It’s perfectly possible to combine breastfeeding with bottle feeding using formula milk or expressed breastmilk. If you can, wait until your baby’s at least eight weeks old. Combining breast and bottle sooner than this may affect your milk supply.
You may want to combine breast and formula milk if, for example, you find it hard to express enough breastmilk. Combining breastfeeds with formula feeds is much better for your baby than stopping breastfeeds altogether.
It’s also an option that could suit you if you go back to work.
Before you return to work, or when you want to cut down on breastfeeds, try to reduce the number of feeds gradually. This will stop your breasts becoming uncomfortably engorged and leaky. It will also reduce your risk of developing mastitis.
It will take around three days to seven days for your breasts to adjust to missing one feed. Try dropping one feed a week, perhaps starting with a daytime feed. When you swap a breastfeed for a bottle of formula, your usual supply of milk at that time of day will reduce.
If you’ve dropped the daytime feeds when you go back to work, you’ll still have a good supply in the morning and evening. A breastfeed when you return from work is a lovely way for you and your baby to be reunited after your time apart.
At around six months, the amount of milk your baby needs will gradually reduce as he starts solids. Your baby may then only be taking breastfeeds at either end of the day. You could give him expressed breastmilk, formula milk, or water in a beaker during the daytime. This would cut out the need for bottles altogether.
If you have breastfed your baby so far, he may be reluctant to take a bottle at first. The different sucking actions needed may confuse him and he may not take it from you if he can smell breastmilk.
To begin with, ask someone else to offer a bottle. Try a variety of bottle teats, softened with warm, boiled water.
Another tip is to hold your baby in a different position from your usual breastfeeding one. Prop up your baby against your front, facing away from you. It may help your baby get used to the new way of feeding.
Watch our videos to see how breastfeeding and bottle-feeding can help you bond with your baby.