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Mixed feeding: breast milk and formula

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Feeding Your feeding options

Mixed (or combination) feeding means feeding your baby a mix of breast milk and formula. Mums use mixed feeding for lots of reasons. Some might have been advised to express to increase their milk supply, others are planning to go back to work and see this as the best choice for them because of the job they do or the hours they work.

Should I plan to feed my baby formula as well as breast milk?

As long as you've been feeding whenever your baby shows signs that they're hungry and your baby has shown healthy weight gain, there's no need to feed them anything other than breast milk until they reach six months. Introducing formula after a few months will affect your milk supply, reduce the beneficial effects of your own milk, and may upset your baby’s tummy at first.

If you want your partner to feed your wee one, or you need to leave them for a while, you could try expressing your breast milk.

Concerned about making enough breast milk for your baby?

Photo of a 6 month old baby breastfeeding

Photo of a 6 month old baby breastfeeding

You may decide to use a mix of breastmilk and formula milk if you're worried about not producing enough milk yourself. If you’re in this situation, our page on low milk supply has tips to help here, and you could also have a chat with your midwife or health visitor, or go to a breastfeeding support group.

Exclusive breastfeeding is great for you both but any breast milk benefits baby so be proud of the lovely baby you have made and any milk you make. Any breastfeeding is better than none at all, you're doing just fine!

Formula feeding

If you’re feeding with formula milk, stick to a first milk until your baby is a year old, then move on to full fat cow’s milk. By that point, your baby will be getting iron from solid food and Vitamin D from the free supplement which your health visitor will have provided.

Avoid anything other than ‘first’ formula milks. Pre-thickened, follow on and toddler milks should be avoided as there's no evidence they work and, again, they may upset your breastfed baby's tummy. 'Follow on' and 'Night-time' milks aren't necessary at any stage and should never be given to a baby younger than 6 months. 

To find out more about safely feeding your baby formula, Public Health Scotland have produced a handy formula feeding leaflet which you can download here. You can also watch a video on how to safely make up a bottle on our page on formula feeding.

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Last updated: 18 May, 2023