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Combination Feeding: Tips, Tricks and Teats

Updated on April 22, 2014

When exclusively breast feeding baby is no longer an option

My transition from exclusively breastfeeding to combination feeding hasn't been smooth sailing. I had to deal with EBF snobs who tell me that I've set my baby up for a bleak future ahead (or at least, that's how their chastising made me feel), and the lack of support for combined feeding.

But with a whole lot of patience, a bit of luck and some help and support from very understanding friends and family, combination feeding has worked wonderfully for me and my little one. To date, I have been successfully mixed feeding my LO for more than 1 month already.

My D.D., Sonnie.  On combo feeding since 3 months.  She's now 2 weeks shy of turning 5 months.
My D.D., Sonnie. On combo feeding since 3 months. She's now 2 weeks shy of turning 5 months.

The Cons

Combined feeding is not without disadvantages:

  • Diminishing milk supply. But the thing is, milk production works on a supply and demand kind of deal. Which means your breasts will adjust to the demand of the baby (or at least that's how it worked for me. I make the most amount of milk at nighttime when I'm home from work.).
  • Painful engorgement. How I was able to get past that, God only knows. But getting all that milk out through an electric pump or via direct feeding was a sweet relief.
  • Risk of mastitis.
  • Breast refusal due to flow preference. But that can be solved with a slow flow bottle teat. D.D. absolutely loved those Tommy Tippy and Avent bottle teats.


Benefits of Mixed Feeding

We've been constantly reminded of how exclusively breastfeeding is more beneficial to a baby, and frankly, I have beaten myself up over deciding to partially wean my baby, since the day I have made the decision.

The good thing is, many lactation consultants agree that breast feeding is not an all-or-nothing solution, and that my baby and I can still get the best of both worlds by combining both feeding methods.

Benefits of combination feeding include:

  • All the good things breast milk can give your baby: strong immune system, all the vitamins and minerals, etc., but in a smaller dose compared to EBF. But it's better than nothing.
  • Giving other caregivers a chance to feed and bond with the baby when the mother is not available.
  • Providing a temporary solution for moms who want may want to build her milk supply.
  • Allowing mommies and babies to maintain that bond.

And let's all be reasonable. Not all women are lucky to be working in a place where there is a clean and quiet place to pump milk in. And even if there is, work schedules, work loads and sometimes, the type of work could make pumping at work an impractical and unrealistic option.

Combination feeding for working moms

Would you consider this option?

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We have 2 of these at home and my daughter looooves these bottles.

From mommy to mommy: Tips for a successful combination feeding

I know there are moms out there who would like to, but are hesitant give mixed feeding a try..

If you think that it's the best option for you and your little one, don't be.

Again, breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing solution. Partial breastfeeding can still guarantee that your baby gets the same protection and health benefits, albeit at a smaller dose. But that's better than none at all.

Anyway, here are a couple of tips to get you started:

  • In combined feeding, there is such a thing as starting too soon. The biggest danger in switching to bottle before the baby even learns how to latch on properly is nipple confusion. So I suggest you wait until she's more than a month old, or at least until your L.O. latches on like a pro.
  • If you're planning on going back to work, allow your L.O. at least 2 weeks to adjust to his or her new routine. This also allows your breasts to adjust its supply according to your baby's demands. I didn't have that luxury because they needed me to start right away. So imagine the pain I had to endure for 8 hours when my left breast got so engorged.
  • Speaking of engorgement, cold compress. It works like a charm.
  • It's all in the formula. You need to choose the formula which tastes closest to breast milk. Easier said than done right? Don't worry. You don't have to sample all formula brands available in the market (Though I did take a shot of my breast milk, just so I know what it tastes like. Made me gag.). It pays to ask around. I gave my pedia a call and he recommended Enfalac Gentlease. I suggest you ask your pedia too. Or check out online communities like babycenter.com or kellymom.com.
  • Choose bottles with slow flow nipples. L.O. absolutely loved those Tommy Tippee and Avent bottles. Their slow-flow teats are made of soft, anti-colic silicone so it's almost like the real thing.
  • Formula feed on schedule, but feed on demand when breastfeeding. Formula takes longer to digest than breast milk, so you need to wait about 3 hours between feeding for formula. Breastmilk, on the other hand, is easily digested. So when breastfeeding, let your baby be your guide.
  • For those who are a bit curious about how a normal combination feeding baby poop looks like, it usually depends on which milk your baby is getting the most. My L.O. is on iron supplements and is formula fed from 8 AM to 7 PM from Mondays to Fridays, so her poop looks more like peanut butter with a greenish hue. On weekends, when I'm exclusively breastfeeding her, her poop's a little more mustardy with specks of cottage cheese.

Truth is, i'd exclusively breastfeed and pump at work if could. But considering the circumstances I am in right now, combination feeding would be the best option for me.

Bottom line is, there's no right or wrong way to feed your L.O. Your well-meaning friends and family would tell you otherwise but it's your intuition you should trust.


© 2014 Ma. Luisa Andrea G. Coloso

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