Can You Mix Formula and Breast Milk? Benefits of Combining Both for Baby
It’s recommended that mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months of a baby’s life, but this isn’t always the journey. Low milk supply, engorgement, or other potential breastfeeding challenges are some of the reasons why a mother might consider supplemental feeding with formula.
Introducing formula into your little one’s life doesn’t mean that your breastfeeding journey must come to an end. In fact, you can even mix formula and breast milk (in the same bottle, no less). This is called combination feeding, and it’s meant to encourage the continuation of breastfeeding up until the breastmilk supply is out.
Mixing formula and breast milk might come up in the early stages of feeding, or it might be something you consider as you wean off of breastfeeding. No matter where you are in your feeding journey, mixing formula and breast milk can be a simple and nutritious stepping stone for your little one’s development.
What are the pros and cons of mixing formula and breast milk, and how do I properly prepare a bottle? Let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of mixing breast milk and formula, plus the ratio for preparing bottles.
Pros and Cons of Mixing Breast Milk and Formula
Combination feeding is meant to be a positive response to weaning off of breastfeeding, but it can still come with its own challenges. Here are some of the pros and cons of mixing breast milk and formula:
Pros of Mixing Formula and Breast Milk
- Peace of mind. Whether you’re a mother who’s returning to work, or you’re worried that your breastmilk supply is running low, combination feeding can give you the peace of mind that your baby has what they need.
- Nutritional content. If you’re worried about your milk supply and your baby’s nutrition, supplementing with formula can give your baby those additional nutrients alongside the nutritional and antibody content of the breast milk. This can be a useful option if your baby needs help with weight gain and development.
- Smooth transition. Nervous about the switch from breast milk to whole milk, or similar milk substitute? Combining breast milk formula can make for an easier transition, introducing new tastes and textures ahead of the final weaning stages.
Cons of Mixing Formula and Breast Milk
- Less convenience. When you’re exclusively breastfeeding, you don’t have to worry about all of the prep that goes into formula and bottle feeding. Supplementing with formula comes with more responsibility, and can make it less convenient during feed time.
- Shorter shelf life. A bottle of formula and a bottle of breast milk both have different shelf lives; freshly expressed breast milk can sit out for up to 4 hours before it starts to go bad, and formula shelf life is about two hours shorter. Combining the two together ultimately brings down that shelf life, which can lead to waste if your baby doesn’t eat the entire bottle in time.
- A confused gut microbiome. Mixing formula and breast milk can initially cause a disruption in your baby’s gut balance, which can cause gas or other similar digestive problems
Moving from exclusively breastfeeding to combination feeding can be a positive experience, but it also comes with a learning curve. Talk to your pediatrician before you introduce your baby to formula, and remember that it could take a few feeding sessions for your little one to get used to the change.
How to Prepare a Bottle of Breast Milk and Formula
Before you make a bottle, be sure you wash your hands and make sure that all bottles and other items are clean.
It’s important to note that mixing breast milk and formula isn’t as simple as adding both to a bottle and shaking it up. It’s recommended to mix formula and water as you would the directions on the box, and then you can add the breast milk. The breast milk shouldn’t serve as a replacement for water.
We recommend introducing formula slowly, with only a ¼ of the feeding amount containing formula. Over time, you can adjust the ratios to wean your baby fully off of the breast milk, or to line up with the last of your supply.
Celebrate Your Breastfeeding Journey
No matter how unique your breastfeeding journey is, honoring the good and the hard moments can remind you about your strength as a mother and the depth of a bond that breastfeeding brought for you and your little one.
At KeepsakeMom, we can help you celebrate your breastfeeding journey with a gorgeous piece of breastmilk jewelry. From rings and earrings to necklaces and bracelets, we have a variety of jewelry choices as well as unique personalization options to choose from. Explore one-of-a-kind breastmilk jewelry at KeepsakeMom today.