Mixed feeding is an option for those mums who are concerned about their breastmilk supply and their baby’s weight gain. Simply put, mixed feeding is when a mother breastfeeds her baby at some feeds and formula at others. Though mothers do mixed feeding for a myriad of reasons, it is important that you think carefully and thoroughly why you want to mix feed as mixed feeding is not as beneficial to your baby in comparison with purely breastfeeding. Before you start mixed feeding your baby, you need to be aware of the following:
* Your milk supply will decrease if you replace breastfeeding with formula.
* Your baby needs to learn the technique of bottle feeding. This comes easy to some and not so easy to others.
* Though some babies find it hard to breastfeed after being bottle fed, there are some babies who have no issues with it.
* Formula reduces the protection against illnesses which your natural milk provides. If possible, don’t stop breastfeeding, as any amount of breastmilk can still protect your baby from harmful organisms or substances in the environment.
* If you think mixed feeding is not for you and your baby then it’s still possible to switch back to pure breastfeeding.
When to Start Mixed Feeding
Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) strongly recommends babies to be exclusive breastfed during the first six months. However, if you feel that mixed feeding is necessary, you need to ensure that your breastfeeding routine is well established before you start mixed feeding. The reason behind this is because it usually takes several weeks for your breastmilk supply to build up and breastfeeding your baby is the best way to make sure a good milk supply is established.
If you start bottle feeding your baby even before you’ve established your supply, your milk production will most likely be reduced and your baby may develop a preference for bottle feeding thus giving up on breastfeeding easily.
Consider the following when introducing infant formula:
* Gradually introduce your baby to the formula to give time for your body to adapt and reduce the amount of milk it makes.
* It is best to formula feed your baby when they are relaxed and not when they’re hungry.
* Try to get someone to give the first feeds so your baby is not near you and so he won’t be able to smell you.
* Keep in mind that it may take a while before your baby gets used to formula feeding. It’s important that you keep trying and don’t ever resort to force feeding him.
ABA encourages mothers to make informed choices as to how they feed their babies. The association also advises mothers who are mixed feeding to work closely with a child health expert and breastfeeding expert to determine how much formula milk to use and how to further maximise breastmilk supply.