Is it possible to maintain mixed feeding?

Is it possible to maintain mixed feeding?

In this article, we will explain what mixed feeding or combination feeding is and how it can be maintained.

Mixed feeding is when the baby is fed by a combination of breastmilk and bottle feeding. There are many reasons why you might choose to combine both ways. Whatever your reason, here we will explain some important issues to keep in mind that can help you to solve some of the most common problems.

If you would like to maintain mixed feeding, but you want to continue to breastfeed your baby, there can be two possible problems:

Nipple-teat confusion: There is controversy about what is referred to as nipple-teat confusion, but so many mothers have told us about the problems that arise when they want to keep breastfeeding while using other teats. It may seem that bottle teats are very similar to a nipple and certainly, the brands that make them tell us that their shape is anatomical, ergonomic and perfectly designed. This might give the impression that babies do not notice the difference between breast or bottle, but the reality is very different and does not match with advertising slogans. 

Firstly, the baby’s latch onto the breast or onto a bottle 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 the milk out, babies must suckle very differently in one case or another. So in some babies who have been offered a bottle, this may afterwards cause breast rejection because they don’t know how to breastfeed.

The amount of milk: when babies breastfeed, they get small amounts of milk, which 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 again because this process is slower.

bebé tomando biberón

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 her formula. The idea is that formula feeds should look as much as possible as breastfeeds. This means that the mother and baby should be close and maintain eye and physical contact while the baby eats.

Try to change sides to help the baby’s development of both brain sides. 

2. Offer the breast first

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 she wants to drink. Make sure that the person who feeds the baby, gives the milk slowly so that your baby has time to notice the signs of fullness, that you will receive when she has had enough. If possible, the method you choose should help to avoid nipple-teat confusion, as we mentioned before. If you give your baby milk in a bottle and you would like to keep it that way, but you don’t want your baby to reject your breast, try the so-called paced bottle feeding method.

4. Evaluate the need to give artificial milk carefully

It is important that you consider the reasons that made you choose mixed feeding carefully.

If your baby is gaining weight at a good rate and you don’t have low milk supply 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 if your baby accepts it, you can also consider the possibility of relactation.

5. At the end:

At the end of the feed, offer your breast to your baby again, to help her to understand that getting full comes from the breast and not from the bottle. You will also help your baby to relax and fall asleep more easily by allowing her to stay suckling on the breast, as babies often don’t have enough time to simply suckle when they are bottle-fed. 

We hope these simple guidelines can help you to achieve the happy and long-lasting mixed feeding journey that you desire.

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