I was one month into maternity leave when I started thinking about the logistics of going back to work while breastfeeding. I was trying to navigate what my pumping at work schedule would be like. And, let me just say, it was stressing me out!
Would I pump enough milk? Would I have enough time to pump? After thinking about it more, I wondered if supplementing with a small amount of formula was a good solution.
I had no choice but to supplement with formula for my twins. My experience with that helped open me up to the idea possibly formula feeding on occasion.
Now, my next dilemma was that I wasn’t really sure how to supplement with formula. One of my biggest questions was whether it would be difficult to introduce formula as my baby got older.
Given my worries about returning to work, I decided to ask about introducing formula, as a supplement, at the 6 week pediatrician appointment. This is what I learned.
Introduce Formula By 2 Months Old
This was a surprise. It was much earlier than I anticipated.
According to our pediatrician, the best chance that your baby will easily accept formula, is to give it by 2 months old. It is easier to introduce formula early because your baby will get used to its taste.
This same timeline applies for introducing a bottle to a breastfed baby too.
Even with my previous experience of giving both formula and breast milk to my twins, it was very difficult emotionally, to give my baby that first bottle of formula.
However, I was confident that in the long run it would help me breastfeed longer. It turned out to work really well. My baby never had more than 1 bottle of formula a day over the next year.
By supplementing with formula I gained a reduction in stress. If I didn’t pump enough milk at work or I needed to be away for a couple hours on the weekend, I wasn’t overly worried about how much breast milk was available.
How To Start Supplementing With Formula
If your baby won’t take formula initially, which is likely, mix the formula with breast milk. I recommend either starting with one quarter or one half formula and the rest of the bottle containing breast milk.
Add more formula to the bottle every 2 to 3 days until your baby is drinking formula by itself. This is also a good method if you are worried that your baby’s stomach will react poorly to formula.
One thing I found confusing, at first, was how to combine breast milk and formula in one bottle. Should you mix powdered formula with breast milk or water?
The short answer is, mix powdered formula with water then combine with the amount of breast milk you want. Start by making up the formula.
An example is to put 2 oz of water in a bottle with one scoop of formula. Shake the bottle to mix it. Add another 2 oz of breast milk and shake lightly to mix the formula and breast milk. This gives an approximately 50:50 mixture, but you can adjust your breast milk to formula ratio, as needed.
Can You Mix Formula And Breast Milk?
I would like to point out that it is completely safe to mix formula and breast milk together in a bottle. You may have heard that you are not supposed to mix breast milk and formula.
The only reason for this is to prevent breast milk (aka liquid gold) from going to waste. To give you an idea of my experience, after 6 weeks old, I knew my baby was a good eater. I was comfortable that his bottles would generally be completely finished.
The biggest risk of mixing formula and breast milk is a small amount of breast milk might go to waste. The older your baby gets, the less of a concern this probably will be.
Personally, my attitude towards using separate bottles for feedings is that “ain’t nobody got time for that”. I prefer to take the very small risk of wasting an ounce of breast milk, rather than making up two separate bottles.
You won’t have a fussy baby waiting to be fed, plus you will have less prep time and less to clean up. All very important things to consider when you have a newborn at home.
Decide On The Number Of Formula Feedings
If you are going to be supplementing with formula, it is best to decide approximately how many feedings a day will be formula versus breast milk.
In order to continue breastfeeding you will need to maintain your breast milk supply. To do this, slowly introduce additional formula feeds every 3 to 4 days. This will maintain the appropriate supply of breast milk. Plus, slowly adding formula feeds will help reduce breast engorgement.
Another thing to consider is the adjustment to formula for baby. The first brand or type of formula you try, might not work out. Don’t rush into more than 1 bottle of formula a day until you know your baby is reacting well to the diet change.
I hope these tips give you a better understanding of how to supplement with formula, along with giving you an idea of how to approach it.
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