The decision to breastfeed during the day but give formula milk at night is a common choice of many moms. This decision is often made because many moms learn early on that there are many advantages to combination feeding their baby, which allows for both formula feeding and breastfeeding interchangeably.
To answer the question of whether or not you can breastfeed during the day and formula feed at night, we will explore a little bit of research that tells us what baby formula actually is. Then, we will go over some basic reasons and benefits of breastfeeding during the day and bottle feeding formula milk at night. Following that, we will try to provide some tips as to how you may do it successfully.
What is Baby Formula, Anyway?
Baby formula is an alternative milk supply to breastmilk that is used for feeding infants. The making of baby formula is heavily regulated such that the contents of these formulas are generally closely the same.
All formulas should have basic ingredients of water, a carbohydrate, protein, fat, vitamins, and minerals.
The protein base of formulas can come from many commonly used milk types such as cow’s milk, goat’s milk, or soy. The most common base used is cow’s milk, but in cases of an allergic reaction or family dietary preferences, soy-based formulas are a popular alternative.
While breast milk can be considered liquid gold to a newborn, it is true that formula doesn’t get the same branding. However, this does not mean that formula is not good enough for your baby, because it really is. In fact, it is very possible to find baby formula with simple, quality ingredients for your baby.
Regardless of how nutritious a bottle of formula can be, in most cases, it is generally recommended that parents practice exclusive breastfeeding for the first few months of a baby’s life. However, there are situations where this is actually not recommended, for instance if an infant is born with lower than average birth weight, formula is sometimes used since the baby needs additional nutrients to get to normal weight as soon as they can. This shows that combination feeding, formula feeding an also breastfed baby, is both possible and in fact quite common.
So, now that we have a basic understanding of what exactly baby formula is, we can say that yes, it is actually okay to breastfeed during the day while feeding formula at night. Why is this? Because infant formula is made to meet the nutritional demands that growing babies need, and is also generally made with the consideration that babies feed at night.
Reasons Why Some Moms Formula Feed at Night
Formula feeding at night is a common decision among moms.
Here are some of the main reasons some moms decide to go for this type of combination feeding:
To allow dad or another family member to assist with feedings.
Being a mom is a hard job! It can be tiring working around the little one’s schedule, and in a lot of cases, new moms end up with sleep deprivation due to their newborn’s inevitable night waking and nighttime feeding needs. Without rest, it’s really hard for moms to give their all to their babies during the day. As such, letting someone else formula feed the baby means getting some help and much needed rest, which leads to a well-rested and happy mom.
With formula feeding, you get a chance to take a breather and perhaps get a full night’s rest since dad or another family member can now take care of feedings in the middle of the night. This also gives dad a chance to bond with his little one, building great father-child relationships.
Feeding multiple babies
Some moms may have had twins or otherwise multiple babies, and in those cases, they may choose to formula feed at night if there’s simply not enough milk production for all of the breastfed infants. This really stems from our previous point about moms being able to get help where they can, and it holds true that being a mom is tough and looking for ways to ease the demands of being a breastfeeding mother is normal and even expected.
Choosing to supplement with formula even during the day is a great way for moms to step back and allow some time for rest, which may be a form of self-care in this season or even just trying to get back to more normal sleep patterns.
Trying to get the baby to sleep through the night
Although without any scientific support, the decision to formula feed at night is largely because some moms believe it will help their little one sleep through the night. Due to the way formula is made, it is harder for babies to digest than breast milk, potentially helping babies stay fuller longer, and thus may play a role in helping the baby sleep for longer too before hunger sends them (and you) a wake up call.
Now, while they can stay fuller longer, this does not mean that your baby will not wake at night after feeding nor will they subsequently fall asleep after feeding. The reason for this is that babies wake at night for a number of reasons that do not relate to being hungry.
Your little one may wake because:
- their brains are active with new knowledge and they want to explore
- they are in the teething phase which can be painful
- they are transitioning between sleep cycles and had a bit of trouble falling back to sleep
In such cases, it’s not a bad thing to try and help your baby develop good sleep habits, but before you know it (usually by 3+ months), your baby will naturally start sleeping for longer stretches of time until they make it all the way through the night.
Let’s face it, most moms are working moms, and with this comes lots of dynamics in schedule. Some moms work at night and others have very long days. In most cases, moms may try to make time to pump and leave a nice supply of bottled breastmilk for their baby. However, this is not always the case.
In some situations, although there is support from employers and legislation allowing moms to get breaks for the purposes of pumping at work, it can get tiring. Hence, formula feeding comes in as the best alternative.
Tips for Formula Feeding at Night
If you have already started formula feeding your baby, then making the adjustments to formula feeding at night will be simple. However, if you have not yet started combination feeding, here is some basic information to help you get started.
Types of Formula
- When looking for infant formula, you will have the options of organic infant formula as well as conventional infant formula. Organic means that the formula is made without potentially harmful pesticides, GMOs, antibiotics, and manufacturing processes, among other things.
- You will find infant formula made from three (3) common bases: cow’s milk protein, soy, or protein hydrolysate, which can be from cow’s milk or soy.
- You will also find that these bases are presented in three forms: powered, liquid concentrate, and ready to use.
How to Formula Feed
- When introducing your baby to formula after breastfeeding, it is best to do so gradually.
- Try feeding your baby with formula during normal feeding times.
- Use a baby journal or other recording tool to note the happenings with your baby around feeding times.
- Have someone else feed your baby with formula throughout the day, especially if they’ll be at a daycare for a portion of the day
- Ensure that you still use your breast pump to pump out breastmilk and avoid engorgement of the breast, which occurs when your breast is full of milk but it’s not being used up at the same rate it’s being produced
Night Feeding Tips
- Keep all of your feeding supplies in close proximity.
- Prepare your baby formula beforehand. Infant formula may be prepared and refrigerated for a period of not more than 24 hours. This means that you can easily make a few bottles of formula just before retiring to bed.
- If your baby wakes at night, allow them some time before rushing to feed them. This will allow you to get everything prepared and you may even notice that your baby self-soothes and falls right back to sleep. In this case, you can go in to check on your baby. Just make sure to place the formula back in the fridge if not used.
- Remember that the feeding does not always have to be done by you. Try to set a routine between you and your partner or with other family members as to who will get up on which nights.
- Feed your baby, take away the bottle, and allow them to burp or burp them.
Here are some answers straight from a baby expert about night feeding:
Should I burp my formula-fed baby after a night feeding?
You should always burp your baby after every feeding, whether it is breastmilk or formula, or whether it’s daytime or nighttime.
How do I get my baby back to sleep after feeding?
Once you have gotten done with your feeding, it’s important to remember that you should not rush your baby back to sleep. Instead, ensure that the environment is a sleep-inducing one and all things will work out.
Should I rock or soothe my baby to sleep after night formula feeding?
Spending time with infants after feedings and bonding is always a wonderful time for new parents. Make sure to burp babies well after feedings, and comfort and enjoy them. Some babies don’t need rocking or soothing after a nighttime feed, while other babies may enjoy this.
Many moms often ask if it’s okay to breastfeed during the day and formula feed at night. To answer this question we looked at what exactly infant formula is, and being that infant formula is made for babies and regulated to ensure their health, it is safe to say that yes, you can formula feed at night while breastfeeding during the day (unless of course your pediatrician or lactation consultant has advised otherwise for any reason!).
As such, we provided some possible reasons for why moms may choose to do this, then provided some basic tips to ensure success. But, let’s not stop there–let’s end with what our medical professional says in response to the question posed in the first place.
Is it okay to breast-feed during the day and formula feed during the night?
“Feeding your baby can happen many different ways. That can mean formula during the day or at night or breastmilk during the day or at night. How you feed your baby is your and your partner’s decision.”