Breast Milk VS Formula: How Similar Are They?

3 feb 2021 |Breastfeeding

There is no doubt that breastfeeding is highly recommended and provides your infant with the best nutrition. It is a great way to feed your new bundle of joy. However, sometimes you need to switch to formula milk. Here we will compare formula milk to breast milk. Formula milk is similar to breast milk in many ways, like they both have nutrients, water content and provides energy to your baby. Let's compare breast milk and formula milk and see which milk is breast for your baby.

Learn more about why breastfeeding is important in our complete breastfeeding guide!


According to experts, there are around 0.8-0.9 grams of protein per deciliter of breast milk if it comes from a well-nourished mother. Every teaspoon of breast milk contains 3,000,000 germ-killing cells, which makes it very valuable. There is also a huge list of immunity factors found in breast milk.

You can express breast milk using a manual breast pump or electric breast pump. It can be stored in your refrigerator for three to five days and inside the freezer for three to six months. But in the case of prepared formula milk, it should be disposed of after 24 hours if you store it in the refrigerator.



Proteins are made up of amino acids that promote the development of the eyes and brain and helps in learning social skills. The prominent amino acid found in breast milk is taurine, which contributes towards the optimal development of brains and eyes. Proteins are digested easily by infants, and this makes them hungry sooner. 


Calcium, phosphorus, and iron present in breast milk have higher bioavailability for babies, which imply their chemical composition makes them highly available for ready use of the infant's body. About 50 to 75% of iron content in human milk is absorbed by the bloodstream. Minerals are present in the right quantity in breast milk, which facilitates their easy disposal as stools by the immature intestines of infants. 


A host of beneficial hormones and enzymes are actively present in breast milk that influences an infant's metabolism, physiology, growth and foster tissue formation in the digestive tract and other vital body parts.


Breast milk has the right balance of nutrients that your baby needs at such a tender age. These nutrients boost the immune system of your little one. That's why breast milk is known as liquid gold for infant nutrition. It has almost everything that your baby needs in his first six months of life. Above all, the composition of breast milk changes according to the changing needs of your infant in his first few months.


Formula milk is mostly derived from cow's milk and looks richer than breast milk, which can be confusing as it appears to be more nutritious than breast milk. Infant formula is nutritionally inferior to breast milk but superior to other substitutes, such as milk from cows.

You should not also store it at room temperature for longer than an hour. Leftover formula milk is not usable anymore and should be thrown away because bacteria may have formed from the baby's saliva after the last feeding.


When it comes to formula milk, the basic content is cow's milk for almost all infant formula milk. Plain cow milk contains high casein content that makes it unsuited for infants. It may put a strain on the kidney of infants. That's why doctors don't recommend untreated cow's milk before the age of one. The intestine of a child can only digest human milk in the first few months of his life. Other ingredients of formula milk may include:

  • Water
  • Carbohydrates
  • Protein
  • Fats
  • Minerals
  • Vitamins
  • Enzymes
  • Amino Acid
  • Nucleotides
  • Soy Lecithin

Formula milk has many nutrients essential for your baby until the age of one year or even at the age of two years. It has natural probiotic dietary fiber that is beneficial for your baby's immune system. If your baby is breastfeeding, you can give him extra vitamins found in formula milk. Formula milk is fortified with vitamin D and iron as well.


Generally speaking, mixing breast milk and formula milk in one feeding bottle is not wrong. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) does not recommend mixing both of them. In fact, it strongly recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months due to the many health benefits of breast milk to babies. Likewise, supplementing or feeding your baby with formula milk while breastfeeding is not recommended under normal situations. But in some cases, it becomes necessary.

With this, let us consider one possible scenario. Let's say you mixed 2 ounces of formula milk with 2 ounces of your expressed breast milk, making a 4-ounce milk mixture. But for whatever reason, your baby did not finish it or consumed only half of it. This means that you have no other choice but to throw it away because you cannot keep it anymore. Just imagine how many ounces of breast milk will be wasted every time you do this.

If you want to try it, make sure that you follow the instructions of the formula milk manufacturer when preparing it. Don't just add them together in any way that you want. It is also best to consult your doctor first before you proceed.


When considering whether to give your baby formula milk or breast milk, don't lose sight of the big picture. Breast milk is more than food as it is beneficial for your baby's immune system and reduces the likelihood of diseases. Moreover, it is loaded with antibodies that help your little one to fight against bacteria and viruses in his early months of life.

On the other hand, formula milk doesn't contain antibodies. That's why studies show that babies who are on formula milk are more likely to be vulnerable to health issues. Breast milk is truly great food for babies that can't be replaced by formula milk.

Check out our collection of electric breast pumps to start breastfeeding your baby!

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