What makes breast milk different from formula milk?

Nature has its own way of providing health and nutrition to the new born baby in mammals, whether animals or humans. This nutrition is provided by the unique combination and ingredients present in mothers milk for the baby. These ingredients meet the growing child’s nutritional requirements and give the baby a jump start on a healthy life. Breast milk is the best gift a mother can give to her child, which is why it is known as liquid gold. Formula and bottle milk should not be given to infants and new born babies due to the different chemical compositions which are not easily digested by the baby. Breast milk is the purest and safest food source for new born babies and should be exclusively given during the first 6 months after birth.Human breast milk is also significantly different from cow and goat milk, which should not be given to new born babies at all. Cows milk can be extremely harmful for new born babies as its chemical composition is suited for a calf, and not a human baby. According to research, cows milk can increase the chances of Type I diabetes in babies and infants when introduced at a very early stage. Therefore, only mothers milk should be given to the baby in the first few months after birth due to its high nutritional value and benefits. Here are some of the important ingredients of breast milk which make it different from formula milk or cows milk:

Fatty Acids

Human milk has a rich composition of essential fatty acids, especially omega-3 fatty acids and DHA which are needed for the optimal growth of human brain in infants. Babies who are breastfed get the right kinds of fats in the right amount of dose. Breast milk is richer in fat when mothers pump or feed the baby between regular breast feedings. There are different stages in breastfeeding, such as at the start of the feeding session, breasts produce foremilk which is low in fat. As the feeding session progresses, the fat content, or cream starts coming, also known as hindmilk, which has a higher content of fat. It is advised that frequent feeding sessions ensure more hind milk to be released, leading to healthier babies. Short intervals between feedings also supply milk with higher fat content to the baby, meeting the growing needs of your child.


Along with fatty acids, human milk also contains the right amount of enzymes needed to digest breast milk and the fatty acids present in it. Lipase is a popular enzyme which helps to digest milk quickly, so more energy is available to the baby from breastfeeding. Cows milk and formula milk do not contain this enzyme, and hence excess fat is lost by the baby into the stools. Breast milk is natural and quickly absorbed by the baby’s digestive system, and the baby will produce less waste.

Essential Proteins

There are two types of milk protein present in breast milk, which include curd and whey. Unlike cows milk, breast milk has a higher whey-to-curd ratio which makes it easier to digest. Breast milk also contains amino acid taurine, which is a specific nutrient needed to build healthy brains and bodies. Formula milk and cows milk have limited amount of amino acid taurine as compared to breast milk. Proteins present in breast milk are easily absorbed by the baby, just like fatty acids present in breast milk.


Lactose is an intestines-friendly sugar for babies which makes breast milk sweet and provides a source of energy to the baby. Most formula milks contain sucrose, also known as table sugar, which is very harmful due to its highly processed form and leads to infant cavities when babies start teething.


Mothers milk has all the antibodies to help the baby fight against diseases and illnesses and build a strong immune system. No formula milk can provide these antibodies to babies which are present in breast milk.

Vitamins and Minerals

Human milk contains exactly the right amount of vitamins and minerals as needed by the baby. No factory, cow or goat can make vitamins and minerals which are present in mothers milk. Vitamins and minerals present in breast milk have high bioavailability and are easily absorbed by the baby. Similarly, babies on breast-milk absorb 50% to 75% of breast-milk iron as compared to only 4% absorption rate of iron present in formula milk. This is because breast milk contains facilitators like Vitamin C to help increase iron absorption as well as absorption of other nutrients.

There are hundreds of other ingredients present in human milk which are beneficial for the baby. This is why mothers should exclusively breastfeed their babies for the first 6 months after birth. Working moms can use breast pumps like pump style advanced or any other breast electric pump to store milk to feed the baby even when they are away from home. Breastfeeding and breast milk consumption is the right of every child and every mother should make an effort to provide this valuable source of health and nutrition to her baby.

About the author: This article has been contributed by Trusted Breast Pumps. Trusted Breast Pumps provides breast pump and breast pump accesories of well known brands like Medela, Avent, Lansinoh, Dr Brown`s, Ameda and more!

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Disclaimer: Articles are for general informational use only. Always consult your doctor or pediatrician for advice and answers to your questions or concerns regarding your child.

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