Whether you decide to breast feed your baby or use formula milk from day one, it’s absolutely your choice and you should feel comfortable about your decision either way – both have plenty of nutritious goodness needed by your baby.

But have you ever thought what the difference is really? Is breastmilk really much better than formula? And will my child be unhealthier or disadvantaged if I just give them formula? Read below as we unpack the real differences for you.

What’s the main difference between breastmilk and formula?

Although formula is a great substitue for natural mothers breast milk,  formula doesn’t have the same antibodies found in breast milk. There are substances in formula to help protect babies from illness but they aren’t as easily absorbed by a baby as breast milk and don’t have the same level of overall protection.

Under the microscope

The two images below shows breastmilk on the left versus formula milk on the right under the microscope. In the breastmilk, you’ll instantly notice how much brighter and vivid and pronounced the molecules of water, fat and white blood cells are. Comparing that to the image on the left of formula, which is much more faded and far less molecules, it becomes instantly clear that formula doesn’t quite compare to the high impact natural goodness that is found in breastmilk.

Difference between formula vs breastmilk - microscope Formula under the microscope

When you not producing enough breastmilk

Generally the more you’re breastfeeding, the more milk you’ll make. But if you get off on a shaky start, either because you and your infant were separated initially for longer than usual or your baby didn’t latch properly – get a good breast milk supply going can sometimes be tricky. And even then sometimes it’s just not enough for your baby to fill them. This often happens with moms who’ve had more than one child or had their breasts reduced via surgery, or maybe gave birth later in life.

Can you mix formula and breastmilk together?

There could be a number of reasons that you might want to mix formula with breastmilk to feed your infant. Perhaps you’re not able breastfeed for long enough time for your baby to feed enough, or possibly you’re not able to pump enough breastmilk and you need to top it up with formula. Whatever the reason it’s completely ok to mix breastmilk and formula together.

Some women might even have sore nipples and might decide to only pump for, this strategy could cause your supply to dwindle further. If you need to supplement your infant’s diet with pumped breast milk and formula, they can safely be mixed together in the same bottle.

A mix of formula milk and breast milk can help both mom and baby persevere with breastfeeding.

Another great option is to alternate between breastmilk and formula, supplementing breastfeeding with formula feeding when your natural milk supply is low or you’re unable to breastfeed as often. Many babies are able to successfully go back and forth between breast and bottle without any issues.


Our top formula picks

Best Overall: Similac Advance Infant Formula with Iron at Amazon
Gives your baby the best overall ingredients needed

Best Organic: Baby’s Only Organic LactoRelief Toddler at Amazon
All of their flavors are non-GMO and were all rated “best in purity” by the Clean Label Project.”

Best for GasEnfamil PREMIUM Non-GMO Gentlease Infant at Amazon
This formula has broken down milk proteins which make it easier for your little one to digest.”

Best for Breastfed Babies: Gerber Good Start Gentle at Amazon
Made for combination feeding with “comfort proteins” that mimics those in breastmilk.”

Best for Constipation: Enfamil Reguline Infant Formula at Amazon
Designed to soften stools and give essential nutrients like choline and DHA.”

Best for Reflux: Enfamil A.R. Infant Formula for Spit-Up at Amazon
Helps for acid reflux using a thicker formula.”

Best for Milk Allergies: Similac Alimentum Infant Formula at Amazon
Has a predigested milk protein that’s more tolerable to children with allergies.”

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