Combination feeding is about needing or choosing to do both breastfeeding and formula feeding. This comes up a lot in my postnatal sessions and mums can need to do this for a number of reasons:
- top up feeds as part of a weight-gain plan
- so their baby can take a bottle
- to ease the pressure on them, so they can share the feeding
- to take a break, to go out, to go away, to go back to work
- easing stress and pressure
- as part of making the switch from breastfeeding to bottlefeeding
There’s no firm advice on how to do this but having a plan and some consistency can be important – this will help with your milk production as well as eventually building a gentle routine.
You might choose mixed feeding because you need to do top-ups to help with weight-gain, you want to give your baby a regular bottle each day or because you want to continue breastfeeding but you need to do more bottle feeds than breastfeeds.
Combination Feeding: Top-Ups
This can be suggested if your baby is slow to gain weight. I would also suggest it is worth getting breastfeeding support as well to provide reassurance as well as feeding advice to help with weight gain.
Giving top-ups can also provide peace of mind for some new parents, it means they relax more, which can make breastfeeding more successful.
Put a top-up feeding plan together with your health visitor or with a lactation consultant – some parents introduce a formula feed a day, while others give a small amount of formula after a breastfeed.
Combination Feeding: Regular Bottle Feeds
I speak to a lot of parents who want their baby to be able to take a bottle, and ideally that bottle will be given by someone else so they can have a break or a rest.
Again, there is no firm advice on when to do this but I feel that within the first month is a good time to start – leaving it too long, could mean your baby refuses a bottle, which also comes up a lot in my postnatal sessions.
Consistency is also important – if your baby can have a bottle at a similar time each day, this will help with your milk production and with any planned rest.
Combination Feeding: Planned breastfeeds
This is about making breastfeeding work for you – it doesn’t have to be the main source of your baby’s food. I talk to a lot of women who want to breastfeed but don’t feel comfortable doing it when out and about or they don’t have confidence in it because of their baby’s weight gain or potential milk production issues or they just don’t enjoy it.
While some women will move completely over to formula feeding, some women are keen to retain some breastfeeds. Again, it is also about having a plan – decide which feeds you want to be breastfeeds and when you want to bottle feeding. As an example, some women are happy to feed in the evening and during the night as it settles their baby but they are keen to bottle feed the rest of the time.
This option is all about keeping some breastfeeding going, when mums wants this, rather than feeling that it’s not working and dropping breastfeeding completely. It’s certainly worth trying.
Feeding doesn’t have to be only formula or only breastfeeding, combination feeding can work well for you and your baby but do try to make a plan.
You can book an appointment with me to focus on making a plan for feeding your baby so it works for you all.