Which is Healthier- Infant Formula Or Breastmilk?
There is only one way to feed a newborn, with milk. While this simple truth is agreed on by all, the next question to usually surface is whether to feed your child European infant formula, breast milk, or a combination of both. The choice of what to feed your child is personal, but it is best to make the decision armed with enough information to make the right choice for your family. There is a difference in overall cost, infant health, and even basic sleeping patterns. Both options are suitable and safe, but let’s compare the two in detail to determine which is healthier.
How Similar Is Breast Milk and European Infant Formula?
Both infant formula and breast milk offer hydration, energy, and nutrients your child will need to grow up healthy and strong. Breast milk is naturally the perfect food for newborns and infants as they grow. The human body has evolved over the years, but one thing has remained the same, breast milk. It is a complex mixture that offers a wide range of health benefits for babies during all stages of development. Breast milk also adapts on the fly to meet the individual needs of the child according to their environment and personal feeding habits. The milk from the human breast also is formulated to support the proper development of human immune systems, digestive systems, and brain.
Cow milk is a healthy alternative for human infants, however, naturally, it tailored to meet the needs of baby calves. It is processed and refined so that human infants can digest it safely in the form of baby formula. European infant formula is made to be as close to breast milk as possible, but it doesn’t offer all the benefits that come from breast milk.
Is Cow’s Milk Actually Safe?
Cow milk has a high sodium concentration that is actually harmful to infants. The level is so high it can actually be toxic for babies. This is one of the main reasons infants are not given regular cow milk until they are at least 12 months of age. Of course, infant formula is processed to regulate sodium levels and make it tolerable for infant consumption.
What Makes European Infant Formula So Efficient?
Infant formula comes in so many different formulations, flavors, and compositions. Ingredients will vary from country to country and even from brand to brand. Traditional infant formula, including European infant formula, is generally made from cow’s milk or goat's milk proteins. These proteins are then mixed with stabilizers and emulsifiers to help the ingredients coalesce when a bottle is prepared.
Goat milk-based and cow milk-based European infant formulas contain lactose which is a natural sugar that comes from milk. Breast milk also contains lactose. Other sugars such as maltodextrin are also included in most infant formulas. High-grade plant-based oils such as organic palm oil, omega-3s, and other fatty acids are also included. All European infant formulas are enriched with minerals, vitamins, and DHA to support healthy development. These are sourced from both plants and animals. Other amino acids in addition to healthy enzymes are also added to support gut health. European infant formulas commonly add both pre-biotics and probiotics in their infant formulas.
Soy-based infant formulas contain all of the same ingredients but use other sugars instead of lactose. Most soy formulas are specialized for infants who have food allergies or other special dietary needs. Infant formula is a very healthy option for those seeking to give their child the best start in life. Breast milk is customized, however, infant formula is able to match the nutritional content almost exactly. It helps infants to grow, develop, and even thrive as well as breast milk.
What Makes Breast Milk So Efficient?
Your infant starts benefiting from your breast well before they are even born. Your infant's newborn stomach is lined with colostrum that acts as a seal. Following birth, your milk will mature as your infant grows offering him or her customized nutrition to meet their dietary needs. Breast milk also contains essential antibodies that help keep your infant from getting sick, and it also contains crucial hormones that regulate the appetite and promotes mother and infant bonding. The white blood cells in breast milk help to fight off infection while the stem cells in the milk help to repair and develop your child’s internal organs.
Breast milk also has natural oligosaccharides which are prebiotics that help support healthy gut functions and good bacteria that protect developing digestive systems. The long-chain fatty acids promote proper nervous system, brain, and eye development while the hormones help with steady sleep-wake patterns. Breast milk is able to adapt to the needs of your child in real-time, which is one thing that no manufactured milk can do.
Breastfeeding Or Infant Formula: Which Is Better?
Breast milk is made by nature to be the perfect food for infants. It provides all of the nutrients and minerals a child needs to grow up strong. In addition to healthy development, it offers additional health benefits such as immune system support, extra protection against illness, and even reduces the likelihood of SIDS. Studies also show that breastfeeding can reduce the chance of obesity and behavioral problems in children later in life and so much more.
That being said, babies who are fed European infant formula are also able to thrive. Infant formula has come a long way since it was first invented. It can meet most if not all nutrition needs for infants from birth to their second year. Formula feeding also takes a lot of pressure off of one parent since feedings can be split between partners. In fact, anyone can prepare a bottle and offer your infant the food they need to thrive. Not all mothers are able to breastfeed for a variety of reasons. For some, it may be a personal choice and for others, medical complications may prevent breastfeeding. Whatever the reason, European infant formula is a great alternative. Breast milk will always be the healthiest choice as nature intended, but European infant formula is the next best thing.