There are many reasons why you may want to supplement breastfeeding with formula feeding. For some mothers, there is the realization that breastfeeding may not be enough or there may be some time constraints. Whatever your reasoning, this article will provide you with an informational guide to the process of supplementing with formula as well as how to pair formula feeding with breastfeeding. 

Although you don’t hear it talked about very often, supplementing with formula is quite common and quite achievable. You just have to find the right strategy and the right formula. With that being said, let’s get into the topic: Supplementing with formula: How to pair with breastfeeding. 

Why Supplementing With Formula Is a Good Idea

Often new mothers may feel pressured either by outer forces or internal thoughts to do things a certain way. This is often normal and quite common but it doesn’t have to be. New can sometimes be intimidating, especially when there is a little one to nurture and protect. However, when it comes to feeding your baby, a good rule of thumb to follow is that no two babies are alike and so the way you feed your baby will be unique to your and your situation.   

You may have seen content or campaigns citing that feeding your little one infant formula isn’t a good idea. However, that is often not true without some context or dominant research, and to be honest – those findings are not available. 

Reality is a little more complex and in this reality, you do what you can with the knowledge at hand. The truth is that infant formula has done more good than harm – simply because many babies have thrived on good infant formula and the research has also supported this. 

In addition, there are plenty of reasons why using a baby formula as a supplement to your breastfeeding could not only be wise but necessary. 

Medical Necessity due to some infant conditions

For some new moms, using infant formula as a supplement or even a substitute is a recommendation made by health care professionals for the health of their baby.  While this can be unsettling for some – because it usually means there are some health concerns, it’s important to think of your baby first and trust your caretakers. 

According to the WHO and UNICEF “Infants born weighing less than 1500 g (very low birth weight)” generally get the recommendation to supplement with infant formula. This recommendation is given so that the infant can get all the nutrition needed to get up their weight within a period of time. 

While this is just one example, there are other similar situations – what is common among them all, however, is putting the baby’s immediate health first.  If you are in such a unique situation then your baby’s pediatrician will make the recommendation based on your unique situation. 

Mother’s Medical Needs

Apart from infant concerns the health of new moms are also important. There are some situations where new moms may not be able to exclusively breastfeed their little one. One such example is if the mom needs to take certain medications for some time. In such cases, it might be advised to supplement with infant formula

Additionally, some moms may have underlying health concerns or in unique circumstances, certain use of substances may warrant the recommendation to exclusively formula feed their little one, as stated by the WHO. In such cases, new moms should focus on what they can control, which is choosing the best formula for their baby and trusting that the nutritional requirements are still being met. 


The choice of where you breastfeed is a personal one. What we all know, however, is that a hungry baby needs to be fed. Some new moms may not be comfortable breastfeeding in public and that is completely okay. In such cases, it may be a good idea to supplement with formula feeding at those times. The comfort of both mother and baby matters. 

But, all in all, you should know that breastfeeding your baby is both natural and often necessary and so, you should try to not feel ashamed where that is concerned. Plus, in this time new moms can find clothing and the like that are designed for the breastfeeding mom. 


Adding onto this last reason, flexibility may be a reason to supplement with formula. Having a bottle handy means that you can feed your baby whenever they are hungry with little hassle. It also means dad or someone else can take care of your baby while you head to the store or just head out for a little time for yourself! Which is often needed.

Ultimately, the reasons for using formula to supplement your infant’s feeding are your own. Whatever reason you have, it’s enough. So, let’s get down to how you can do it right.

How to Start Supplementing: Introducing Your Baby to Formula

Too bad there aren’t as many baby manuals with FAQs telling you about how to get your little one to accept formula without a fuss! Fortunately, it’s not as daunting as you might think. As with many things concerning motherhood, there’s no single way to do this, so feel free to take our advice with a grain of salt. You should always modify our suggestions based on what works for your unique situation.

Ease Into It

Regardless of how long you’ve been breastfeeding, it’s always smart to try to ease your baby into feeding with bottled infant formula. Babies are naturally fussy, almost regardless of individual temperament. With this, it’s best to introduce new things at a time and place when other factors are most comfortable.

This means introducing formula when they aren’t too tired or hungry. Introducing a bottle during the middle of the day, when your baby is likely to be most awake and when they likely aren’t extremely hungry, is a good idea to avoid fussiness.

Furthermore, it’s wise not to try to use too much formula at once, especially if your little one is already used to breastfeeding. Trying out a single bottle a day is a great benchmark; if you can get them to accept this, odds are good that they’ll be able to eventually accept more formula as time goes on.

Mixing Formula and Breast Milk in one bottle 

Another good thought is to mix a little bit of infant formula with pumped breast milk through combination feeding. Even the best formula does taste slightly different from breast milk, and your baby is the expert; they’ll be able to tell the difference. However, mixing the two could overcome the flavor rejection they might feel when you’re still trying to get them to accept formula.

Also, according to some health providers, if it’s the case that you are not producing enough milk then this will also be a great solution. 

This being said, be careful about going overboard. As well as, If your baby doesn’t drink the entire bottle, it must be discarded right away. Do not store for later use. 

How to Successfully Combine Formula and Breastfeeding

Once you’ve introduced your baby to formula and they’ll accept a bottle, you can focus on more permanent supplementation strategies.

How Do You Keep Up Supply?

Your baby needs a lot of food! One of the biggest hurdles new parents run into when trying to supplement with formula is figuring out how to keep a constant supply of milk production since they don’t want to transition to a bottle of formula entirely.

To do this, you’ll need to keep your body feeling like it still needs to produce enough milk all the time. Feeding your newborn with as much breast milk as possible and only using supplementary formula during certain times of the day is the best way to ensure your body is producing that rich milk. You may also look into using a breast pump – there are many ways to preserve breastmilk

 Over time, as your breast milk naturally begins to wane, you can replace it with formula progressively into your baby’s diet.

Keep Formula and Breast Milk Separate

Babies love routine (as do many adults). We’d recommend keeping any breastfeeding time and formula feeding time separate as best as you can. This tells babies that there are certain times of day when they can expect one type of feeding experience and other times for other experiences. Babies will go with this a lot more easily than what might seem to them as random switches to their milk supply.

Try Different Formula Types

Like with anything, babies can have serious preferences for the types of formula they might prefer. You should always go with a high-quality formula, of course. See the formula that we provide for a good example.

But, don’t be afraid to try different formulas, especially since you’re going for supplementation, not a breastfeeding replacement. It’s a lot easier and more cost-effective to try out a single supply of formula, then switch if your baby just isn’t having it. Don’t buy tons of formula until you’re sure that your little one has accepted a brand. 

You should also try to get a doctor’s recommendation before switching the baby to a new formula. This is simply just good practice to develop. 

What If Your Baby Has Trouble With the Bottle?

As mentioned, babies are pretty picky, and they might not like a latex or silicone baby bottle tip compared to a nipple. However, a lot of the time, this discomfort has more to do with flow rate and size of the bottle tip.

If your baby has trouble sticking with a bottle, try several different tips with several different flow rates. Babies might prefer a bottle tip that’s closest to how your nipple feels in terms of milk flow. It’s completely okay to experience with different bottle tips and even bottles. 


Overall, supplementing breastfeeding with formula is a great idea and can be a wonderful way to free up more time, help with medical needs, and more while ensuring that your little one gets the nutrition they need. 

True, it can be tricky, but it can also be tackled with a little bit of patience and determination. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us or your pediatrician if you have other questions about formula, feeding, or anything else. Rest assured, your baby team will be there for you. 

Bridget Reed, contributing writer for Milk Drunk with the expert advice of Dr. Jacqueline Winkelmann, board-certified pediatrician awarded Top Pediatrician by the International Association of Pediatricians: Leading Physicians of the World in 2018.

Bridget Reed is an experienced writer, editor, and SEO content manager. She graduated with her bachelor’s in business management and organizational leadership and is a proud mom of three.

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