Supplementing with Formula

When providing your baby with proper nutrition, feeding him your breastmilk is always the best way to go. This is especially true when your baby is under six months old. This fact has been confirmed by many major health organizations, such as the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics and American Dietetic Association. Of course, in the end, what you end up giving your baby will always depend on your own decision. For instance, supplementing with formula could be one of your choice when you dicide to give you baby baby formula milk in addition to your breastmilk.

Supplementing with Formula—Is It Ok?

As much as possible, your baby should be fed exclusively with breastmilk for his first six months. This means that he should not be given any other kinds of food or drink at all. Your baby will not need it, anyway, as he will already get all the sustenance and nutrition he needs from just your breastmilk. The numerous benefits of breastfeeding will do your baby good and will keep him healthy as he grows and develops.

It is not very advisable to supplement your own breastmilk with commercially available formula milk, except when your doctor recommends you do so. This is so you can give your body and milk supply a chance to develop fully. If your baby does not consume your breastmilk regularly, your supply will dwindle, and it will become more difficult for you to produce milk when you need to.

On the other hand, if you encounter any problems pumping your breastmilk or find that you cannot do so as often as you would like to, it is advisable for you to consult a lactation expert who can help you formulate a plan or schedule. You might also be able to store your breastmilk in a freezer to be used later on.

If supplementing with formula is a must, make sure your baby still gets as much of your natural milk as he possibly can. The more breastmilk he consumes, the better it will be for his health and development.

Signs That Your Baby Needs Supplementing with Formula

If you notice problems with your baby’s growth, weight, or feeding habits, consult his doctor immediately. He can work with you to get a plan if your baby needs supplemental formula. Schedule an appointment immediately if:

  • Your baby is often tired or fussy.
  • Your baby is past 5 days old but wets his diapers less than six times in 24 hours.
  • Your breasts are not soft and empty after a breastfeeding session. This can mean that your baby is not able to consume all the milk you produce.
  • Your baby has excessive weight loss. Babies normally lose only 10% of their weight in their first five days. After that, they begin regaining an ounce of weight a day.

When to Start Supplementing with Formula

If you plan on feeding your baby formula milk, make sure to wait until a month after he is born before you introduce it. This will allow you to establish a regular breastfeeding routine and will also give your milk supply ample time to fully develop. This way, giving your baby an occasional bottle of formula will not disrupt the routine you have developed with him.

Additionally, your baby will be more responsive to other sources of nutrition at this age. After a while, you will be able to feed him formula milk at any time.

How to Start Supplementing with Formula

If you find that your milk supply is not enough to properly feed your baby, supplement him with formula milk only after you have given him all your breastmilk and pumped milk.

If you begin weaning, you may want to make up for the deficit by replacing it accordingly with bottle feeds. Your body will naturally adjust to accommodate your revised feeding schedules. To eliminate your breastfeeding or pumping sessions, pump your milk to comfort until your supply gradually decreases. This will ensure that you do not experience any problems with mastitis or plugged ducts.

What to Do If the Baby Rejects the Bottle?

If your baby rejects the formula milk you offer him on your first few tries, do not fret. This is completely normal. Just keep trying until your baby gets used to the different taste of formula and begins to consume it, as well. When your baby is hungry, he may take whatever milk you give him, regardless of whether it is your breastmilk or formula from a bottle.

You might find that your baby will refuse drinking from a bottle if you personally offer it to him. This is because he can smell you and your milk, and will prefer consuming your breastmilk as it is sweeter and more delicious. To make it easier to teach him to drink from a bottle, ask somebody else to feed him the first few times, or time your feedings so that your baby will be hungry enough to accept something other than your natural milk. You can also try pumping your milk into a bottle first and letting your baby drink from that to let him get used to drinking out of a bottle.

What Are the Effects on the Baby?

Once your baby begins taking formula milk, you may notice that the frequency of his bowel movement will be affected. His stools may also change their color and consistency. If you feel that your baby is having trouble defecating, consult his doctor for advice.

Can Breast Milk and Formula Be Given in One Bottle?

Although mixing your natural milk with formula may sound like a good idea to let your baby get used to the new taste of bottle feeds, lactation experts recommend avoiding this practice. Doing this may actually be a waste of your perfectly good breastmilk, as some may be left in the bottle if your baby does not finish it all.

A better method would be to feed your baby with pumped breastmilk first, and then introduce the formula when he has consumed it all.

The following video provides more practical tips on supplementing with formula: