What is Combination Feeding?

Baby doing Paced feeding

Combination feeding is breastfeeding alongside offering bottles of formula or expressed breastmilk.

Reasons for Combination Feeding:

  • Baby is not gaining sufficient weight from exclusive feeding, and you have been advised to introduce top-ups.
  • You may be finding it difficult to breastfeed exclusively
  • You may want to introduce a bottle as you will be returning to work/study
  • You have an event coming up where you will be separated from your baby
  • You may find that combination feeding works best for you and your family
  • You may want your partner to help with feeds
  • You’ve been exclusively feeding but want to start weaning from breastfeeding
  • You’ve been bottle feeding your baby expressed milk/formula due to illness/prematurity and want to transition to exclusive/partial breastfeeding.

What do I need to keep in mind:

  • If you want to combine feed try to wait until after your baby is 6 weeks old and your supply is more stable
  • If your baby is close to 6 months and you are considering combine feeding due to returning to work, you may not need to. Consider introducing a sippy cup instead.
  • Keep your teat size as slow flow as possible and that you use ‘Paced Feeding’ when bottle feeding.
  • If you are introducing bottles as you feel your supply has dropped, please contact your local breastfeeding counsellor or Lactation Consultant first.

Will combination feeding affect my supply?

Yes…and Not necessarily. It depends on your supply, when you start supplementing, and how you do it.

It’s important to understand how breastmilk is made and supply maintained. If you are giving a bottle of expressed milk or formula once a day and pumping around the same time, you may not suffer a dip in supply.

Many mums do this at night. Mum pumps and goes to bed/shower etc, and dad gives the bottle and settles baby so mum gets a rest. Mum then breastfeeds the rest of the time.

Happy mum and baby

If I combine feed with formula, what milk should I use?

Level 1 milks are the most suitable as they are whey based and are easier for baby to digest, but not as easy as breastmilk, so your baby may have more digestive/reflux issues after a formula feed.

If you are planning on introducing formula at night in the hopes that your baby will be fuller and then sleep the night? This won’t work.  Babies under the age of around 8 months are not biologically meant to sleep through the night.  Babies who wake frequently at night to breastfeed are at a reduced risk of SIDS also.

In giving your baby more formula at night in the hopes of baby sleeping through, you will run into 2 issues:

  • 1) Over feeding your baby and over-riding their feelings of fullness, so that breastfeeding may become less satisfying.
  • 2) Risking your baby sleeping longer, therefore not waking to feed, and inadvertantly dropping your supply.

Please talk to your local L.C. or breastfeeding counsellor if you are combination feeding. They will support your choices and help you achieve your goals, even if that includes deciding to wean.