Breastfeeding or formula? Which one is better for sleep?

Many parents have tried switching from breastfeeding to bottle feeding in the hope that their child would sleep longer at night only to find that no significant improvement would be made.

A 2017 study revealed that breast-fed babies under the age of 3 months did sleep more during the night compared to their bottle-fed counterparts. However, the same study also found that formula did reduce wakefulness at night in babies 6-month-old and older (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28735066/).

Breastmilk naturally contains melatonin, and there is no doubt that this helps with both falling asleep more easily and in regulating a newborn’s circadian rhythm.

On the other end, it is easier for parents of bottle-fed babies to monitor milk intake. Formula is also more difficult to digest, and this might lead to slightly longer sleep stretches.

So, what is the takeaway here?

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life, followed by continued breastfeeding with appropriate complementary foods for up to 2 years or beyond.

However, for many families, formula is the better feeding strategy, and this is totally fine!

As far as sleep is concerned, there is no scientific evidence that either formula or breastmilk has a better impact on infants’ sleep patterns. Regardless of the feeding method, the end goal is the same: raising a well-rested, happy, and thriving baby!

Sweet dreams!

Sara

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