When it comes to feeding your little one, you do not always have to choose between breastfeeding and formula feeding alone, because many women will give their baby a combination of both. This phenomenon is often referred to as combination feeding, partial breastfeeding or mixed feeding. To learn more about mixed feeding your little bundle of joy, please read our information below.
When Should Mums Choose Mixed Feeding?
Choosing mixed feeding is often a choice of convenience and varies from mum to mum. It is an option for mums who want a bit more sleep at night, and let the dad do the feeding. It also gives mums a little more time to recover.
Mum who need to resume work in a couple of weeks could also consider mixed feeding. However, these mums should start several weeks before they resume work, because your body and the baby will need time to adjust to the new feeding method.
Of course, mixed feeding does need to be considered carefully, since adding formula to a breastfeeding routine does have some effects on the baby and the mum. Therefore, be sure to read the effects of mixed feeding below before you consider using this method.
How to Introduce a Bottle to a Breastfed Baby
Since for a baby, it is best to introduce a formula when your baby gets a little older. In the beginning, the baby will be quite reluctant to use the bottle, since the bottle needs different sucking actions than with a nipple. Fortunately, there are several things you could do to help introduce a formula bottle a breastfed baby.
To make the transition a little easier for your baby, you could soften and warm up the teeth with some warm water; this will make the teat feel more like the mother's nipple. It is also advised to hold the baby in a different position than the breastfeeding position, since this may help the baby getting used to this new type of feeding.
Introducing a formula bottle also needs to be done gradually, because your body also needs to adjust the amount of milk it needs to make for the baby. Introducing the formula gradually also gives your baby time to adjust.
The mood of your baby also has an impact on the introduction process. Do not introduce the bottle to your baby when he is quite hungry. Instead, try finding a moment where your baby is relaxed and happy. It could also help to let someone else give the bottle, since being near you may make the baby expect breastfeeding.
If the baby does not take to the bottle at all, it could be best to contact a midwife, health professional or breastfeeding counsellor. They could provide you with a so-called nursing supplementer, a great alternative to the normal baby bottle. These nursing supplementers are not used often, but can be a solution for babies unwilling to feed from a baby bottle.
Lastly, never force your baby to finish the feed you have given. If your baby shows clear signs that he is full, do not force him to finish all the milk in the bottle. Listen to the signs your baby is giving you and stop feeding if he is full.
What Are the Effects of Mixed Feeding?
Health professionals report that exclusive breastfeeding is essential to maximise allergy protection, so mixed feeding could reduce your baby's protection against certain allergies. However, some mums are unable to breastfeed exclusively. In these cases, mixed feeding could be a solution.
By mixed feeding your little one, your baby still gets the antibodies needed for good health, but with the addition of a formula, your baby's digestion system may not be as protected against allergies than with breastmilk alone.
Mixed feeding does have some benefits, because the milk from a baby bottle flows easier; this means that your baby needs to make less of an effort to get access to these nutrients. Therefore, if your baby gets tired easily during feeds, the bottle used during mixed feeding may provide a benefit.
Can I Restart Breastfeeding?
The beauty of mixed feeding is that you can always restart breastfeeding. If you decide to switch back to fulltime breastfeeding, start holding and cuddling your baby as much as possible; this will increase your body's ability to produce breastmilk. Also, express your breastmilk regularly, since this will also stimulate your body to create more breastmilk.
When you reintroduce your baby to breastfeeding, always choose times when your baby feels happy and relaxed, never breastfeed when your baby seems too hungry. During this time, reduce the number of formula bottles gradually, so your body has the time to increase breastmilk production.
If you decide to start breastfeeding again, you can also use a supplementer. To get more information about restarting the breastfeeding process, be sure to talk to your local midwife, health professional of breastfeeding councillor research online for information and resources for parents at Oli6.