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Should I breast or bottle feed?

Every new mother needs to answer this question: Should I breastfeed or give my baby a bottle?

  • Almost all women are physically able to breastfeed their infants. Breast size (small or large), inverted nipples or lack of experience do not prevent breastfeeding in most cases. If you can breastfeed, doing so will provide the best possible nutrition for your baby.
  • For some women, work, general health and other circumstances may make breastfeeding impractical. In these cases you should not feel guilty. Millions of children have grown and developed well with bottle feedings.

Getting ready to breastfeed

For millennia, mothers have breastfed their babies. Nevertheless, many women feel unprepared and anxious about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding requires little equipment beyond a nursing bra. But you may want some small plastic containers for storing breast milk, a breast pump and a few other items. The hospital will often give you a starter supply of containers and help you find the other items you need to start breastfeeding your infant.

Getting ready to bottle feed

If you choose not to breastfeed, you can prepare for bottle feeding by obtaining a supply of formula, bottles and nipples. You may also want to get a bottle brush and drying rack to make cleaning bottles easier.

Even if you do breastfeed your baby, you should have bottle feeding equipment on hand in case you're not available when your baby wants to eat.

Many commercial formulas provide excellent infant nutrition. Discuss a choice of formula with your baby's doctor. Hospitals rarely give out samples of formula as they once did.

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Source: Children's Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota

First published: 05/15/2001
Last updated: 10/14/2007

Reviewed by: Michael Slama, MD, Allina Health Mercy Women's Health Clinic