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Is it Okay to Supplement My Healthy Breastfed Baby Formula Milk?

Whether you choose to nurse your newborn or start on formula right away, you know that you are providing the best nutrition for your little one.  Mothers who breastfeed are confident about the antibodies, immunity boosters, and wholesome nourishment they provide.  They also cherish that special bonding time that only they can share. 

After a few weeks, some mothers start to doubt their decision to breastfeed exclusively.  The idea of falling back on baby formula to supplement their healthy baby's diet becomes more appealing. 

Why Would You Consider Supplementing Baby Formula for Your Breastfed Baby? 

  • Back to Work: After six weeks of maternity leave, you may have to return to work.  Even though it is possible to continue breastfeeding after you go back to work, it still has its challenges.  You may not have the best resources for pumping throughout the day.  Your time away from your baby may decrease your milk supply.  You may not have enough milk ready for your child's caregiver.  As much as you want to continue feeding your baby breast milk, the obstacles make you reconsider.  Baby formula can be readily available even if your supply is not.
  • Physical Health: Not only are you tired and crabby, but you are worn out  after nursing every two to three hours, day or night.  Nursing takes a toll on your body.  If you are not taking care of your breasts, they can be sore and chafed, making it painful to nurse so frequently.  Nursing mothers burn extra calories in the process, but they may also be losing sleep by exclusively feeding the baby on demand.
  • Mental Health: The hormone oxytocin helps with milk ejection reflex, or “let down”, as well as works as a natural antidepressant.  However, some mothers feels that their child is constantly attached to them.  As guilty as they may feel about this reaction, all they want is a little more personal time that their baby cannot provide for them.  All mothers need a break at some point.  As selfish as it may feel, a little personal time can make the mother's interaction with the baby more satisfying and less stressful. 

How Can I Transition My Breastfed Baby Into Baby Formula?

Before you make any changes to your baby's diet, talk to your pediatrician.  If you want to supplement because of your supply or challenges in nursing, be sure to speak with a lactation consultant if breastfeeding is important to you.

When it comes to making the transition, experts will tell you that to take it slow.  Start by making a breast milk/formula combination.  Some babies need to adjust to the texture and taste.  They also need to get used to a new nipple if you haven't been expressing your breast milk for the times that you are away.  This is not a process that happens overnight.

What Can I Expect When My Breastfed Baby Starts Baby Formula?

During the adjustment period, you may see some differences in your child that are completely normal.  One of the differences that many mothers talk about is the excess gas.  As much as it is made to be easy on your baby's delicate digestive system, some babies find that it is harder to digest cow's milk.  It may take a few days to about a week to work itself out.  Since you are introducing something new, keep an eye out for major changes in temperament and in the diaper.

If you are introducing your baby to the bottle for the first time, look for a nipple that has flow control and a more natural shape.  Some babies prefer the bottle because it is easier to get their food.  Moms who want to continue to breast feed may find that their plan backfires when the baby wants the bottle exclusively.  You still have every opportunity to bond when you feed your child even though the process has changed.

Be sure to pump your milk even if your child is only having one bottle of formula.  You want to still provide all of that nutrition, and you can.  Expressing your milk allows you to have a small stockpile for those days that you are tired and feeling worn down.  Breast milk lasts in the refrigerator for 24 hours and six months in the freezer.


Breastfeeding is the best way to provide your child with the proper nutrition as well as develop a strong bond between mom and baby.  Baby formula is great to have on hand when breast milk is not available.  It also allows moms an extra moment for themselves when they find that their baby is sleeping longer, stays fuller longer, or is satisfied feeding with a different caregiver.  The transition toward formula supplementation needs to be slow so that you and your baby can make the change more smoothly.  You don't have to give up breastfeeding altogether if you don't want to, and you can be confident in your choice to supplement as well as the process.

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