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Mixing breast milk with formula pros and cons

Can I mix formula with breast milk?

For breastfeeding mums, knowing what to feed their infants or not is usually quite challenging.

At times there is low milk supply, which may prompt one to supplement breastmilk, which is the main food for infants.

One of the supplements breastfeeding mums rely on is infant formula.

The main question, however, revolves around whether breastfeeding mums can milk.

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We will, therefore, explore this and answer whether young mums can mix formula with breast milk. Let’s get started.

About formula, we published one review on enfamil newborn vs infant famula . You can get some tips from it to make right choice buy enfamil formula for your baby.

What is infant formula?

Infant formulas are baby feeds that are packed with a set amount of nutrients to meet a baby’s nutritional needs.

These formulas however have less amount of nutrients as opposed to breast milk. They also lack certain immune factors that are akin to a healthy baby.

You can either choose to give your baby infant formula as the main feed or use it as a supplement to breastmilk.

There are several versions of infant formulas, which we will discuss in the course of our article.

Mixing breastmilk and formula

Is mixing breastmilk and formula possible ?

Well, you can mix infant formula with breastmilk, but it has to be prepared first. Some mothers, however, add powdered formula directly to breast milk to boost calories during feeding, which is highly dangerous.

Remember, first, mixing breastmilk with formula changes the composition of breast milk.

Mixing formula with breastmilk leads to breast milk wastage, however. Why?

As a necessary rule, infant formula stored in a bottle which your baby uses must be discarded within an hour after preparation, which leads to massive wastage.

Secondly, infant formulas are packed with a load of macronutrients, which can be harmful to a baby’s kidney when in excess concentration.

The best thing to do when using infant formula and breastmilk, therefore, is to follow all the guidelines provided on the can.

We will look at the safety precautions in the course of our discussion.

To help you understand why people use formula alongside breast milk, here are some of the reasons:

i) Low milk supply

Now, a mother’s body is wired to produce more milk as the baby breastfeeds.

However, things may get quite challenging if one started nursing on the wrong foot. Factors such as long mother and child separation after birth may cause adequate milk supply.

A number of women do not also satisfy their babies with breastmilk, even with everything being right from the onset.

A good number of these are those who gave birth late, went for breast-related surgery, or those with multiples.

Such women are therefore advised by pediatricians to introduce combined feeding to their infants, which also includes using formula alongside breastmilk.

What if I pump my milk? Will the production go up? Not really.

You see, the thing is nursing is the most reliable way of stimulating and boosting milk production, and therefore in as much as you struggle with it, you should keep on doing it.

Most women indeed deal with issues such as sore nipples, which may make one resort to pumping, but for the sake of boosting production, nursing would be necessary.

ii) Pumping issues

Now, in as much as nursing is essential and should be encouraged; some situations render pumping a much better option. An example is mothers on night shifts.

What do you do if you cannot pump and the baby is hungry?

Have in mind also that at times you are in no position to pump, especially if you are working in an office. During such cases, one may resort to giving the baby formula to help curb hunger.

To help you with pumping, however, especially if your leave is coming to an end, it might be useful to pump once or twice a week and use a bottle instead of nursing your kid.

This will help you avoid pain, which is occasioned by too much milk.

iii) Sleep

Now, it is common knowledge that having an infant, to some extent, is a common cause of sleep deprivation. Lack of sleep, however, weighs differently on people, and some mothers may end up sad and depressed.

Most mothers who are sleep deprived are often advised to introduce formula to the baby as a nighttime meal to save them from breastfeeding, which is a sleep snatcher.

Infant formula is also quite concentrated and, therefore, takes quite some time to digest/ The baby is, therefore, going to stay full for quite some time.

iv) Going back to work

What do you do when your leave ended, and you need to get back to work?

Do you carry your baby to work?

Absolutely not. Most mothers therefore prefer to introduce formula feeding, which is usually not as engaging as breastfeeding.

Why can’t a mother just pump milk and leave for the bay?

Well, this is also a viable option, but it is not as easy as it sounds if you take into account mothers suffering from low milk production.

Your baby is, therefore, going to end up underfed if you only rely on pumping.

Before going back to work, mothers are also advised to introduce the baby to weaning, which entails bringing in supplements such as infant formulas.

In as much as it is not packed with specific essential antibodies, it has nutritional benefits.

There are two types of formulas that one can use with breastmilk. These are the concentrated and the ready-to-feed formula.

The concentrated formula comes in powdered form and has to be prepared first before mixing with breast milk.

The ready-to-feed formula, just like its name, requires no preparation. You can, therefore, add your breastmilk to a bottle of ready-to-drink formula bottle without any second thoughts.

How do I prepare a bottle of formula and breastmilk??

There are specific guidelines that you need to adhere to when mixing formula with breastmilk. Remember, your child’s health should be your ultimate concern during feeding. Here are some of the steps for optimum nutrition:

i) Washing and drying your hands

Before beginning the process of preparation, you need to wash and clean your hands. Why?

Washing and cleaning reduces the chances of infecting the milk or the nipple with bacteria, which might be harmful to your child.

Make sure that you use soap and running water. Gently rub the soap all over your hands for a minimum of twenty seconds, rinse, and then use a dry towel to dry.

ii) Pour 59mL of distilled water into a clean bottle

After rinsing your hands, you can now begin the process of preparation. Ensure that the water is safe for drinking, which is the reason why you need distilled water.

Factor in the amount of water your baby drinks during feeding and prepare formula of half the amount.

iii) For every 59mL of water, add a scoop of powdered formula

Make sure that you use the same scoop that came with the formula. Do not improvise or pick your own.

You should also make a full scoop. You should also check the instructions first, to establish the number of scoops that you need to add for the amount of water involved.

iv) Shaking the bottle

After mixing the formula with distilled water, make sure that the lid is properly screwed and then shake the bottle. It is also advisable that you cover the nipple area with a cap to prevent unnecessary spillage.

You should shake the two components for up to 15 seconds to ensure that they are properly mixed.

It is not uncommon to see some powder even after shaking. If it occurs, continue shaking until you come up with a solution.

v) Adding breastmilk

After you are done mixing the powder to distilled water, it is now time to add some breastmilk.

Make sure that you add an equal amount of breastmilk to the formula. Make sure that you use expressed breastmilk.

After adding the breastmilk to the bottle, shake it so that the prepared formula can be combined with the breastmilk.

However, if you are using an already prepared formula, just add equal amounts of the tow solutions into the bottle and shake to mix.

v) Heating

It is not advisable to serve your baby anything cold. The prepared mixture should, therefore, either be chilled, warm, or at room temperature, depending on your baby’s preference.

You can consequently immerse the bottle in hot water or place it in a bottle warmer.

You should test the milk on your wrist to ascertain its warmth before giving it to your child.

Why shouldn’t I mix breast milk with formula?

Mixing your breastmilk with formula is okay. However, there are specific viable reasons that can make you think otherwise. Let’s take a look at these two

i) Breast milk wastage

Unlike breast milk, infant formulas cannot stay for long, whether refrigerated or not.

You, therefore, have to discard it alongside the rest of the breastmilk after feeding, which is a waste.

Also, before giving your child the mixture of formula and breastmilk, you are going to offer breastmilk fast.

Now, the high chances are that your child will get full on breastmilk and therefore reject the mixture or et partly full and take just a little bit.

Either way, you are going to waste breastmilk, which is essential for your baby’s development.

It is even worse for mothers with low milk production. Imagine losing milk that you did not get easier.

ii) Breastmilk offers your baby a load of benefits.

However, when you mix breastmilk and formula, you are going to curtail some of these benefits.

Adding formula to breast milk changes the concentration of the milk, and therefore your baby is going to miss out on certain essential nutrients.

To get all the nutrients, your baby needs a larger volume of breastmilk.

Advantages of formula feeding

Formula feeding has a number of advantages. these are:

i) It is highly convenient

Formula feeding is highly convenient since anybody can do it. It works similar to pumping since you only need an infant formula and a bottle.

A mother can, therefore, delegate baby feeding roles to the husband or nanny, unlike breastfeeding, which requires the mother’s presence and input.

This is also a plus to the partner who will have time to bond it the baby, especially if the mother is asleep. The partner will also feel more involved in feeding roles, which is necessary.

ii) Flexibility

One of the most significant advantages of formula feeding is the flexibility it comes with. A mother only needs to prepare the breastmilk and formula solution, and the baby’s food is sorted.

Anybody can, therefore, feed the baby allowing the mother to go on with her duties usually. Infant formulas take long to digest, too, and therefore, such babies usually eat less, which is a plus.

Formula-fed babies are mostly full and asleep, giving the mothers an easy time, especially at night.

iii) Several things affect breastmilk production.

A mother relying purely on breastmilk must, therefore, adhere to a certain lifestyle failure to which breastmilk production might be affected.

With formula feeding, however, mums do not have to worry about their feeding habits since it does not in any way affect feeding. Formula feeding is, therefore, more liberating.

What are the disadvantages of formula feeding?

Formula feeding has its fair share of disadvantages too. These are:

i) Zero antibodies

Unlike breastmilk, formula feeding guarantees the child no antibodies. This is because all the antibodies found in breastmilk are natural and cannot, therefore, be manufactured.

Entirely relying on formula feeding is, therefore, disadvantageous since your baby will not be immune to certain infections due to a lack of critical antibodies.

There is no manufactured formula that can suit a baby’s development. This is one of the reasons why you need to breastfeed your child first before introducing formula feeding.

ii) Now, formula feeding is quite costly, depending on the type of infant formula you choose.

The most expensive is the ready-to-feed formula. Powdered formula is not as expensive, however similar to concentrated formula.

There are other unique formulas such as soy that cost a dime. You will still spend a lot even with the basic formula.

iii) Infant formulas are not easily digestible.

Babies fed on formulas, therefore, produce more gas with less bowel movement, which can cause constipation.

As a mother, I am assuming that you know how difficult it is to handle a constipated baby.

iv) Preparation

Formula feeding requires preparation before usage. Those that are ready to use are costly, and therefore, most people cannot afford them on a daily.

The most common choices, therefore, are the concentrated and powder option.

You also need to invest in the feeding program through bottles and nipples, which should be clean all the time.

You are going to feed your baby up to ten times a day, which is also quite engaging. The essentials also need to be clean always, which means excessive washing.

v) Infant feeding, especially if used as the sole baby feed, causes a mother’s milk production to decrease.

You will, therefore, need to pump milk out of the breast, which is not also easy at times.

In as much as it is a flexible approach to feeding your baby, you will need to combine breastfeeding in the end so that your milk production does not spiral down.

Safety precautions

Remember, we said that it is safe to mix formula and breast milk but with precaution. There are certain things, therefore, that you ought to be aware of. Here are some:

i) Only mix the powdered formula with distilled or filtered water

In as much as you can combine prepared formula and breast milk in the same bottle, you need to observe proper preparation of the said formula.

Make sure that you only use distilled water to prepare the powdered formula and not breast milk as most mothers do.

The thing is, your baby’s kidney is still weak, and therefore, too many concentrated micronutrients may be hazardous.

An excellent hack is to first prepare the formula separately before mixing the ready formula with breast milk.

However, for premade formula, you can just add the breastmilk.

ii) Offer breastmilk alone first

Now combining milk with formula usually results in wastage since the solution should be discarded one hour after preparation.

You should, therefore, offer your baby breast milk alone before anything else to curb wastage of breastmilk.

Remember, all things aside, your baby needs breastmilk, which is usually loaded with several essential nutrients.

If you do not offer your baby breastmilk first, chances are you are going to waste it since whatever remains has to be discarded.

Also, remember not to refrigerate the drinking bottle since it provides a favorable ground for the growth of bacteria, which predisposes your child to several sicknesses.

Only use the formula if your baby needs more feeding. However, if the breastmilk is enough for the child, there is no need to introduce formula.

iii) One of the things that you should do before adding prepared formula to breastmilk is to check at the expiry date.

This is usually indicated on the package. The best thing to do with an expired package I to discard it.

Expired formula compromises on quality, which might also harm the child. The prepared formula can only be kept in the refrigerator for up to a day, unlike breast milk, which can go refrigerated for long.

Have in mind that infant formula is usually designed in such a way that it provides the kid with a certain amount of calories, which is the reason why you need to do the preparation right.

The reason why you should not add the formula directly to breastmilk messes up with the balance of nutrients and water both ways.

You are therefore going to end up with more concentrated macronutrients and less water, which is harmful to your child.

Babies need a lot of water to help with nutrients breakdown, and deprivation is usually catastrophic. Make sure to include the right amount of water and stick to the guidelines.

Should I breastfeed my baby or rely on infant formulas?

Now, depending on the reasons, one may choose to either go for breastfeeding or infant formulas.

However, overall, breastfeeding has a higher number of advantages compared to formula feeding.

If you were to choose between breastfeeding and formula feeding, I would highly recommend that you choose breastfeeding anytime. Here is why:

i) Breastmilk is safe

It is common knowledge that breastmilk is usually the most reliable food for an infant.

It comes devoid of packaging, and therefore, your baby will not be exposed to germs and bacteria occasioned by feeding bottles and nipples.

Breastmilk also comes at the right temperature, giving your kid an easy time suckling.

ii) Antibodies

Breastmilk is packed with several antibodies that are essential in fighting pathogen.

The antibodies are in natural form and cannot, therefore, be replicated, which gives breastmilk an edge over infant formula.

Your baby is, therefore, going to grow stronger and healthier on breast milk as opposed to infant formula.

iii) It is cheap

Breastmilk is readily available as opposed to infant formula. In fact, the more the kid feeds, the more breastmilk is produced unless there are underlying conditions.

A mother is, therefore, going to spend absolutely nothing breastfeeding her baby, which cannot be said for infant formulas.

iv) Bonding

Babies bond with their mothers while breastfeeding. Infant formulas therefore, deprive babies of this special activity, which is needed for healthy growth.

breastfeeding is better than infant formulas in a majority of aspects. however, if you must mix the tow, make sure that you follow the guidelines.


Infant formulas are pretty common, especially with weaning mothers. You can, therefore, mix formula with breastmilk but with precautions.

Do not be tempted; however to directly mix concentrated formula with breastmilk lest, your kid develops kidney problems. Also, ensure that you read all the guidelines when combining the two.

You do not want to end up with a more concentrated mixture. So, can I mix breast milk with formula? Yes. It is possible.