supplementing breast milk with formula

Breastfeeding has several advantages, both for the baby and the mother.

Breastfeeding may be challenging for you and your baby. You may feel overwhelmed, and your baby may not be able to take your breast. However, you may be able to feed your baby expressed breast milk in certain conditions.

A doctor may recommend that you supplement your baby’s diet with a small quantity of formula. This method is known as formula supplementation.

Supplementing your baby’s diet with formula is fully acceptable and entirely risk-free.

When a mother’s breast milk production is insufficient, many families choose a combined feeding approach for convenience, ease of use, or just because they prefer it. For medical reasons, a doctor may prescribe nursing or administer formula to a child.

You may find it difficult to figure out the optimum method – should you combine breast milk and formula? Or would it be better to start with breast milk and then supplement with formula as needed? Supplementing with formula may be done in a variety of ways. The following are the common ways to supplement your baby with some guidelines for success.

Common Methods for Supplementing Breast Milk with Formula

Here are several methods for supplementing with formula. You may choose one of these ways or combine them. However, the essential thing is to follow the guidelines for each method.

1. Combining Breast Milk and Formula in the Same Bottle

This procedure involves preparing formula and breast milk separately before combining them in the same bottle. If your baby is familiar with breast milk, he will be more likely to take the bottle since the taste will be more similar to what he is used to. You also need to prepare one bottle.

2. Begin With a Breast Milk Bottle and Progress to a Formula Bottle

As an alternative, you may breastfeed or give your baby all the expressed milk available, followed by a formula bottle. However, you must prepare and clean two bottles. In addition, if your baby dislikes the taste of formula, he may reject the second bottle while remaining somewhat hungry and irritable.

3. Plan One or More Formula Feeding Throughout the Day

Using this method, You’d figure out how many formula feedings your baby needs based on the daily feedings and how much expressed milk is available. Then, keep track of your baby’s feedings as being separate.

If your baby dislikes the flavor of formula, he may find it difficult to accept it. However, he’s more likely to eat it since he’ll be hungry as opposed to the second method when he’ll have already been somewhat satisfied by breast milk.

Our editorial team created a poll on a breastfeeding support Facebook group with over 80,000 super moms. We asked them how would they do the mixed feeding. The results are as follows:

Guidelines for Supplementing Breast Milk with Formula

Here are a few pointers from other parents who have done it:

  • Prepare the formula milk in a separate bottle
  • Do not use breast milk instead of water when preparing the formula. This changes the nutritional value of the formula
  • To prevent creating bacteria, combine both breast milk and formula milk at the same temperature
  • Cold breast milk and cold formula milk mix are good for about 24 hours in the fridge
  • If you reheat the formula milk or your baby has touched it with their mouth, you should use it for the next 1 hour
  • Choose formula feedings where your infant is less likely to complete a bottle to avoid wasting breast milk.
  • Busy or working parents opt for formula feed when preparing a breast milk bottle is inconvenient.
  • If you need a tiny quantity of formula, the pre-made formula may be simpler to use than powdered.

Factors to Keep in Mind when Doing the Mixed Feeding


If you’ve been solely nursing, supplementing will be a new experience. If possible, gradually introduce the formula so that your body can adapt.

Begin by using one or two formula bottles each day

Your body produces breast milk daily based on the supply and demand principle. When you start using the formula, it might impact your daily milk supply. Your milk production should not be impacted if you supplement one or two times a week. However, your milk supply will begin to lessen if you formula feed your baby on a daily basis.

Include More Formula Slowly

Going from not supplementing to providing a large number of bottles in a short time may result in complications such as breast engorgement and clogged milk ducts. It may also create gastrointestinal problems in your baby.

Consider pumping to increase your milk supply

Pumping may help you keep your breast milk supply up and avoid some of the usual breastfeeding issues that might arise when you miss nursing to bottle feed. Expressing your breast milk can help reduce the fullness caused by breast engorgement. Another advantage is that you may save your pumped breast milk for later use. Breast milk may be stored in the freezer for up to half a year, depending on how it is stored. There are several things you may notice if you’ve been solely nursing your baby and start introducing formula into their regular diet. These are usually simply part of the transition period, and your baby will gradually acclimate to the new schedule.

Your Baby

Refusing to Drink the Bottle

Your kid may refuse to drink the bottle, particularly if you are the one who gives it to them. If your spouse or another caregiver gives the formula, the transfer may go more easily. Aside from merely desiring breast milk, some newborns may struggle to learn how to use a bottle. Others may dislike the flavor of the formula.

Increasing the time between feedings

Because breast milk digests more readily than infant formula, it helps your baby to feel satisfied for longer. They may not seem as hungry after formula feedings as they are after nursing.

Refusing to Breastfeed

After a while, refusing the bottle is typically no longer a problem. However, after your kid is acclimated to the formula and drinking from a bottle, you may find that they no longer desire to breastfeed. Drinking from the breast requires more effort, and many newborns prefer formula.

Bowel Movement Alterations

Your baby’s faeces may become harder, deeper in color, and have a more pungent odor if you introduce formula into his or her diet.

Wrapping Up

Every parent’s dream is to raise a happy, healthy, and thriving baby. It’s ideal if you can exclusively breastfeed your child, but it’s not always practical or desired for every parent.

You do not have to take an all-or-nothing approach. Since every baby and scenario is different, supplementing breast milk with formula may be the best option for your family. 

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