Deciding to Breastfeed or Formula Feed: Making the Best Choice for You and Your Baby

Deciding to Breastfeed or Formula Feed: Making the Best Choice for You and Your Baby

The decision to breastfeed or formula feed your newborn is a significant choice that many expectant parents grapple with. Each method has its own set of advantages and considerations, and the decision ultimately depends on what aligns best with your lifestyle, health needs, and personal preferences. In this article, we’ll explore the key factors to consider when making this important decision and at Lactation Room, our team of IBCLCs understands this is a personal choice and is here to support you along your journey.

Benefits of Breastfeeding:

Breast milk is often touted as nature’s perfect food for infants, and for good reason. It contains a unique blend of nutrients, antibodies, and hormones that support a baby’s optimal growth and development1. Some of the benefits of breastfeeding include:

  1. Nutritional Superiority: Breast milk is rich in essential nutrients that are easily digestible and tailored to the baby’s changing needs. It contains antibodies that boost the baby’s immune system, protecting against infections and illnesses2.
  2. Bonding: Breastfeeding fosters a strong emotional bond between mother and baby. The skin-to-skin contact and close proximity during feeding promote a deep connection that can have lasting effects3.
  3. Digestive Health: Breast milk is gentle on a baby’s developing digestive system, reducing the likelihood of constipation, gas, and other digestive issues4.
  4. Long-term Health Benefits: Studies suggest that breastfed babies have a reduced risk of certain health conditions, such as allergies, asthma, obesity, and even some chronic diseases later in life5.

Considerations for Breastfeeding:

While breastfeeding offers numerous advantages, it’s important to be aware of the potential challenges:

  1. Time and Demands: Breastfeeding requires a significant time commitment, especially in the first few months. Mothers need to be available for frequent feedings, which can sometimes feel overwhelming.
  2. Physical Discomfort: Some mothers experience sore nipples, engorgement, and other physical discomforts during the initial days of breastfeeding. These issues often subside and improve with the support and guidance from your IBCLC.
  3. Public Feeding: Breastfeeding in public can sometimes be met with discomfort so determining your level of comfort with feeding your baby in an open setting is important before you have planned outings. Making a feeding plan can reduce worry.
  4. Mother’s Health: Certain health conditions or medications may make breastfeeding challenging or unsafe for the mother and baby. It’s crucial to consult with an IBCLC prenatally before making a decision.

Advantages of Formula Feeding:

Formula feeding provides an alternative that can be a practical choice for some families. Some of the benefits of formula feeding include:

  1. Flexibility: Formula feeding allows both parents to share the feeding responsibilities, providing more flexibility in the daily routine.
  2. Quantifiable Intake: With formula feeding, you can easily monitor the amount of milk your baby is consuming, which can be reassuring for parents when the baby needs to have intake volume monitored.
  3. Scheduled Feedings: Formula-fed babies often have more predictable feeding schedules, which can make planning outings and routines more manageable but remember babies are on their own timeclock and feedings cannot always be scheduled.

Considerations for Formula Feeding:

While formula feeding offers its own set of advantages, there are also considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Nutritional Differences: While infant formulas are designed to mimic the composition of breast milk, they lack some of the unique components that provide natural immunity and other health benefits.
  2. Cost and Preparation: Formula feeding can be more expensive over time due to the ongoing cost of formula. Additionally, formula preparation requires careful attention to hygiene and measuring to ensure proper nutrition.
  3. Allergies and Digestion: Some babies might have trouble digesting certain formulas or could be allergic to the proteins they contain.
  4. Bonding: While formula feeding still allows for bonding between caregiver and baby, the physical closeness and direct skin-to-skin contact of breastfeeding may not be as pronounced.

Making the Decision:

Ultimately, the decision to breastfeed or formula feed should be based on what works best for you, your baby, and your family’s circumstances. It’s important to be well-informed about both options and to consider your personal health, lifestyle, and emotional well-being. Many mothers find that a combination of both methods can be a suitable compromise that meets their needs and their baby’s needs.

Before making a decision, consult with a Lactation Room IBCLC, and they can provide valuable insight and guidance. Remember that there is no one-size-fits-all answer, and what matters most is the well-being and happiness of both you and your baby. Whatever choice you make, feeding time is an opportunity to bond, nourish, and cherish the special moments with your baby.

1. American Academy of Pediatrics. (2012). Breastfeeding and the Use of Human Milk. Pediatrics, 129(3), e827-e841.
2. Hanson, L. A. (2004). Breastfeeding provides passive and likely long-lasting active immunity. Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, 93(Supplement 1), S33-S37. 
3. Feldman, R. (2007). Parent–infant synchrony and the construction of shared timing; physiological precursors, developmental outcomes, and risk conditions. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 48(3-4), 329-354. 
4. Lucas, A., & Cole, T. J. (1990). Breast milk and neonatal necrotising enterocolitis. The Lancet, 336(8730), 1519-1523.
5. Victora, C. G., Bahl, R., Barros, A. J., França, G. V., Horton, S., Krasevec, J., … & Rollins, N. C. (2016). Breastfeeding in the 21st century: epidemiology, mechanisms, and lifelong effect. The Lancet, 387(10017), 475-490.
Nourishing the Journey: Prenatal and Postnatal Nutrition’s Crucial Role in Breastfeeding Success

Nourishing the Journey: Prenatal and Postnatal Nutrition’s Crucial Role in Breastfeeding Success

Breastfeeding is a remarkable journey that provides infants with vital nutrients, antibodies, and a strong foundation for healthy development. Prenatal and postnatal nutrition plays a pivotal role in ensuring the success and sustainability of breastfeeding just as pregnancy is critical to feeding your unborn baby to help them grow. These are demanding times for the body and keeping the parent healthy is key. A well-balanced and nutrient-rich diet during both pregnancy and lactation is essential to support the mother’s health and to provide optimal nourishment for the newborn by focusing on postpartum nutrition

Prenatal Nutrition: Laying the Foundation

The importance of prenatal nutrition in relation to breastfeeding cannot be overstated. Adequate maternal nutrition during pregnancy sets the stage for successful breastfeeding and use of prenatal vitamins is a piece of that nutrition plan to stay healthy. Nutrient intake during this period influences breast tissue development, ensuring that the mammary glands are primed for milk production. Key nutrients such as protein, calcium, iron, and omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for both maternal health and the optimal growth of the developing fetus. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends that pregnant women consume a balanced diet including a variety of nutrient-rich foods to support their own well-being as well as the health of their future child.

Postnatal Nutrition: Sustaining Lactation

The journey doesn’t end after birth – postnatal nutrition is equally important. Lactation requires a substantial amount of energy and nutrients, as breastfeeding mothers produce approximately 25 ounces of milk daily. Nutritional deficiencies can affect milk quality and quantity, potentially compromising the infant’s growth and development. Adequate calorie intake, hydration, and a balanced diet are crucial during this phase. The World Health Organization (WHO) emphasizes the significance of maintaining maternal nutrition during lactation to ensure a consistent and nutritious milk supply. 

Crucial Nutrients for Breastfeeding

Several nutrients hold particular importance for breastfeeding mothers. Protein supports milk production and tissue repair, while calcium and vitamin D are essential for bone health and development. Iron is necessary to prevent maternal anemia and ensure proper oxygen transport to both the mother and the infant. Omega-3 fatty acids contribute to the infant’s neurological development. 

Prenatal and postpartum nutrition are the cornerstones of successful breastfeeding. At Lactation Room, our Registered Dietician and IBCLC, will sit with you and ensure you are well prepared and learn how to support your needs and along with the baby. A well-nourished mother is better equipped to meet her own needs while providing the essential nutrients required for optimal infant development. As recommended by healthcare organizations worldwide, maintaining a balanced and nutrient-rich diet during pregnancy and lactation not only ensures the well-being of the mother but also contributes to the lifelong health of her child. The journey of breastfeeding is a testament to the incredible bond between mother and child – nourishing it with proper nutrition lays the foundation for a healthy start to life. Schedule your personalized consultation now.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. (2015). Nutrition During Pregnancy. ACOG Committee Opinion No. 650. Obstetrics & Gynecology, 125(6), 1479-1485.
World Health Organization. (2003). Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding. World Health Organization.
Ballard, O., & Morrow, A. L. (2013). Human Milk Composition: Nutrients and Bioactive Factors. Pediatric Clinics, 60(1), 49-74.
The Infant Microbiome and Its Health Benefits

The Infant Microbiome and Its Health Benefits

The infant microbiome refers to the complex community of microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes, that inhabit an infant’s body, particularly the gut, skin, and other mucosal surfaces.

The Role of Infant Microbiome

These microbes play a crucial role in various aspects of infant health and development, including digestion, immune system development, metabolism, and protection against harmful pathogens.

  1. Development: The microbiome of an infant begins to develop during pregnancy but is significantly shaped during and after birth. During vaginal birth, the baby is exposed to the mother’s vaginal and fecal microbiota, while during cesarean section births, the exposure is different, primarily coming from the skin and hospital environment.
  2. Breastfeeding: Breast milk is a rich source of nutrients for infants and also contains prebiotics that promote the growth of beneficial bacteria in the infant gut. It contains various bioactive components like oligosaccharides that support the growth of specific beneficial bacteria.
  3. Gut-Brain Axis: The gut microbiome has been linked to the development of the gut-brain axis, which refers to the bidirectional communication between the gut and the brain. Emerging research suggests that the composition of the gut microbiome may influence neurological development and behavior.
  4. Immune System Development: The infant microbiome plays a significant role in training and modulating the immune system. Exposure to various microbes helps the immune system learn to differentiate between harmful pathogens and beneficial microorganisms.
  5. Health Implications: Disruptions in the infant microbiome have been associated with various health conditions, such as allergies, autoimmune disorders, obesity, and even neurological disorders. A balanced and diverse microbiome in infancy is believed to contribute to long-term health and begins with the seeding of the gut after birth with the first feeding of colostrum. 
  6. Antibiotic Use: Early and frequent use of antibiotics can impact the development of the infant microbiome. Antibiotics can alter the balance of microbial communities and potentially lead to long-term health consequences. If a birth parent has had significant use of antibiotics over their life, meeting with an Integrative and Functional medicine provider (Insert here) can help determine how to best support their gut health while breastfeeding. 
  7. Diet Diversity: Introducing a diverse range of solid foods to an infant’s diet is important for the development of a diverse gut microbiome. A varied diet supports the growth of different bacterial species. For more information and help with nutrition support schedule with a registered dietician who specializes in pre-and-postnatal nutrition. (Insert Mary Bailey’s Nutrition link here)
  8. Hygiene Hypothesis: The hygiene hypothesis suggests that reduced exposure to microbes in early life due to increased cleanliness and reduced microbial diversity may contribute to the rise of allergic and autoimmune diseases.
  9. Long-Term Impact: The composition of the infant microbiome is thought to have a lasting impact on health throughout a person’s life. However, more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these long-term effects.

The world of the infant microbiome is ever evolving and will continue to expand as research and information is discovered. The important thing to remember is that your body is wonderfully made to support growing your baby and with the proper support before-and-after your pregnancy, you will give your baby the best start in a long and healthy life.

Baby-Led Weaning: Empowering Infants who are Starting Solid Foods

Baby-Led Weaning: Empowering Infants who are Starting Solid Foods

Introducing solid foods to infants is a significant milestone in their development, marking a transition from exclusive breastfeeding or formula feeding for the first 6 months of life to a diverse diet and starting solids. Baby-led weaning (BLW) is an approach gaining popularity among parents and caregivers as an alternative to traditional spoon-feeding methods. BLW involves allowing babies to self-feed with finger foods from the start, encouraging them to explore a variety of textures and flavors at their own pace when looking at solid food for baby.. This method is believed to promote healthy eating habits, fine motor skills, and autonomy while remembering “food is fun” until one year of life and still focusing on nutrition. 

Origins and Principles

Baby-led weaning was first popularized by Gill Rapley and Tracey Murkett in their book “Baby-Led Weaning: The Essential Guide to Introducing Solid Foods.” The method is based on the principle that babies have an innate ability to regulate their food intake. Instead of purees and spoon-feeding, BLW focuses on offering appropriately sized pieces of whole foods that babies can grasp, explore, and eat on their own exposing them to various forms of nutrition. This approach respects the baby’s readiness for solid foods and promotes self-feeding skills from an early age while supporting baby foods and choices.

Benefits and Research

Research into the benefits of baby-led weaning is still ongoing, but some potential advantages have been identified when introducing solids to baby. A study published in the “Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics” (2017) found that infants introduced to solid foods through BLW were more likely to participate in family meals and have a preference for a wider range of foods. Another study published in the “International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity” (2019) suggested that baby-led weaning might have a positive influence on the child’s body weight and eating self-regulation. If we allow a baby to tell us what they feel safe eating, respect their boundaries surrounding food, and let them tell us they are done, we can decrease battles about food, which will help foster a more positive experience with eating. 

Safety Considerations

While baby-led weaning offers numerous nutrition benefits, safety is a paramount concern. Parents and caregivers must be vigilant to prevent choking hazards in their baby food. Foods should be appropriately sized, soft enough to be gummed, and free from potential allergens. Close supervision during meals is crucial to ensure that the baby is handling food effectively and not at risk of choking.

Baby-led weaning is an approach to introducing solid foods that empowers infants to take an active role in their feeding journey, truly making it their own baby food! While more research is needed to fully understand its long-term effects, many parents find that it promotes healthy eating habits and fosters a positive relationship with solid food. As with any feeding method, it’s important for caregivers to be well-informed, follow safety guidelines, and tailor the approach to their baby’s individual needs and developmental readiness.

Rapley, G., & Murkett, T. (2010). Baby-led weaning: The essential guide to introducing solid foods. The Experiment.
Brown, A., Lee, M. D., & Binns, C. W. (2017). Baby-Led Weaning: The Evidence to Date. Current Nutrition Reports, 6(2), 148-156.
Fangupo, L. J., Heath, A. M., Williams, S. M., & Fleming, E. A. (2016). A Baby-Led Approach to Eating Solids and Risk of Choking. Pediatrics, 138(4), e20160772.
Hetherington, M. M., Schwartz, C., Madrelle, J., Croden, F., Nekitsing, C., Vereijken, C. M., … & Coulthard, H. (2019). A step-by-step introduction to vegetables at the beginning of complementary feeding: The effects of early and repeated exposure. Appetite, 136, 137-145.
How Can You Get More Sleep for You and Your Baby Safely?

How Can You Get More Sleep for You and Your Baby Safely?

by Laci Tang, BS, IBCLC, PCD (DONA), CBE

Normal Infant Sleep Behaviors

Human babies are born more immature than other mammalian species. Physical contact with their parent is how human infants are able to compensate for their inability to regulate their own temperature or produce sufficient antibodies to protect them from illness. Frequent physical contact also helps ensure that the infant and parent bond in a physiological and social way. Lots of physical contact between infant and parent is more than a lovely social idea, it is what an infant will need to thrive. These needs do not change during the nighttime hours which is difficult for new parents and is why Western parenting recommendations around infant sleep make nighttime parenting so difficult.

Many of society’s current expectations of “normal” infant sleep are based on research that was conducted on formula-fed infants who experience a longer digestion timeframe than babies who receive breastmilk feedings. Frequent night wakings can be and are normally well past the first year of life. Similar to the learned skills and milestones of crawling, walking, and talking, sleeping without waking develops over time. As caregivers, we can help foster positive sleep conditions for our baby and practice our own good sleep hygiene.

Good Sleep Hygiene Versus Sleep Training

Good sleep hygiene simply means having good sleeping habits, but since sleep is so varied, “good sleep habits” can look a little different for everyone.  Here are just a handful of the recommendations that most experts agree on: 

  • Avoid electronics for at least 30 min or more before bed.
  • Maintain a regular bedtime and wake time, even on your days off. 
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol 4-6 hours before bed.
  • Complete mindful relaxing activities each night before bed. Ex: Stretching, meditation, breathing.

What does this mean for new parents? It’s never too late to start working on your own sleep hygiene. That way when you are shaping your own child’s healthy sleep patterns, the entire family can sleep well together! Good sleep hygiene for an infant can look very similar to adults. Try to avoid having the infant in a room with visible screens, bright lights, or loud music. As bedtime approaches, move slowly, speak softly, and be present with your baby.

You can also create a brief bedtime routine that you do nightly before bed to help trigger sleepiness. Some examples may be: reading a rhythmic bedtime story (babies love repetition), giving your baby a five to ten-minute massage prior to dressing them in their pajamas, or singing them a lullaby. These suggested activities are soothing and relaxing and support a sense of calm and connection for the baby and the parent. There is no one way that works for every baby, just like no two adults sleep the same. It may take time to figure out what works best for your family and your baby. That’s why many parents may feel frustrated with sleep programs or sleep training.

These often require parents to “prescribe” certain techniques, beliefs, or ideas around sleep and they may not be the right process for you and your family. It’s okay not to sleep train. While some of the techniques may work for some babies, for others they may not work at all. If sleep training causes your infant to cry for long periods of time or makes you feel anxious, upset, or sad, it is probably not a good fit for your family. Sleeping and nighttime parenting aren’t meant to be a battlefield. 

If you choose to bedshare with your infant, follow these seven guidelines:

  • No smoking in the home. Secondhand smoke affects infants’ breathing and increases the risks of SIDS. 
  • Breastfeeding parents must be sober.
    • If a partner is present, they must be sober as well.
    • This also applies to over-the-counter and prescription medications that may cause drowsiness. If you need to be medicated, then make an alternate sleeping plan for that night. 
  • The baby is breastfed. 
  • The baby is healthy and full-term. Premature infants and those who are sick may not be able to rouse themselves and are considered higher-risk babies for bed sharing. 
  • Baby is on their back. This is the safest position for babies, whether co-sleeping or not. 
  • Baby is lightly dressed and un-swaddled. This avoids overheating and ensures that your baby is free to adjust to their body. 
  • Parent and baby are on a safe sleeping surface (firm mattress) with:
  • No pillows or comforters near the baby.
  • No cords or wires close by.  
  • No other adults, older siblings, or pets. Newborns should only be in bed with a breastfeeding parent and/or partner.

If you choose to put your baby to sleep in a crib:

  • Still practice good sleep hygiene before bed. Simple, calm routines can go a long way before bedtime. 
  • You can still breastfeed/feed your baby to sleep. Falling asleep at the breast is not a “bad habit.”
  • Always place baby to sleep on their back and if using a swaddle, make sure it does not cover baby’s face or nose.
  • Responding to a baby’s needs at night does not create a lifetime of bad habits but helps build connection and trust with your child. 
  • If using a swaddle, limit daytime swaddling to help the baby differentiate between daytime and nighttime. 

Working with a professional who can help you sustain your breastfeeding journey and work toward good sleep hygiene and habits is helpful. Lactation Room provides consults on safe sleep practices and breastfeeding to help you establish a personal routine for yourself and your family.

Bringing Home the New Baby

Bringing Home the New Baby

by Jenny Busbey, BSN, RN, IBCLC

Help Siblings Continue to Gain Independence with Grace and Love.

When your family grows and it is time to bring home a new baby, it is important to prepare the older siblings for this transition to help welcome the baby home in a positive way. Preparing older siblings for the baby is an important step to help them adjust to their new family members. We’ve outlined a few helpful tips that we’ve found to support older siblings during this transition.

Before the baby arrives, talk to your older child about what is going to happen and let them know that things will change. This change can be scary for many children so discussing this often is helpful. Explain that there will be a new addition to the family and discuss how this will change things a bit for them. Encourage your child to ask questions and to express their feelings about the change. Be prepared many might not be ready and might feel angry.

Some children do better by expressing their feelings through drawing, reading stories, or playing a game with you. New babies will require a lot of attention, and routines may change, and it is important to prepare siblings for these changes. There will be a crying baby who cannot do anything for themselves. It is important to talk with them about how much older siblings can do and how helpful they will be when they do the things they know how to do once the baby arrives. Reminding them of what wonderful helpers they are by continuing to put on their own shoes, pack their lunch, and brush their teeth in the morning and evening independently. Reinforce how helpful they are to the family.

Involve your older child in the preparation for the new baby.

Take them along to your prenatal visits, let them help pick out baby clothes, and have them help decorate the nursery. The more they learn about these changes and what to expect the more you are able to include them in positive discussions about how the new family will look. One thing to consider is that if both the baby and your older child are upset, you should go to the older child first. Make eye contact, get down on their level, and connect with them. Let them know you hear them, and you see them.

It is important to address them first at these moments, sometimes older siblings feel like they do not matter as much because every time the baby cries, the baby gets attention first. Give the older child your connected attention at these times so they can continue to feel loved and then go to the baby together if they want to help. There are many books available that can help prepare older siblings for a new baby. Reading books about babies and how to be a good sibling can help your child understand what to expect.

Spend quality time together.

Make sure to spend special time with your older child before the baby arrives. Let them know that they are still important and loved. Encourage them to make a card or write a letter to the baby. What a wonderful way to begin their sibling bonding before the baby arrives!

Role-playing can help your child understand what it will be like to have a new baby in the house. You can practice holding and caring for a doll or stuffed animal and talk about how the baby will need lots of love and attention. It is another way to reinforce positivity and show them they are going to be a great older sibling.

Set realistic expectations about the new baby.

Be realistic about what your older child can and cannot do. For example, if they are very young, they may not be able to help with the baby as much as they think they can. A great idea is to buy a doll just for a young child. When mom or dad needs to change the baby, the big sibling can pretend to change their baby too. When a baby is being fed, the older sibling can pretend to feed their baby as well. This helps little ones feel like they belong and are being included in the new routine.

Be patient with them, and with you.

Remember that adjusting to a new baby can be a big change for older siblings. Be patient and understanding and give your child plenty of time to adjust. One-on-one time is key, try to schedule 10-15 minutes each day to have individual time with your older child and engage them with things that are important to them. This will help them to feel loved and connected to you and will help with all of the wonderful changes in their lives and within the family.