There are a number of differences between breast milk and formula milk. If taking into account the various brands of formula milk and the way in which breast milk changes it is near impossible to compare fully. Below are some general comparisons that should highlight the main differences between breast milk and formula milk.
There is no exact measurement of breast milk available as it varies from day to day. A number of things influence exactly what the make up will be, such as what the mother has eaten, the environment and so on. Breast milk also changes between the start of a feed and the end of a feed. Initially foremilk, which is low in fat and thirst quenching and higher in carbohydrates than the later hind milk, which is the thicker filling milk.
Other long term factors that affect breast milk include how long since giving birth. Just after birth colostrum is produced, a thin yellowish fluid that is rich in protein and antibodies. A few days after giving birth the breasts will start producing milk that is much sweeter and watery. This watery milk quenches the little ones thirst and provides a number of minerals, proteins and sugar that the baby needs. Eventually as more time passes breast milk becomes much thicker and creamy which can satisfy the babies hunger.
|Breast Milk||Formula Milk||Change|
|Fat||~ 4.5%||~ 3.5%|
|Polyunsaturated fatty acids||14 %|
|Protein||~ 0.9%||~ 1.4 %|
|Immunoglobulin A (IgA)||0.100||–|
|Immunoglobulin G (IgG)||0.001||–|
|Carbohydrate||~ 7.1%||~ 7%||–|
|Minerals||~ 0.2%||~ 0.3|
|Energy||280 kJ||270 kJ||–|
|67 kcal||66 kcal||–|
Both breast milk and formula milk contain a number of other minerals such as zinc, copper, iodine and vitamins a, b, c etc. The amounts are very small though so for the purpose of comparison are treated identical.
While formula does not last once it has been mixed with water, the power will keep for some time. Usually once a pack of formula has been opened it should be used within three to four weeks. Unopened formula can keep for up to a year or more (note the best before date on the packaging)
|Temperature||Breast Milk||Formula Milk|
|In a room||25°C||77°F||6 – 8 hours||2 hours|
|Insulated bag with ice||12 – 24 hours||2 hours|
|Freezer compartment||-15°C||5°F||2 weeks||–|
|Chest Freezer||-20°C||-4°F||6 – 12 months||–|