A Mix of Formula and Breastfeeding May Benefit Baby

breast milk and formula

There has long been a debate about whether it is better to breastfeed or formula-feed babies. Some breastfeeders accuse formula-users of not supplying the healthy benefits of breastmilk to their babies, and some formula-users insist that formula is their only option. According to a recent study, a mix of both might not only be a happy medium, but it might benefit baby as well.

In recent years, breastfeeding advocates have inspired hospitals to take action. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that mothers breastfeed their babies exclusively for at least the first six months.

For years, hospitals have handed out complimentary gift bags full of free samples of baby products to new mothers. Many included formula samples. Last year, many hospitals around the United States decided to ban formula from being handed out to new mothers.

Breastfeeding advocates argue that they are not “anti-formula,” but they believed that by handing out formula samples, which acted as advertising for those companies, hospitals were discouraging mothers from breastfeeding.

Indeed, there are many new mothers who are unable to breastfeed for health or other reasons. Published breastfeeding advocates like www.breastfeeding.com do not condemn mothers who are unable or unwilling to breastfeed; but they do encourage them to make an informed decision.

Recently however, a new study performed by the journal Pediatrics suggests that the use of very small amounts of formula may be beneficial to babies, and actually lengthen the time they are able to breastfeed.

In the study, researchers tested about 40 babies that had experienced weight loss just a day or two after they were born. One group of infants was exclusively breastfed and the other group was fed one third of an ounce of formula after every nursing period.

By the end of three months, the researchers found that 76 percent of the formula-fed babies were being breastfed exclusively, while only 47 percent of the other group remained exclusively breastfed.

Plans are already in place to continue with similar studies to prove that small amounts of formula can lengthen the time that baby can breastfeed.

For mothers who struggle to breastfeed, beginning to use small amounts of formula may help your child latch on. Even if it doesn’t work for you, it might be worth a try.

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Would you try this method of feeding your baby? Did you feed your baby formula or breast milk? Comment below!

Image via Flickr/David Leo Veksler

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A Mix of Formula and Breastfeeding May Benefit Baby

Casey is a senior in college and is excited to graduate this July! She recently got married in August and is happily living in a cute, little town home with her adorable husband. Upon graduating, Casey will receive her bachelor's in English, and has focused much of her education in the world of journalism. She is obsessed with writing and loves magazine and news style writing the best. Another life-long love of Casey's is dancing. She has tried everything from ballet and jazz to hip-hop and ba ... More

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16 comments

  1. Lauren says:

    I think I am going to do a bit of both, trying mostly to breastfeed as much as I can, but also adding in a supplemental formula every few feedings.

  2. KatieH says:

    I started with EBF, but within days after birth realized that I was just not going to produce enough and my daughter actually refused to nurse after day 4. Formula and pumped breast milk was my only option. My daughter is now 5 months and I still don’t produce enough milk to EBF, so she gets half her bottles as formula and the other half is pumped breast milk or I actually nurse. She never experienced an lack in weight gain because I refused to let her starve and made the decision to use formula so early. She’s now chunky and rollie pollie. I felt bad for a long time, and sometimes still do, that I’m not able to EBF. That was one of my goals and I’m not able to achieve that one. I’ve come to terms with is mostly, but I struggle everyday with trying to increase my supply in the hopes that one day in the near future that I will be able to EBF. Until that day comes, I will supplement with formula.

  3. Hi there, julia! The study referenced here was actually published in Pediatrics, a respected medical journal. While we understand that this method won’t work for every nursing mother, we’re sharing the results in the event that some of our members will find the information useful in their own breastfeeding journey. Thanks for your feedback.

  4. Megan says:

    I was never able to produce enough milk… so to prevent my baby from STARVING, I gave her some formula the first week after birth, and continued to nurse as much as possible. She LOVED to nurse and we finally stopped at 16 months… so as far as I’m concerned, this article is accurate! A combination of breastfeeding and formula was perfect for us. I resent getting so much flack about not nursing exclusively, though. I understand the benefits of nursing and did the best I could possibly do, so why the horrible treatment? Please be kind to each other!

  5. Rachel says:

    I started breastfeeding from the start. My little on is now 9 months old and very healthy. I have had some bumps along the way and he is actually eating my milk through bottles and has been since he was about 3 months. I always had a trouble getting him to latch, inverted nipples, but I was determined to feed him breastmilk. So I started pumping and now I have to pump every 4 hours! It takes a lot out of me and makes my schedule crazy but I have been blessed to be able to stay home so far. So even though I don’t feed him straight from me, he still gets my milk. I have only had to supplement a few times when I was sick and/or he was eating like crazy and I wasn’t getting enough milk. I hope to make it to at least a year and it’s around the corner! No matter what you choose, you do what’s best for your little one. I am so glad and proud of myself for keeping up with my pumping so that he has the best for him. Go mamas!

  6. LeahCrespin says:

    Breastmilk is the best way to clear up jaundice and get your baby to gain weight. The best way to increase milk supply is to nurse. Giving bottles of formula only perpetuate these issues. Doctors do not know everything! 🙂 There are very rare instances where mothers can not nurse their babies, and we are fortunate to live in a society with ample supplies of donor milk, and chemically produced artificial milk replacement ("formula"). Nothing replaces the healthful properties of breastmilk. Nothing. Never has, never will.

  7. julia says:

    This article is full of untruths, I guarantee the ‘study’ it refers to was funded by a formula company. do what you want, but formula companies need to leave breast feeding moms alone and the media needs to stop propagating the idea that our bodies are insufficient providers. The person who wrote this article is clearly not very thoughtful or qualified.

  8. nykki says:

    For me, formula was the only choice. Ever hear of the puppp rash? If not, consider yourself lucky. I wanted to literally scratch my skin off, and kind of did in those first few weeks. Breastfeeding would have only kept the rash going. And guess what, 5 months later, I still have angry purple patches on my legs from it. My case got worse after my son was born and NOTHING helped with the itch…The ONLY thing that got the rash to subside was the hormones returning to normal. I love my son more than life itself, but I wasn’t able to shake the intense itching to be able to sit and breastfeed him for any amount of time. And I personally hate the badgering I receive for not breastfeeding…A mother knows what is right for her child and herself; I don’t criticize anyone for breastfeeding, why are mother’s that formula feed their children looked down upon? Whether for personal reasons or health issues, formula feed on mamas!!!

  9. JussEmmie says:

    For the first two weeks my son wouldn’t latch on I had to feed him from a bottle. I’d try to pump but for some reason i was only producing the clear super thin milk that wasn’t enough for him. so i’d make a bottle of formula and then he figured out how to latch on. he nursed solely for 19 months. 🙂 but i had the hardest time to start with. if i didn’t have my mom and friends to help me through it i would of just gone with formula. the lactation consultant was no help at all at the hospital i’d ask for help and she just kept telling me i was doing it wrong never even offered to show me how. come to find out i should of been using nipple shields cause mine never got longer. but after the bottle my lil man caught on nicely.

  10. Jessica says:

    I did not breastfeed with my oldest one then my second one was feed breast milk from a bottle for 3 months then started formula after that then now my almost 5 month old has been breastfeeding with a few bottles of formula here and there but not seeing any different in it

  11. Runbaby12 says:

    I gave birth to twins back in March and was providing them primarily my milk, but as their need increased, my supply never did. I always had to supplement with formula. Up until they were 9 weeks old, they were given both formula and breast milk. Unfortunately, due to many reasons, I am no longer breastfeeding them and they are solely on formula.

  12. LanasMomma says:

    Initially my daughter had entirely too much milk, and I was bound and determined that because I had been breast feed she would be too. A few days later though I found my first obstacle. I failed to drink enough water the day before and found myself with a miserably hungry baby and a free can of formula sitting there beckoning me to use it and resolve my daughters woes. In swoops her dad who hands her to grandma and takes me outside. Effectively removing the bottle I had just made for her from being administered. I was in tears at a breaking point, because my tiny girl was starving and there was nothing I could do that moment to fix it. Looking back I understand in that moment I saw myself as a huge failure to her but that one bottle at a week old wouldn’t have hurt her. He did keep me from having a reason to beat myself up more though when he poured that (in my mind at the time =Vile concoction) right down the drain. Now looking back I don’t see where it was as bad of a deal after all.

  13. Csalas118 says:

    My son is breastfeed right now but when i go back to work i have a feeling he will have to be on both because ive started having problems with pumping enough to store

  14. i am going to do both

  15. denette87 says:

    Personally I chose to breastfeed. I never had a doubt that I wouldn’t. My daughter had sever jaundice and we had to supplement formula per her doctors recommendation. Fortunately, it cleared in a couple of days but I was heart broken that I had to do it. I know it was what was best for here but it still upset me. But she is now solely breastfeed and doing great.

  16. Jasmine says:

    I personally believe that breastfeeding is best and that there are so many benefits that come with it that every mom should at lest attempt it at the beginning unfortunately when my daughter was born they kept her for observation preventing my from solely breast feeding and as soon as she was home I went back to breastfeeding and basically supplementing since my breasts had not yet caught up with her eating habits … so basically I tried this method with out really meaning to and now she seems to be almost completely off formula …

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