About mixed feeding
Breastfeeding has many benefits for babies and breastfeeding mothers. Most breastfeeding mothers can breastfeed and produce enough milk for their babies if they have the right information, support and care.
Sometimes breastfeeding is difficult, or your baby might not be able to feed directly from your breast. In these situations, you can usually give your baby expressed breastmilk.
Other times you might breastfeed or use expressed breastmilk and also give your baby infant formula. This is called mixed feeding.
You might need to do mixed feeding if your baby is:
- born very premature (at less than 32 weeks of gestational age)
- very ill
- not gaining weight well.
Or you might do mixed feeding because you:
- are supplementing breastmilk with formula while you try to increase your milk supply
- are returning to work and are finding it hard to express enough breastmilk or you prefer not to express
- feel uncomfortable breastfeeding in public.
If you’re worried about your milk supply or you’re having other breastfeeding challenges, start by talking with your midwife, child and family health nurse or GP. These professionals will be able to advise you and refer you to a lactation consultant if you need extra support. You can also call the National Breastfeeding Helpline on 1800 686 268 or use the ABA LiveChat.
Before you try mixed feeding
There are things to think about before you try mixed feeding.
Regular mixed feeding might make it more difficult to keep breastfeeding because it can interfere with keeping up a good supply of breastmilk. So if you’re thinking about introducing formula feeds, it’s important to talk about it first with your midwife, child and family health nurse, lactation consultant or GP.
You might talk about:
- how to boost your milk supply
- how much formula to give your baby
- how many times a day to give formula
- how long to continue giving formula.
When you’re doing mixed feeding
If you try mixed feeding, it’s good to be aware of the following:
- If your baby is used to breastfeeding, they might resist the bottle at first. It can help to get someone else, like your partner or a family member, to offer the bottle to your baby.
- Your baby might take milk from the bottle more quickly and start to prefer the bottle to the breast. This might cause your baby to refuse the breast.
- Your baby’s poos will change in colour, smell and consistency.
- Your breasts might get overfull, which can be painful. It can also cause your body to stop producing milk. If you started mixed feeding because you were concerned about your milk supply, this might be a sign to increase breastfeeding again and reduce mixed feeding.
If your baby is around 6 months old, you might like to try offering infant formula in a cup. This can help your baby learn to drink from a cup.
Increasing breastfeeding while doing mixed feeding
If you want to increase breastfeeding again and reduce the amount of mixed feeding your baby has, talk with your midwife, child and family health nurse and/or lactation consultant.
Decisions about cutting back on mixed feeding depend on why you introduced formula feeds, how old your baby is and how much formula your baby is having.
To cut back on mixed feeding, you can try:
- gradually increasing your milk supply by expressing after breastfeeding
- increasing how often you breastfeed your baby
- gradually reducing the amount of formula you offer in each bottle
- cutting out some formula feeds.