From passive immunity to ideal nutrition, the benefits of breast milk are vast. Almost everyone is well aware of how breast milk is incredibly nutritious for babies, especially newborns. It normally takes days or several weeks for a new mother to confidently breastfeed their babies.
After finally getting the hang of it, you can supplement breast milk with formula. You can also do the combination feeding earlier as only breastfeeding sometimes does not go quite well as planned.
Feeding your infant a combination of bottled milk and breast milk has numerous advantages and is often the best decision. This article will discuss everything you need to know about choosing both formula and breastfeeding.
What is Combined Feeding?
Combined feeding simply means feeding your baby both formulated and breast milk. It can be done in various ways, but it involves the use of bottles. You can either do intervals of bottle feeding and nursing.
Alternatively, you can feed breast milk mixed with a formula using a feeding bottle, or feed your baby both breast milk and formulated milk separately via bottles. Breast milk can be fed with a bottle by pumping the breast milk from the lactating mother with the pumping device.
Reasons to Combine Bottle and Breastfeeding
There are various reasons to go for mixed feeding. According to your lifestyle and requirements, you can choose combination feeding. The common reasons why new mothers decide on both formula and breast milk are listed in the following:
- Some find it difficult to breastfeed exclusively
- Some are working mothers and have to be away from their little one. They need to ensure that their babies are getting their milk while they are away.
- Some mothers want to simply supplement their breast milk with a formula for more fortified nutrition.
Whatever the reason is behind this decision, it is important that the mother is content and confident with the way she is feeding her baby.
Benefits of Combination Feeding
The advantages of the combination of bottle and breastfeeding are quite straightforward. The benefits of this type of feeding are addressed in the following.
Combined Feeding Helps Infants to be Fully Fed
For the babies to thrive and be healthy, it is essential for them to drink enough milk. If the mother is having trouble producing sufficient amounts of milk, supplementing with formula is the ideal solution.
If you are concerned that your baby is not getting enough milk, consult with your doctor and a pediatrician. To help you decide which formula will be best for your baby, you can research online and read insightful articles like pickyeaterblog.com/best-baby-formula/.
Combined Feeding Lets Your Partner Feed as Well
Co-parenting can be done properly when your partner can also share the feeding responsibilities. It also helps the partner form a strong wholesome bond with their child while feeding the baby. It also helps immensely in reducing the load on the new mother.
Combined Feeding Reduces the Pressure on Nursing Mothers
The mother does not always have to be present all the time when combination feeding is adopted. This also gives the busy and exhausted mothers a break. While their child is getting fed on the bottle, they can take a rest or run some errands.
Introducing the Bottle
The best time to introduce bottled milk for healthy babies is usually around 2 to 6 weeks of age. It is better not to start bottle feeding before the age of two weeks or else your infant will prefer the formula more and will become unwilling to breastfeed.
This happens because drinking milk from the bottle is easier and faster. It must be kept in mind that it is normal for the little one to take time in getting accustomed to being breastfed. Some infants become used to the breast easily, while others take time to get accustomed to it.
Before introducing the bottle, establish breastfeeding in the first six weeks and make your little tot get comfortable with the nursing over time. Once your tiny one is breastfeeding effectively and starts gaining weight, start feeding her formula.
Avoid waiting for too long before introducing the bottle. The baby will reject the bottle if it is introduced late. Babies have sucking reflexes developed on the mother’s breast. These reflexes start fading away at around 6 weeks.
Hence, it is best to start bottle feeding before this instinct goes away, and your little darling intuitively suckles on the bottle. Choose a baby bottle that is also easy to hold and is made of high-quality material.
For the smooth transition from exclusive nursing to mixed feeding, it is ideal for the mother to gradually give her body time to reduce the amount of milk she produces. This aids in lowering the discomfort of swollen breasts and the risks of developing mastitis.
If the mother is planning to go back to work, it is recommended to start combined feeding weeks before joining the office. This will give enough time to allow both of you to get adjusted and comfortable with the new process of feeding.
It is better late than never. If your child is already six months old and knows how to drink from a cup, you do not need the bottle at all and can introduce the formula via the sippy cup.
Take Baby Steps
When introducing formulated milk, start slowly with small steps. Initiate mixed feeding with about half an ounce of the combined milk. If your baby is fed solely by breastfeeding, it is best to introduce the bottle with a wide slow-flow nipple that resembles the flow and shape of the mother’s nipples.
This will reduce the chance of your infant finding bottle feeding easier and rejecting being nursed completely. However, it must be kept in mind that a baby aged 3 months or older might get frustrated with a slow-flowing bottle, especially when the mother’s breasts have a fast flow.
If the mother’s milk flows fast, opt for fast-flowing nipples. Basically, choose artificial nipples that mimic the mother’s nipples. For ensuring the baby’s comfort and satiety, give the child a bottle one or two hours after her last feed.
You will know when the baby is hungry and ravenous if she starts crying profusely. Crying is the last sign of a hungry and exasperated baby. If the mother is the first person to introduce the bottle to the little one, the baby might refuse and insist on suckling on the breast.
If this is the scenario, ask your partner or another familiar face to introduce the first few bottles, if possible. Besides getting accustomed to bottle feeding, this will also help to build a wholesome feeding relationship with the partner or the close kin who stepped up in the feeding duty.
Be it a parent or another caregiver, whoever the person took on this feeding responsibility must bear in mind to remain calm and follow the baby’s cues. Babies are very intuitive and can sense stress. If they sense the feeder is being stressed or anxious then they might refuse to be bottle-fed.
Avoid Force Feeding Your Baby
Do not try to force-feed your baby when the bottle is rejected at first. Be patient and wait. Try again after an hour or two for the next nursing. There has been some research and studies that show evidence of overfeeding increases the risks of obesity.
It is best to follow responsive feeding, meaning feeding their babies when they are hungry rather than clocking their hunger cues. Instead of glancing at the clock, look at your baby and speculate whether the baby is hungry or not. Only feed when the baby is hungry.
When bottle-feeding, look out for signs showing that your tiny tot had enough. The clear indicators are pushing away the bottle, turning the face, spitting out the milk, gagging, chewing on the nipple, and falling asleep.
Bear in mind that leftover formula milk can not be saved for later. Do not, at all costs, feed your baby leftover formulated milk or milk that has been in the bottle for long hours.
Patiently Deal With Bottle Refusals
The process of feeding may seem tedious at first but over time you will get the hang of it. Try feeding your child patiently by following one of these tips.
Distracting the baby when giving the bottle works wonders for some parents. Use the opportunity of giving your baby the bottle when she is a bit distracted and in a calm mood.
For instance, you can plop the bottle for your baby when you are on a walk outside. You can also offer the bottle when your child is happily watching a favorite show on YouTube like the ones in Mother Goose Club.
You can gently warm the bottle nipple and the milk to make the experience resemble that of suckling on a breast.
You can offer your little angel a tiny taste of the milk. Try dribbling a few drops of milk in your baby’s mouth with a dropper or a syringe. Then plop the bottle in the mouth. This will trigger the suckling on the bottle.
You can play some music when bottle feeding. Similar to Pavlov’s conditioning, you can condition your child to drink the milk every time the music is played.
If your child is six months or older, try making them wean to a sippy cup. The infant might prefer drinking directly from the cup rather than the bottle as she can have more control over it.
Since most new mothers are advised about the multiple benefits of both breast and formula milk, the option for carrying out combined feeding seems revolutionary. Mixed feeding reaps the benefits of both types of milk and also ensures the wellbeing of the baby as well as the mother.