Hesperian Health Guides

Why Other Feeding Can Be Harmful

a very thin baby who drank from a bottle and now has diarrhea
Bottle-fed babies
are more likely to get
sick and die.

Companies that make artificial milk (infant formula) want mothers to feed their babies formula instead of breast milk so that the companies can make money. Using bottles or giving formula is often very unsafe. Millions of babies fed with bottles or formula have become malnourished or sick, or have died.

  • Formula and other milks, such as tinned milk or the milk of animals, do not protect babies from disease.
  • Formula and other milks can cause sickness and death. If the bottle, nipple, or water used to make the formula is not boiled long enough, the baby will swallow harmful germs and get diarrhea.
  • When babies drink from the breast, they use their tongue to suckle, or ‘milk’ the breast. It is very different from what a baby’s mouth does when sucking on a bottle. By sucking on a bottle the baby may forget how to suckle well on the breast. And if the baby does not suckle on the breast enough, the mother’s milk supply will decrease, and the baby will stop feeding from the breast completely.
  • Bottle-feeding costs a lot of money. For one baby, a family would need 40 kg of formula powder in the first year. Buying a day’s worth of formula and enough fuel to boil water can cost more than the family earns in a week—or even a month.
Some parents try to make the milk or formula last longer by using less powder or more water. This makes a baby malnourished, grow more slowly and get sick more often.

a woman holding a baby while walking past many large cans of formula

Can I really buy all this in one year?
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This page was updated:01 Feb 2021