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Breast Milk or Formula?

Por Carola Sixto, Editor, Dr. Tango Inc. -

There’s nothing like breast milk. However, there are alternatives if this is not possible. Formulas were created to solve this problem, at least during the first four or six months of age, when a baby can begin to eat solid food. 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding babies during the first six months of life, because human milk contains all the proteins, sugar, and fat the baby needs to stay healthy. In addition, breast milk provides important antibodies and immune factors, enzymes, and white blood cells that protect the baby from many diseases and infections. Allergists also recommend breastfeeding when there is family history of allergies, in order to reduce the risk of food allergies and eczema.

As if it weren’t enough, breastfeeding provides other benefits, emotional and psychological, for both mother and baby.

If possible, the AAP recommends continuing to breastfeed until the baby’s first year of age, or even more, after the baby has begun eating solid foods.

Although breast milk contains all the necessary nutrients, some pediatricians often prescribe vitamin D, which helps absorb calcium and phosphorus. “Breast milk provides vitamin D, which is essential for the baby to develop strong bones. A deficiency of this vitamin can cause rickets, or soft weakened bones,” explains Dr. Jay Hoecker from the Mayo Clinic at

The Formula that Works

Despite these advantages, not all mothers can meet the recommendations of pediatricians, especially because after some time, they must get back to work. There are mothers who manage to organize their time, in order to extract breastmilk before leaving to work and store it in the refrigerator; but when you have no time or your milk production is low, this option is not possible.
Anyway, formula milk contains, in most cases, carbohydrates, vegetable oil, vitamins, and minerals that ensure the normal growth of the baby.

In the supermarket, you can find three types of formulas that may be prepared by mixing with water or ready to use. The last option is the most expensive:

• Cow’s milk: Most formulas are made with cow milk, which is enriched with different nutrients. According to the AAP, iron-fortified milk is the most suitable from birth to 12 months for children who are partially or not breastfed.
• Soy milk: Recommended for babies who are intolerant or allergic to cow’s milk or lactose.
• Hydrolyzed milk: For children with a family history of allergy to milk or soy.

During the first months, milk is the only food for the baby. Therefore making the right choice is important to promote your child’s healthy growth.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics and Mayo Clinic.


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