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Mixed feeding

If you decide to introduce formula, you can keep breastfeeding too.

Baby feeding

Mixed feeding is when you give your baby infant formula as well as breastfeeds. Here are some reasons why you might be thinking about introducing some formula feeds.  

  • You want to offer top-up feeds because you are concerned about your milk supply or baby's weight gain. Or you are unable to produce a full milk supply.  

  • You have concerns about breastfeeding in public

  • You are returning to work and can't manage to express enough milk or would prefer not to. 

  • You are working on building your milk supply and are supplementing as you do this. 

  • You may be feeling family pressure to breastfeed less.  

Before you try mixed feeding

If you think your milk supply may be low, you may like to seek help from an ABA counsellor to try to increase your supply first. Introducing formula and regularly mixed feeding can make it more difficult to keep breastfeeding.  

Balancing breastfeeds and formula feeds  

Some mums successfully manage breastfeeding and formula feeding for many months. However, for others it can be a bit of a balancing act keeping your supply up. The more formula your baby takes, the less milk your breasts will make.  

In addition, many babies come to prefer drinking from a bottle than taking milk from the breast. This can lead to your baby not wanting to feed from your breast. This can be a very upsetting experience for a mum who wants to keep some breastfeeding going. 

Keeping up your milk supply

You might like to work closely with a child health nurse, breastfeeding counsellor or lactation consultant to help you work out how much formula to use and how to maintain your breastmilk supply. Ask them about how to increase your milk supply and how to manage formula feeds so you can avoid your supply dropping further. 

They can help you to work out a plan of more frequent feeding and/or expressing. You might also consider using a supply line which gives extra expressed milk (or formula) to your baby as they suck at your breast. This satisfies your baby while helping to boost your supply. 

When you are offering top-up formula feeds...

  • Breastfeed your baby from both sides before offering a formula top-up.  

  • You can even offer both breasts again after a short break, before a top-up formula feed. 

  • Offer only small top-ups if you are concerned about keeping up your supply.   

  • Use paced bottle-feeding techniques to avoid over-feeding formula to your baby.  

Choosing a formula

With all the marketing tactics of formula companies, it can be difficult to find unbiased information. The following points may help: 

  • Many infant formulas claim to be superior for eye, brain or immune development. However, no brand is necessarily better than another. Choose what you can afford.  

  • If you start a formula and feel that your baby doesn’t do well on it or reacts to it, check with your child health nurse or the child health/parent information line in your state or territory. 

Even though in Australia we have reliable access to clean water and electricity, contamination of formula is still possible. It is also very important that powdered milks are made up correctly.

ABA supports you  

Regardless of whether you are exclusively breastfeeding, exclusively using formula or mixed feeding, you are making decisions for your baby and your family which are right at this time, based on the information you have available to you. We support you in whatever decisions you make. 

If you are disappointed about your feeding decisions or worried about how feeding is going now, it is important to find a supportive person to share your feelings with. ABA counsellors on the Breastfeeding Helpline can help to reassure you that you can have a close bond with your baby however you are feeding them.  


© Australian Breastfeeding Association April 2022