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How To Make Breastfeeding And Bottle Feeding WORK For Your Baby

Whether you are looking for advice on breastfeeding and bottle feeding formula or expressed breast milk, this guide will teach you all you need to know.

There are definite breastfeeding issues that can arise when trying to breastfeed and bottle feed successfully.

Both pumping and formula feeding can result in a lower milk supply, and if your goal is to bottle and breastfeed for as long as possible, then you need to have a plan that you are going to follow.

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Breastfeeding And Bottle Feeding- Advantages And Disadvantages

Whether you are breastfeeding formula or expressed milk, learn how to make bottle feeding and breastfeeding work without affecting your milk supply.

While breastfeeding and bottle feeding can be tricky and do contain some disadvantages, there are definitely some great advantages as well.

Advantages Of Bottle Feeding

  • Gives mom a little more freedom (and possibly more sleep if dad does a night feeding!)
  • Allows mom to go back to work and continue to breastfeed
  • Allows other people to feed the baby
  • Easier to monitor your baby’s milk intake

Disadvantages Of Bottle Feeding Breast Milk

  • You will need to clean pump parts daily
  • You will likely be isolated from other people while pumping
  • There is a risk of contamination that doesn’t exist when directly breastfeeding your baby

Disadvantages Of Bottle Feeding Formula

  • Formula does not have many of the nutritional benefits of breast milk
  • Formula is not as easy to digest
  • Bottle preparation and sterilization
  • The cost

How To Breastfeed And Bottle Feed A Baby Expressed Milk

Let’s start with breastfeeding and bottle feeding expressed milk. I’ll talk about bottle feeding formula down below.

As I learned from my first born, breastfed babies can be very choosy. And specific. And HEADSTRONG.

We hear so much about the special bond that occurs from nursing a baby. Whether or not you believe in that, I can tell you with 100% certainty that my first baby was EXTREMELY bonded to the act of breastfeeding. So much so that she refused to drink breast milk any other way.

Despite trying everything.

Maybe if I had done things differently she would have accepted the bottle more easily. Of course I’ll never know, but there are definitely some mistakes that I made when it came to bottle feeding my baby.

I definitely don’t want you to make the same mistakes, because having a baby who refuses the bottle is STRESS. FUL.

Breastfeeding And Bottle Feeding Expressed Milk

Why is there this breastfeeding vs bottle feeding breast milk phenomenon? Why can’t a baby just take milk from breast, bottle, cup, whatever, without so much as a blink of the eye?

It’s like I said. Breastfeeding isn’t just nourishment. For your baby, it’s kind of like an entire experience. It’s warmth, it’s skin-to-skin connection. It’s your baby’s way of being as close as humanly possible to you.

Bottle feeding breast milk really can’t compare to the real thing, but sometimes it’s necessary.

Introducing Bottle To Breastfed Baby

You want to avoid your breastfed baby refusing the bottle, right? Of course you do!

Here’s how to bottle feed a breastfed baby.

  • Start introducing the bottle around 4-6 weeks old
  • Have someone other than you give the bottle (you reek of breast milk… seriously, my daughter weaned at age 3 *gasp* and when she randomly asked for it a few weeks later and I politely told her no, she said, “but I ‘mell it!”) Better yet, make sure you aren’t even in the same building.
  • Have the person giving the bottle hold your baby in a position that is different from your typical nursing position
  • Ensure that you are using a bottle meant for breastfeeding
  • Be consistent. I believe this is where I failed. My mother-in-law introduced the bottle at the right time, and then only gave her the bottle maybe three more times before I went back to work at 4 months. Of course she wasn’t used to it! Make sure that once you introduce the bottle, your baby is getting a bottle of breast milk weekly AT LEAST.
  • Be patient. If your baby doesn’t take to the bottle at first, try again tomorrow. Don’t make it a stressful experience!
  • Do paced bottle feeding

Read more about breastfeeding and bottle feeding expressed milk.

Paced Bottle Feeding

Paced bottle feeding mimics actual breastfeeding. It means that your baby is going to be eating more slowly, therefore more likely to recognize that “full” feeling. It also means that your baby will work harder to get the milk and that your baby is more in control of the feeding.

Characteristics of paced bottle feeding:

  • Baby is in a more upright position
  • The bottle is held more horizontally in order to slow the flow
  • After 20-30 seconds, the baby is given a break

Paced Bottle Feeding Video

Breastfeeding And Bottle Feeding Schedule

A breastfeeding and bottle feeding breast milk schedule can look very different depending on your circumstances.

The most important thing is that if your baby is receiving a bottle of breast milk, you should be pumping so that your not risking a decrease in your supply. 

Unsure of what your pumping schedule should look like? Read my tips on developing the perfect pumping at work schedule.

Related: Introducing A Bottle To A Breastfeeding Baby

Combination Feeding Breast Milk And Formula

Super helpful tips for managing breastfeeding and bottle feeding breast milk.

Let’s move on to combination feeding breast milk and formula.

There are many reasons to decide to combination feed, but if you want to continue to give both, you need to make sure that your baby doesn’t develop a preference for either and that your milk supply remains healthy enough to continue.

Making the choice to breastfeed doesn’t have to be an all or nothing decision!

Alternating breastmilk And formula is definitely possible, and just might give you the best of both worlds.

Breastmilk And Formula Feeding Schedule

It’s important to come up with a combination feeding schedule that works for you and your schedule.

  • When possible, breastfeed FIRST to keep up your supply
  • Consider adding in pumping sessions if your supply seems to be lessening

While you are trying to develop a schedule, keep in mind that baby’s feeding schedules can often be erratic, especially in breastfed babies who not only nurse for nourishment, but for comfort too!

I am a big supporter of feeding on demand vs scheduled feeding because it allows your baby to eat when hungry. You can absolutely feed on demand if you are combination feeding.

Here are some schedule options:

  • Feed on demand, nursing first for every session and ending the feeding session with formula if your baby still appears to be hungry.
  • Breastfeed for all feeds except for the before bed feeding. Give a bottle of formula at this time as it might help your baby to sleep longer.
  • Breastfeed during the day and give formula at night so that your partner can give night feedings.

Breastfeeding And Bottle Feeding At Night

If you are struggling from lack of sleep, you might choose to breastfeed during the day and formula feed at night.

Be aware that especially if your baby is very young, your milk supply could be negatively affected. Remember, ideally if your baby is receiving a bottle, you are pumping. Getting up to pump in the middle of the night kind of defeats the purpose of giving formula.

However, there are many women who have made this type of combination feeding schedule work.

Mixing Breast Milk And Formula In The Same Bottle

If you are pumping and formula feeding together you might be tempted to mix breast milk and formula in the same bottle.

However, there are some advantages to feeding them both separately.

  • Giving expressed milk separately ensures that your baby consumes all of that precious pumped milk
  • Giving breast milk first also ensures that your baby gets all of those nutrients and health benefits

How To Mix Formula And Breast Milk Together

If you decide to mix formula and breast milk together in the same bottle:

  • You MUST first prepare the formula with water as directed, THEN add it to the breast milk.

Using this method can be extremely helpful if your baby doesn’t like the taste of formula.

The do's and don'ts of combination feeding formula and breast milk.