Adding formula into your baby’s feeding routine can be a big decision. You may wonder if it’s the right time and what is best for your baby and family. If you’re considering adding formula into your feeding routine, we can help you with the transition with this simple overview.
Why you may Consider Supplementing with Formula
Going Back to Work
Some mothers need or want to go back to work and will need to leave their baby with a caretaker or at daycare. In this case, you’ll want to allow you and your baby plenty of time to acclimate to bottle feeding with the suggestions below. Try to introduce baby to a bottle, even if exclusively pumped breast milk, at least one month before leaving baby with a caretaker.
Many mothers develop medical conditions which can hinder milk supply. Others start medications that leach into breast milk and require stopping Breastfeeding. No one should ever make you feel ashamed for not Breastfeeding, for any reason, but especially not because of a medical condition.
Your baby may have also developed a medical condition or allergy that requires a switch to formula. Or she may not be thriving on breast milk alone and requires formula supplementation.
Low Breast Milk Supply
You may find that you naturally do not produce enough breast milk to satisfy your baby’s appetite. That’s ok! Formula is a perfectly healthy and acceptable supplementation to breast milk.
Spouse or Other Family Members Want to Help
Your spouse may be chomping at the bit to snuggle your baby in close for a feeding. Feedings, whether Breastfeeding or bottle feeding, are amazing opportunities for bonding. Adding in a bottle is a great way to allow your spouse or other family members to bond with your little one.
You Just Want a Break
It is perfectly ok, and good even, to allow your baby to take a bottle simply to have a break for yourself. Breastfeeding is hard work. Parenting is hard work. We all need a break and you have to decide where you need to cut back. This may just be one of those places. One of the best ways we can teach self care to our children is to model it ourselves. Adding bottle feeding into your routine may just be the right way to take care of you!
Adding Formula to Your Breastfeeding/Pumping Routine
Wait for the Right Time
In some cases, due to milk supply issues, medical conditions, etc. a mother’s journey with Breastfeeding may come sooner than she’d hope. But if you are Breastfeeding and your supply is sufficient, experts recommend that you exclusively breastfeed for at least one month to regulate your breast milk supply. That way if you continue to breastfeed or pump you will be producing a good supply of breast milk. It is also suggested that you feed your baby a bottle a few times around three to four weeks to acclimate baby to bottle feeding early.
After that one month the World Health Organization recommends that mothers exclusively breastfeed for six months and then longer with the addition of solid foods, up to around age two. Remember that suggestion includes pumped breast milk. And as mentioned before, we can’t all maintain an exclusively breastfed diet for our babies so formula is a great supplement when it’s needed by baby or mom.
Choose the Right Bottle
As we talked about in a previous article, How to Choose the Right Bottle, it’s important that you choose the right bottle for transitioning from breast to bottle. You’ll want to choose one with a wide nipple that replicates baby’s experience with the breast. It will be easier for baby to switch between breast and bottle with this time of nipple shape.
Mixing Breast Milk and Formula
It is perfectly acceptable to mix infant formula and breast milk in the same bottle. Just make sure to mix the formula before adding it to the breast milk in the bottle. Also, unless you are certain that your baby will drink the whole bottle, try feeding with just the breast milk first and then making an extra bottle of formula if baby needs it. Doing this will save your precious liquid gold from being thrown away with unused formula.
Remember that what baby truly needs is to be healthy and happy. Formula feeding may be just what your baby needs to get there!