Encyclopedia of Evolutionary Psychological Science

Living Edition
| Editors: Todd K. Shackelford, Viviana A. Weekes-Shackelford

Bottle Feeding

  • Gordon G. GallupEmail author
  • Jennifer A. Stolz
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-16999-6_824-1



Feeding a baby with milk (or formula) from a bottle instead of from the mother’s breast.

Bottle Feeding Is an Evolutionary Mismatch


Until recently in human evolutionary history, there were no alternatives to vaginal deliveries or breastfeeding, and nursing used to last 3–4 years (Tönz 2002). Nowadays fewer than 40% of infants worldwide are breastfed for the first 6 months of life, and among high-income families, it drops to a meager 18% (see Gallup et al. 2016 for details). Bottle feeding is an evolutionary mismatch because it puts the mother and baby out of phase with the defining feature of mammalian evolutionary history.

Formula Is a Poor Substitute for Breastmilk, and Bottle Feeding also Puts Mothers at Risk

Because of nutritional deficiencies in formula (e.g., the absence of long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids necessary for healthy brain growth and development, colostrum which contains antibodies from the mother, and...

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State University of New York at AlbanyAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada