What is combination feeding?
Combination feeding is offering both breast milk and infant formula to your baby to make sure they get the nutrition they need. This feeding approach can be useful when breastfeeding alone isn't possible or when parents want the flexibility of using formula at times. It's a good idea to talk to your doctor first on the best approach for your baby.
Why combine breastfeeding and bottle-feeding
Some parents may choose to supplement breastfeeding with infant formula. Here are some reasons why:
Combo feeding lets you be flexible in how you feed your little one. This can be a lifesaver for parents who want to breastfeed but also have to go back to work.
Combination feeding can help support you in feeding your baby. Supplementing with formula can help you work through breastfeeding challenges or support your baby’s nutritional needs if your doctor has suggested your baby needs extra nutrition from formula.
If you’re going back to work or will be away from baby for lengths of time, you may choose to introduce combination feeding. Be sure to start a few weeks before the new routine and transition gradually to give your body and your baby time to adjust.
It works well for your family
Combination feeding may let your partner or another family member feed your baby. Supplementing formula can provide a break for you and a chance to share feeding responsibilities with your partner.
How to combine breastfeeding with formula-feeding
Establish breastfeeding first
Introducing formula doesn’t have to mean the end of breastfeeding, but it can affect the amount of breast milk you produce.
Wait until breastfeeding is well-established as changes can interfere with your milk supply. This should help to prevent nipple confusion too —when your baby gets more familiar with the feel of a bottle nipple, and then has trouble latching onto your breast.
Try expressed breast milk first
Helping a baby shift from breastfeeding to bottle-feeding can be a big change, especially if they've only had breast milk until now. If you're thinking about supplementing formula, consider introducing bottled breast milk first to help your baby get used to bottle-feeding.
Do it gradually
It is important to understand that using infant formula will reduce the amount of breast milk your body produces. Introducing formula-feeding gradually will not only help babies with the transition but will also give your body time to reduce the amount of milk it produces which can lowers your chance of discomfort, breast pain, or mastitis
Start with one bottle-feed a day. Make sure your baby isn’t hugely hungry for the first one, it’s best if they’re relaxed and happy.
Set a combination feeding schedule
Try to set a combination feeding schedule of bottle-feeding or breastfeeding at the same time each day. It doesn’t have to be rigid — just make sure you’re responding to your baby’s hunger cues.
If you’re returning to work and would like to introduce combination feeding to your baby, start a few weeks before to help establish a routine.
Experiment with different nipples
If your baby is struggling with bottle-feeding, try testing different nipples to see if there’s one that they prefer. Nipple confusion is often an issue that’s overblown so be patient if it takes them a while to get the hang of it.
Combo feeding can seem challenging at first but trust that you and your baby will get the hang of it. If you need guidance, talk to a healthcare provider or a lactation consultant for support.
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