You don’t have to be a baby expert to know that when it comes to feeding a baby, breastfeeding is the best option to go for with most babies. It is also usually a much less expensive option than buying formula. Breastfeeding provides your baby with a whole host of health benefits. It will also provide nursing moms with some too.
But let us be honest here, if you have a baby that is still waking frequently during the night, the health benefits of breastfeeding are probably among the last things that you are thinking about during those middle of the night feeds. Instead, you are more likely thinking about how tired you are, and wondering how on earth you can get your baby to start sleeping more regularly at night. You might even feel like you are a bad parent because of it.
Some breastfeeding mothers might find themselves wondering if formula milk is the best solution to the problems that they are experiencing. They may wonder if adding a bit of formula to their baby’s diet might encourage them to sleep more and for longer. And a few particularly exhausted moms may even toy with the idea of completely switching over to formula altogether as the solution to prevent their babies’ waking up at night. This is because for some babies, breastfeeding simply is not enough to fill them up.
Does it actually work?
This question can be answered in just a few simple words: most likely not. If you are a mother that is breastfeeding and are having issues with your milk production, and if your baby is not getting enough to eat because of this, then giving them formula may help your baby to sleep better, simply because it would give them the nourishment that they are not getting from nursing. However, this is not a problem that the vast majority of nursing moms experience. In fact, it is often the case that when mothers think they are experiencing low milk production, they actually are not. If your baby is feeding just fine, then adding an occasional bottle of formula in here and there, or switching over to formula altogether, is not likely to help them sleep any better.
The logic behind assuming that formula will help babies to sleep better is easy to trace back to. Formula takes a lot longer for a baby’s digestive system to process than what breast milk does. Because of this reason, formula fed babies tend to need fewer feedings per day than do what breastfed babies do. What is more, babies tend to drink more from a bottle than what they do from a breast. Add all of these things together, and it is rather easy to assume that formula fed babies must sleep a lot better than breastfed babies since they will not wake as much from being hungry.
The truth is that baby sleep is not as simplistic as that. This way of thinking assumes that the only reason a baby wakes during the night is because they are hungry, but that is simply not the case at all.
Is it worth switching to formula?
Some breastfeeding mothers reach a point of desperation and begin thinking if weaning their baby completely to formula is the solution in order to achieve a better night’s sleep. This is not a strategy that is recommended by medical professionals or baby experts. Instead, mothers should continue nursing and begin to work on establishing good, healthy sleep habits with their baby.
An additional side note; other breastfeeding mothers might consider making the switch over to formula for a different reason. They might be feeling pressure to switch because their babies are not putting on weight at the rate that they should be, or maybe even because a paediatrician has started using the label of failure to thrive when discussing the growth of their baby. This can be a scary thing for new mothers to experience. On one hand, they want to keep on breastfeeding their baby, but on the other hand, they fear their baby is not getting enough nourishment to thrive. It is often the case that when mothers find themselves in this position that they may wonder, “Should I just give up nursing altogether and switch over to using formula instead?”
Any mother that is considering switching to formula out of concern for the growth and development of their baby growth and development can find more information; Kendamil Stage 2 on the link. They should also consider consulting the WHO chart and asking their doctor or midwife to look it over with them.
If you already regularly offer your baby bottles of formula while nursing, it may affect your own milk supply, since nursing is based on the principle of supply and demand. A baby will need less breast milk if they regularly get a bottle of formula each day, which will naturally lead to a drop in supply.
If your baby is a new born, then constantly switching back and forth between breast and bottle can cause nipple confusion which is when your baby may become frustrated at the breast when they go back and forth between the breast and the bottle. You should consider waiting to offer any formula until nursing is well established (this is usually during the first 4 – 6 weeks). By this point, nipple confusion should not be a problem.
Remember that formula is harder to digest than breast milk and contains ingredients that your baby may not yet be able to easily digest.
Change their sleep habits and not the food
Whilst some mothers will notice a marked improvement in sleep after night weaning, ultimately, changing their baby’s food source probably will help them sleep any better. However, they should not let that discourage them. Even though the solution to your baby’s sleep issues may not be as straightforward and simple as adding or switching to formula milk, rest assured that there is a solution out there that will work.
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