Top 8 Tips for Combination Feeding

Many parents want to combination feed, which means that they give their baby a bottle of formula or breastmilk instead of exclusively breastfeeding. The main reason for wanting to combination feed is so their partner can share feeds and bond with their baby. This is absolutely fine if it’s an informed choice but I want to start this blog by reassuring you that if you decide to not combination feed then your partner won’t miss out. There are plenty of other ways for your partner to bond with your baby. Be sure to continue reading to find out how to combination feed but also how your partner can bond with your baby – if you change your mind and want to exclusively breastfeed.

The pros and cons of combination feeding

baby being fed by bottle

Let’s start by looking at the pros and cons of combination feeding so you can make an informed choice before you get started.

What are the pros of combination feeding

  • Your baby will still be getting all the benefits of breastmilk, unless you decide to feed with formula of course.
  • You will have a chance to get a break from being the sole feeder. Even if its going out for a couple of hours for coffee, to meet a friend, take some exercise or have an early night it will give you some personal space which may be something you want or need.
  • For many parents this means they can share feeds with their partner or someone else in their support network.
  • You and your partner could have a bit of space to get out together if you have a relative or friend to stand in.

What are the cons of combination feeding

  • Dropping out feeds could impact your milk supply and this could undermine your ability to breastfeed at all. This may sound drastic but it’s worth considering if you want to feed long term. Continue reading this blog on how to make it work for you and not impact your supply, if you’re set on combination feeding!
  • You could end up doing the expressed or formula feed anyway. It’s important that if you decide to drop out feeds that your partner or support network are willing and able to step in long term and that they understand what this means.
  • You end up having to sterilise feeding equipment and if you want to express – pump parts. Breastfeeding exclusively is easier as it comes with no extra work.
  • There is a cost. You will need a pump if you plan to express milk and if you plan to feed by formula then you’ll need to buy formula. The average cost for a packet of formula in the UK is £18 and 1 packet might last you a week so that’s an average cost of £938 VS breastfeeding which is free.

How to make combination feeding work for you

baby being fed by bottle by father

OK we’ve been through the pros and cons and you’re wanting to know more about how to make combination feeding work for you, here are my top 8 tips for making it work:

  1. Wait until breastfeeding is established. This should happen about 6-8 weeks after birth. You’ll know when it does because your breasts will suddenly feel empty. Don’t worry, they’re not! They have just figured out exactly the amount of milk needed for your baby, and will only produce this precise quantity. If you introduce a bottle before this point then there’s the risk of your body getting confused and dropping your supply, so this could impact your ability to breastfeed long-term.
  2. When breastfeeding is established, start to look for patterns in feeding. It won’t be an exact science but you should start to see that your baby feeds at certain times of day. When you think you know what the pattern is, decide which feed you will drop out for a bottle. You may want to do this slowly, so start by dropping the feed altogether and hand-express a little so your breasts don’t become engorged.
  3. Choose a time when you baby is not too hungry and is happy and relaxed. They have to get used to the change so if they are too hungry and not getting the hang of the bottle, they will get upset and be less able to manage.
  4. Agree with your partner or your support network which milk you will use for the feed or feeds you will be replacing with a bottle. Having encouragement in this way is vital so you don’t end up deciding to drop a feed only to end up doing the feed yourself anyway! Remember that if this happens, then you can always choose to re-introduce the dropped feed at any time but it may take a little while to build your supply back up again.
  5. If you’re using formula rather than expressed milk, it is sometimes best to get your partner or support person to do the first bottle feeds without you being too close.
  6. Get the equipment you need. You will need particular bottles that mimic your breast. A slim base and long teat is what we want! Avoid bottles with a big round base and a short teat as this will mean your baby has a shallow latch which won’t be comfortable for them.
  7. Swot up on paced bottle feeding. This is really important to ensure your baby isn’t overwhelmed by milk. You should hold your baby upright and hold the bottle at a diagonal so that they’re not laying back as this will overwhelm them with too much milk. Stop for breaks as they go. If you don’t feed in this way then they could become uncomfortable and overfed, because if held back to feed with the bottle upright, they cannot help but suck and swallow.
  8. Give your baby time to adapt and be prepared for it not to happen straightaway. You need to feel relaxed about it too.

There is plenty more guidance on the NHS website. Click here to find out more.

 

Ways your partner can bond with the baby

father feeding baby by bottle

Feeding your baby isn’t the only way a partner can bond with your baby. In fact, when researching ways to bond with a baby – feeding rarely came up as an option. Here are 7 ways your partner can bond with the baby:

  1. Regularly touch, cuddle and hold the baby. A great time to do this is when changing a nappy or giving them a bath.
  2. Respond to crying. By being there, picking your baby up and making them feel reassured you will be bonding and forming a deep connection through reassurance and trust.
  3. Skin to skin. Hold your baby skin to skin against your chest so they can feel your breathing and hear your heartbeat. This will make them feel reassured and safe.
  4. Wear your baby in a sling. This is another way of holding them close and making them feel safe and secure. Be sure to check out safe sling wearing if you plan to do this.
  5. Talk to your baby. Reassuring tones and your voice will be soothing and elicit a deep bond if you communicate with them. An idea for this is narrating your day so you continuously list off what you’re doing and this will help your baby to feel the rhythm of the day.
  6. Sing! Singing your newborn songs is a lovely way to bond. The rhythm of simple songs can be reassuring and comforting because they tend to repeat and be simple to follow.
  7. Facial expressions. When communicating with your newborn, look into their eyes and talk/sign to them with facial expressions. Newborn babies can’t see much at first so do this close to their face at first as it’ll give them some grounding and will be reassuring for them to see the features of your face.

 

I go into so much more detail about combination feeding, positioning, and using a bottle over in the ‘Prepare my mind’ section of the butterbean platform! And there is plenty more to delve into on the butterbean blog.

Remember, if you want more free guidance and support you can find more on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

baby being fed by bottle while looking at mother

Top 8 Tips for Combination Feeding

baby being fed by bottle while looking at mother

Many parents want to combination feed, which means that they give their baby a bottle of formula or breastmilk instead of exclusively breastfeeding. The main reason for wanting to combination feed is so their partner can share feeds and bond with their baby. This is absolutely fine if it’s an informed choice but I want to start this blog by reassuring you that if you decide to not combination feed then your partner won’t miss out. There are plenty of other ways for your partner to bond with your baby. Be sure to continue reading to find out how to combination feed but also how your partner can bond with your baby – if you change your mind and want to exclusively breastfeed.

The pros and cons of combination feeding

baby being fed by bottle

Let’s start by looking at the pros and cons of combination feeding so you can make an informed choice before you get started.

What are the pros of combination feeding

  • Your baby will still be getting all the benefits of breastmilk, unless you decide to feed with formula of course.
  • You will have a chance to get a break from being the sole feeder. Even if its going out for a couple of hours for coffee, to meet a friend, take some exercise or have an early night it will give you some personal space which may be something you want or need.
  • For many parents this means they can share feeds with their partner or someone else in their support network.
  • You and your partner could have a bit of space to get out together if you have a relative or friend to stand in.

What are the cons of combination feeding

  • Dropping out feeds could impact your milk supply and this could undermine your ability to breastfeed at all. This may sound drastic but it’s worth considering if you want to feed long term. Continue reading this blog on how to make it work for you and not impact your supply, if you’re set on combination feeding!
  • You could end up doing the expressed or formula feed anyway. It’s important that if you decide to drop out feeds that your partner or support network are willing and able to step in long term and that they understand what this means.
  • You end up having to sterilise feeding equipment and if you want to express – pump parts. Breastfeeding exclusively is easier as it comes with no extra work.
  • There is a cost. You will need a pump if you plan to express milk and if you plan to feed by formula then you’ll need to buy formula. The average cost for a packet of formula in the UK is £18 and 1 packet might last you a week so that’s an average cost of £938 VS breastfeeding which is free.

How to make combination feeding work for you

baby being fed by bottle by father

OK we’ve been through the pros and cons and you’re wanting to know more about how to make combination feeding work for you, here are my top 8 tips for making it work:

  1. Wait until breastfeeding is established. This should happen about 6-8 weeks after birth. You’ll know when it does because your breasts will suddenly feel empty. Don’t worry, they’re not! They have just figured out exactly the amount of milk needed for your baby, and will only produce this precise quantity. If you introduce a bottle before this point then there’s the risk of your body getting confused and dropping your supply, so this could impact your ability to breastfeed long-term.
  2. When breastfeeding is established, start to look for patterns in feeding. It won’t be an exact science but you should start to see that your baby feeds at certain times of day. When you think you know what the pattern is, decide which feed you will drop out for a bottle. You may want to do this slowly, so start by dropping the feed altogether and hand-express a little so your breasts don’t become engorged.
  3. Choose a time when you baby is not too hungry and is happy and relaxed. They have to get used to the change so if they are too hungry and not getting the hang of the bottle, they will get upset and be less able to manage.
  4. Agree with your partner or your support network which milk you will use for the feed or feeds you will be replacing with a bottle. Having encouragement in this way is vital so you don’t end up deciding to drop a feed only to end up doing the feed yourself anyway! Remember that if this happens, then you can always choose to re-introduce the dropped feed at any time but it may take a little while to build your supply back up again.
  5. If you’re using formula rather than expressed milk, it is sometimes best to get your partner or support person to do the first bottle feeds without you being too close.
  6. Get the equipment you need. You will need particular bottles that mimic your breast. A slim base and long teat is what we want! Avoid bottles with a big round base and a short teat as this will mean your baby has a shallow latch which won’t be comfortable for them.
  7. Swot up on paced bottle feeding. This is really important to ensure your baby isn’t overwhelmed by milk. You should hold your baby upright and hold the bottle at a diagonal so that they’re not laying back as this will overwhelm them with too much milk. Stop for breaks as they go. If you don’t feed in this way then they could become uncomfortable and overfed, because if held back to feed with the bottle upright, they cannot help but suck and swallow.
  8. Give your baby time to adapt and be prepared for it not to happen straightaway. You need to feel relaxed about it too.

There is plenty more guidance on the NHS website. Click here to find out more.

 

Ways your partner can bond with the baby

father feeding baby by bottle

Feeding your baby isn’t the only way a partner can bond with your baby. In fact, when researching ways to bond with a baby – feeding rarely came up as an option. Here are 7 ways your partner can bond with the baby:

  1. Regularly touch, cuddle and hold the baby. A great time to do this is when changing a nappy or giving them a bath.
  2. Respond to crying. By being there, picking your baby up and making them feel reassured you will be bonding and forming a deep connection through reassurance and trust.
  3. Skin to skin. Hold your baby skin to skin against your chest so they can feel your breathing and hear your heartbeat. This will make them feel reassured and safe.
  4. Wear your baby in a sling. This is another way of holding them close and making them feel safe and secure. Be sure to check out safe sling wearing if you plan to do this.
  5. Talk to your baby. Reassuring tones and your voice will be soothing and elicit a deep bond if you communicate with them. An idea for this is narrating your day so you continuously list off what you’re doing and this will help your baby to feel the rhythm of the day.
  6. Sing! Singing your newborn songs is a lovely way to bond. The rhythm of simple songs can be reassuring and comforting because they tend to repeat and be simple to follow.
  7. Facial expressions. When communicating with your newborn, look into their eyes and talk/sign to them with facial expressions. Newborn babies can’t see much at first so do this close to their face at first as it’ll give them some grounding and will be reassuring for them to see the features of your face.

 

I go into so much more detail about combination feeding, positioning, and using a bottle over in the ‘Prepare my mind’ section of the butterbean platform! And there is plenty more to delve into on the butterbean blog.

Remember, if you want more free guidance and support you can find more on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.