I breast AND bottle-feed
Contrary to popular wisdom, the combined approach works for us, says this mom of a 6-month-old.
My heart sank as I wondered whether I should lie to our clinic nurse or just admit the truth, bracing myself for her disapproval. I knew her views on the topic and I knew she considered what I was doing not only wrong, but weak, ignorant, misguided and worst of all – Bad for the Baby.

You see, I was… brace yourself… giving my baby a bottle of baby formula at night. Shock and horror! As most parents will know, the breastfeeding vs bottle-feeding debate is one of the most controversial in child care today. It is a topic to be avoided around the dinner table – like religion and politics – as it brings out the fundamentalist in the most mild-mannered mom.

People  see it as an either/or scenario. Just like people apparently can't be both cat and dog lovers, moms apparently have to choose between breastfeeding and bottle-feeding. 

But I do both. I explained to our nurse that I do believe that breast is best and that I exclusively breastfed my baby for 4 months. Breast milk still is 80% of his diet. But at night, I give him a bottle of infant formula as it helps him sleep better. Which, in turn, helps me sleep better.

Take it from me, a mom who 4 months after the birth of her child was still sleeping only 2 to 3 hours a night and was dangerously close to the point of suicide – babies do sleep better after a bottle of formula. On the advice of my paediatrician, I was also giving him some porridge at night, which also helped improve his sleeping. He now often slept stretches of up to 5 hours a night – heavenly!

I was surprised to see that what I was doing was not really that unusual – and was even considered a good idea by some experts. According to the well-known Dr Spock, in an article on breast-bottle balance. ‘Combining breast and bottle is useful if you are planning to return to a job, want your partner to be able to take a more active role in feeding, or can't produce enough milk to completely satisfy your baby.’  

‘Many women find the combination of breast and bottle works better as the baby gets older and begins to eat some solid foods. Breastfeeding can take care of the baby's milk and nurturing needs, while more and more calories and nutrients are being taken as solid food.’ This article on bottle-feeding perfectly described my situation.

One of the most common arguments against supplementing breastfeeding with bottle-feeding is that it will mean the end of breastfeeding. But I found out that the opposite was true. Initially I was only going to breastfeed for six months, but because I now give him formula at night and am able to enjoy the occasional glass of wine with dinner without fearing that it will taint my breastmilk – I have decided to keep breastfeeding for longer.

Even the clinic nurse was forced to admit that anything that helped me breastfeed for longer had to be a good thing – even if that turned out to baby formula!

Do you think mixing breast and bottle-feeding is a good idea?

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