Offering both breast milk and formula may work well for you and your baby. Here’s what it can help to know about this baby feeding option.
When it comes to breast-feeding vs. formula, don’t get hung up on that middle word versus. There’s a third option that can work surprisingly well: feeding your baby breast milk and formula.
In fact, recent consumer studies show that 9 out of every 10 new mothers use formula at some point during their baby’s first year—including as a supplement to breast milk.
Supplementing with Formula:
Once breast-feeding is well established, some Moms find that giving an occasional bottle of formula provides welcome flexibility. Supplementing with formula allows you to leave your baby with a family member or a sitter, for example. This can be especially freeing for Moms who have trouble pumping. “I love that it lets my husband feed him and bond with him,” says Morristown, New Jersey, Mom Meghan F.
Formula can also work wonders for working Moms who can’t or don’t want to pump to make up all the feedings. Leanne H. of Waukesha, Wisconsin, who breast-fed exclusively for four months, says, “My job requires me to travel, and formula allows me to supplement feedings when I am away from my baby and Daddy is caring for her. It is a great feeling to know that she is getting the nutrition that she needs when I’m not there to provide it for her.”
Wondering about the nutrition your baby will receive from formula? Thanks to decades of research and scientific advancements, today’s infant formulas are closer to breast milk than ever before and contain the nutrients your baby needs to grow and thrive.
Starting to Supplement: How to Supplement with Formula?
Feeding your baby both breast milk and formula is also sometimes called mixed feeding, combination feeding, or partial breast-feeding. It’s always best to consult with your baby’s doctor about your unique situation and feeding plans. But here are some supplementing tips that could be helpful to know:
- In most cases, the optimal time to start supplementing with formula is after the first month so your milk supply is well established.
- It may work better to let someone else, such as the baby’s father or grandfather, offer the first bottle. Your baby may associate you with strictly breast milk at first.
- Some Moms get their babies used to the taste of formula by mixing it with breast milk. Or try putting some breast milk on the nipple to encourage your baby to accept the bottle.
- Another way to supplement with formula is to let your baby nurse first and then finish off the feed with formula. Your baby may be more willing to take a bottle when he is hungry but not famished (and fussy).
- Milk supply is based on demand. But when you replace just some feedings with formula, your breast milk won’t disappear overnight.You can decide whether you want to feed your baby formula in addition to breast milk a few times a week or several times a day.