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Can You Mix Breast Milk and Formula in the Same Bottle?

If you are not exclusively breastfeeding your baby, you may wonder if you can combine the two sources of your baby's nutrition.


Breast milk is the number 1 choice of nutrition recommended by pediatricians.  About half of the moms who start breastfeeding exclusively from birth are still nursing by the six-month mark.  However, in a report from the CDC in 2016, they showed that 81 percent of mothers started breastfeeding but stop early.


For mothers who want to continue providing their child with the best possible nutrition, but for some reason cannot nurse exclusively, they supplement formula along with breast milk.  When it comes to combining the two, there are some challenges.


Finding the Right Balance of mixing breast milk and formula

The right balance of breast milk and baby formula can be complicated.  If your breast milk supply is limited, you do not want to waste a drop. If your baby is drinking four ounces per feeding, you could combine two ounces of breast milk with two ounces of formula.  But what if your baby does not finish the bottle during that feeding?  Did your little one get every bit of the breast milk or was any left behind? 


Adding breast milk and formula together is fine because it does not change the composition.  At the same time, it does not guarantee they get what you want them to.  For this reason, you should offer breast milk and baby formula separately.  It can be done in two ways:


  • Start with a bottle of breast milk and finish with a bottle of baby formula
  • Dedicate one feeding to breast milk (from breast or expressed) and one feeding to formula


If you are still nursing, this allows you to work and your baby's caregiver to have enough formula during your time away.  Bottles also allow your partner to share in the bonding time during feedings.


If you are supplementing breast milk with baby formula, always follow the directions on the formula package.  Do not add the formula powder directly into the breast milk.  There is not enough liquid or water to dilute the concentrated mix.  The result can do damage to your baby's developing kidneys.  For this reason, it is important to prepare the powder with water.

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