Biologically, breast milk is the healthiest food for a newborn as it provides the child with exactly everything she will need in order for her to develop physically, mentally and emotionally. Parents do not usually opt to use supplement formulas, nor do doctors advise to use them unless it is absolutely necessary to do so as in the case of mothers who are unable to produce milk. Working mothers often choose to give their babies formula while they are at work and will nurse from the breast when at home. Women who are uncomfortable breastfeeding their babies in public places can opt for the formula when in a pinch.
What is Formula Feeding?
Essential nutrients can be added to your baby’s diet through manufactured formulae available in the market. These can be fed through a feeding bottle as they are usually a fine powder that can be diluted with water. Though these are made in order to aid in feeding your child, it is best not to start weaning your baby onto anything, even these supplements, until your baby is at least one month old as breastfeeding boosts your baby’s immunity.
Why Do Nursing Moms Consider Formula Feeding?
Babies who are prone to malnutrition may need to be fed the supplement in addition to breastfeeding to ensure they get their essential nutrients.
Some mothers are unable to produce milk after delivery, and some have low milk production. For these mothers, the formula is important as they are what will provide their babies with nutrients. Other women who are suffering from some sort of illness, like HIV or tuberculosis, will be too weak to feed their babies.
Can You Supplement Breastfeeding with Formula?
It is perfectly all right to supplement breastfeeding with formula. However, one should keep in mind that since breastfeeding helps in boosting your baby’s immunity, it is best to include it daily, even if it is only once a day. While the formula does provide all the essentials for your baby’s growth, it does not provide your baby with immunity.
Basics You Need to Know for Supplementing Breastfeeding with Formula
For whatever reason you may be thinking about including formula into your baby’s diet, there are a few things you need to know before you start.
1. Market Research :
Do some market research and consult with your doctor about what the best brand of formula is to feed your baby. Most of the brands, whether store or name, will have a different formulation that they use while preparing the formula. Your healthcare provider will be able to help you decide on which one is the best for your baby’s requirements based on the reason you are beginning to use a supplement in the first place.
2. Introduce Formula :
Formula is made with a base of soy, goat or cow’s milk. It comes in either the ready to feed liquid version or the more common powdered version that you will need to add water to prepare the formula.
The ready to feed version is best for babies who are born early or whose immunity is low and who are unable to be breastfed. The ready to feed version will also be properly formulated with less risk of contamination due to the water used while preparing the powdered version.
3. Simple Steps to Feed Your Baby :
When feeding your baby, place her in an upright position so that the bottle is parallel to the floor. Place the bottle on her top lip and wait for her to accept it. Once she does, tilt the bottle only slightly so that the tip is filled with milk. Do not force-feed the formula to your baby.
Will Supplementing with Formula Affect Your Milk Supply?
Since your production of milk depends on your baby’s demand for it, if you begin to use supplements on a daily basis, your production of milk will decrease. If you only give your baby supplements once a week, then there should not be any significant change.
If you do not want your milk supply to diminish, but you still need to give your baby supplements, then you may want to try pumping your breast milk when you have to feed your baby supplements. This way you can freeze your breast milk and use it at a later date.
How Can You Tell When Your Baby is Getting Enough Breastmilk?
Most women produce plenty of milk and are able to give their babies enough. However, if you want to make sure that your baby is getting enough milk, then here are a few things to look out for:
- Loads of dirty diapers are an indication that your baby is getting plenty of milk. Babies who are nursing well will have a mustard yellow stool. They will wet their diapers many times a day, and some babies even go potty after every feeding.
- During the first three months, your baby should be gaining an average of half an ounce to an ounce on a daily basis. Babies between three and six months, gain about half an ounce a day if they are getting enough nourishment. Weighing your baby several times a week may be helpful to you if you want to keep track.
- During the first few months of life, babies need to be fed a lot so you may find yourself nursing your little one even up to twelve times a day.
Signs That Indicate Baby Needs Supplemental Formula for Growth
- During the first five days, a baby loses ten percent of their birth weight. If your baby loses more than this or is taking longer than two weeks to put it back on, then you will want to give your doctor a call.
- If your baby isn’t consuming enough milk, you will be able to make it out because your breasts will not feel soft or empty once the nursing session is over.
- If your baby is producing less than six wet diapers a day, it could be because she isn’t drinking enough milk.
- Your baby will be lethargic all the time and will fuss a lot if she isn’t getting enough nutrition.
When Can You Start Offering Formula to Your Breastfed Baby?
Unless it is a clear emergency, most lactation consultants will recommend that you wait until your baby is at least one month old before you start to give her supplements. This is to allow your breastfeeding and milk supply to become better established before it is interrupted with the occasional bottle of formula. Once your baby crosses the one-month milestone, you can introduce formula at any time.
How to Get Your Baby to Drink Formula from A Bottle?
Switching baby from breast milk to formula can be tricky since breast milk is sweeter than the supplement formula and so most babies are hesitant to drink it at first, especially if you are the one who tries to give it to her. But do not give up. Babies will generally accept what is offered to them if they are hungry enough.
If your baby is fussing, you may want to try to have your partner or family member offer the first few bottles. You can try offering her the formula when she is hungry and not when she is in the mood to nurse more for comfort than nourishment.
Can You Mix Breast Milk and Formula in One Bottle?
Most consultants would suggest you try a combination feeding breast milk and formula by first feeding your baby your pumped breast milk, and if she is still hungry, to follow up with a new bottle of formula.
Can Supplementing with Formula Affect Your Child?
Since babies cannot digest the formula as fast as milk, they are likely to get hungry less often. You will also notice that your baby’s stool becomes more solid and darker than before. They will probably smell a lot more and will be less frequent than when she was only on breast milk.
If your baby is enthusiastic about her feeding, then she may begin to reject the breast if she is fed supplements regularly. This is because milk takes a longer time to come out from the breast as compared to the almost immediate response from the bottle.
If you notice blood in your baby’s stool or vomit after you begin feeding her supplements, you will want to call your doctor as this is most likely a case of intolerance towards the milk.
There is nothing in the world that can truly substitute the milk that a human mother produces for her child. Sometimes, as we have seen, a mother has no choice but to feed a supplement formula to her baby. Feeding baby breast milk and formula is better than only feeding formula, and most doctors will advise alternating breast milk and formula during feeding in order to ensure your baby still gets the immunity only your breast milk can provide, while at the same time getting the extra nutrition from the supplement formula.