Combining Breastfeeding And Formula Feeding
Giving your baby formula in addition to breastfeeding is called supplementing. It’s completely fine and perfectly safe to do.
Many families choose this type of combination feeding method, whether out of necessity , convenience, or simply personal choice. In some cases, breastfeeding and providing formula may be recommended by a doctor for medical reasons.
Why Does My Baby Seem Hungrier Than Usual
As babies grow, they begin to eat more at each feeding and can go longer between feedings. Still, there may be times when your little one seems hungrier than usual.
Your baby may be going through a period of rapid growth . These can happen at any time, but in the early months are common at around:
- 714 days old
- 4 months
- 6 months
During these times and whenever your baby seems especially hungry, follow their hunger cues and continue to feed on demand, increasing the amount of formula you give as needed.
Choosing A Formula For Supplementation
Browse the baby aisle of any grocery store and youll be met with a wall of multicolored formulas tailored to every conceivable need. How do you know which one to choose?
Its actually hard to go wrong, since formula has to pass those rigorous FDA standards. However, the AAP recommends infants who are partially breastfed be given iron-fortified formula until theyre 1 year old.
If you know or suspect your baby has a food allergy, you may want to opt for a hypoallergenic formula that can reduce symptoms like runny nose, tummy upset, or hives. And though you may notice many soy-based options, the AAP says there are few circumstances where soy is a better choice than dairy-based formulas.
Talk to your pediatrician if you have specific questions or concerns about choosing the best formula.
Read Also: Why Are Newborns So Fussy At Night
Is Infant Formula Safe
Infant formulas that are legally sold and marketed in the US are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration to ensure their safety. FDA sets minimum levels for 30 nutrients and maximum levels for 10 of those nutrients in infant formula. Although FDA does not approve every formula in the US before it goes on the market, all companies are required to notify FDA with proof of meeting these requirements before marketing their formula.5
Of note, this means that generic formula brands legally sold in the US are just as safe as brand names, since they are all regulated by FDA.6
On the other hand, homemade infant formula and formulas that are imported from other countries and not regulated by FDA may not be safe. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends against using either of these kinds of formula.7 This includes European baby formula not approved by FDA.
Reasons Not To Mix Formula And Breast Milk
While it is OK to mix your breast milk with an already prepared infant formula in the same bottle, there are some good reasons to offer each one at a time that are worth considering as well.
Allowing your baby to finish the breast milk you have on hand before offering supplemental formula means that if your child gets full before finishing the bottle, you’ll be tossing formula rather than breast milk. Since breast milk contains more nutritional properties than formula, it is best if your baby gets all of the breast milk that’s available. And it’s discouraging to have to throw away milk that you worked hard to pump.
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Choose A Safe Infant Formula
Truth: All commercial formulas sold in the United States are perfectly safe for babies thanks to some very specific and stringent manufacturing regulations put forth by the Food and Drug Administration. To choose the very best baby formula for your baby, make sure the container is sealed, unexpiredand is labeled iron-fortified. While most commercial infant formulas sold in America contain iron, its not universal, so be sure to check. Iron-fortified infant formulas are the recommended choice, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention . Also, double check the label to ensure the baby formula in question is, in fact, for babies! And feel free to ask your babys pediatrician or registered pediatric dietitian for advice on selecting the right formula for your baby.
Introduce Formula At The Right Time
Research shows that the more formula given to a baby in the hospital after birth, the less likely Mom will continue to breastfeed. You see, when a newborn gets filled up on formula, theyre less inclined to wake and nurse well for their next feedwhich can set you on the path to producing less milk and Baby preferring the ease of the bottle.
If youre planning on breastfeeding, its best to wait until your little one is about 3 to 4 weeks old before offering a bottle of formula or breastmilk. Alternatively, if you wait till, say 2, 3, or 4 months to introduce a bottle, your precious bub may say No Thanks. To sidestep that, try offering your baby one bottle a dayof breastmilk or formulaaround 6 weeks.
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Formula Feeding Problem: My Baby Refuses Formula Bottles
Babies may refuse bottles filled with formula because breastmilk is sweeter than formulaand thus, more taste-bud friendly. While you cant do anything about that, you can enlist another person to offer early bottles, so your little one is less likely to expect that comforting sweet treat associated with you.
How Should I Start Solids
When the time is right, start with a single-grain, iron-fortified baby cereal. Rice cereal has traditionally been the first food for babies, but you can start with any you prefer. Start with 1 or 2 tablespoons of cereal mixed with breast milk, formula, or water. Never add cereal to a baby’s bottle unless your doctor recommends it.
Another good first option is an iron-rich puréed meat. Feed your baby with a small baby spoon.
At this stage, solids should be fed after a nursing session, not before. That way, your baby fills up on breast milk, which should be your baby’s main source of nutrition until age 1.
When your baby gets the hang of eating the first food, introduce others, such as puréed fruits, vegetables, beans, lentils, or yogurt. Wait a few days between introducing new foods to make sure your baby doesn’t have an allergic reaction.
Experts recommend introducing common food allergens to babies when they’re 46 months old. This includes babies with a family history of food allergies. In the past, they thought that babies should not get such foods until after the first birthday. But recent studies suggest that waiting that long could make a baby more likely to develop food allergies.
Offer these foods to your baby as soon as your little one starts eating solids. Make sure they’re served in forms that your baby can easily swallow. You can try a small amount of peanut butter mixed into fruit purée or yogurt, for example, or soft scrambled eggs.
Read Also: What Essentials Are Needed For A Newborn Baby
How Do You Feed Baby Both Formula And Breast Milk
When supplementing with formula, it can help to make the feeding experiences as similar as possible. If you want to give your baby formula and continue breastfeeding, the key is to make sure your baby likes both, and the easiest way to do that is to be consistent.
- Switch sides. As you would move from breast to breast, switch sides when you’re formula-feeding, and burp baby between sides.
- Have some skin-to-skin contact. Be sure to look into your baby’s eyes and give her lots of cuddles during each feeding session.
- Space out the formula-feeding sessions. Introduce a bottle of formula an hour or two after breastfeeding when your little one is ready to eat but not starving. Add in an additional daily bottle-feeding session a few days later. Taking a moderate approach can keep your milk supply up if youre trying to continue breastfeeding, and it can keep you from getting a clogged milk duct or breast infection if youre weaning baby off the breast.
- Allow your baby baby to eat until he’s not hungry anymore. Even though it’s easier to measure how much baby is eating when bottles are in the mix, try not to obsess about exactly how much baby is getting of either breast milk or formula. Your baby will eat more when he’s hungry and less when he’s not. Its better to make sure that your little one is gaining weight appropriately than to be fixated on whether hes eating a consistent amount of milk at every feeding.
Your Pediatrician Recommended Supplementing With Formula
If your baby was born premature or is having difficulties growing and gaining weight, your pediatrician may recommend supplementing with infant formula for additional calories and nutrition. Your doctor may also suggest supplementing with baby formula if your little one develops jaundice, which occurs when a chemical called bilirubin builds up in your babys blood. Supplementing breast milk with formula can lower bilirubin levelsand help sidestep the need for further treatment.
Read Also: How Many Ounces Should A Newborn Drink A Day
Formulas Closest To Breast Milk
In order to rank these formulas as to which are closest to breast milk, I looked at the ingredients to see which ones had the fewest synthetic ingredients.
European formulas hold the top spots on the list of being closest to breast milk because of their superiority in quality ingredients and stringent production regulations.
Formulas made in Europe must adhere to a much stricter guidelines than those made for consumption in the U.S.
I also have personal experience with these formulas and can attest to the huge difference in quality one notices right away. My baby had no qualms about drinking it, and there were no negative side affects either.
I was led to try these European formulas through the recommendation of other moms who were supplementing their babies with it and also had great success.
Take Note: These European formulas are not found on Amazon. I have provided you with links to a trusted online retailer where I purchased mine from and was very happy with the service.
1. Holle Stage 1 and 2 Organic Infant Milk Formula
- Suitable from birth or in addition to breast milk
- Quickly accepted when switching from other formulas
- Organically grown
- Made with no genetically modified ingredients
- No artificial chemicals or preservatives
- No artificial flavors or colors
- Chemical free agriculture and production
- Ideal for bottle feeding and preparing porridge
- Strictly adhere to EU Organic regulations and stringent international Demeter regulations
- Highest standards on animal welfare
Tips For Supplementing With Formula And Breastmilk
First: Know that itâs okay to combination feed!
If the goal is not to eventually exclusively breastfeed, or if mom plans to wean to formula, simply breastfeeding then providing formula may be a great strategy. Know that any amount of breastmilk is beneficial for your little one.18
Your pediatrician and/or lactation consultant can help guide you as to how much and how often you should be giving your baby a bottle of supplemental formula.
Learn about: How Much Formula Does My Baby Need?
Use Paced Bottle Feeding
If your goal is to continue breastfeeding or even to eventually stop supplementing, paced bottle feeding can help.
Babies latch differently at the bottle than they do the breast, which may cause a shallow more painful latch when breastfeeding.20 It is also easier for babies to get milk from the bottle compared to the breast, sometimes creating a frustrated baby when trying to breastfeed.21
Paced bottle feeding slows down a bottle feeding to be a similar speed as breastfeeding and helps put baby in control.20,22 This may help to reduce any preference that may develop for the bottle.
For detailed steps on how to do Paced Bottle Feeding, read this article: What is Paced Bottle Feeding?
Hand massage or express before latching baby to breastfeed
Before putting baby to the breast, hand express or massage the breast until you feel milk is about to come out . This way breastmilk is ready to go, just like with a bottle, when baby latches. This can help reduce frustration.
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How To Feed Your Baby
The first few times you try to feed your baby solids, make sure they have a bib on and not much elseit could get messy, and you can save yourself some laundry.
Sit your baby on your lap and start offering the food slowly. Some parenting experts recommend that you feed your baby in an infant seat. This option is fine as long as the seat can be adjusted to be in a mostly upright position. Some seats recline too much to be safely used during feeding.
If your baby isn’t sitting well enough for a high chair or in your lap, wait a few more weeks until these milestones have been reached before starting solids.
Use a small spoonpreferably a soft, covered spoon rather than metal . If your baby doesn’t seem to like the spoon, try Dr. William Sears’ suggestion: Just use your finger. Make sure your hands are clean, then dip your finger into the food you’ve prepared. Then, let your baby suck or gum it off.
Keep in mind that your baby is most likely not going to manage to swallow much at first.
Offer tiny amounts, go slow, and be ready for both a mess and some faces that border on hilarity.
Remember that taste is a sense. Compared to other senses, an infant’s sense of taste is underdeveloped. It’s similar to seeing bright lights or hearing loud noises for the first time. Even if your baby likes the food you’ve offered, their initial experience with a new taste can be a bit of a shock.
Why Supplement With Formula Or Stop Breastfeeding
This one is a little more complicated than the reasons for not breastfeeding at all. Choosing not to breastfeed all the time, whether you supplement with breast milk or baby formula, is a choice parents make for a lot of reasons, both personal and medical.
- Problems with breastfeeding or latching
- Worries about your babys weight
- Concerns about a medication you are taking
- Issues related to breastfeeding at work, like breastfeeding and maternity leave policies
- Lack of support from loved ones
Also Check: How Many Ounces Of Formula Does A Newborn Need
When Can I Start Supplementing With Formula
There is no hard and fast rule as to when you should start supplementing your breastfed baby with formula at night. You can start at any time that feels right for you!
However, if your goal is to primarily breastfeed, experts recommend waiting at least 3 weeks until supplementing with formula. This is to allow enough time for your milk supply to fully come in and to establish a regular breastfeeding routine first.
After this 3 week period, its a matter of determining whats best for your little one and your familys needs. Initially introducing formula to your breastfed baby at night is an easy way to transition them into a new routine without having to change your feeding schedule during the day.
Then over time, you may choose to use more formula during the day, depending on what works best for your family.