Combining formula and breastfeeding

Eating & Nutrition   |   Age: 2 months 4 weeks

Combining formula and breastfeeding

For something that’s incredibly common, there isn’t a lot of discussion around how to integrate breastfeeding with regular formula feeding. One reason might be that, for many families, the combination can feel so seamless that it may not need much discussion. Other families can have trouble finding a good balance, though. One way to help find balance and figure out the best way to supplement? Consider why you’re supplementing.

Supplementing because of low production

Parents who supplement breastfeeding with formula because of low milk production should keep in mind that production will continue to decrease with less stimulation (from either nursing or pumping). This means that, whenever possible, it’s a good idea to start a feeding at the breast and then, if your baby is still hungry, offering a bottle. Since you’re hoping to keep milk production pretty stable, there’s no need to slowly ease into supplementing because of low supply.

Supplementing to share responsibility

Some families introduce formula supplements because they want to be able to share the responsibility for feeding with a partner, or if they’re going back to work and can’t or don’t want to commit to pumping during the day. For these families, it’s a good idea to ease into supplementing one feed at a time, so the breastfeeding parent’s body can start to adjust to lower milk production while, hopefully, avoiding painful engorgement. In these cases, it can also be helpful to introduce a bottle part-way through a feed the first few times. This will allow your baby to get some breastmilk before getting formula, so that by the time she gets a bottle, she won't be quite so hungry and may be happier and more willing to try new things than she would if she were hungry and fussy.


There are many good reasons why supplementing breast milk with formula is right for many families. Supplementing is a way of keeping the benefits of breastfeeding in a child’s life while, at the same time, acknowledging that life is complicated and that, for some families, exclusive breastfeeding isn’t realistic or convenient.

Learn more about bottle feeding

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