How to Nurse and Supplement With Formula

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for the first six months of a baby’s life. If you need to combine breastfeeding with formula feeding -- known as “supplementing” -- proceed carefully to ensure that you do not negatively affect your milk supply. The way you supplement depends on your reasons for adding formula to your baby’s diet.

  1. Replace one breastfeeding session with one bottle of formula to add formula feeding to your schedule. For example, if you want your baby to take formula for one feeding during the day while you work, feed your baby the bottle of formula instead of breastfeeding your baby for this feeding. A newborn probably takes between 1 1/2 and 3 ounces per feeding, a 2-month-old should drink about 4 to 5 ounces and a 4-month-old should drink between 4 and 6 ounces, according to KidsHealth.

  2. Breastfeed your baby normally and offer an ounce or two of formula supplementation, if your baby still seems hungry after breastfeeding. A physician might recommend formula supplementation for a baby who is not gaining appropriately. In this situation, start with breastfeeding to stimulate milk production and then use supplemental formula, if necessary, to satisfy a hungry baby and increase weight gain.

  3. Pump breast milk around the time your baby drinks a bottle to compensate for the formula supplementation, if you wish to maintain your milk supply. If you do not pump breast milk to simulate the skipped feeding, your milk supply might decrease, warns international board certified lactation consultant Kelly Bonyata, with the KellyMom website. If you don’t wish to maintain the same milk supply, do not pump. Your milk supply will gradually readjust for the fewer breastfeeding sessions.