I remember those beautiful moments. Those beautifully terrifyingly exhausting moments that is. Those first few weeks/months with a new baby.
Feed your babies; that’s what is most important. That is what the Fed is Best movement is telling us. That whether you breastfeed or formula feed, you are feeding your baby, and that is what counts.
I agree. This is true, great, wonderful. But, there still seems to be a separation between one or the other as far as information goes. We are told to breastfeed on demand as the baby will know when the baby is done. We are told exactly how many ounces we should be feeding our formula-fed babies from the bottle.
But what about the in-between? Surely I am not the only mom who hybrid-fed my baby? We did combination feeding breastmilk and formula and it worked for us.
My baby was born with a huge appetite. He was also born on a stubborn nursing strike, which made those early days/weeks/months complicated. A hungry baby who is difficult to feed makes for a stressed out/exhausted/out of her mind new mom. I am very thankful for the existence of baby formula to help us through those long, hungry, exhausted moments.
How to Feed Your Baby a Combination of Formula and Breastmilk (Or, How I Breastfed my Formula-Fed Baby)
You’re probably shaking your head at my title choice, but hear me out. My baby started off on infant formula in the hospital because of his absolute refusal to latch but insatiable hunger. I tried to pump, but have you ever tried to pump colostrum? All I got was condensation.
So I fed my baby a formula and breastmilk combo. And this is how I managed our breastfeeding and formula feeding schedule.
Tip #1: Offer the breast first, then top off with formula.
In those early days of blurry eyes and everything hurting, I relied on the magic of formula to fill my baby’s tummy, while still trying to latch at every feeding. Things did not improve much when my milk came in, and I worked with lactation specialists to convince my baby to give the stuff on tap a try. It took a while (and the introduction of a nipple shield) to establish a breastfeeding relationship.
I would then offer an ounce of formula at a time until he was satisfied and stopped drinking. Trial and error gave me a decent idea of how much he was eating, though it was always hard to tell how much breastmilk he ended up consuming.
However, nighttime feeds were a different story. He would just pass out while breastfeeding, even though his tummy wasn’t full yet. So he would wake again quickly and still want more. So at night I broke this rule. I formula fed first, to take the edge off his hunger, and then breastfed him to sleepy town.
Tip #2: Pump, often.
This is everyone’s magic trick tip to helping increase milk supply and also deal with latch refusal. However, again, have you tried to pump while a baby needed you every moment of every day?
Just because he wouldn’t latch doesn’t mean he didn’t demand constant holding and rocking and bouncing and diaper changing. I really could only pump if he were asleep or if someone else was holding him.
When I returned to work after those 12 (short) weeks that I barely remember, scheduling many pumping sessions into my busy schedule continued to be a challenge. I brought home as much milk as I could, but the volumes I expressed were small, and my child was consuming much more formula than he was breastmilk.
Tip #3: Find a balance that works for you, and forget about everyone else (this one’s from me).
I pumped, ate well, drank a lot of water, and I even tried many of the lactation boosting recipes. I did the best I could, but my baby was still only consuming about 30% breastmilk, and the rest was formula. And you know what? I am thankful for that 30% I was able to provide with my body and very thankful that formula was available for me to feed my baby the other 70% of the time.
That’s why I’m excited to learn about Gerber® Good Start® Infant Formula. I ended up sticking to what the hospital provided, more out of familiarity than any other reason. But I have always been a fan of the Gerber brand, including their line of first foods and toddler snacks, which my little guy still enjoys.
I perused the baby aisle of my local Kroger to grab a box of Stage 1 Gerber® Good Start® Gentle for Supplementing. This formula is loaded with infant nutrition while being gentle on baby’s tummy.
Tip #4: Plan your nighttime feeds in advance (when you’re still awake).
The sleepless nights and ’round the clock care of a new baby can make any new mom loopy. The last thing you want to do is mess up a bottle preparation in the middle of the night when you can’t even walk straight let alone see out of your swollen, squinty eyes. So my best advice is to prep everything the night before.
My baby woke every two hours to eat, so I knew exactly how many bottles I needed to prepare. I pre-filled them with water and pre-measured the formula powder in separate containers.
Then, in the middle of the night, I would just grab a bottle, grab the powder, and mix. No measuring needed while your brain is wishing you could have your bed back.
Did you supplement breastfeeding with infant formula? Tell me a trick you learned.
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