Not all mothers are able to provide their baby with breast milk, exclusively, for the first year of life. Supplementing with formula is a reality for many families. My team is often asked by new parents, “Can I give my baby formula with breast milk?” and we thought it was worth blogging about.
Can I give my baby formula with breast milk?
The short answer is YES. However, there are a few things you may want to consider. Formula and breast milk are “good” at room temperature for different lengths of time. If you combine breast milk and formula into one bottle, you will need to discard according to the formula’s guidelines (which is typically 1 hour after baby begins their feed or 2 hours after prepared and at room temperature). Breast milk, per the Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine, is good at room temperature for 3 hours having not been fed to a baby yet (NOT 6 like I frequently see in Facebook groups).
So, if your baby does not finish their combined bottle in the appropriate time, it must be discarded. Breast milk and all. Some moms are ok with that and others do not want to throw out even a drop of breast milk. Both are valid stances to take. If, however, you do not want to risk running into this conundrum, you can first offer baby the bottle with just breast milk. Once baby has finished that bottle, you can finish the feed with a bottle of formula. No need to use two bottles – you can add the formula into the bottle that was used for breast milk.
So, to recap, can I give my baby formula with breast milk? Yes, but you may want to offer breast milk first and then formula to avoid potentially wasting any breast milk. If you’re ok with possibly discarding a little unused breast milk here and there, then mix away!
Blogs with information on formula feeding
This blog is the advice of a lactation counselor. It is not medical advice. The above information does not take the place of consultation with your healthcare professional.