Have you ever been in a discussion about breastfeeding vs. bottle feeding and been left wondering what is really the best thing for your child?
There are scientific studies that show us the benefits of nursing and more studies that show us all of the wonderful extras that formula-fed babies receive. We’re not here to talk about science today (aren’t you glad!)… But the personal side of baby’s nutrition.
What is best? To me, the answer is obvious. The best thing is breastfeeding and the best thing is formula feeding.
Simply put, there is no best and yet everything is a best.
The mom who chooses to breastfeed and enjoys every last moment of it, crying when the time ends, she has chosen what is best for her family.
The mama who chooses to breastfeed but hates it. Really hates it, but does it for the financial and convenience benefits – she has chosen what is best for her family (btw, this was me, I LOATHED breastfeeding).
The mommy who chooses formula for her little one and researches the best brands and bottles – she has chosen the best choice for her family.
The mom who desperately wants to breastfeed but cannot and does formula or donor milk instead, has had the best choice made for her family.
There are so many ways we can get this parenting thing wrong. It seems that at every turn there are at least a dozen people telling us we are doing everything wrong as mothers. But this one thing, this one thing we have is best. We provide nutrition for our babies. Sometimes it comes straight from our bodies, other times it comes from the store, but either way, baby is nourished. Baby grows, and is fed with love and care.
My oldest is four now and my youngest two. I nursed for a total of 21 months and did formula for nine. The amount of guilt that overwhelmed me when I had to switch my daughter from breastfeeding to formula taught me something important.
I learned that there are innumerable reasons that a family might choose formula and all of them are okay.
Breastfeeding does not earn you extra gold stars in motherhood and using formula does not take those coveted stars away.
Loving our children is how points are earned around here. Every day we are faced with difficult choices that might be different than those of our friends or even our own mothers, every day we aim to choose what is best for our families.
I hope today we can all let go of a little bit of guilt. If your feeding choices did not go according to plan, rest easy that you are still caring for your child in the best way for them. If your choices went according to your plans and yet you were still made to feel less than by other moms because you chose differently, smile today in the knowledge that you made the right choice for your little ones.
Breastfeeding and bottle feeding get the same job done. They are both the right choice for different families and varying situations.
The way you feed your child should never be a burden, and for some that means turning to formula, for others that means extended breastfeeding. For all of us, that means careful planning and the making of a personal decision.
In a few years this won’t matter so much. When you meet moms on the playground every one will be more concerned about who is hitting whom and which child brought the coolest snacks for the play date picnic. The nourishment methods that are oh so important in these first years will soon be a fond memory.
Today, make decisions that will allow you to look back on this time with fondness. Loving your children and making educated choices about their health and nutrition is best. Both formula and breastfeeding can fall into that “best” category on any given day.
Love your kids today, and make the best choices for them. Not the crunchy choice or the mainstream choice, the best choice for your family. Whatever that may be and let’s end the mommy wars together.
If you are looking for more encouragement today, you can read about the absolute best birthing method (it’s probably not what you think!).
If you are in hte middle of transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, read these 5 tips for when baby refuses the bottle!