Today we want to explain what mixed feeding is and how it can be maintained.
We talk about mixed feeding when the baby is combining breast and bottle feeding. There are many reasons why it can be done in a combined way. Whatever yours, here we will explain some important issues to keep in mind that can help you solve some of the most common problems.
When we want to maintain a mixed lactation but we want to continue breastfeeding our baby, we can find two possible problems:
Nipple confusion: There is a certain controversy about what is referred to as nipple confusion, but there are many of you who tell us about the problems caused by the use of teats to maintain your lactation. Although it may seem that bottles teats are very similar to a nipple and although the brands that manufacture them tell us that their shape are anatomical, ergonomic and perfectly designed so that the baby does not notice the difference between taking the breast and the bottle, the reality is stubborn and does not always fit with advertising slogans.
To begin with, the baby’s latch on to the breast or a teat is completely different. This makes it hard for many babies to know what to expect when they come across a teat in their mouth. Also, to get milk, babies must suck very differently in one case or another and that, in some babies who have been offered a bottle, may later cause rejection of the breast because of their inability to breastfeed.
The amount of milk: when babies suckle, they get small amounts of milk and this takes time and effort. With a bottle the milk flows very fast and in a few minutes they can drink a lot. This causes some babies to become frustrated when they are trying to breastfeed, since the process is slower.
So, what can I do to maintain mixed feeding?
1. Keep your baby close to you
Although it may seem obvious, it is always advisable to keep your baby close when you give him formula. The idea is that formula feeds should look like anything possible breast feeds. Thus, mother and baby should be close and maintain eye and physical contact while the baby eats.
Try to alternate sides to help the baby’s laterality development.
2. Offer the breast in the first place
Whenever possible, offer the breast first and leave the formula for the end, and only when necessary.
3. Choose the most appropriate method of supplementation
It is always advisable to look for the least invasive method of supplementation possible, which allows the baby to regulate the amount of formula he wants to drink, and it is the responsibility of the parents to give him the milk slowly so that he has time to notice the signs of satiety that he will receive when he has had enough. If possible, the method you choose should help to avoid the confusion in sucking that we mentioned before. If you give your baby milk in a bottle and you want to keep it that way and you want the baby not to reject the breast, try the so-called Kassing method.
4. Evaluate well the need to give artificial milk
It is important that you consider the reasons that led you to choose a mixed lactation.
If your baby is gaining weight at a good rate and you don’t have low production difficulties, it can be counterproductive to increase the amount of formula offered to your baby as he or she grows. Depending on what you want to do and how willing the baby is, you can also consider the possibility of relactating.
5. When you finish:
If at the end of the feed you can offer breast to the baby you will be helping him to understand that satiety comes from the breast and not from the bottle. You will also help the baby to relax and fall asleep more easily by allowing him to stay sucking on the bottle, as babies often lack time to simply suck when are bottle fed.
We hope these simple guidelines can help you to achieve the happy and long-lasting mixed lactation you desire.