Is it ok to give a breastfed baby an occasional bottle of formula?

Is it ok to give a breastfed baby an occasional bottle of formula?

Mothers often ask in the LactApp if it is okay to occasionally give their breastfed baby a bottle. Here we won’t talk about returning to (paid) work, which implies a change in family organization, but about those punctual times, when you need cover for a specific occasion: a meeting, a dinner with friends, a short visit, or a doctor’s appointment for example.

Official WHO health guidelines recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of a baby’s life. This means, literally, that the baby drinks only breast milk, no formula, no water, no juices, no supplements, nothing else. That’s very easy to say, but it can be really difficult to maintain depending on each mother’s individual situation. And if you add to this the fact that breastfeeding should be offered on demand, it seems logical that to breastfeed exclusively, mother and baby should be together 24 hours a day. So what can you do if you want or have to get away for a few hours?

What to take into account before

Before deciding to give your baby formula milk, you may want to consider the following aspects:

  • How long are you going to be away from your baby? If it is a very short time (3-4 hours maximum), you could breastfeed before going out and immediately on your way back so that your baby does not need to have anything during this time.
  • Which baby bottle and teat would be the most suitable for your baby?
  • Could you give pumped breast milk instead of formula? Perhaps you have breastmilk stored in the freezer, or you can pump or hand-express some milk beforehand and leave it with the caregiver so they can give it to your baby while you are away.
  • If there is a family history of allergies or milk supplementing will be very limited, it is better to choose hydrolyzed formula milk.

If you prefer to give formula:

  • Every mother knows her own situation, and all options are valid if they are taken with all the information at hand.
  • If this is the first time you give formula to your baby, keep in mind that formula is potentially allergenic, so the person who will be in charge of your baby should take this into account.
  • Formula milk is also given at the baby’s own demand; have them give the quantities he or she wants and the number of feeds they require.

The method counts

You may also be interested in this article: “5 ways to give my baby milk when I am not there”.

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