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When it comes to feeding your baby, it’s not always a question of only breastfeeding or only formula feeding; many women do a combination of both. You may want to try mixed feeding because you want to breastfeed for some of your baby’s feeds, but give infant formula for one or more feeds, or because you’re bottle feeding your baby and want to start or resume breastfeeding.
It can be helpful to talk to your midwife, health visitor about your options when it comes to combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding, as well as find out about the potential impact of mixed feeding.
What effect will combining breastfeeding and formula feeding have?
One thing to consider is that breastmilk supply is generally driven by frequent, effective breastfeeding. This means feeding your baby as often as they show they need to by responding to their feeding cues. You can tell a feed is effective if your baby is well attached to the breast, you are both comfortable and your baby often starts with rapid sucks then slows to a more rhythmic suck, swallow pattern and comes off the breast looking full.
Giving your baby formula can affect the frequent feeds needed to ensure you're making the right amount of milk, especially when you first start breastfeeding. It usually means your baby breastfeeds less often, and therefore you make less milk.
Your baby will enjoy the benefits of breastmilk, even if you’re not exclusively breastfeeding. For instance, they will still gain some of the antibodies that will protect them against infection.
How can I combine formula feeding and breastfeeding?
If you want to cut down on breastfeeds to introduce formula milk, you and your baby will adjust more easily if you reduce the number of feeds gradually.
Do talk to your midwife or health visitor about this as different options will suit different circumstances.
Gradually cutting down breastfeeding reduces the chance of your breasts becoming uncomfortably engorged and leaky. It will also reduce your risk of developing mastitis.