We have all heard the old adage, “breast is best”. And it is true. Natural breast milk from the healthy birth mother is superior to all other forms of baby milk including formula.
“Human breast milk is the Rosetta Stone of food and nourishment”
– Drs. Katie Hinde and J. Bruce German, authors of Human Milk
Several studies have described the benefits of breast milk: breast fed children have higher intelligence and greater academic potential, they are more robust and healthy, they have lower rates of autoimmune disease and allergies, breastfed infants have reduced rates of respiratory illnesses and ear infections, as well, breastfed babies can be more attached and secure.
There are so many benefits to breastfeeding largely because of the composition of breastmilk. Breastmilk is tailor made to your baby and their stage of growth. Each stage has varying amounts of proteins, fats, minerals and vitamins, with the amount of each specific to your baby’s needs at that time. Breastmilk is composed of hundreds of substances, with over one hundred fats alone. Manufactured formula does not come close to including all of those ingredients and falls short in providing all of the necessary nutrients.
Formula is a mix of a base, usually cow’s milk, and supplement ingredients such as sugars, vegetable fats, processed proteins, synthetic vitamins, minerals, nucleotides and DHA. Even with a basic knowledge about nutrition you can probably identify some of the problems with these ingredients – cow’s milk can be difficult to digest, vegetable fats can easily go rancid and processed proteins and synthetic nutrients often lack bioavailability. Formula is also missing very important elements including probiotics, good bacteria, and more complicated fatty-acid chains.
Breast milk is the best first food option for your baby. Any argument otherwise falls short. But sometimes offering your baby breast milk is not an option. There are situations where breast milk may not be the best option, such as when the birth mother is not healthy, the birth mother is not available (such as in an adoption situation), or when the birth mother is unable to supply enough breast milk (research indicates that 5% of new mothers are challenged to produce enough breast milk). In these cases there are other options that may be better than offering the baby formula. These options include using donated breast milk and making your own milk.
If these options are attractive to you a simple google search will help you explore donor milk options. And the Weston A. Price foundation has an excellent article on how to make your own baby’s milk: Homemade Baby Formula