Mixed feeding is when you give your baby breastmilk and formula milk. There are lots of reasons why you might choose to do this, but it’s important to remember that the drawback with mixed feeding is that it can make breastfeeding less efficient.
That’s because when babies breastfeed, the amount of milk they have and how often they feed determines how much milk their mum’s breasts produce. So, less milk out means less milk made. Also, breast and bottle feeding feel different for babies, and it can be tricky for babies to go back to breastfeeding if they’ve taken a bottle.
If you’re thinking about giving your baby some formula because you don’t think they’re getting enough breastmilk, talk to your health visitor or call one of the breastfeeding support lines. They’ll give you support to help you increase your supply of breastmilk.
Some people think that giving a bottle last thing at night means that their baby will sleep better. In fact, there’s no evidence that this is true, and night feeds are important to keep milk production going, especially in the early weeks. Ask friends and family to give you some practical help so you can rest during the day. Before long, your baby will naturally start to go a little longer at night between feeds.
Sometimes mums decide to start using formula so their partner can help feed the baby, but don’t forget, you can express your breastmilk. Follow our tips for effective expressing.
If you do decide to keep going with mixed feeding, it’s a good idea to make sure you’ve allowed a few weeks for breastfeeding to become established before you introduce the bottle. Minimise the impact on the supply of breastmilk by keeping the amount of formula given as small as possible.
There are a few situations when a breastfed baby isn’t receiving enough breastmilk. If the baby risks becoming dehydrated, then you have to supplement with some formula, but your health visitor can support you through this so that you can return to full breastfeeding.
Remember, any breast milk is better than none.
- Leaflet: Feeding Your Baby
- First Steps Nutrition – more detailed information about UK formula milks
- Start4Life guide to bottle feeding
- National Breastfeeding Helpline, open every day from 9.30am – 9.30pm: 0300 100 0212
- National Childbirth Trust (NCT) – breastfeeding and antenatal support. Breastfeeding helpline, open every day from 8am – 10pm: 0300 3300 770
- The Breastfeeding Network – breastfeeding helpline, open every day from 9.30am – 9.30pm: 0300 100 0210
- Bengali/Sylheti Supporter line: 0300 456 2421
- Drugs in breastmilk helpline 0844 412 4665 (answerphone on the line)
- La Leche League – 24 hour breastfeeding helpline: 0845 120 2918
- Association of Breastfeeding Mothers (ABM) – breastfeeding helpline: 0870 401 7711