No, this isn't about which is best. This is about a little problem we have with Joshua. He much prefers the breast to the bottle of breast milk, which isn't really a problem per se, except that while I'm at work, the bottle is all that's available. I don't want my baby to starve at day care, so we're working on encouraging him to take a bottle. My mom told me stories of being unable to leave me or my brothers for very long because we were exclusively breastfed and refused to take a bottle, and I obviously can't have that happen with Joshua, since I'll be at work!
Joshua had his first bottle during his first week, after losing more than 10% of his birth weight (9lbs. 8oz., and no, I didn't have a c-section). The pediatricians were worried that he was starving, and while I knew he'd be fine as soon as my milk came in, I succumbed to their pressure and gave him some formula as directed, 1 oz. after a morning and evening feeding, in hopes that he would gain enough weight to stop the daily weigh-ins. I began pumping, my milk came in, and the formula went out the window after Joshua only had a total of about two or three ounces.
As a side note, I now understand that supplementing was unnecessary and could have been detrimental to my milk supply and our breastfeeding relationship. With my next child, I'm prepared to say "No!" to the daily weigh-ins and to supplementing. But that's not the point of this story... the point is that Joshua has taken a bottle and knows how to drink from one. He just doesn't like to.
Joshua has had a bottle a few times since then, and we're trying to make it so it's not such a battle. We've learned that Joshua will never take a bottle from me, giving me a funny look as if to say "Mommy, please put that fake nipple away, I want the real thing!" We've also learned that he takes the bottle easiest if I'm not around at all, with his daddy or one of his grandmas feeding him.
While I may want to go out at night to a rare movie or an event, that's not the best time for Joshua to take a bottle. He's a cluster-feeder, wanting to eat almost continuously through the early evening and being very cranky each night. If you subtract Mommy and add a bottle into that situation, he's very unhappy. The couple of times I've left Joshua at night since he was born, I returned home to a mostly-full bottle and a hungry baby, who cried a lot while I was gone. However, the few times I've left him during the afternoon, he's taken a bottle without much protest. Fortunately, he'll be at day care during the morning and early afternoon hours, not the evening.
I purchased a variety of different nipples and bottles from different companies, all designed for breastfed babies. We're currently trying out all the different combinations to find what works best for Joshua. In order to get Joshua used to regularly eating with a bottle, I have my husband or another family member feed him a bottle about twice a week, and we'll slowly build up to him having one bottle every day before he goes to day care. I'm determined to ease his transition to day care as much as possible, and being happy about nursing from a bottle will be a big step in the right direction. However, I still anticipate Joshua wanting to nurse as soon as I pick him up at the end of the day.