Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What Nobody Told Me About Life After Baby, Part 2: The REAL Pros and Cons of Bottle Feeding

Please welcome Guest Blogger Reneen with Part 2 of  
"What Nobody Told Me About Life After Baby"

Last time we met I talked about the real pros and cons of breast feeding. Since I didn’t want to end up writing a novella on the ins and outs of feeding your baby (which you’re going to be doing a LOT in the next few months) I figured I’d split this up and save the hard core, nitty-gritty look at the realities of bottle feeding for another day.

Like today.

Why Life on the Bottle Makes Your Life Easier…

It’s not dependent on your milk. Not only does that mean you don’t have to panic about the amount of milk you’re producing (or not, as the case may be), it also means you have more flexibility in your own diet. You can have a Jaeger bomb or the Pancho Villa tonsil-torching special without having to worry about what it’s going to do to your baby’s tender tummy.

You’re not glued to your baby. When you’re nursing, you really have no choice. You have to be there at meal time, or you have to pump around your usual breastfeeding schedule to try and store up enough milk to feed your baby while you’re out. That’s fine if you plan on being with them 24/7, but if you’re going back to work, want to run errands on your own or just need a night out, bottles and formula are much more convenient.
Most kids figure out the bottle pretty quickly, especially if you didn’t breastfeed first. If you’re bottle feeding your kids from the very beginning, they’re going to figure that nipple out fast. So you don’t have the learning curve you have with learning to nurse. It’s a little trickier if you started them out on the breast, but there are plenty of nipples out there designed to make the transition easier. (I’m a fan of Playtex Premium myself, but whatever works for you is fine.)

There’s no social stigma associated with giving baby a bottle. No, you’re not required to care if anyone cares that you’re breastfeeding your baby. But you won’t catch any flack from anybody for giving your baby a bottle in a public place.

Shopping for bottles is fun. I’m not going to lie, this was probably my favorite part of bottle feeding. My daughter had a perfectly matched set of pink and purple bottles, while my youngest (after weaning) had classic Winnie-the-Pooh. There are so many choices out there, it’s a little insane.

…And Why Bottle Feeding Can Be a Giant Pain

Bottle feeding has been linked to ear infections and more illnesses the first year. Not only are you not passing on your own antibodies, you’re also introducing a new way of dining. Kids get more milk, faster, when they bottle feed, which has been linked to an increased number of ear infections the first year of life. Which means more antibiotics for them, more time at the pediatrician’s for you.

You have to wash and sterilize your bottles daily. Bottles need to be washed and sterilized on a regular basis, even if you do cheat and use the dishwasher. Leave them lying around, and the funk in your kitchen is going to make you regret it. But in a day that’s already overwhelmingly full, taking a half an hour to an hour to clean and boil bottles can feel like one thing too many.

You WILL lose pieces. I have bottle tops scattered from New York to California. It doesn’t matter how diligently you try to keep track of them. The darn things grow legs and scurry off the minute your back is turned.

Finding the right formula can be a giant pain in the rear. Allergies, intolerances, colic, reflux, constipation and a whole host of other conditions can affect which formula your baby thrives on and which one you spend the day scrubbing out of your shirt. Most parents change formulas three or four times before they find one that works.

SuperMom Tip: It takes 3-4 days for a formula to work its way completely out of your baby’s system. So if you change formulas and 24-48 hours later they’re still not happy, hang in there. Wait for that 96 hour mark before you make the decision to switch again.

Bad water=Sick babies. There’s a huge debate raging right now about selling baby formula in Third World countries because of a lack of potable water. I used to filter and boil my kids’ water, just to make sure they weren’t getting an overload of minerals or bacteria in every swallow.

The Bottom Line

The bottom line is, breastfeeding and bottle feeding both have their perks. As long as you’re feeding them on a regular basis, and there are no conditions that would suggest otherwise, your baby’s going to thrive. It’s up to you to pick which one is right for you.

Hello kittens, I wanted to interrupt here to add in my own two cents. There are, as this post mentions, pros and cons to both being on the bottle or being on the boob...but it also isnt quite that black and white for some moms. My Claire is currently on a combo of both bottle and boob because she was born early, has a week suckle, and we lost some precious learning days with her being in intensive care. The bottles she gets are not full of formula, just because you are using a bottle doesn't mean you can't have breast milk in it! Pump! My Claire Bear needs a specific amount per feed in order to help her gain weight, so I supplement each of her breast feeding sessions with a bottle of expressed breast milk. I also like to pre-pump out a bottle and give her to Daddy or Gramma from time to time so I can get a nap or glass of wine in! xoxo

Renee Malove is a book addict, a sci-fi fanatic, and the often frazzled mother of three. When she’s not driving the tap dance taxi or cracking the whip over homework time she can usually be found running, curled up with the latest from Patricia Briggs or finding new and inventive ways to bend her furry, four-legged roommates to her will. Oh, and she writes. A lot. You can find her on the web at and talking marketing, parenting, writing and fiction all over the Internet.

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  1. Kami: You're absolutely right! My youngest was on a bottle/breast combo from the very beginning for a number of reasons. He took forever to get the hang of nursing properly, so there were times where at the end of the day I was so sore it was easier to pump than nurse. He quickly reached the point where nursing wasn't enough (especially because I went back to work after a short maternity leave and wasn't nursing or pumping as much as I should have been) and would often take several ounces of supplemental formula after a nursing. And that's not even talking about the gallons I pumped to keep him in bottles when I was on the clock!

    I was actually really glad I'd done it that way, because it made weaning a snap. I can't count how many moms breastfed exclusively, then complained when their baby was eight or nine months old and wanted nothing to do with the bottle. And while I haven't verified it yet, I think it makes the transition to sippy cups a little easier too! All three of mine took to the sippy like a champ.

    That said, even if you're pumping breast milk the same pros and cons do apply (except for the formula related ones). What have you learned about bottle and breast feeding that was completely different from what you were expecting when Claire was born?

  2. Honestly, the main thing I have learned is that for something that is so "natural" it is REALLY FREAKING HARD! But I have learned lots I wish I knew before hand, and am planning a whole blog post on it :)