Doctors recommend breastmilk over formula, any day. The amount of natural nutrition that is contained in breastmilk can never be matched by even the most advanced formula. And for a growing baby, there is no substitute for breastmilk.
Having said that, though, not all mothers can breastfeed, due to several reasons. In such situations, baby formula is a good alternative for breastmilk.
Recent research has shown that there is a considerable difference in the weight gained by babies when they are fed by the two different methods. It has been found that babies who are fed formula weigh more than the babies who are breastfed, by about half a kg.
One probable reason for this is the fact that while babies breastfeed, they stop feeding when they are full or satisfied, whereas for babies who are formula fed, they are encouraged to complete the bottle of milk they are fed, whether they are full or not. So, there are chances that formula fed babies consume more milk than they want/are supposed to.
One more reason for this could be that at 3 months, babies start to also consume other foods along with breastmilk, which means that their feeding time might decrease. However, babies who are fed formula might still consume the same bottle of milk along with other foods, which might lead to a significant weight gain.
This might continue up to two years of age, though, because after that, the weight and height levels are almost similar.
There is a standard height-weight chart that has been constituted by the World Health Organization (WHO), which has taken into account parameters like BMI, head circumference, arm circumference, and of course the height and weight of the baby. With rigorous research which involved both breastfed and formula fed babies, this growth chart was constituted and has now come to be used as a standard.
It must be noted that doctors might even recommend formula for babies who breastfeed but are still underweight or don’t match the standard charts. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you breastfeed your baby at least 6 months, after which you can start introducing semi-solid or solid foods along with breastmilk. It is recommended that you breastfeed your baby till s/he is at least 1 year old, and also track her/his growth till then.
The most important aspect to remember, however, is that it is perfectly okay for your baby to fluctuate and not exactly follow the standard charts. There are a lot of factors that affect a baby’s growth, right from genetics to metabolism to body type. At the end of the day, it is essential that you do anything that will keep your baby fit and healthy.
If breastfeeding keeps your little one fit, then go for it. You don’t have to stop because your baby isn’t the same weight or height as the standards recommend.
If you feel at any point, though, that your baby is lacking in nutrition or is too weak for their age, we recommend that you contact your doctor or pediatrician right away.