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When Should I Supplement With Formula?

The decision to supplement breastfeeding with baby formula can be stressful for some mothers, but it does not have to be.  Both sources of nutrition provide your baby with everything your little one needs.  If you have spoken to your doctor about your thoughts on supplementing breast milk with a bottle, you will find that you do have more support than you might think.

Why Do Moms Supplement a Breastfed Baby's Diet With Formula?

Breast milk has been identified as the best food for every baby  If you started your baby this way, then they have started life with important nutrients, antibodies, and support that you could provide them.  There are a number of factors that can cause a mother to consider adjusting their exclusively-breastfed baby's diet. 

  • Your baby's health. Your little one may need more nutrition than you are able to provide.  It could be blocked ducts, low supply/high demand, or dealing with feeding multiples. 
  • Work schedule. If you have to go back to work, you can pump and stock up on breast milk. You can also continue nursing before and after work.  However, your baby is growing and the supply may dwindle.
  • Your health. The first few months of your life with your baby is rewarding, but can be exhausting.  You lack sleep, or your partner wants to give you a break.  When you are nursing every two to three hours, you can appreciate a little time that your baby shares with others.

When is the Best Time to Supplement With Formula?

The longer you wait to start your newborn on formula, the better off your child's health will be.  More than anything, you want to be able to establish your own milk supply and nursing routine.  Your baby is already working on latching and sucking on the breast, so allow your little one to master that first.  After your baby turns one month, then you can consider offering a bottle of formula.  Your milk supply will not be disrupted and your baby may be interested in trying something new.

How Should You Supplement Breastfeeding With Formula? 

No child is the same, so the transition will also differ from baby to baby.  If you already offer expressed breast milk in a bottle, then your baby is already used to a different nipple.  If your baby is hungry, you may find that the process is easier.  Some babies will resist a different source only because they can smell your breast milk when you are close to them.  Since it tastes sweeter than formula, you may find it more challenging during feeding than someone else. 

One thing that you should not try is combining breast milk with formula.  If your baby does not consume the whole bottle, then you may wonder if they received all of the benefits of breast milk.  It is ok to start with a bottle of breast milk, then provide one or two ounces of formula if your baby shows signs of still being hungry.

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