Do you want to breastfeed your baby while supplementing his diet with bottle-fed infant milk? Discover the golden rules of mixed breastfeeding!
What is mixed feeding?
Mixed breastfeeding is a feeding method that consists in alternating breast milk (breastfeeding) and infant milk (bottle feeding). This practice is now favored by many women for several reasons: the possibility of going back to work without giving up breastfeeding, of resuming activities outside the home, of delegating baby's meals to daddy, of continuing to breastfeed despite a low milk production... Advantageous on many points, mixed breastfeeding must be carried out rigorously in order to avoid a few worries:
- confusion between the breast and the pacifier for baby (some little ones will prefer the pacifier, or will no longer suckle the breast properly)
- a gradual decrease in breast milk production (the more baby sucks, the more lactation is stimulated)
How can mixed feeding be successful?
Start at the right time
Feeding your baby according to the principle of mixed feeding cannot be improvised. Before switching to this feeding method, baby's breastfeeding and lactation must be properly established: for the method to work, baby must already know how to suckle and your milk production must be sufficient.
In theory, the WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of your baby's life, before offering infant formula. If you cannot follow this recommendation, it is necessary to respect a minimum delay of 6 weeks before starting to alternate between breast milk and infant milk: this is the time your baby needs to learn to suck at the breast, and the time necessary to promote good lactation.
Maintain a minimum of 2 to 3 feeds per day
Taking into account the principle of lactation (the more the breast is solicited, the more milk the body produces), it is advisable to continue to give your baby at least 2 to 3 feedings per day. Although the frequency of feeds to maintain lactation varies greatly from one woman to another, 2 to 3 feeds are the minimum to allow your body to continue producing milk. Some women who have gone back to work prefer morning, late afternoon and evening feeds, for example, but each situation is unique: it's up to you to find the rhythm that will suit you and your baby.
Start off smoothly
Mixed breastfeeding should be introduced gently. To help your baby adapt to this new way of feeding, start by replacing a single feed with a bottle of infant formula, for example. Making a smooth transition can also help you avoid nipple engorgement (which can occur when feedings are too far apart).
Choosing the right bottle
It's important to choose the right bottle: your baby may have trouble drinking or, conversely, may prefer to drink from the bottle and start to abandon the breast. Your pediatrician (or pharmacist) will be able to advise you on the choice of bottle according to the age of your child (a nipple of speed 0 or 1 is generally perfectly suitable).
How much infant milk should I give my baby?
It is quite normal to be unsure of how much infant milk to give your baby when you start mixed feeding. To be sure you are meeting your baby's nutritional needs, ask your pediatrician or a health professional for advice. You can also find several tips online on how to choose your child's infant milk and prepare his bottles in the right way!