Breast or bottle? How to succeed with combination feeding

Welcoming a new baby into the world is one of the most exciting times for any new parent, but it can also be one of the most stressful periods in a person’s life, and no topic is more confusing than choosing how to feed your baby.

Many parents and health professionals have long believed that the choice of feeding can only be either breast or bottle feeding and that parents are unable to combine the two techniques. Historically this may have been true as there was a recognized confusion between feeding styles when parents tried to get their newborn to alternate between the two.

However, many parents don’t realize that combination feeding, the option to combine both breast and bottle feeding is now back on the table and easier than ever, especially when using something like Milkymeter to quickly and easily warm bottles when feeding either formula or expressed breastmilk.

The most important consideration when planning to combination feed

The most important consideration when planning to combination feed is the choice of teat. When babies feed from the breast they use their tongue on the underside of the nipple to massage the milk from the breast (a technique known as peristaltic tongue movement). Traditionally when offered a bottle a baby would have to use a suction style of feeding, similar to drinking through a straw. This is a totally different technique to feeding at the breast and if we’re honest quite easy for a baby as they don’t have to do much work to get the milk, as opposed to feeding at the breast which takes a degree of tongue work from them. For this reason, many babies would then refuse to go back to the breast, which in turn would bring the breastfeeding journey to an end. Fast forward a number of years and developments have been made with teats designed to help your baby mimic the same technique as if they were breastfeeding.

How you choose to combination feed will very much depend on whether you intend to feed expressed breastmilk or formula milk with the bottle as well as which feeds you want to be from the bottle. If you are intending on combining breastfeeding with formula feeds and you know you want for example the 8pm feed to always be a formula feed, then you can follow this routine from birth as your body will adapt and adjust to produce less milk at this time each day. However, if you want to feed expressed breastmilk with the bottle then you will need to focus on establishing your milk supply and feeding baby exclusively at the breast after birth. After this time, you can then start to introduce a pump to express your milk. If you want to pump expressed breastmilk for a daytime feed then pump after the first feed of the morning, as breastmilk supply is always slightly more at this time of day. That said, if you want to pump for a night-time or evening feed then always pump in the evening as your breastmilk in the evening contains a higher concentration of melatonin in the evening and during the night, which helps to induce sleep.

When you’re ready to feed your baby your expressed breastmilk or formula simply decant into a bottle, place Milkymeter into the bottle ensuring the minimum level line is covered, place in the microwave and start warming. When the light on Milkymeter turns to green, simply remove the bottle from the microwave, check the temperature on your inner arm and feed baby. It really is that easy!