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Combination Feeding 101: Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding Schedules

Combination feeding is when you give baby both breastmilk and formula throughout the day.

This article’s aim is to answer most of your combination feeding questions and give you breastfeeding and formula feeding schedule ideas.

At the end of the post, look for the baby feeding bundle with loads of tools to help you with everyday baby care.

Let’s take a look!

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Common Questions About Combining Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding

Let’s begin with addressing some common breastfeeding and formula feeding questions and then look at reasons why combination feeding might be a good fit for you.

Can you Breastfeed and Formula Feed A Baby at the Same Time?

Of course! 

The method of combining both breast milk and formula feeding is called supplementing and this is perfectly ok to do.

There are moms who breastfeed first, and then finish with a bottle of formula. Or, some moms formula feed during the day and breastfeed at night.

This read is an ultimate breastfeeding and formula feeding guide that aims to answer as many of your combination feeding questions as possible! 

Let’s keep going!

What are the Benefits of Part-Time Nursing?

There seems to sometimes be a reluctancy for some moms to accept combination feeding as a viable breastfeeding option.

Remember, breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all or nothing. I learned this lesson with my second baby. 

When it comes to mixed feeding, you may ask yourself this logical question, “Is it worth it to only breastfeed once a day?”

With that said, let’s just look at some bullet points of what benefits still remain for a baby that is combination fed breastmilk and formula.

  • Baby is still getting some of that liquid gold. With which, even in very small amounts equates to enormous nutritional benefits for baby.
  • The bonding component to nursing is still intact even if it is only taking place once or twice a day. 
  • A baby that nurses from the breasts may increase their oral development overall.

If you want to try combination feeding, but are hesitant due to a perceived loss in the bonding experience, see these genuinely simply ways to bond with baby without nursing.

Can I Breastfeed During the Day and Formula Feed at Night?

This mixed feeding question is often asked when moms are searching for a way to help their baby sleep better through the night.

Depending on the age of the baby, frequent wakings to feed are a normal and necessary survival instinct.

Giving your baby formula at night is no guarantee that they will sleep longer. However, it is of course a personal choice whether you give your baby formula at night and breastfeed during the day.

Reasons for Combination Feeding

There really are many reasons why a baby may end up being combination fed. To add to that, the reasons themselves can be just as vastly different as we are to each other.

Nevertheless, there seem to be some more common reasons for combination feeding as a whole and those tend to be as follows:

  • Low birth weight or trouble gaining weight.
  • Low milk supply.
  • Mother of multiples.
  • Mom wants to sleep in and let spouse or someone else feed the baby.
  • Breasts did not respond well to pumping.
  • Period has caused baby to reject breast milk.
  • Baby won’t drink frozen milk due to high lipase.
  • Baby is easily distracted while nursing.
  • Baby has developed nipple confusion.
  • Mom has chosen to wean off of pumping.

I should also add that many new moms experience trouble with latching their newborns, which can lead to pain and low milk supply from the start. 

To avoid many of the reasons that can sabotage successful breastfeeding – take an online breastfeeding course, like Milkology’s The Ultimate Breastfeeding Class.

My Experience with Combination Feeding

I myself am currently combination feeding my 6 month old.

We started out strong by exclusively nursing, this changed when I began allowing my husband to give our baby a bottle of formula some mornings so I could catch up on sleep. 

My baby quickly began preferring the bottle over breast when he realized how much better he could look around at everything that was going on in the house.

He gets distracted very easily and has a bad case of FOMO!

Soon, he was refusing to nurse during the day. We now bottle feed formula in the daytime and he nurses at night and first thing in the morning.

It’s not exactly what I had hoped for, but he’s happy and I’m allowing myself to still consider that a huge win! 

Mixed Feeding Pros and Cons

An advantage of mixed feeding, is that you always know your baby is getting fed enough. 

Another pro for combination feeding, is that someone other than mom has the ability to feed baby, giving mom a much needed break.

A substantial disadvantage of mixed feeding for some moms is the decrease in milk supply. However, this can be avoided by expressing breast milk in between bottle feedings. 

Part-Time Nursing Options

Partial weaning or otherwise known as part-time nursing is simply the breastfeeding process you choose to adopt. As you will see, combination feeding can take on many different forms.

Some part-time nursing options include:

  • Formula feed during the day and breastfeed at night.
  • Breastfeed during the day and let dad formula feed baby at night.
  • Breastfeed at night, early in the morning and around nap time, formula feed the rest of the time.

Partial Weaning for Working Moms

A common demographic who try combination feeding the most is the working mom. This of course has a lot to do with mom being away from baby during the day.  

There are also other reasons why a working mom may find partial weaning a favorable option for her.

For example, there are working mothers who choose not to pump at work or are not able to.

Some working moms have demanding work schedules and need to wean from pumping while at work.

A combination feeding scenario for working moms means that baby will be fed formula or food items while they are apart and will resume some breastfeeding when back together.

A combination feeding schedule for working moms could look something like this:

  • Baby nurses first thing in the morning.
  • Baby nurses again one more time before mom and baby separate for the day.
  • Baby receives formula and/or food throughout the day while mom is at work.
  • Baby resumes nursing when back to together with mom and throughout the night as needed.

Some moms struggle with how to transition their baby from breastfeeding 100% of the time to combination feeding them once returning to work.

If you feel like this resonates with you, I would encourage you to register for The Ultimate Back to Work Pumping Class by Milkology.

 
With this easily accessible online resource, you will learn the essential strategies for preparing yourself and your baby for the transition. I find the lessons on how to introduce a bottle to your baby some of the most helpful.

How Will Partial Weaning Affect Milk Supply?

Milk supply is dependent on milk removal.

This rule of lactation means that as long as milk production was established early on, the breasts will continue to make milk even while only breastfeeding once or twice a day for extended periods of time.

Therefore, a drop in milk supply is inevitable when breastfeeding sessions are removed.

However, milk supply could potentially be regained with a consistent nursing or pumping schedule for a period of time. Here are a few effective ways to increase milk supply fast.

Relactating also strongly depends on how well your milk supply was originally established, how long it has been decreasing and how many months postpartum you are. (1)

If you find yourself in need of a quick milk supply fix, take Milkology’s online mini course, Master Your Milk Supply.

How to Start Feeding with Formula

You’ve made it to the point in this combination feeding guide where supplementing with formula is discussed in more detail.

We will look at topics such as how to mix breast milk with formula in the same bottle. As well as how to safely prepare, use and store different bottles of formula with and without breast milk. 

Let’s dive in!

What Percentage of Babies Use Formula?

Quickly, let’s look at some formula feeding stats just for some added insight! 

According to the CDC’s breastfeeding report card from 2018, 4 out of 5 babies begin their life being breastfed. However, by the time they turn 6 months old, 75% of babies have been fed formula. (2)

Does Supplementing with Formula Reduce the Benefits of Breastfeeding?

Is mixed feeding good for babies?

Any amount of breast milk is beneficial for babies.

However, introducing formula too early on may leave a breastfeeding mom at risk of hurting her milk supply, which could drastically shorten the duration of how long she can breastfeed.

Nipple confusion could also play a huge role in reducing the benefits of breastfeeding. Further down you’ll see which bottles are best for combination fed babies that help reduce the risk of nipple confusion.

Another avenue to turn to is exclusive pumping to maintain your milk supply with a baby who has severe nipple confusion.

You can learn the crucial techniques needed to know in order to succeed at exclusively pumping in this excellent online exclusive pumping class.

Best Baby Bottles for Combination Feeding

The misconception with baby bottles for breastfed babies – is that the bottle should be shaped like a breast. That this, will eliminate nipple confusion if the baby feels as if he or she is feeding from a breast.

This is false. 

Instead, you want to look for a baby bottle with a nipple that looks and feels like a natural nipple would when latched on to, like these bottles at Amazon.

Not a bottle that looks like a breast.

You can see the difference below in these two baby bottles for a clear comparison.

Baby bottles comparison for breastfed babies to avoid nipple confusion.

How do You Combine Breast Milk and Formula?

Can you mix breast milk and formula in the same bottle? The answer is yes, but there are some rules to follow when doing so to ensure safety guidelines are being followed. 

Let’s also look at how to prepare your bottle of formula.

First, prepare your bottle with distilled, purified or safe drinking water and follow the instructions on the powdered formula jar for how to determine the amount of formula to water ratio.

See the five powdered infant formula steps in the infographic below.

Once the formula is properly prepared, you can then add the breast milk to the same bottle. 

Pin this for later

How to prepare formula in 5 steps infographic.

If you would like the assurance of the perfectly portioned bottle of formula, the Baby Brezza at Amazon does the measuring for you to create the safest bottle of formula every time!

Rules for Mixing Breast Milk and Formula in the Same Bottle

While mixing breast milk and formula together can be perfectly safe, there are still some safety precautions you should take when doing so.

For one, you should never replace breast milk for water when preparing a bottle of formula for your baby. 

There are also different rules for storage and use of breast milk and formula. Formula, once mixed has a much shorter time-span for use than freshly pumped breast milk does. (3)

Storage and Use Guidelines:

  • Mixed formula is good within 1 day.
  • Combination formula and breast milk bottle should also be used within 1 day or discarded.
  • Freshly pumped breast milk should be used within 5 days of refrigeration.
  • Freshly pumped room temperature breast milk is good for up to 5 hours. (4)
  • A bottle of formula and/or mixed breast milk with formula at room temperature should be used within 1 hour or discarded.
  • Partially drank formula or formula plus breast milk should be immediately discarded and not reused.

Combination Feeding Amounts, How Much Formula?

In general babies eat when they’re hungry and will stop when they get full.

Babies will also usually signal that they are hungry by rooting, suckling, sucking on hands, opening their mouth and crying. Learning your baby’s hunger cues is a vital skill and top breastfeeding tip for first time moms.

It is important to talk to your baby’s doctor to get the best idea of how much formula to give your baby based on their growth curve, age and weight.

A simple guideline (not a rule) to go by to help you roughly estimate about how much formula a baby might need based on weight – is to give a baby 2.5 ounces of formula per 1 lbs. of body weight daily. (5)

Breastfeeding and Formula Feeding Schedule

Time to see an example combination feeding schedule for a baby around 6 months old. This will be based on my current mixed feeding schedule with my little combi-fed guy.

To add more context, I prefer to formula feed during the day and breastfeed at night.

This way, my baby can be fed by anyone during the day and I can sometimes catch up some much needed sleep or even leave the house from time to time.

It is easiest for me to still nurse him in bed when he wakes 1-2 times in the middle of the night. 

The reason I am not pumping this time (like I did with my first born) is because my breasts did not respond well to the pump after exclusively breastfeeding my son for the first 5 months of his life.

And to be completely honest, I just was not as passionate about pumping this time around after doing it exclusively for a full year with my first!

Combination Feeding Schedule 6 Month Old:

  • 7:30 AM – Nurse baby in bed after waking.
  • 8:30 AM – Give baby a 4-5oz. bottle of formula.
  • 9:30 AM – First nap of the day.
  • 10:30/11 AM – 4oz. bottle of formula.
  • 12:00 PM – 2nd nap of the day.
  • 2:00 PM – 4-5oz. bottle of formula and maybe some baby food after.
  • 4:30 PM – 3-4oz. bottle of formula and nap time.
  • 5:30 PM – 3oz bottle of formula and some baby food.
  • 7:00 PM – 4oz bottle of formula and bedtime.
  • 11:30 – 4:30 – Nurse baby as needed throughout the night.

I hope seeing a visual of what our mixed feeding schedule looks like on a daily basis gives you a better idea of how combination feeding might fit in to your daily routine.

This of course is just an example and your baby will most likely require something unique to him or her.

Another helpful post related to this topic is this breastfeeding and pumping schedules guide full of real life routines to help you realistically plan it all out.

Combination Feeding Tips

How to Save Money on Formula 

Amazon is a convenient place to buy formula. Plus, if you use Amazon’s subscribe and save option, you can get up to 20% off every month if you’re purchases meet the minimum criteria. 

You can also sign up with formula companies to receive truck loads of free formula samples and look for coupons they will most likely also send you.

Introducing A Bottle Tips

Start with one feeding a day to replace the breast with bottle. Choose a feeding when baby will be expecting a feed, but don’t wait until they are very hungry.

Sometimes things go more smoothly when someone else other than mom gives baby their first bottle. You may also want to start baby’s introduction to a bottle with breast milk, which will be more familiar to them.

Wavelength font that reads "looks here!"You might be interested in this printable baby bundle with resources to help you with everyday baby care! 

To Top Things Off

Combination feeding can take on many different forms and be for many different reason. Breastfeeding IS NOT one size fits all and it doesn’t have to be something else you need to the best at.

Mixed feeding still has many benefits and if part-time nursing works best for you, there is no reason to feel guilty if your baby gets formula everyday as well.

I sincerely hope this introduction to combining breastfeeding and formula feeding left you feeling more confident and informed!

Thanks for making it to the end!

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