Bottle Feeding Versus Breastfeeding: What to Know

How you feed your baby is up to you - only you know what’s best for you and your newborn. Read common pros and cons to feeding by breast and bottle.

The Pros and Cons of Bottle Feeding Versus Breastfeeding

Today, moms like you have more options than ever when it comes to feeding your little one breast milk for as long as you choose. The feeding situation and routine that you and your baby find works best is unique to your own breast milk feeding experience. Many moms opt to nurse their baby at the breast, or breastfeed, for as long as possible before implementing pumping and storing breast milk into their routine. Other moms begin pumping right away and choose to alternate between breastfeeding and pumping from the moment their baby is born. Some moms even pump exclusively, though sometimes situations like latching difficulties, low milk supply, or a baby in the NICU make exclusive pumping the only option for providing their little one with breast milk – a commitment that should be recognized and celebrated!

Whatever your situation may be, there are some commonly recognized pros and cons when it comes to breastfeeding vs bottle feeding breast milk. Each option presents its own positives and challenges, many of which you’ll discover yourself through your breast milk feeding journey. Here are just a few to consider:

Nursing – The Positives

  • Promotes a close mother and baby bond through plenty of skin-to-skin contact.
  • Eliminates a greater need for bottles and other breast milk storage supplies.
  • Saves time and effort that would otherwise be spent organizing and storing breast milk and cleaning and sanitizing bottles and pump parts.

Nursing – The Challenges

  • Nursing your little one can be more difficult in public places, though you should never be made to feel ashamed of feeding your baby. Breastfeeding, whether at home or away, is perfectly natural!
  • Nursing can also require a little more time and coordination on your part, since others – such as grandparents, partners, aunts, uncles, and friends – won’t be able to help feed the baby.

Bottle Feeding Your Breast Milk – The Positives

  • Easier to feed your little one when on the go, while multitasking, or when away from home.
  • Allows you to receive more help with feedings, since others will be able to give your baby a bottle. 
  • Pumping and bottle feeding your breast milk is often easier for moms with low milk supply, sore nipples, or inverted nipples, while receiving breast milk through a bottle is also often easier for babies with latching difficulties, cleft palates, tongue ties, developmental delays, and/or babies who were born prematurely.   

Bottle Feeding Your Breast Milk – The Challenges

  • Correctly cleaning your breast pump, its parts, your bottles, and other breast milk storage supplies can be time-consuming.
  • When storing, freezing, and preparing already-pumped breast milk, it is crucial to follow CDC guidelines. Doing so requires careful attention to ensure your stored or frozen breast milk is safe for your baby.

While there is a nearly endless list of other positives and challenges to bottle feeding versus breastfeeding, many moms eventually settle on a routine that combines both nursing and feeding pumped breast milk. In fact, pumping can help alleviate supply issues, especially those that may occur around the time that your hormones are shifting after pregnancy and when you are returning to work. Because milk is produced on a supply and demand basis, pumping while you are away from your baby can help keep your supply strong and provide some flexibility so you can continue feeding your little one with breast milk for as long as you choose.

Ultimately, It’s Your Choice!

How you feed your baby is entirely up to you, because only you know what’s best for both you and your newborn. Ensuring that your little one receives your liquid gold – either by bottle or breast – is what’s most important right now. Whether you decide to breast milk feed with a bottle, nurse your baby directly, or even wean eventually, every drop counts. Remember, your breast milk feeding experience is unique and special to you and your baby!