Breast milk is undeniably the best food for babies. The mother’s milk continuously adapts to the changing needs of her growing baby, making it the perfect source of nutrition for the baby’s developing body. Additionally, the act of breastfeeding is one of the best things that you can offer to your little one, and its beneficial effects are truly unmatched.
But in reality, not all moms are blessed with an abundant supply of breast milk. Or maybe, their health and working conditions won’t allow them to offer their precious breast milk all the time. Thankfully, modern baby formula has come a long way, and can be a great alternative for those who are unable to exclusively breastfeed.
This then leads us to the question, can you mix breast milk and formula? Here’s what experts suggest, along with some important points to consider when mixing formula with breast milk.
Can you mix formula with breast milk?
Most healthcare experts, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) promotes exclusive breastfeeding for the baby’s first 6 months of life whenever possible. However, if breast milk is not always available to feed your little one, mixing formula with breast milk can also be a good alternative. Supplementing with formula milk is recognized by experts and can help infants thrive during their first year of life. So, in the event that it’s not possible to exclusively breastfeed, this can be considered a great alternative.
Can you mix formula and breastmilk in the same bottle?
Experts and mothers often advise against mixing formula and breast milk in the same bottle. The reason is simple- to save every single drop of your breast milk and make sure that it is completely consumed by your baby. It is often advised to offer the breast milk first, then followed by the formula milk in a separate feeding bottle after your child finishes consuming the breast milk.
However, if you’d prefer, mixing formula and breast milk in one bottle is also possible provided that you’re aware of how to mix formula and breastmilk together properly. Additionally, in order to ensure the safety of your baby you should acknowledge the safety considerations that apply when it comes to preparing and storing both kinds of milk.
How to mix formula and breast milk
Some parents may find it more convenient to mix formula with breast milk when feeding their baby, but it is important to take note that you need to do it appropriately to prevent potential health consequences.
Unlike pure breast milk that always has the ideal balance of fluids and nutrients, formula milk often needs to be reconstituted to provide what the baby needs. Here are some reminders on how to mix formula and breast milk correctly and keep it safe for your baby’s consumption.
Prepare the formula first.
According to the AAP, a diluted formula milk preparation will deplete the essential nutrients that are needed for your baby to grow, while a more concentrated preparation can lead to dehydration, digestive problems, and worse, seizures. That’s why if you’re going to add formula to breast milk, it would be best to prepare the formula milk first before adding the breast milk into the mixture.
When mixing your formula, here are some important reminders to keep in mind:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions about the ratio of formula to water and how to store the opened packaging appropriately.
- Use only the measuring scoop that is included in the package. Formula milk comes in different sizes of scoops depending on the concentration of their nutrients.
- The reconstitution depends on the type of formula milk you have. Ready-to-feed formula doesn’t require additional water, while the powdered and liquid concentrate does.
Do not use breast milk as a substitute to water when preparing your formula.
Breast milk shouldn’t be used in preparing your formula because it will lead to a more concentrated solution, which is not good for your baby. Instead, you can use safe and clean water when mixing your liquid concentrate or powdered formula before adding up the breast milk.
Make sure that the breast milk was properly stored.
Breast milk that is not stored properly has a greater risk for contamination, which can be harmful for your baby. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has specific guidelines in storing expressed breast milk, some of these are as follows:
- Remember that the freshly expressed breast milk can be stored at room temperature for up to 4 hours, at the back of your fridge for up to 4 days and in the freezer for up to 6 months.
- Once you thaw frozen breast milk in the fridge, it should be consumed within 24 hours.
- Any leftover breast milk that is kept in the fridge needs to be consumed within 1 to 2 hours after your baby has finished feeding.
- Use breast milk storage bags or a food-grade plastic container with a tight lid when storing breast milk to prevent contamination.
Mix the formula with breast milk just in time for the feeding.
Once you mix the formula with breast milk, it will already begin affecting the milk’s storage life. Typically, a mixture of formula and breast milk should be consumed within 24 hours when stored in the refrigerator and within 1 hour at room temperature.
So to ensure that your breastmilk and formula mixture won’t end up spoiling and become risky for your baby, it would be best to mix them together just in time for your baby’s feeding.
Consume left-over formula and breast milk mixture within an hour.
Once your baby feeds on that bottle, the bacteria that are naturally present in your baby’s mouth will find its way to the milk. Left-over milk is a good breeding ground for bacteria, so they can reproduce in there really quickly even if you store the mixture in the fridge.
So if you want to save any leftover formula and breastmilk for the next feeding, make sure that you store it in the fridge and it is consumed within an hour. If it is left at room temperature or inside the fridge for more than an hour, it is best to discard the mixture for your baby’s safety.
Breast milk and formula milk are typically fed to babies in separate bottles, but if mixing them in one bottle would work best for you, then that’s fine. Just make sure that you follow all the necessary guidelines in the proper preparation and storage of formula milk, breast milk, and mixture of both to ensure the safety and wellbeing of your little one.