Baby > The essentials > Feeding your baby > Mixed feeding your baby

Mixed feeding your baby

Advice on mixed feeding your baby with useful information on why you may wish to feed your baby both from the breast and a bottle and what to do if your baby will not take a bottle.
Whether you plan to return to work fairly quickly, wish the father to be more involved or just prefer the convenience of you baby being able to breastfeed and take a bottle, mixed breast and bottle feeding may be the preferred choice for you.

You can choose to continue giving your baby exclusively breast milk or introduce formula milk. If you want to mix breast and bottle, but do not want to use formula milk, you can express some of your own milk, which can then be given to your baby in a bottle by the father, another member of the family or a childminder. In this way you will still ensure that your baby is only receiving breast milk. Or you may decide to feed your baby yourself when you are there, and get his or her carer to give him formula when you are away.

General advice is to not offer a breastfed baby a bottle before four weeks of age. This may lead to ?nipple confusion?, which can quickly lead to the end of breastfeeding. During the first three to four weeks your baby will be learning and perfecting breastfeeding skills. Whilst introducing the bottle at one or two weeks of age may insure that baby accepts the bottle later, you are taking a risk. Some babies easily go back and forth between breast and bottle, but many others do not. Getting a baby to accept a bottle at age two or three months may take some patience, but most babies will catch on after a few tries.

Feeding from a bottle uses a different technique to feeding from the breast, and you may find that your baby takes a little time to get used to it. In fact, some babies seem to be determined that they will never get used to it, and moving to mixed feeding can become a distressing and worrying event.

If your baby does not take to a bottle you could try the following:
  • Get someone else to offer the bottle

  • Offer it at a time when your baby is neither starving hungry nor completely full

  • Feed your baby somewhere apart from where you usually sit, so that he does not assume that he will be getting a breastfeed

  • Offer the bottle in the dark, so he can't see it

  • Warm the teat before offering it to him

  • Try different brands of teat
  • If he is old enough, (five or six months) use a spouted beaker rather than a bottle

  • If he is on solids, add breast milk or formula to his food so that he gets the goodness via another route
Do not feel that the mother is the only one who can introduce a bottle; try asking the baby?s father or a relative to try. If you know you want your baby to take a bottle when you go back to work, introduce him to a bottle after three or four weeks. Do not offer the bottle too often, just once or twice a week, or your baby may come to prefer it to the breast.

If you have been fully breastfeeding, embarking on a new routine of mixed feeding with formula means you will need to reduce the amount of milk that you are making, as your baby will get some of his milk through a different route. The breastfeeding system of supply and demand will do this automatically in response to your baby suckling less at the breast. However, your body will benefit from a gradual rather than a sudden reduction, so make sure that you drop only one feed every few days. Your body will then have received and acted upon the message to produce less milk before you drop another feed. In this way, you should avoid becoming painfully engorged.

Chat or Ask a Question:

If you have a question about this article or something else, visit our friendly forums & ask the AskBaby community.

Chat about mixed feeding your baby with our friendly community...

Your Comments:

We'd love to hear your comments on this article...

Login to add your comment:

Email: Password:
Not yet a member? Join thousands of other parents and parents-to-be... Sign Up Now!
Forgot your

hi i breastfeed my baby but when i was returning to work i wanted him to have formula during the day and breast at night as i could not get enough milk expressed 2 weeks before starting back at work i was still struggling for him to take a bottle i was think omg my baby is going to stave i nearly give up till i bought some bottles call breast-flow they simulate the breast i got these and he cried a little with it but then he took to it straight away i have never looked back i well recommend them if you are finding it a bit hard with bottle place it under your arm near your breast so they think its your breast get someone else to try as they can smell you and i mean they can smell you from 20 feet away , run the teat under hot water to warm teat up as they are used to a warm nipple
by shellc2004 22nd Nov 2010, 3:38pm
I've had to mix feed my baby boy from birth (a breast reducton has meant I can't produce enough milk from BF alone) To help avoid nipple confusion I used 'chu chu' teats that were recommended by my lactation consultant. They have a large hole at the top of the teat and and smaller hole in a second chamber within the teat. Basically they work more like BF than regualr teats - they make the baby use the same muscles, sucking technique as BF (unlike regular teats) They are manufactured in Japan (you can sometimes find them on ebay). My baby has had no issues at all swapping between the bottle and breast since I started using these teats (only bummer is they only fit narrow neck bottles so I had to buy a new set of bottles as well!)
by Rochelle7 2nd Nov 2010, 8:34am
I have been exclusively bf my wee boy for 14 weeks. He was 5 weeks prem so bf him was really important to me. I really struggled in the first 4 weeks, but had fantastic support from my midwife and my mum, who encouraged me to keep persevering. I'm so glad I did. I love the closeness of feeding him myself and it's so hassle free at night. Just pop him on and away you go. I intended to exclusively bf him until 6 months. Now he's nearly four months and so hungry, I have started to consider introducing a formula feed just before he goes to bed as I have recently felt he's not fully satisfied when I put him down and he's gone from 5 hours sleep back to 3 hours. I am really struggling with this decision as I do not want to lose the closeness. I feel partly I am failing if I do and if I don't. I am sure there are other mums out there who have felt bf as a labour of love and feel a loss when they have to stop or introduce a bottle. Does anyone else have the experience of having to supplement after months of successful bf. How did you's cope? Was it a good move or do you regret it? I am also now considering bf my son past 6 months if supplementing as a compromise for having to introduce a ff bottle once a day. Would love to hear other mums experiences. Linda.
by Eljay 15th Oct 2010, 4:46pm
I have been breast feeding my baby who is now 11weeks old. I'm due back to work next week. I want to be breastfeeding only at night and express like 2 bottles of breast milk for her and the rest is formular while am at work i need him to take bottle during the hours i work. I have tried myself and other people have tried as well, it all failed. She cries and pushes the bottles & teat with her tongue. Don't know what to do i am really worried, if she continues like this i might not give my best at work. Please i need your urgent advice.
by Aphie 13th Oct 2010, 9:16am
Hi, my baby girl is now 16 weeks old and not a good feeder. I am still breast feeding, but only at night, because I'm at work during the day. She will have one bottle of breast milk (expressed the night before) during the day and the rest is formula. She dinks about every 3 hours, but only 80 - 100 ml at a time. She is picking up wheight. She wheighed 2.9kg at birth and is now 6.3kg, but shouldnt she be drinking more at a time? She doesnt realy sleep during the day, maybe 15mins after drinking and wakes up every 2hours at night, but then only drinks on me for about 10min. Im scared that she is not getting enough, and think that if she is drinking better, she will then sleep better.
by Liefie 12th Aug 2010, 9:50am
have been breast feeding my baby who is now 4 months & half old. I'm due to start back at work in six weeks so i need him to take a bottle with other milk during the hours i work. I've tried different bottles, teats, & spouted beaker. I gave also my own milk and i put it in the bottle, other people have also tried and failed. He cries and pushing the bottle & the teat in his tongue then he sleep without drinking milk. Please help me i would be grateful for your advice. :-(
by priyangani 27th Jan 2010, 9:38am
I have been breast feeding my baby who is now 4 months & half old. I'm due to start back at work in six weeks so i need him to take a bottle with other milk during the hours i work. I've tried different bottles, teats, & spouted beaker. I gave also my own milk and i put it in the bottle, other people have also tried and failed. He cries and pushing the bottle & the teat in his tounge then he sleep without drinking milk. Please help me i would be grateful for your advice. :-(
by rosalind76 30th Nov 2009, 10:24am
Hi Maya, I had exactly the same problem with my son (now 5 1/2 months old).
He was never fussed whether it was breast or bottle, as long as he was getting fed.
Until I he was about 3 months old and he then decided it would be breast or nothing.
After many frustrating and exhausting weeks, trying every method possible, my Mum suggested using an old teat on the bottle (my sister had a 6 month old so she suggested one of hers).
I thought she was insane and said there was no way I was giving my baby another babies teat, although eventually I run out of answers and gave in.
It was still in perfect condition, but it was much softer than any other - therefore more nipple like, I just washed it thoroughly & sterilised as normal.
Instead of using formula, I used my own expressed breast milk first, and also warmed it up (which I'd never done before), I then disappeared out of the house for a few hours and left him with his Dad, amazingly it worked without any fuss what so ever, and he's been happily taking it ever since.
We do have the odd moment where he cries for me instead of the bottle, but I find if I sit him on my knee facing outwards with his back against my chest and put the tv on to distract him, he's normally fine.
I have now introduced him to formula, which has been another exhausting battle as he absolutely hates the stuff, but he's finally happily taking it now :)
A lot of advice suggests trying the bottle every single day so that your baby gets used to it, however I found this made my baby more determined not to take it as he seemed traumatised by it every time.
I stopped trying for a couple of weeks, hoping he'd forget about it and this worked for us.
I hope this helps you, as I know how exhausting it can be and so stressful on you all.
Good Luck :)
by xStephyx 9th Jun 2009, 11:11am
my son is 4 months old when he was born i used to mixed feed as breast milk was not enough. All of a sudden when he turned about 2 months he just refused the bottle and since then i am having a lot of difficulty in getting back onto the bottle. I have tried formula milks, different teats and also other people feeding him but he will not have it. I am so stressed out about all this and just don't know what to do. any advise would be helpful
by Mayasolanki 8th May 2009, 9:53am
I have been mixed feeding since my son was 3 months old as he was a VERY hungry boy and I was very anemic after his birth. I was tied, frustated and feed up all the advice I was given was to stick with the hour long feeds (every 2 hours) night and day. I was closed to tears one day when I thought forget it. I finally found a health vistior who explained what mix feeding was and I haven`t looked back. She recommened a certain brand which is closest to breastmilk and my son switches between the two with ease. I do find that alot of pro breastfeeding agency look down on this method and think I have done to get my son to sleep through the night. I did it because I was going crazy with feeding on demand. I have a friend that is in same situatuion i was and she is still being told that it will change, She is constantly fed up and is still feeding her 4 month old son every 30 mins at best every hour and a halft, My advice on this subject is to have a good hard think will the baby get the best if you are exhausted or ill? No! One bottle of formula can give you 4 hours break to just bounce back. Breast is best and I will do it again but I now know my options. (i`m off my soapbox now). x x
by candice22 20th Apr 2009, 9:32am
I have been trying to get my baby to take a bottle for 7 weeks now, from when she was 5 weeks old. I have tried 4 different kinds of bottle and she still refuses- any suggestions?
by JulesD 14th Jan 2009, 8:37am
I have a 5 weeks old baby boy that I have been supplementing since birth. He was perfectly fine between breasfeeding and bottle till yesterday. All of a sudden he did not want to latch on the bottle anymore. It is so hard for me and my husband to get him latch onto it. I don't know what to do to make it easier for us. I am planning to go back to work soon and I just don't want him to end up like my daughter which she completely rejected a bottle and I couldn't go back to work for a year and a half. Please tell me what to do to make him like the bottle again.
by motherof4 12th Jan 2009, 10:35am
I am rapidly becoming quite used to 'sicky babies'. I ham now mixed feeding but even on breast alone it never made much difference.My son was 'sicky' and now my newborn daughter is but not so bad. They grow out of it so it is more management rather than trying to 'cure' it. My tips:
a) Get loads of bibs - our daugher lives in bibs
b) keep upright for about half an hour after a feed(placing them in baby bouncy chair works if you don't want to hold them)
c) winding properly and frequently - after each ounce and after a 'sick' as it can often be food sitting on a bubble in the tum
d) have a folded hand towel under their head and tucked in with the bottom sheet so when they are sick in the cot/crib you only need to change the towel.
e)keep yourself covered!!
Hopefully that will reduce your washing at least...
son xx
by son1 20th Jun 2008, 12:29pm
I'm no expert but my 3 yr old used to do that when I tried him with formula. He actually had reflux and he did sometimes throw-up breast-milk too. It was never so bad as with formula though. If it is they tend to need raising up slightly when laid down and keeping them upright after a feed helps too. You can also get infant Gaviscon prescribed for it. However, of course it could be something else like being allergic to formula. I can only say what my experience was. My J's went on for 15 months plus and carried on with solids etc so lets hope it's not that cos it's not nice.
by giggi 28th Apr 2008, 8:40am
can anyone help???
My 15 week old son is breast fed100% and takes my expressed milk from a bottle no problem, but he has a problem with formula. He enjoys the bottle then 2 hours later (you can set your waych by it!) He projectile vomits the whole lot up. He then won't eat for the remainder of the day and when I do breast feed him, he brings that back up too. It's not the amount as I have given him 2 oz and 6 oz with the same effect. The brand doesn't seem to matter either.
The HV says just to leave him for a while and let his gut mature,but other mums don't seem to have this problem when mixed feeding. I'm back at work after xmas and worried that I won't be able to express enough for him. Coul he be allergic to cow's milk? If anyone could offer any advice I'd be very appreciative
by sarahjards 22nd Oct 2007, 9:39am
My baby has been breast fed for 4 months from birth and has just started to wake up during the night wanting feeding at 3am, 5.30am, 7am and 9am. I may not be producing enough milk to satisfy him now during the day and tried mixed feeding with formula.My problem isnt my baby not taking the bottle but that he is very poorly and sick everywhere 1 hour afterwards. I have tried different brands and ready made formula but he just doesnt keep any of it down and i have been adviced against solids (baby rice ) til he is 6 months old. Is there a diet to help me produce more milk as it hasnt been a problem at all and i eat a fresh and varied diet with no junk. Help
by urquhart 7th Aug 2007, 8:41am
I have been breast feeding my baby who is now 4 months old. I'm due to start back at work in six weeks so i need her to take a bottle during the hours i work. However she refuses to take it. Ii've tried different bottles and teats, other people have also tried and failed. I would be grateful for any advice.
by juile 23rd Jul 2007, 9:11am
When should i introduce light solids? My baby is 3 month old and she goes through 150ml of formula every two hours. I have now started giving when ever she cries so i am really thinking about giving her something solid. Please advise.
by nakawala 6th Jul 2007, 11:20am
I have been breastfeeding for 9 weeks now and would like to introduce formula milk. So far I have tried SMA, Aptimil and Cow and Gate, with no success(they make my son vomit after a couple of hours!) The Health Visitor suggested some anti colic formula? But I have no idea where to get it or if there is anything else I could try. Any ideas? Thanks
by AskBaby10887 17th Apr 2007, 9:37am