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    Home ›› Combination feeding: 6 tips for combining breastfeeding and formula

    Home ›› Combination feeding: 6 tips for combining breastfeeding and formula

    Combination feeding: 6 tips for combining breastfeeding and formula


    Reading time: 9 mins

    It’s not always a battle between breastfeeding vs formula, or formula vs breast milk. Some choose to mix formula with breast milk and enjoy the best of both worlds. There are plenty of reasons you might want to combine breastfeeding and formula including:



    Whether you plan to combination feeding from birth or want to something new, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover our guide to everything you need to know to help you get the most out of combination feeding.

    Combination feeding: Expressing milk


    Combination feeding doesn’t have to mean you opt for breastfeeding and formula, if you would prefer to continue exclusively provide breast milk, expressing will be your best friend. Here are a few ways pumping breast milk can help you if you wish to start combination feeding a newborn:


    • Pumping breast milk in advance means your baby can reap the benefits of breast milk even when you’re not there feeding them yourself.
    • Expressing milk with a breast pump can take a while at first, so persevere! It gets easier as your body becomes used to it.
    • You may also find that some methods work better for you than others. Try it out to discover what works best for you.
    • When storing breast milk, use sterilised BPA-free containers or breast milk storage bags.
    • Breast milk can be frozen straight away, refrigerated for up to eight days at 4 degrees or lower (just pop it at the back of your fridge!)1

    Combination feeding a newborn: Introducing a bottle


    When introducing a baby to a combination feeding routine, you need to bear in mind the differences between breast and bottle. A baby that’s already breastfeeding won’t know how to drink from a bottle automatically. It’s a new skill that your baby will need to learn so bear in mind these key tips for combination feeding:


    • If you give a bottle to a hungry baby who doesn’t know how to use it, your little one could end up frustrated.
    • Give your baby a bottle for the first time when they’re relaxed – somewhere between full and hungry.
    • If you’re planning to go back to work, try to introduce the bottle a few weeks in advance, so you can set out with the peace of mind that bottle feeding won’t be a problem while you’re away.


    Tip: If your baby is refusing to take the bottle, try one specifically designed to mimic the breast – like the Philips Avent Natural baby bottle – to make bottle feeding more intuitive for your baby. The wide, breast-shaped teat makes it easier for your baby to combine breast and bottle feeding, by promoting a natural latch-on that’s similar to the breast.

    What you need

    6 tips to be successful when beginning a combination feeding routine


    Combining breastfeeding and bottle feeding doesn’t have to be scary – there are some simple steps to ensure a smooth and easy process. If you’re thinking of giving your baby a bottle in the future, here are our six tips for a smooth transition between your breast and the bottle teat when combination feeding:


    1. Practice makes perfect.
      You can introduce a bottle at around 6 weeks when both you and your baby have established a good breastfeeding routine. Start by putting a small amount of breast milk in a bottle between regular feeds. Your baby shouldn’t be as hungry, making it an excellent time to practice.

    2. Hold your baby and the bottle.
      Hold your baby close to you on your lap in a semi-upright position. You can make good eye contact in this position to instill a sense of trust and confidence between you and your baby. Tilt the bottle so that the neck and teat fill up with milk before you carefully place the teat in your baby’s mouth — this avoids swallowing any air bubbles, which could cause gas.

    3. Alternate sides.
      When bottle-feeding, alternate your hold positions from side to side. Try rotating halfway through the bottle after burping your baby.

    4. Give the underarm hold a try.
      The underarm hold is a good choice if you’ve had a cesarean delivery or if you have twins. Place a pillow across your lap to help support your baby in this position.

    5. Choose the right bottle.
      The right bottle will make the transition between breast and bottle easier. For example, the Philips Avent Natural Bottle closely reproduces the breast's natural look, feel, and function thanks to its innovative design. The breast-shaped design can easily recreate your little one's natural feeding rhythm experienced on the breast; drink, swallow, breathe and pause.

    6. Choose the right teat.
      It’s essential to get a teat with your baby’s right-sized hole. You can choose slow, medium, or fast flow teats. A newborn baby will generally need a gentle, slow flow, but every baby’s feeding needs differ regardless of age. Try to observe your baby’s cues to understand which bottle teat is most suitable.

    Tip: The Philips Natural Response Teat is uniquely designed to release milk only when your baby actively drinks, triggered by compressing the bottle teat. Plus, it’s ultra-soft – the perfect way to mimic mum’s nipple for an easy transition between breast and bottle.

    How to combine breastfeeding and formula if you’re going back to work


    Going back to work after maternity leave can feel a little daunting, especially if you exclusively breastfeed. However, there is no need to panic. Expressing your breast milk and giving your baby a bottle doesn’t need to be scary. Here’s some advice for heading back to work and combination feeding:


    • For the most effective combination feeding routine, breastfeed your baby directly in the mornings and evenings, arranging for bottle feeds in the interim.
    • Allow plenty of time for your baby to adjust. Start mixing breast milk and formula and feeding with a bottle a month before you head back to work.
    • Maintain your milk supply by breastfeeding whenever you have the opportunity. If your milk production seems to be falling, try to find opportunities to pump at work.
    • In more ways than one, your baby becomes attached to you during breastfeeding; sometimes, if you try using a bottle, they can sense that you may be withholding the “real” thing. For an easier transition into combination feeding, let others try with the bottle too – not just mum.

    Frequently asked questions about combination feeding


    With our guide to combination feeding a newborn, you no longer need to worry about the options. That being said, you may still have some unanswered questions. Read on to discover the answers to some frequently asked questions about combination feeding.

    Can you mix breast milk and formula?


    You can, but before mixing the breast milk and formula, you’ll need to chill the freshly expressed milk to the same temperature as the formula. Combining warm breast milk with cold milk will raise the overall temperature and speed up bacterial growth. Instead, chill both and then use a bottle warmer to perfectly prepare your baby’s feed.

    What is the best combination feeding routine?


    It can be tricky when you have other obligations, but, if possible, try to let your baby set their own feeding schedule. This way, you’ll feed your baby when they’re hungry, rather than at predetermined times.

    How much should a baby eat?


    That’s up to your baby! When they show signs of being full, it’s time to stop feeding. It’s easy to start thinking of the contents of a bottle as a meal that should be finished. Even if there’s still milk in the bottle, let your baby decide when the meal is over, and discard what’s leftover rather than reusing.

    Can combination feeding cause ‘nipple confusion’?


    The technological advancements of bottles have progressed so much so that ‘nipple confusion’ — when your baby becomes used to a bottle teat and struggles to latch onto your breast nipple — has slowly become an outdated issue. Simply follow our tips for a smooth transition between bottle and breast.


    These are the broad strokes, and every family and individual situation is different. Some choose combination feeding from birth, others breastfeed all the way. Remember, what you do is up to you – and you can always talk to your GP if you want a professional opinion on the benefits of both breastfeeding and formula.

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