An introduction to Combination Feeding
What is Combination Feeding?
Combination feeding is either when you combine breastfeeding and feeding expressed breastmilk from a bottle or when you combine both breastfeeding and formula milk, when feeding your baby. It is sometimes also called mixed feeding.
Below our expert Midwife Sinead tells us more about combination feeding and what to expect if you decide to introduce it to your baby’s feeding routine.
Why combine breast and bottle?
You may want to try combination feeding if you:
- Are breastfeeding and want to use a bottle to offer your baby some expressed breast milk
- Want to breastfeed for some of your baby's feeds, but give bottles of formula for 1 or more feeds
- Need to leave your baby and want to make sure they have some milk while you're away
- Want to share the feeds with your partner, combination feeding is a good way to involve them
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Breastfeeding is best for babies but if you have decided to switch solely to formula feeding, you can do this at any time. However, if you wish to combine breastfeeding with formula feeding it’s best to wait until breastfeeding has been firmly established before introducing a bottle (or if your baby is over six months, they can use a beaker or cup). Whatever option you choose, introducing formula will lead to a decline in your breast milk production – a process that is very difficult to reverse and can be an emotional decision to make so give your body & baby time to adjust to this new change.
Your body will take up to 7 days to adjust to producing less milk.
Slowly reducing breastfeeds by one feed a week will give your body time to learn to produce less milk. It will also prevent your breasts from becoming engorged or leaking. If they feel full to bursting, expressing a little milk can help relieve the pressure.
Benefits for Baby
- Breastfeeding gives your baby the benefit of antibodies in your breast milk on an ongoing basis. As you come into contact with new infections, your baby will automatically get some immunity from them too.
- Some of these antibodies help protect from childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea and pneumonia
- The closeness while breastfeeding comforts your baby whilst helping to regulate their heart beat and body temperature.
- The food you eat while breastfeeding can influence their taste preferences throughout weaning and beyond, leading them to make lifelong healthier food choices.
Benefits for Mum
- Your risk of breast and ovarian cancer, type II diabetes, and post partum depression is reduced.
- It can help you burn up to 500 extra calories a day
- Breastfeeding triggers the release of “love” hormones Prolactin and Oxytocin which leave you feeling relaxed and happy.
There are lots of other benefits of breastfeeding for both mum and baby, read more here.
You know what works best for you and your baby and you will find the best way to combination feed, so be patient and enjoy this unique journey with your baby.
Want to learn how to combination feed? Read our Midwife Sinead’s top tips here
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a varied, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant formula should be considered. Improper use of an infant formula or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant formula, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Always consult your doctor, midwife or health visitor for advice about feeding your baby.
Questions about feeding and nutrition?
Our nutritionists and feeding advisors are always on hand to talk about feeding your baby. So if you have a question, just get in touch.