Bottle feeding

Disadvantages of bottle feeding

As well as considering the benefits of breastfeeding and bottle feeding when deciding how to feed your baby, there are also disadvantages of each feeding method to think about.

Disadvantages of breastfeeding

  • If you have a blood-borne virus, such as hepatitis B or HIV, or if you are taking certain types of medication, such as an anticonvulsant, it can be passed on to your baby through your breast milk.
  • If you are employed, you may need to arrange to breastfeed your baby during working hours, or you may need to extend your maternity leave, which could have financial implications for you.
  • You may feel uncomfortable about breastfeeding in public places.
  • In rare cases (about 2%) you may not be able to produce enough breast milk to feed your baby.

Disadvantages of bottle feeding

  • Babies who are bottle fed using formula milk are more likely to develop illnesses, such as diarrhoea or a chest, ear or urine infection. There is also an increased risk of premature babies who are bottle fed developing a rare but serious condition called necrotising enterocolitis (NEC), where the intestines are damaged due to infection and a poor blood supply.
  • When making formula milk, it is possible to get the mixture wrong and make it too strong, too weak or too hot.
  • There is a lot of work involved in thoroughly washing and sterilising all of the equipment that is needed for bottle feeding.
  • In studies that compared breastfed babies with those who were bottle fed, bottle fed babies were found to have an increased risk of obesity, at least until six years of age.
  • Bottle feeding using formula milk can be expensive.
  • Once you have decided not to breastfeed your baby, it is difficult to reverse the decision and begin breastfeeding.

Combined feeding

If you decide to combine bottle feeding with breastfeeding, you should not introduce bottle feeding during the first six weeks of life. This is because the difference between nipples can confuse the baby, causing feeding problems and interfering with the establishment of breastfeeding.

Glossary

Obesity
Obesity is when a person has an abnormally high amount of body fat.
Blood
Blood supplies oxygen to the body and removes carbon dioxide. It is pumped around the body by the heart.
Last updated: 04 October 2011

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