How Advertising Formula Milk Encourages Bottle Feeding

Deciding whether to breastfeed your baby or to bottle-feed is an important decision that is not made without a lot of thought. Many different factors can influence this decision; personal beliefs, cultural attitudes, advice from health professionals and personal experience. Another factor that can impact on whether a woman chooses to breastfeed or bottle-feed her child is the influence of the media and advertising. In many countries, an increase in advertising for formula milk has seen a reduction of breastfeeding. Here is an overview of how these advertisements impact on a woman’s decision about how to feed her child.


The words that are spoken during an advertisement or are written on a printed publication can have a powerful influence on what people think about the product that is being advertised. If a formula milk talks about your child’s development, intelligence and happiness being impacted upon in a positive way by choosing to purchase their products, this makes parents think that they are doing their best for their child. The wording can make parents believe that by feeding their baby with the formula milk that they are improving their chances of being successful in life. Due to advertising regulations with regards to formula milk, there will be some small print explaining that it cannot replace the health benefits of breast milk, yet how many people read the small print? It is unlikely that any negativity will be spoken about or written in bold print on an advertisement. One particular aspect of the wording that is used to persuade parents to bottle-feed is the information about added vitamins. The advert will go on to explain how this can help aspects of your child’s development, such as brain development. What is not mentioned is that these vitamins that are added to formula milk are already naturally present, and more easily absorbed, in breast milk


Advertisers are very clever in using images to create positive thoughts about their products that can lead to people choosing to buy formula milk rather than breastfeeding. Images invoke strong emotions and this can help to influence the decisions that they make. Advertisements for formula milk always show positive images. For example, the mothers are always slim, beautiful and appear to be happy. Similarly, the babies shown are always perfect little cherubs. The use of imagery goes beyond the casting for the advert. The lifestyle and homes that are portrayed in the advertisements are often based on what people aspire to be like. People see these images and want their lives to emulate those of the families shown in the advertisements. This is a clever marketing technique that is used to sell many products in magazines and on the television.

Lack of breastfeeding advertisements

Another reason that advertisements for formula milk can persuade parents to choose this method of feeding rather than breastfeeding is the lack of comparable advertisements for breastfeeding. Most mothers are made aware of the benefits of breastfeeding via a health professional during their pregnancy. Often, this information is delivered through a short conversation during an antenatal appointment, followed by the mother being given pamphlets on the subject. Both of these are easily forgotten in comparison to the constant onslaught of formula milk advertisements in print and on the television, not to mention the free samples and coupons that are distributed during pregnancy and following the birth.


There are many factors that influence the method of feeding that parents choose for their baby. One such factor is the influence of the media and advertisement. The positive words and images that are shown in these advertisements make formula milk seem like a better way of feeding a baby. A lack of similarly advertising about breastfeeding may also have an impact on whether parents choose to bottle-feed or breastfeed.