Mixed feeding: tips for giving breastmilk and formula to your baby
By Sara Keli
The World Health Organization recommends exclusive breastfeeding up until six months age, with continued breastfeeding and complementary foods until babies are at least two years old. But while that may be the ideal situation, it isn’t always possible.
There are a number of reasons why you might want to choose a combination of breastmilk and baby formula for your little one:
- you’re returning to work and won’t be available to breastfeed your baby while you are at work
- your baby’s weight needs a boost
- you aren’t producing enough milk for your baby
- you have your own personal reasons for wanting to milk breastfeeding and formula feeding for your baby.
Whatever your reason, you don’t need to explain yourself to anyone. Just know that you are doing the right thing for yourself and your baby.
Baby formula and breastmilk: getting the mix right for you
Giving your baby breastmilk at some times while giving them formula at other times is called mixed feeding. (It’s not about putting formula and milk in the same bottle, as the name may imply!)
When it comes to the saying “fed is best”, mixed feeding gives you the flexibility to do what works for you with a mix of breastmilk and formula for your baby.
Mixed feeding can look very different for different people. Here are a few examples:
- your baby has formula throughout the day while you’re at work, and you breastfeed at night when you come home from work
- you breastfeed your baby throughout the day and your partner feeds your baby formula when they wake at night so you can continue sleeping
- you supplement your baby’s breastmilk feed with baby formula for a period of time to help boost their growth.
Mixed feeding may be a temporary solution or it may be how you feed your baby. Either way, before you start mixing breastmilk and formula, you should speak with your GP, child health nurse or lactation consultant to ensure you have all the information you need to set an appropriate feeding schedule for your baby.
Choosing the right baby bottle
If your baby has been exclusively breastfed and you are planning to give them baby formula, you will need to choose which baby bottles you will use. Sometimes it can take trying a few different baby bottles and teats to find the right one for your baby.
While it’s not always possible, if you have time to prepare your baby for taking a bottle with baby formula, it’s best to start early to make the process a lot easier. That way you can ensure your baby will drink from the baby bottles you have purchased.
Do your research on which bottles are best for breastfed babies and look for parent reviews of the best baby bottles. Depending on the age of your baby, if they won’t take a bottle, you may even be able to go straight to a sippy cup or even a regular cup.
Don’t stress if your baby won’t take the bottle the first time you offer it. An initial refusal doesn’t mean they will never take the bottle. Try again at the next feed when they’re calm and relaxed. You may just have to try another type of bottle … and that’s where trusted parent reviews will help!
Introducing baby formula
For an exclusively breastfed baby, there are a few considerations around introducing baby formula. Firstly, you should speak with your GP, child health nurse or lactation consultant for advice on choosing the right formula for your baby, along with guidance around how often to give your baby formula vs breastmilk.
How do you know which formula to choose? Ask friends for recommendations, and check out baby formula reviews by other parents to see which ones worked for them. It might take some trial and error, so you might want to try out sachet packets (available from some chemists or supermarkets) before buying a whole tin.
If baby formula is new for you, also beware that it does have some … stinkier side effects! Baby poo after a formula feed will vary in colour from the mustard-like poos of a breastfed baby, and they can also have a stronger smell. But many parents who swear by mixed or formula feeding say it’s a small price to pay!