What Is Mixed Feeding?
- It is also known as ‘combined feeding’, ‘complementary feeding’, ‘mixed breast and formula feeding’, or ‘supplementary feeding’
- The practice of breastfeeding for part of the time, and bottle or cup-feeding for the rest of the time
- If required, mixed feeding can be successfully used by many women for babies
- It is important to remember than even partial breastfeeding is still beneficial to you and your baby.
When Mixed Feeding May Be Used
- Illness, health conditions, or if you or your baby needs surgery
- Needing to take medication that is contraindicated with breastfeeding
- Postnatal depression
- Breast or nipple problems
- Personal choice
- A return to paid work
- A need for flexibility
- Physical separation from baby.
How And When To Begin Mixed Feeding
- It’s best to wait until breastfeeding has been well-established. Mixed feeding newborns is not recommended
- It is important to know that introducing infant formula can negatively affect breastfeeding. You should talk to your healthcare professional before commencing
- If you are planning to express breast milk, choose the expression method you will use and make sure you have the right equipment. For more information, read Expressing Breast Milk – Methods
- Give your baby some time to become used to feeding from a bottle or cup. Mixed breast and formula feeding can take a little while
- Choose a quiet day to start, when you know you will have plenty of time, and you and your baby will be relaxed.
Some babies will refuse to feed from a cup or bottle many times before they eventually become used to feeding away from the breast. It is important to be patient as your baby learns a new way of feeding.
- If using a combination of expressed breast milk (EBM) plus infant formula, offer the EBM first
- If you plan to introduce breast and formula feeding, buy small quantities of infant formula first to check that it is suitable for your baby
- EBM or infant formula can be fed with an age-appropriate cup, bottle or spoon
- If bottle-feeding, choose a bottle teat that is an appropriate size and flow rate for your baby
- Some breastfed babies are reluctant to accept a bottle or cup when it is offered by their mother. If your baby is fussing, try waiting until they are hungry and offer them EBM or formula then.
If you are going to be away from your baby (e.g. you are returning to work):
- Plan ahead, and begin trying mixed feeding well before you need to start back at work
- Make sure that caregivers have full instructions, your contact phone number, and some spare infant formula to hand in case EBM is spilled
- Some companies provide infant formula as single-serve powders or liquids. These may be easier for a babysitter to prepare, and they may reduce wastage.
Will My Breast Milk Supply Be Affected If I Use Mixed Feeding?
If you are using infant formula, you will find that your milk supply will decrease to adjust to the reduced demand. You might experience some discomfort in your breasts when you first miss a breastfeed. It’s a good idea to take things slowly and introduce formula feeds over time.
You can maintain your milk supply by expressing breast milk at the times you would usually offer a breastfeed. If you want to continue breastfeeding, but find your supply has decreased too much, you can express milk more often or breastfeed frequently to improve your milk supply.
Milk supply can also be affected by tiredness, excessive exercise, weight loss and by your level of health. It is important to take good care of yourself, make sure you drink plenty of water and eat regular, nutritious meals.
If you have any concerns make sure you speak to your healthcare professional.