituates the child to the bottle to the extent that he does not take the semisolids well after six months. This often results in iron deficient babies with problems of ear infections, recurrent respiratory tract and gastrointestinal tract infections and so and so forth.
Concluding its best to emphasise that there is nothing that compares with breast feeding. Formula milk may be resorted to only under special circumstances when breast feeding is medically contraindicated. Even when the need arises bottle should never be resorted to in the child’s lifetime. Bottle feeding is injurious to baby’s health.