There are a lot of reasons to breast feed infants. Most people who have kids are exposed to some standard ones:
- Breast fed infants are healthier, as their immature immune systems are boosted by antibodies and antiviral agents in the breast milk.
- Breast fed kids grow up with various advantages, for example being smarter by an average of 7 IQ points.
- Breast feeding is cheaper, in that the extra food needed by the mother is much less expensive than formula for the infant.
There are other advantages of breast feeding that don't seem to be widely advertised, though:
- You can leave pumped breast milk out basically all day without it going bad, as opposed to an hour or two for formula. This can be a big win for those of us who are too lazy to put a half finished bottle back in the refrigerator - and for those of us who don't bother to sterilize the bottles after washing them.
- Babies who are exclusively breast fed have poop that doesn't stink. Believe it or not, their poop just has a mild, slightly sweet smell. This makes diaper changing a lot less annoying.
- Breast milk itself doesn't stink. Okay, formula doesn't stink when it's fresh, but by the end of the day when you're washing the bottles, it often does. Bottles from pumped breast milk don't stink even after a couple days.
I think if more people knew about the nonstinky poop and the fact that you can be lax about bottle cleaning with breast milk, more people would breast feed.
Interestingly, the research I've seen says that the immature immune system isn't really boosted directly by antibodies and antiviral agents in the milk. Those don't make it through the gut in a normal infant, at least after the first day or two. What they do do is attack ingested pathogens in the stomach, protecting the single biggest pathway into the infant's body.
But yes, I'm totally with you on the smell factor. Tom finds the smell of the breastfed baby diapers equally offensive with the solid-poop ones, though, and there is also the disadvantage that the more liquidy poop is more likely to create blowouts.