New York City officials have a message for new mothers: Breast-feed your baby, if possible.

Starting in September, dozens of city hospitals will ask mothers of newborns to listen to talks about why their breast milk is better than the sample formulas many hospitals offer for free. Then the women can decide for themselves.

Under the "Latch On NYC" program, hospitals will no longer hand out promotional formulas unless it's for medical reasons or at a mother's request. The program has some powerful names behind it, including Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley.

Health experts say breast-feeding benefits include milk rich in nutrients and antibodies that protect a baby. It's also easier to digest and is cost-free.

Critics say the government should not interfere with a mother's choice.

The New York initiative is part of a national effort involving more than 600 hospitals.