Skip to main content

Search
Wellness Topics for Infants 0-2 Years

Formula Feeding FAQs: Supplementing

|

The major health organizations — including the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), American Medical Association (AMA), the American Dietetic Association (ADA), and the World Health Organization (WHO) — agree that breast milk is the ideal form of nutrition for babies (especially during the first 6 months). However, it's your choice to decide what's best for you and your baby.

Whether you've decided to formula feed your baby from the start, are supplementing your breast milk with formula, or are switching from breast milk to formula, you're bound to have questions. Here are answers to some common inquiries about formula feeding.

Your Questions Answered
Getting Started
Preparation and Storage
How Much and How Often
Supplementing
Starting Solids and Milk
Some Common Concerns

I'm breastfeeding but also want to start giving my baby formula. Is this OK?

The AAP recommends exclusively breastfeeding (that is, giving the baby no other food, beverages, or formula) for the first 6 months. The many health benefits of breastfeeding continue during the entire time you are breastfeeding, and that helps keep your baby healthy.

Unless your child's doctor recommends it, avoid giving your baby breast milk and formula (this is called supplementing) at least until your milk supply has had a chance to develop and both you and your baby are used to the concept of breastfeeding. Most lactation professionals recommend that parents wait at least 1 month before offering pacifiers or artificial nipples of any kind to avoid nipple confusion. Early supplementing also can lead to a reduction in your milk supply.

If you are having a hard time pumping or need to go back to work, you might want to consider meeting with a lactation consultant to devise a plan to help. This might enable you to store milk in the freezer for later use. If you find that you need to supplement breast milk with formula, then continuing to offer as much breastfeeding and breast milk as possible. Add formula as needed. The more breast milk your baby gets the better!

If I want to begin giving my breastfed baby formula how should I start?

If you are using formula because you're not producing the amount your baby needs, nurse first. Then, give any pumped milk you have and make up the difference with formula as needed.

If you are weaning from one feeding at the breast or from breastfeeding altogether, you can begin to replace the desired amount of breastfeeding or pumping sessions with bottle feeds. To eliminate a feeding at the breast or a pumping session you should pump to comfort so you won't have problems with plugged ducts or mastitis.

As you eliminate breastfeeding sessions, your milk supply will decrease and your body will begin to adapt to produce enough milk to accommodate your new feeding schedule. Starting your breastfed baby on formula can cause some change in the frequency, color, and consistency of your baby's stools (or poop). Be sure to talk your doctor, though, if your baby is having trouble pooping. If your baby refuses formula alone, you can try mixing some of your pumped breast milk with formula to help the baby get used to the new taste.

Should I give my baby the bottle at first or should I have someone else do it?

If possible, you should have someone else give your little one the bottle at first. Why? Because babies can smell their mothers and they're used to receiving breast milk from mom, not a bottle. So try to have someone else — such as a caregiver or partner — give a breastfed baby the first bottle.

Also consider either being out of the house or out of sight when your baby takes that first bottle, since your little one will wonder why you're not the doing the feeding as usual. Depending on how your baby takes to the bottle, this arrangement may be necessary until he or she gets used to bottle feeding.

If your little one has a hard time adjusting to this new form of feeding, just be patient and keep trying.

Reviewed by: Joseph DiSanto, MD, and Karin Y. DiSanto, IBCLC
Date reviewed: February 2012

License

Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995–2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.

Should your child see a doctor?

Find out by selecting your child’s symptom or health condition in the list below:

Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

In This Issue

  • Cold Water Shock Can Quickly Cause Drowning
  • E-Cigs Are Addictive and Harmful
  • Bystanders Can Intervene to Stop Bullying

Download Spring 2014 (PDF)

Videos

Overcoming the Odds: A KING 5 TV Children's HealthLink Special 0:44:45Expand
12.30.13

In the spirit of the holidays, patients, parents and doctors share inspirational stories of healing and hope. From surviving heart failure and a near-death drowning to battling a flesh-eating disease, witness how the impossible became possible thanks to the care patients received at Seattle Children's Hospital.

Play Video
Miracle Season 2013 0:57:06Expand
12.11.13

Miracle Season, hosted by Steve Pool and Molly Shen, aired Dec. 8, 2013, on KOMO 4 TV. The annual holiday special celebrates the remarkable lives of Seattle Children's patients.

Play Video
Children’s Mental Health 0:00:30Expand
11.22.13

Mark Fadool, clinical director of mental health services at Odessa Brown Children's Clinic, provides early warning signs of mental health issues in kids and teens and urges us all to notice the signs and act early.

Play Video