Nature gave humans a way to feed their babies, breastfeeding, which provides them with all the nutrients and antibodies they need for their optimal development. Despite being a natural way to feed your baby, each mom’s situation is different and breastfeeding can become difficult. In these cases, you can consider mixed feeding.
This modality is recommended when, for some important reason, breastfeeding cannot be carried out exclusively. Fortunately, mixed feeding can become an excellent alternative when required.
Below we explain what it consists of, in which cases it is recommended, and what are its advantages and disadvantages.
What is mixed feeding?
Mixed feeding is a feeding plan in which the baby is fed with breast milk and also with formula.
Before carrying it out, you should consult with a lactation expert or a pediatrician.
In which cases is it appropriate for my baby?
Although we know that exclusive breastfeeding is the most recommended option, there are some circumstances in which you can choose mixed feeding.
These cases occur when exclusive breastfeeding cannot be carried out for any of the following reasons:
- The mother cannot produce an adequate amount of milk to nourish the baby or suffers from some inflammation in the mammary glands.
- The baby has limitations or difficulties in sucking enough milk from the breast.
- Working circumstances of the mother.
Women who cannot produce enough milk suffer from something known as hypogalactia and, in some cases, it has a remedy. However, if after consulting with your doctor and lactation expert, the possibilities of producing enough milk are exhausted, mixed feeding is an excellent option so as not to compromise the feeding of the baby.
If for some reason you must opt for this plan, stay calm. You can feed your baby with all the necessary nutrients. Just make sure that you are accompanied by a professional during the process.
How do I know if I need to opt for mixed feeding?
If you think that you are not producing enough milk or that your baby is not sucking properly, you need to consult your doctor.
The first red flag that tells you that this may be happening to you is if your baby is crying. If you notice that after breastfeeding your baby continues to cry, it is probably because they are still hungry. Another way is to keep track of how many dirty and wet diapers your baby uses.
Also, if you feel a lot of pain, consult your doctor to rule out any blockage in the breast ducts.
On the other hand, sometimes it is the baby who has some difficulty sucking, so it is important that you rule out with the pediatrician that your baby has any condition that may make it difficult for them to feed directly from the breast.
Remember that, at the first suspicion that there is a problem, it is necessary to consult a specialist.
What are the advantages of feeding my baby with this plan?
The goal of mixed feeding is to achieve optimal feeding for the baby, in case breastfeeding cannot be performed successfully.
Mixed feeding has advantages, including:
- The health and growth of the child are not compromised thanks to the supplements of formula milk.
- According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), probiotics are added to formula to prevent diarrhea.
- Although not exclusively, the baby continues enjoying the attributes and nutrients of breast milk.
- It is a way to satisfy babies who are hungry after breastfeeding.
- Dads can participate in the feeding of the baby with the bottle, promoting their fatherhood.
- Close family members can also help with bottle feeding.
- It can be a relief for some women who have work commitments and cannot breastfeed at certain times.
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What are the disadvantages of this eating plan?
Despite the fact that mixed feeding has multiple benefits for both the baby and the mother, we must take into account the possible disadvantages:
- Bottle feeding can make your baby gassier than breastfeeding, which can cause fussiness and crying.
- The process of preparing a bottle with formula can be tedious and time-consuming. Remember that the bottle must be sterilized and the formula must be at the proper temperature.
- Formula can represent a strong economic expense, as it is usually somewhat expensive; not so breast milk, which is free.
- The baby may get used to bottle feeding. Because suctioning is easier and needs less effort, they may prefer it and reject the breast.
- By reducing the suckling of the breast, the glands may stop producing enough milk (sucking stimulates the production of breast milk).
How can I carry it out successfully?
Even with the downsides that this plan can bring, there are ways to reduce the problems and carry out mixed feeding successfully.
Here are some tips to achieve this:
1- Always try to offer the breast first
To prevent your baby from getting used to only feeding with a bottle, offer your breast first, and feed your baby with it until both breasts are emptied.
In addition to the benefits of breastfeeding, this will stimulate your mammary glands to produce milk and will help regulate them according to the amount that your baby needs.
2- Give them bottles that require suction effort
This will prevent your baby from preferring a bottle rather than making the effort to breastfeed (this for babies who do not have any physical difficulty for sucking).
Above all, consult health professionals or lactation professionals for guidance on this issue. If you found this article interesting, we recommend that you download the Kinedu app for free and also read about 8 things you should know about breastfeeding.