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Breastfeeding is best for babies and provides many benefits. It is important that, in preparation for and during breastfeeding, you eat a healthy, balanced diet. Combined breast and bottle feeding in the first weeks of life may reduce the supply of your own breastmilk, and reversing the decision not to breastfeed is difficult. The social and financial implications of using an infant milk should be considered. Improper use of an infant milk or inappropriate foods or feeding methods may present a health hazard. If you use an infant milk, you should follow manufacturer’s instructions for use carefully – failure to follow the instructions may make your baby ill. Infant formula is suitable from birth when babies are not breastfed.
Follow-on milk is only for babies over 6 months, as part of a mixed diet and should not be used as a breastmilk substitute before 6 months. If you wish to use this product before 6 months, we advise that you consult your healthcare professional. It is recommended that all formula milks be used on the advice of a doctor, midwife, health visitor, public health nurse, dietitian, pharmacist or other professional responsible for maternal and child care, based on baby’s individual needs
Combining breast and bottle
Many mums choose to combine breastfeeding and bottlefeeding. Mums often find it offers the best of both worlds – their baby still gets the goodness from their breastmilk, but their baby can still feed when it isn’t convenient to offer a breast, and without the need to express milk. Combined feeding also means you can share the feeding through the night with a partner.
When can I start combining?
It’s best to wait until breastfeeding is well established, usually around six to eight weeks. This reduces the chance that your baby will prefer the sensation of bottlefeeding and give up on breastfeeding altogether. Babies who have been breastfeeding for some time get less confused by the introduction of a new sucking method.
Preparing to combine feeds
Gradually reducing feeds helps to prevent your breasts from becoming engorged or leaking. It can take up to seven days for your breasts to adjust to dropping just one feed, so try cutting down on one feed a week.
If you decide to bottlefeed at night, bear in mind that your body will stop producing milk for feeds at that time. You may find it difficult to switch back once you’ve made the step. It’s a big decision, so have a good think about it and chat to your health visitor first.
The best thing to do is work out a routine for which feeds you’d like from the breast and which from the bottle. A regular routine will get your breasts used to producing the right supplies of milk at the right time. But remember, if you want to switch feeds, you’ll need to give your body time to change over!
Getting your baby used to bottles
Some breastfed babies can be reluctant to switch to bottles in the beginning. Try experimenting with the following:
- Different types of teat – latex teats are the closest in feel to breasts
- Warming the milk first
- Getting someone else to feed your baby for a while (it’s best to leave the room so your baby can’t see you or smell your breastmilk)
- Holding your baby in a different position, such as propped up against your front and facing away from you.
It may take some time – and patience – before your baby gets into the swing of things, so don’t give up!