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
is the ideal form of nutrition for babies (especially during the
first 6 months). However, it's every couple's choice to
decide what's best for them and their babies. And commercially
prepared formulas are designed and strictly regulated to provide
the nutrients your baby needs.
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
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. And many of the health benefits of breastfeeding come
during the first 2 months from protective antibodies in breast milk
that can help keep babies healthy.
Unless your child's doctor recommends it, avoid giving your
breast milk (this is called
) 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, supplementing breast milk with formula may be the only option
if you still want to continue breastfeeding. After all, some breast
milk is better than none at all.
It's important to remember that your baby's health and
happiness is, in large part, determined by what works for you as a
family and is
solely based on recommendations. So if you need to supplement or
even go to 100% formula, your baby will be fine and healthy,
especially if it creates less stress for you.
If I want to begin giving my breastfed baby formula how should
Depending on how much formula you'd like to give your baby
(whether it's one bottle a day, one bottle a week, or several
bottles throughout the day), you can begin by eliminating the
desired amount of breastfeeding or pumping sessions. Of course, as
you eliminate feedings, your milk supply will decrease and your
body will begin to adapt to produce enough milk to accommodate your
new feeding schedule. To reduce uncomfortable engorgement from
skipping regular feedings, you may want to gradually decrease
feedings over time.
Starting your breastfed baby on formula can cause some
constipation or hardening of the stools (or poop), but continuing
to nurse and adding some prune juice to the formula can help keep
your baby's stools soft. Mixing some of your pumped breast milk
with formula also can help your baby to better digest the formula
and get used to the new taste, but this isn't necessary. You
can still nurse from the breast and introduce the bottle as you
need to. Be sure to talk your child's doctor, though, if your
baby is having trouble pooping.
Should I give my baby the bottle at first or should I have
someone else do it?
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 formula feeding. If your
little one has a hard time adjusting to this new form of feeding,
just be patient and keep trying.
Larissa Hirsch, MD
Date reviewed: March 2009
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice,
diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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