Can You Combine Formula with Breast Milk?

image001 Many women may find it difficult to nurse their babies. Certain circumstances, health and economic issues may be some of the reasons that may lead to this. Some of the women may go to an extent of not breastfeeding their babies fully and stick to bottle-feeding. Dr. Spoke, a well-known author of the Dr. Spock’s Baby and Child Care, accedes to the fact that mothers can combine breast feeding and bottle. In case you want to get back to working or you are not producing enough milk, you can add bottle to your baby’s breast feeding which is highly useful. But how can you combine formula with breastmilk? 

Can You Combine Formula with Breastmilk?

There exists no problem in combining both breast feeding and bottle feed. However, before combining these two, you must be familiar with certain aspects of combo-feeding. For a mother who wants to combo-feed, there is a need for the mother to keep her milk supply up as she bottle-feeds her baby. It’s important to note that you should not supplement your baby without maintaining your own breastmilk supply, since you will be running the risk of early weaning before your baby is ready. Whatever the reasons, you should keep in mind that any significant amount of breastmilk for your baby is very crucial. Although formula milk may provide all the necessary nutrients, it may not contain other essential immune factors responsible for protecting your child from illnesses. It’s good to add some formula milk in combination with breastfeeding especially with unavoidable reasons that some mothers may have; however, bottle feeding should only come in when the baby is at least 8 weeks old so as not to compromise your baby’s health in the future.

Want to know more about whether you can combine breastfeeding with formula feeding? Check out the video below:

How to Know Your Baby Needs Supplemental Formula for Growth

Here are some signs which can tell you if your baby really needs some supplemental formula:

  • Babies lose more weight, which is more than the normal weight loss for newborns. Normally, babies will lose about 10% of their birth weight during the first 5 days of life. However, after the fifth day, they start to gain back to the normal birth weight, and after 2 weeks, they should be back up to their birth weight.
  • Less than 6 wet diapers within 24 hour period once your baby is about five days old.
  • When your breasts don’t feel empty or soft especially after nursing, this could probably be the sign that your baby is not feeding well in terms of taking enough milk.
  • Symptoms of lethargy or fussiness most of the time in your baby.

How Can You Combine Formula with Breastmilk?

Here is a recommendation on how to combine formula with breastmilk:



Slow-flow nipple

Any baby who is above the age of 14 days old is unlikely to forget nursing, just because you introduced some artificial nipple or the bottle. If the flow is fast, the baby might find it difficult while sucking the mother’s breast, since he might expect the same fast flow.

Bottle-feed a baby not super hungry

It may sound abnormal, but the truth is that when babies are not hungry, they will be eager to try something new and it is the perfect time to try this bottle on them.

Let different people give the bottle

It’s important to note that your baby will always associate touch and smell with nursing. The baby may as well recognize the bottle and refuse while insisting on the breast. You can let your caregiver do it for you while you are away or not close to the baby.

Prop babies in your knees while giving the bottle

When babies are used to being cuddled while breast feeding them, they will eventually get used to it and refuse the bottle when given. This behavior sometimes is most evident in newborns; however, you can prop them in your knees while giving the bottle and this can work quite efficiently.

Give a small amount at a time

Start offering a small amount at the beginning and you can increase it eventually. If the baby is able to take it, increase the amount gradually, this is better way to bottle feed your baby and get them used to it.

Ensure the nipple is not so cold

Babies will often not like the feeling of a cold nipple in their mouth and that’s why you should make sure that the nipple feels warm. You can run it over warm water before putting it in the baby’s mouth.

Tickle the baby’s lips gently

This makes the baby to get into the idea of a real nipple and open their mouth to explore the nipple. You don’t have to force it in their mouth.

Important Notes:

Lactation consultants not agree with combining formula with breastmilk since the baby may not finish that bottle, thereby wasting the breastmilk. Thus, they recommend giving pumped breastmilk first and addition of formula in case the baby is hungrier.

How Will Supplementing Breastmilk with Formula Affect My Baby?

  • If you give your baby the bottle very often, they might refuse the breast if they are enthusiastic feeder. This is because the bottle delivers the formula faster than the breast.
  • The baby might go a little bit longer with a meal of formula due to slow digestibility.
  • With the formula, the baby’s bowel may become firmer; they will be brown with a strong odor.

However, it’s important to note that in case you see some blood stains in your baby’s stool or they start vomiting after you introduce formula, it might be a sign of milk intolerance and you should consult the doctor.

If you want to hear what an experienced mum thinks about combining formula with breastmilk, you can check out the video below: