The strong statement about breastfeeding as a public health issue, and not just a "choice," is a huge step forward in breastfeeding language and thought within the medical community, and I think the AAP should be commended for taking such a stand."Breastfeeding and human milk are the normative standards for infant feeding and nutrition. Given the documented short- and long-term medical and neurodevelopmental advantages of breastfeeding, infant nutrition should be considered a public health issue and not only a lifestyle choice. The American Academy of Pediatrics reafﬁrms its recommendation of exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding as complementary foods are introduced, with continuation of breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant."
I often read and hear people debating about which is "easier," formula-feeding or breast-feeding, with fair points on both sides. There are ways in which feeding formula from a bottle is "easier," and there are ways in which feeding human milk directly from the breast is "easier." I'll even outline a few of each for you here, from my own experience.
Some ways in which formula-feeding is "easier" than breast-feeding:
- Other people can feed the baby without mom having to pump.
- There is a very short learning curve.
- You can see how much the baby is eating.
- Mom doesn't have to worry about what she eats and drinks.
- Mom can be away from the baby for an extended period of time.
- No bottles to wash or prepare.
- You don't have to wake up all the way for the middle-of-the-night feedings.
- Never have to worry about running out of food for the baby.
- Food is always the right temperature, quantity, and composition.
- It's cheaper.
I don't mean to cause you any terrible anxiety about what you feed your kid for breakfast tomorrow or whether you send them to preschool or what brand of jeans you purchase for them. I firmly believe that, for the most part, as long as we follow our instincts as parents, stick to our own moral codes, and, most of all, show our children that we love them, most of our other choices probably will not have lasting impact. However, the choices that are more likely to have long-term consequences for your child's health and well-being should be considered more deeply. So, while having French fries for all three meals one day is not likely to be a big problem, you probably don't want to get your child in the habit of eating that way on a regular basis. (Hey, I have a three-year-old. I sympathize!)
Since studies and statistics and research have shown that there is clearly a difference between breastmilk and formula in the long-term, this is a parenting decision that we need to think longer and harder about and educate ourselves about more, rather than choosing based on what's "easier."