You are on page 1of 5

Wood 1

Martina Wood
English 111
Research Essay
December 22, 2015
The Great Debate: Breastmilk vs. Formula
For many years there has always been a debate between breastmilk and formula, while
both provide children with valuable nutrients they will utilize in order to flourish from childhood
to adulthood there are some distinct differences between the two forms of nutrients. Thoroughly
examining the similarities and differences of the pros and cons, effects on childhood
development, and the physical contents of breastmilk and formula will conclude why a mother
would pick one method of feeding her child over the other.
When comparing and contrasting any two things there will always be pros and cons,
which will ultimately be one of the of the main reasons why someone would choose one thing
over the other, when given multiple options. In many cases new mothers decided that breastmilk
is best for their child because of what they have heard from other parents, doctors, books, and
miscellaneous research. Mothers hear of the benefits for their child such as increased resistance
to infections, decreased risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), good jaw development
which promotes straight and healthy teeth, and reduced risk of some chronic diseases that
develop during childhood. There are also many benefits for the mother herself like her uterus
returning to a normal size more quickly, bonding with the child, reduced risk of cancers, and
breastfeeding also helps the mother return back to pre- pregnancy weight faster (Breastfeeding
vs. Formula). Although breastmilk and breastfeeding has a lot of benefits some of the negative
aspects can divert a mother away from that option. While some mothers do not look at these cons
as a big deal, for others it can be the one concern that stops her from choosing to breastfeed her
child. Some of the things considered to be disadvantages of breastfeeding would be the lack of
freedom some mothers feel that they have, diet restrictions, the risk of passing infections,

Wood 2

physical breast problems, the negative stigma that comes with breast feeding in public, the
inability to measure how much milk the baby has consumed, lack of father bonding, and
embarrassing leaks that can randomly happen throughout the day (Disadvantages of
breastfeeding). When comparing the pros to the cons of breastmilk and breastfeeding one may
assume the pros outweigh the cons but each mother has their own rationale when it comes to
making that decision. Evaluating the positive and negative aspects of breastmilk and
breastfeeding is not enough. A new or expecting mom must look at and examine formula in the
same light. When compared side by side someone may automatically assume that formula is not
the best choice, but each mother is different and her circumstances may promote one form of
feeding over the other. When choosing the formula feed her child a mother may look at the fact
that formula feeding your child is extremely convenient for those who do not have the ability to
constantly be around their child, formula also consistent and does not change based on the
mothers diet, and because formula takes longer to digest mothers have to feed their child less
(Grace). One of the most unfavorable aspects when discussing formula can be directly related to
expense. The growing cost of formula feeding your child is one of the main reasons why a
mother would sheer away from the idea of formula feeding their child. Other negatives such as,
nutritional quality of formula, although good, cannot compare to that of mother's milk,
which provides antibodies to help guard the baby against infection and illness. This is
probably the biggest disadvantage of formula, but most doctors would agree that modern
commercially manufactured baby formulas are high quality and provide adequate
nutrition for a growing baby. (Grace)
Overall both breastmilk and formula both have a great number of undisputed pros and cons that a
mother should take into consideration when making the decision to formula feed of breastfeed
their child.

Wood 3

After fully examining the benefits and disadvantages of breastmilk and formula, the next
step should be to thoroughly see how each one impacts childhood development. How a child
grows both physically and mentally is extremely important because it is initially basing the
future of a child off of how they received their nutrients as an infant. According to a study done
at Brown University, breastmilk is the more beneficial option when evaluating mental growth.
The study made use of specialized, baby-friendly magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to
look at the brain growth in a sample of children under the age of 4. The research found
that by age 2, babies who had been breastfed exclusively for at least three months had
enhanced development in key parts of the brain compared to children who were fed
formula exclusively or who were fed a combination of formula and breastmilk. The extra
growth was most pronounced in parts of the brain associated with language, emotional
function, and cognition, the research showed. (Brown University)
Contrary to the fact that breastfed babies develop more rapidly mentally than formula fed babies,
children who are formula fed typically gain weight more quickly after about 3 months of age
[and] differences in weight patterns continue even after complimentary foods are introduced
(Breastfeeding). After examining the differences in development of children who are either
breastfed or formula fed, the conclusion is that each one has its own benefits. In an interview
conducted in December 2015, a mother stated that she could honestly not see any distinct
differences between her ten-month old who is breastfed and another child who is formula fed
(Rose). Where breastfeeding lacks in boosting childhood development, formula feeding fills in
for it and vice versa.
Examining the pros and cons of breastmilk and formula, then evaluating the differences it
has on growth of a child, leads to the ultimate question: What is in it? Like what is the actual
ingredients of breastmilk and an average can of formula. The contents of breastmilk are
composed of dynamic, multi-faceted fluid containing nutrients and bioactive factors needed for

Wood 4

infant health and development. Its composition varies by stage of lactation and between term and
preterm infants (Ballard). While formula has much of the same supplementary ingredients such
as protein from either cow or soy milk, the fatty acids: DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) and ARA
(arachidonic acid), and vitamins which are required by the Food and Drug Administration, it also
can have some potentially dangerous ingredients that can vary from brand to brand (Kulas). So
while breastmilk and formula essentially have some of the same components, they are very
different. One of the biggest things that differentiate the two is the fact that one is natural and the
other is artificially made.
While breastmilk and formula both set out to do the same thing, they do so in very
different ways. By comparing and contrasting the positives and negatives of each, how each
effects childhood development, and the contents of each form of nourishment, the question of
why would a mother chose one form of feeding over the other becomes extremely complex. The
answer to this question does not come down to whether someone feels like one choice is better
than the other, it simply comes does the mother feel comfortable giving it to her baby given the
circumstances she and her child are currently in and all the aspects of each form of feeding.

Wood 5

Works Cited
Ballard, Olivia, and Ardythe L. Morrow. "Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and
Bioactive Factors." Pediatric Clinics of North America. U.S. National Library of Medicine, n.d.
Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
"Breast Milk vs. Formula." Breast Milk vs. Formula. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
"Breastfeeding as the Norm for Infant Feeding." Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 15 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
"Breastfeeding Laws." Breastfeeding Laws. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Dec. 2015.
"Brown University." Breastfeeding Benefits Babies' Brains. N.p., 6 June 2013. Web. 22
Dec. 2015.
"Disadvantages Of Breastfeeding." : Versus Formula Feeding, Breast Changes,
Embarrassing Nipple Leakages. N.p., n.d. Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
Grace, Elizabeth. "Formula Milk Pros and Cons." Formula Milk Pros and Cons. N.p., 18
Sept. 2012. Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
Kulas, Michelle. "Infant Formula Ingredients." LIVESTRONG.COM.
LIVESTRONG.COM, 09 July 2015. Web. 22 Dec. 2015.
Rose, Valerie. Personal Interview. 17 Dec. 2015.