Parents of a new baby have a million things to do, but menu planning isn't usually a top priority. Until that baby is four to six months old, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even the infamous middle-of-the-night feeding, the menu items are either breast milk or infant formula. For any woman planning to have children, making the decision of how to feed their baby is a crucial one. It needs to be made long before that baby is conceived. The nutrition a baby receives in the first months of life is what gives it a good or bad start. For each mother that brings a child home from the hospital, a choice must be made that will affect the rest of the child's life. The question is often raised whether an infant raised on formula is as healthy and advantaged as an infant raised on mother's milk. There are some arguments, but on the whole experts agree on one thing. To really come to a conclusion, all the benefits, effects, and the harms of both infant formula and breast milk must be considered. .
One of the biggest effects on the choice of feeding is the physical benefits and effects to the baby. Researchers say that, "Human milk contains at least 100 beneficial ingredients not found in formula" (Stehlin). Doctors have long known that infants who are breast-fed catch fewer infections than those given formula. The reason they have found, is that "mothers milk actively helps newborn's avoid a variety of diseases in a variety of ways" (Newman). Research shows that breast-fed infants gain extra protection from antibodies, other proteins, and immune cells in human milk. Those molecules and cells help to prevent microorganisms from penetrating the infants' body tissues. There are five basic forms of antibodies, and all five are found in breast milk. Not only do these antibodies keep microorganisms away from the body tissues, they also are highly targeted against pathogens in the infant's immediate surroundings (Newman).