There has been a great deal of talk over breastfeeding and bottle feeding over the last few years. Although breastfeeding is clearly the superior option, it isn’t always a possibility for modern moms.
In some cases, you are going to need to switch from the breast to the bottle and back again.
Now, there isn’t anything wrong with this. After all, all that really matters is that your baby is getting proper nutrition.
However, if you have never tried Mixed Feeding or Combination feeding techniques before, you may be a little confused about how to get started. If so, here is the complete guide to help you master the art of combination feeding.
Recommended Read: Baby Self Feeding: 7 Tips To Get Started
What is Combination Feeding?
First things first, let’s set the record straight on what combination feeding actually is. At some point or another, many moms find that they can’t breastfeed their babies as continuously as they once did.
Now, in the past, this has meant that moms have had to give up breastfeeding completely. This isn’t the case any longer.
Combination feeding, or mixed feeding, is when you feed your baby breast milk as well as formula.
As a result, at any given point, a baby’s bottle may contain either breast milk or formula. The exact schedule that you come up with for combination feeding, depends on you.
What is the Impact of Combination Feeding?
The premise of combination feeding may sound great. However, are there any issues to be worried about? For instance, are there any health concerns associated with combination feeding?
Not at all! As mentioned, when most moms can’t breastfeed regularly, they often end up giving up entirely.
With combination feeding, though, your baby gets the best of both worlds. While they will be switching to formula, they will still benefit from the nutrition and antibodies that are exclusively present in breast milk.
Of course, combination feeding can take some getting used to – for you and the baby. There is a bit of a learning curve involved. However, as long as you follow the guidelines mentioned here, the process should go more smoothly.
You should also be aware that not all babies will readily accept a bottle of formula. They may also need to get used to switching between the two types of milk. Once you have established a routine, though, there shouldn’t be any more problems.
Establish Breastfeeding First
Most experts would advise you to wait a while before beginning combination feeding. This is so that babies can get used to being breastfed and reduce the risk of nipple confusion. On average you should breastfeed for around 4 to 6 weeks before switching over to a bottle.
Of course, if you can breastfeed your baby for a longer period of time, you absolutely should. However, you should anticipate that it may take your little one some time to get used to a bottle. So, you shouldn’t wait too long to make the transition.
How Much Milk Your Baby Needs?
When you are breastfeeding, you don’t have to think about how much milk your little one needs. Rather, they drink until they are full. When bottle-feeding, though, you need to know just how much to give your little one at every feed.
This involves some math. Infants will need to eat about 2 to 3 ounces of formula around eight to twelve times a day. At around the 3-month point, your baby will be eating around 4 to 6 ounces, four to six times a day.
Of course, you should bear in mind that these are just guidelines – each baby is different. It is only by paying close attention to how much and how often your baby eats that you will be able to come up with the right amount for him or her.
Creating a Combination Feeding Schedule
To begin with, start by introducing just one bottle of formula as a substitute for breast milk feeding. This shouldn’t be the first meal of the day. Rather, introduce this as the second or third bottle. Your baby may be more likely to accept the milk this way.
Continue with this schedule for several days so that it is established. Then, depending on your needs, you can increase the number of formula bottles that you offer. Once again, it is best to do this gradually to reduce the chance of your babies rejecting certain feedings.
Keep in mind that your baby may not automatically take to formula or the bottle. If you find that they reject it, switch to the breast or breast milk for a few days. Then, try to start again.
Some people find it easier to have the dad or someone else try the bottle feeding technique. Your baby may be more likely to take to the bottle if they can’t smell their mother’s milk. If this is an option that you are willing to try, make sure that you are not in the room when the baby is offered the bottle. They may not be as keen to take it if they know there is a more familiar choice available.
Keep Expressing Milk
Combination feeding involves going back and forth between the breast and the bottle. As such, it is important that your body continues to produce milk, even when you aren’t breastfeeding. This is where breast pumps come in. They mimic the action of a suckling baby, encouraging your body to keep producing milk.
As an added bonus, it also allows you to give your little one breast milk, even when they are drinking out of a bottle. Of course, the trick is to find a breast pump to suit your needs.
Now, if you are a working mom, a double electric breast pump is the best option for you. As baby magazine Little One Mag shows, these devices can get the job done twice as fast. If you are looking to save money, however, a manual pump may be a better fit for you.
Introducing Your Baby to a Bottle
The next step will be introducing your baby to a bottle. First, make sure that the milk is the right temperature. Then, sit down and hold your baby close to your body. Keep their body in a semi-upright position. Offer them the teat so that they can suck it into their mouth by themselves. Make sure to align the bottle so that no air can enter your baby’s mouth.
Don’t worry if your baby doesn’t take to the bottle immediately. Many are put-off by the fact that they have to learn a new sucking action. So, give it some time. You could also try a different nipple shape or size – they may find this more comfortable.
Tips to Master Combination Feeding
Here are a few tips that you should pay attention to…
- Always try switching to a bottle of formula when your baby is happy and relaxed. This way, he or she won’t reject it out of anger or frustration. If you feel like your baby is not in a good mood, you may want to postpone introducing them to formula or the bottle for another time.
- You should also only try this new technique when your baby is hungry, but not too hungry. If your baby is crying at the feeding time, it means that they are overly hungry. To avoid this scenario, try and feed your baby with formula or the bottle a few hours after they have breastfed.
- Maintain lots of skin to skin contact before feeding your baby. Cuddle with them before feeding. This will help to mimic the same conditions as breastfeeding. Not to mention, your baby will be more likely to feel comforted as well.
This is how you can master the art of combination feeding. Now you know how to get the best of both worlds for your little one.