What’s in breast milk?
From colostrum that coats and seals your newborn’s stomach lining, to mature milk that helps your baby grow strong, each drop of your breast milk contains thousands of beneficial components, including:
- antibodies to protect against illnesses
- hormones that promote bonding and regulate appetite
- stem cells that may support organ development and repair
- white blood cells that fight infection
- beneficial bacteria that protect your baby’s digestive system
- prebiotics called oligosaccharides that support a healthy gut
- long-chain fatty acids to help develop your baby’s brain, nervous system and eyes
- enzymes to support his digestive and immune systems
- nucleotides and hormones that help develop healthy sleep-wake patterns
One of the benefits of breast milk over formula is that it’s a living fluid. It adapts to your baby’s changing circumstances. So if your baby becomes ill, your body makes extra white blood cells and antibodies that travel into your milk and help fight infection.
What’s in formula milk?
Ingredients vary by brand and country, but typical baby formula milk is made of processed skimmed cow’s milk with added emulsifiers and stabilisers to help the oils and water mix when you make up the feed. It may also contain:
- lactose (a natural sugar found in milk) and/or other sugars such as corn syrup, fructose or maltodextrin
- plant-based oils, such as palm, rapeseed, coconut, sunflower and soybean oil
- fatty acids, usually derived from fish oil
- vitamins and minerals from plant and animal sources
- a couple of enzymes and amino acids
- probiotics (in some formulas)