As a new mom, you’ve likely heard about the health benefits of breastfeeding for your baby. You may be wondering if it is safe to mix your breast milk with prepared formula. Keep reading to learn more details so you can make informed decisions about how to keep your little one healthy!
As a new mom, you may have heard of the advantages of breastfeeding your baby compared to formula. Breastmilk will naturally give your baby the best nutrition they need for growth and development. It’s packed with vitamins, minerals, and even antibodies.
It is a personal choice to choose to breastfeed, pump, use formula or do a mix of all three.
Because of this, some parents may wonder if it is safe to mix breast milk with formula.
The formula does not contain all of the same proteins and antibodies as breast milk; however, when moms choose to supplement their breastmilk with infant formula, it’s important to know all the information before doing so.
Can you mix breastmilk with formula?
There are two questions people are looking for when they ask this question.
First, they want to want to know if you can literally mix formula and breast milk together.
While some recommendations say to feed them separately, many people will mix both together in the same bottle. This is something to discuss with your doctor.
The other question is if you can breastfeed/give breast milk and also give formula.
You certainly can, though you should be careful in doing so to ensure you are able to meet your goals.
Dangers of mix feeding a baby
Mixed feeding is the combination of breastfeeding and formula feeding within the same period.
Breastmilk is often referred to as liquid gold. This is because of how naturally beneficial it is for your baby. It is full of the nutrition your baby needs and is packed full of antibodies and protects both baby and mom from numerous ailments.
If you mix formula and breastmilk be aware of the potential nutritional deficiencies that may take place. It’s always good to work with a professional to ensure your baby is getting the necessary nutrition.
Mixed feeding may lead to a shorter duration of breastfeeding.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends exsluively breastfeeding your baby until they are at least six months old. They also recommend continuing to breastfeed until their first birthday while also providing other nutritious foods, and beyond two years if it works for the family.
The Journal of Pediatrics (2011) found that “CBFF is associated with shorter overall breast-feeding duration in white but not Hispanic or black mother-baby dyads.”
Potential for a reduced milk supply
If you are not breastfeeding your baby as much as you normally would outside of mixed feeding, you may experience a decrease in milk supply. While this isn’t a sure thing, it is crucial to ensure your breasts are regularly being stimulated when bottles are being given.
Some parents choose to use a supplemental nursing system (SNS) to feed formula, which is an at-the-breast supplementer. This ensures frequent stimulation of the breast while giving formula, though it can be cumbersome and difficult to use.
Your baby may experience an upset stomach
This can happen due to the mixing of formula and breastmilk. Some formulas may have ingredients mixed with different compositions of fat blends, carbohydrates, and other nutrients- that while not dangerous- may upset your baby’s tummy.
Breast milk is generally thought to be more gentle on the system than formula in some situations, so you should be aware that the introduction of a formula can cause stomach discomfort, especially in the beginning.
Constipation is a common side effect for babies taking formula.
Exclusively breastfed babies are rarely constipated, but formula can cause constipation. This could be an issue that you would not experience otherwise.
Formula has the risk of being recalled for contamination.
Formula can and does get recalled because of contamination with the Cronobacter infection. This can be a risk at anytime, though there are sometimes larger shortages because of this risk.
While you need to be careful with the storage and handling of breast milk, there is less likely to be issues with contamination.
Tips for Successful Mixed Feeding
- If you are mixing breast milk and formula in the same bottle, make sure you premix the formula before combining it with breast milk.
- Whenever you give a bottle, try and pump around the same time to ensure that your milk supply isn’t negatively impacted.
- Monitor reactions to formula introduction
- Continue to use the 1-1.25 ounces per hour rule, regardless of if you are feeding with formula or breast milk in a bottle
- Work with a qualified lactation professional to come up with a plan that would work best for your goals. Consider booking a virtual lactation consult here!
- Paced bottle feed to ensure the greatest likelihood that your baby will transition back and forth between the breast successfully.
- Consider using a supplemental nursing system
Is it okay to alternate breast milk and formula?
In most situations, this is okay, and it comes down to your lifestyle and goals. Many parents do choose to alternate, but it’s important to clearly identify your goals and create a personalized plan for those goals.
For instance, some parents are alarmed when they discover that they have diminished milk supply due to switching back and forth because they didn’t know that they would need to pump when they gave formula in order to maintain the same level of milk that they used before.
You also need to be careful with your bottle feeding techniques to make sure your baby doesn’t get a bottle prefeence.
Is it okay to mix-feed a newborn?
This can be an option in different situations. I would recommend not doing this unless necessary, though, to ensure your baby gets used to breastfeeding. However, if you need to or really want to, it is up to you – but I would recommend working with a lactation consutlant.
What formula should I give my baby for mixed feedings?
If you decided to supplement with artificial milk, you have a lot of options – and it can be overwhelming.
Unless your child has some kind of allergy that requires a specific type of formula – the most formula is pretty similar in ingredients. Many people like to use Member’s Choice or Kirkland brands because they can be less expensive but similar to brands like Similac.
If you want something with cleaner ingredients, there are plenty of organic and non-GMO options. Holle Formula and HiPP are the two that are very popular. Baby’s Only is also very popular.
At the end of the day, how you feed your child is up to you. Many children thrive when being mixed fed
Remember that this article is not meant to substitute the advice of a qualified IBCLC or medical provider.
Having a care provider that you can trust is giving you the best advice is crucial. Make sure you read this post about how to find a breastfeeding-friendly pediatrician.
Mixed feeding is a choice that many new parents make, but there are some dangers to consider. We hope that this article has provided you with resources to make the right decision for your family!
More Articles You May Enjoy:
- High Lipase Breast Milk: Why Your Breast Milk Tastes Gross (and What You Can Do)
- When Does Milk Come in? 8 Secrets for Establishing Milk Supply
- The Best Foods to Help Increase Milk Supply
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.