If you're weighing the decision to supplement your baby's diet with formula—for extra nutrition, back-to-work flexibility, or so your partner and other caregivers can enjoy feeding your baby—the first thing you should know is that you're not alone. You can indeed breastfeed and supplement too. Here’s how.
If you’re planning to breastfeed, use these simple tips to help pave the way.
- Establish your milk supply. Shoot for regular feedings (8–12 times per day) for the first four weeks.
- Maintain a balanced diet. At this stage, your baby isn't shy about stealing your nutrients. So it's important to eat healthy. Talk to your doctor about how you can get plenty of iron, calcium, and DHA (an omega-3 fatty acid that supports your baby’s brain and eye development).
- Supplement with vitamin D. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving breastfed babies a vitamin D supplement.
- Practice pumping. Practicing with a breast pump can be helpful, especially for moms who plan on pumping at work. Test out your breast pump, give yourself a break, and have your partner feed your baby bottled, expressed milk. This can also help your baby get used to the feeling of a bottle.
Choosing a formula.
You want to make sure that the formula you choose is patterned after breast milk. Things you'll want to look for in a formula:
- Balanced nutrition. Until your baby starts solids, your formula needs to give her all the nutrients she needs every day—like breast milk does.
- Intact proteins. Most babies thrive on a formula with intact proteins. Most regular formulas are patterned after breast milk, with a blend of easy-to-digest whey and casein proteins, to help your baby grow and thrive.
- DHA and ARA. Different formulas have different levels of these important building blocks for your baby's brain and eyes. Go for the ones with expert-recommended levels.
Making the transition.
Introduce your baby to the ideas of a bottle and formula as slowly as possible. Take several weeks if you can. At first, try a bottle with breast milk in it. If that goes well, try a bottle of formula at the feeding time your baby is least interested in (be sure to check out our options, here). Above all, be patient. Your baby will get there eventually.