It is recommended to exclusively breastfeed your baby until around 6 months of age and there is no alternative to breastmilk that will provide the same optimal balance of nutrition and protection during a baby’s growth and development. However, sometimes breastfeeding may not be possible for a variety of reasons including illness, or the mother’s return to paid work. At such times when breastfeeding is not possible, the practice of breastfeeding at some feeds and bottle or cup feeding with expressed breastmilk at others, known as ‘mixed feeding’, may be used.
Of those mums who choose to practice mixed feeding, many are able to express and store enough breastmilk to meet their baby’s requirements. Expressing your milk means you can continue to give your baby the benefits of breastmilk even when you are absent.
If you do choose to introduce mixed feeding with expressed breastmilk, here are some tips to assist.
Many mums who choose to practice mixed feeding are able to express and store enough breastmilk to meet their baby’s requirements. Expressing your milk means you can continue to give your baby the benefits of breastmilk even when you are absent.
For mums who are unable to breastfeed or express breastmilk to meet all of their baby’s requirements, mixed feeding with infant formula may be considered. The decision to use infant formula is an important and complex one with many considerations. Once babies are on formula and their reliance on breastmilk is being reduced it can be difficult to reverse this feeding style, particularly if breastmilk is not being expressed to maintain supply, as your own milk supply will diminish.
It is important to seek advice from your health care professional in advance of making a decision to transition from breastfeeding to either partial or total infant formula feeding.
Whether you choose to mix feed with expressed breastmilk or with infant formula, here are some tips to assist.
If you intend to bottle feed your baby you will need to buy appropriate infant feeding equipment, including bottles, teats and sterilising equipment.
You will need to have between 2 to 6 bottles. If you intend to use a bottle for all your baby’s feeds, it will be ideal for you to have around 6 bottles as babies typically feed around six times per day for the first four months. As babies grow, the volume of breastmilk or infant formula which is needed to meet their nutritional requirements increases and by four months, babies typically drink around 220mL at each feed. Therefore, whilst baby bottles are available for purchase in a range of sizes and smaller bottles are most suitable for young babies, by the time your baby is four months of age larger bottles capable of holding 220mL will be necessary.
If you intend to use a bottle for all your baby’s feeds, a minimum of 6 teats will be necessary. There is no one teat that will suit all babies and over time you will discover which teat works best for your baby.
The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recommend that all infant feeding equipment be sterilised until the infant is at least 12 months old. Bottles and teats should be sterilised after each use and stored safely for as long as you use them.
Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides the optimal balance of nutrition and protection during growth and development.
Good maternal nutrition is important in preparation for and during breastfeeding. If you are considering bottle feeding, always seek professional advice as introducing bottle feeding, either partially or exclusively, may adversely affect breastfeeding by reducing the amount of your own breast milk supply and may be difficult to reverse should you change your mind. Consider the financial and social implications when deciding on a feeding method for your baby.
Improper or unnecessary use of infant formula may affect the health of your baby, therefore, always prepare and use as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
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