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Is Breastmilk More Filling Than Formula?

If you choose to give your baby formula you may have a few questions. Many mothers wonder what the differences between formula and breastmilk are. One commonly asked question is if breastmilk is more filling than formula. Keep reading to find out.

“Why does my breastfed baby need to eat so frequently?!”

This is a common question from new breastfeeding parents, especially when they see their friends who have formula-fed babies who only seem to eat every five hours.

This always leads to the question – is breast milk more filling than formula?

Formula Takes Longer to Digest

In short, the formula might be considered more filling than breastmilk- but only because it tends to take longer to digest and sits longer in their tummies, making them feel full for longer.

Breastmilk is easier for babies to digest and they can do so in two hours while formula takes longer. If you are concerned about your baby not staying full the best way to increase your milk supply is to feed or pump as often as you can.

The more you empty your breasts, the higher the fat content tends to be. Here are some more tips on how to make breast milk fattier.

Some formulas have fillers in them, which can contribute to causing a baby to feel fuller as well. Organic formulas tend to have fewer of these so they may be easier to digest than some formula brands.

Breast Milk May Have More Calories than Breast Milk

On average, breast milk actually tends to have more calories and fat than formula. It’s around 22 kcal/ml according to Kelly Mom – though other sources put it around 20 kcal/ml.

However, there can be a huge range of normal when it comes to breast milk, especially since caloric and fat content can depend on the degree of emptiness in the breast.

Formula, on the other hand, tends to have 20 kcal/ml across the board. There are higher calorie formulas that may be prescribed for low weight gain or premature infants.

Learn more: How Many Calories Are In Breastmilk?

Formula is Easier to Overfeed

Although formula costs money, it sometimes is seen as a limitless resource – as in, you can give your formula-fed baby an 8-ounce bottle of formula. Not necessarily because they need that much (smaller bottles tend to be better overall), but you can just put the powder in a bottle, mix it up, and have it ready to give.

Breast milk is more of a limited supply. Most moms produce enough breast milk for their child’s needs and not a whole lot more. It is easier to give larger amounts of formula, which may end up making a baby feel fuller for longer. Those who bottle feed and breastfeed sometimes fall into this same pattern. Paced bottle feeding is really important to learn how to do!

All in all, while formula may seem like it fills the baby up for longer, the caloric content is pretty similar to breast milk. The best thing you can do for your breastfed baby is to feed on demand and empty your breasts frequently.

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