A Breastfeeding Education Activity Package for Grades K-12



The student will be able to understand that for a number of reasons, breastfeeding may be more beneficial than bottle feeding.


In this unit, students take an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of breast vs. bottle feeding a baby. Ideally, as students begin to weigh the advantages and benefits breastfeeding has to the mother as well as the newborn, they will:

  • become "carriers of information" to others making infant feeding decisions;
  • understand and be supportive of a parent or other adult who has made a decision to breastfeed; and
  • begin to form their own ideas and attitudes about breastfeeding that they will carry with them into adulthood.

In Lessons 1 and 2, students weigh the advantages versus disadvantages of breastfeeding a baby, against the advantages and disadvantages of bottle feeding a baby. In Lessons 3 and 4, pressures in our society that influence our decision to breast or bottle feed will be discussed.

Resources for Level 4

Pamphlets on breastfeeding and bottle feeding from local sources including:

  • pediatrician, obstetrician, family physician, childbirth educator
  • health department
  • WIC program
  • International Lactation Consultation Association: Position paper on Hazards of Infant Formula
  • county extension office
  • LaLeche League brochures

Nutrition of Infancy & Children, 54th ed., St. Louis, Mo (Times/Mirror/Mosby College Publishing, 1989).

Child of Mine: Feeding With Love & Good Sense, by Ellyn Satter, (Bull Publishing Co., 1986).


The student will understand that there are two ways to feed an infant, breastfeed and bottle feed, and will be able to list advantages and disadvantages of each.

Before you start:

Nutritionally, breastmilk is best for almost all newborn infants. It contains the right balance of nutrients, some (mostly minerals) of which cannot be found in commercial formulas. Breastmilk also offers disease-preventing antibodies. Babies that are breastfed generally have less diarrhea and fewer respiratory infections and colds. Babies are not allergic to human milk but some babies can be allergic to formula.

Commercial formulas are a reasonable alternative to breastmilk. They can, however, be very expensive, and more difficult to prepare (mix, heat, etc.).

This unit takes a look at the pros and cons of infant feeding methods and explores the reasons women and men make decisions about the way they will feed their child.

1-2. Your Best Bet Math, Family Life, Social Studies, Health
3-4. Feel The Pressure Family Life, Math, Language Art, Social Studies, Health

There are both advantages and disadvantages to breastfeeding versus bottle feeding a baby.


Vocabulary Words:

  • advantage: a favorable circumstance
  • disadvantage: an unfavorable circumstance

Advance Preparation:

  • Read a pamphlet or book from resource list to become familiar with the advantages of breast versus bottle feeding
  • Blackboard/Newsprint

Activities: Lesson 1

  • Review with students information they have learned in earlier lessons (i.e. mammals nurse their young).
  • Ask students to give some reasons mothers may choose to nurse (breastfeed) their baby.
  • On the board, have students brainstorm advantages of nursing (breastfeeding) a baby.
    • ideal nutrients for baby
    • easier to digest
    • cost less
    • no mixing or heating bottles, etc.
  • Then have them state the disadvantages and advantages of breastfeeding.
    • not enough time
    • harder for someone else to feed baby, etc.
  • Have students brainstorm a similar list of advantages and disadvantages of bottlefeeding.
  • Review the two lists with the whole class then ask students to form small groups of 3-4. In small groups have students come to consensus on breastfeeding or bottlefeeding - which is best. Assign someone in the small group to record major points of their discussion and a reporter to report back to the class on the consensus the small group reached.
  • Be sure the reporter also reports on how the group made the decision they did. Did any groups feel they did not have enough information to come to a decision? Where could they get additional information?


Have students tell a partner one advantage of breastfeeding and have partner respond with one advantage of bottle feeding.

Activities: Lesson 2

  • Invite a pediatrician, family physician or nurse practitioner to talk to the class about the immunologic properties of breastmilk.
    • Have students prepare questions in advance to ask the guest speaker.
      • Are there common ailments that can be prevented?
      • Can drugs the mother is using be passed to infant also? Etc.
  • Have students research the amount of formula a newborn to 6 month old infant would require. This can be done by speaking with a professional, interviewing a parent of an infant, or using written materials from the school or local library.
    • Have students compute the number of cans of formula used by the infant during the 6 month period.
      • How much does each can cost?
      • How much would it cost for formula to feed a baby for 6 months?
  • A breastfeeding mother needs about 500 additional calories from each day (about $1.00 - $2.00 worth). Find out how much money could be saved by breastfeeding instead of formula feeding.
  • Have student research some alternatives to breastmilk. Provide different kinds of milks to be sampled by the class.
    • 1%, 2%, whole and skim milk
    • goat milk
    • store bought baby formula - milk based and soy based
    • soy milk
    • a facsimile of breastmilk (dilute skim milk, 2 parts milk, 1 part water and 1 tablespoon of sugar)
  • Have students look, smell, pour and taste the milks if possible.


Have students write a letter to an imaginary mother explaining why breastfeeding would be a positive option for her to consider. Be sure to include all the ways breastfeeding would benefit her and her baby.

There are many factors that influence the choices parents make about feeding their infant.

Lessons 3 & 4 Family Life, Math, Language Arts, Social Studies, Health, Art


Vocabulary Words:

  • Pasteurization: a method of destroying bacteria in milk by a special heating process.

Advance Preparation:

Activities: Lesson 3

  • Review with students advantages and disadvantages of breastfeeding vs. bottlefeeding or brainstorm a new list. Have students discuss: given the "facts" on the board about breast vs. bottle, which based on advantages alone would be best? (breastfeeding)
  • Ask students, then why would a woman choose not to breastfeed? Allow time for brainstorming of some possible reasons:
    • friends/spouse against it.
    • media promotes formula, etc.
  • Distribute Worksheet 4A. Instruct students to survey at least one woman, for each of the following age groups.
    • 1. under 25 years old
    • 2. 25-40 years old
    • 3. 40-60 years old
    • 4. over 60 years old
  • Have students discuss and graph answers to survey. What happened around 1940 that made changes in the way babies were fed?
    • refrigeration
    • pasteurization
    • development of infant formulas
  • What was the most common reason women chose not to breastfeed?

Lesson 4

  • Have students design a poster or T.V. commercial showing the benefits of breastfeeding. This can be used as an individual or group project. You may also want to share the project with the local WIC program, or Health Department.
  • Invite a pediatric nurse or OB nurse to the class to talk about some of the things they do in the hospital to promote breastfeeding as a positive option for feeding the newborn.
  • Have students look through magazines of different eras. How is infant feeding portrayed? Do they find more formula ads in newer magazines? What year do formula ads begin showing up? Why?