Nursing and supplementing is possible, if it's done carefully.

How to Nurse and Supplement With Formula

by Kathryn Hatter

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life. If you need to combine breastfeeding with formula feeding -- known as “supplementing” -- proceed carefully to ensure that you do not negatively affect your milk supply. The way you supplement depends on your reasons for adding formula to your baby’s diet.

Replace one breastfeeding session with one bottle of formula to add formula feeding to your schedule. For example, if you want your baby to take formula for one feeding during the day while you work, feed your baby the bottle of formula instead of breastfeeding your baby for this feeding. A newborn probably takes between 1 1/2 and 3 ounces per feeding, a 2-month-old should drink about 4 to 5 ounces and a 4-month-old should drink between 4 and 6 ounces, according to KidsHealth.

Breastfeed your baby normally and offer an ounce or two of formula supplementation, if your baby still seems hungry after breastfeeding. A physician might recommend formula supplementation for a baby who is not gaining appropriately. In this situation, start with breastfeeding to stimulate milk production and then use supplemental formula, if necessary, to satisfy a hungry baby and increase weight gain.

Pump breast milk around the time your baby drinks a bottle to compensate for the formula supplementation, if you wish to maintain your milk supply. If you do not pump breast milk to simulate the skipped feeding, your milk supply might decrease, warns international board certified lactation consultant Kelly Bonyata, with the KellyMom website. If you don’t wish to maintain the same milk supply, do not pump. Your milk supply will gradually readjust for the fewer breastfeeding sessions.

Items you will need

  • Breast pump (optional)


  • If you supplement because of your baby’s poor weight gain, proceed under a physician’s and lactation consultant’s recommendations. The physician will monitor the baby’s weight gain and the lactation consultant will provide guidance to help you increase your milk supply.
  • Your baby might take formula more readily from someone other than you. If your baby objects to the bottle, have your partner or a family member feed the baby formula.
  • If you work and supplement with formula, strive to breastfeed your baby frequently during non-work time to maintain your milk supply.


  • To avoid disruptions and problems with breastfeeding, wait to supplement until you have breastfed your baby successfully for approximately one month, advises the Seattle Children’s Hospital. Supplementing earlier might interfere with your milk supply.
  • If you intend to drop more than one breastfeeding session per day, proceed gradually to replace these feedings with formula. Dropping several feedings at one time could cause engorgement, warns lactation consultant Bonyata.

About the Author

Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.

Photo Credits

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