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Can I Breastfeed and Formula Feed at the Same Time? | Willow | Hands-Free, App-Compatible & Wearable Breast Pumps

Can I Breastfeed and Formula Feed at the Same Time?

It's all about what's best for you and your baby.

Nurturing your baby is something every pregnant parent knows is a given. We all take the hospital classes, we pour over the books, we pay for the digital courses, but at the end of the day, the ideal feeding set up can take a serious detour from your original plan. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2020, about 80% of infants in the United States started out breastfeeding. However, by the age of 6 months, only about 57% of infants were still breastfeeding, with a further decrease to 35% at 12 months.

There are a million reasons why parents choose to stop breastfeeding, exclusively pump, begin combination feeding or exclusively formula feed. And we’d be remiss to mention that lack of societal support and universal paid family leave in the US certainly do not help families achieve their breastfeeding goals. Here are some of the other reasons besides lack of social support that you may find breastfeeding challenging:

  1. Latching difficulties: Some babies may have difficulty latching onto the breast correctly, which can cause discomfort and difficulty with milk transfer.

  2. Engorgement: In the early days of breastfeeding, a mother's breasts may become engorged with milk, which can be uncomfortable and make it harder for the baby to latch.

  3. Pain: Breastfeeding can cause sore nipples, breast tenderness, and other discomforts.

  4. Milk supply issues: Some mothers may have difficulty producing enough milk, while others may experience oversupply, which can lead to other issues such as engorgement or mastitis.

  5. Other health issues: Certain health conditions, such as mastitis or thrush, can make breastfeeding more challenging.

Combination Feeding Has Entered The Chat

Breastfeeding and formula feeding, frequently referred to as combination feeding, is a great option for moms who want to include breast milk in their baby’s feedings but rely on formula as well.

Here are three ways you can combination feed your baby:

  1. Supplement with Formula

    When supplementing with formula, a baby is receiving most of their nutrition from breast milk. The formula supplement is added if the baby is not getting enough breast milk or just needs extra nutrition for a medical reason.
  2. 50/50 Breast Milk and Formula

    Families who choose to do an even split of formula and breast milk do so for a multitude of reasons. This feeding method allows the baby the opportunity to have the added nutrients from the mother’s breast milk in addition to the nutrients from the formula.
  3. Supplement with Breast Milk

    When supplementing with breast milk, a baby is receiving most of their nutrition from formula. The breast milk may be added for intermittent nursing sessions or the occasional bottle, depending on the mother’s supply.


All of these options have one thing in common: they provide a baby with the added benefits of breastmilk while ensuring the baby is happy and healthy.

Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

Willow Go™ Wearable Breast Pump

With hospital-grade suction and a 100% comfort rating, Willow Go pumps quietly and discreetly (no dangling tubes, bottles, or external motors) so you can do it all.

The Pros and Cons of Combo Feeding

Even though the end result is a happy and healthy baby, there are always pros and cons to every decision. Let’s explore some for combo feeding:

PRO: You know your baby is eating enough

One of the struggles with exclusive breastfeeding is knowing how much your baby is eating. You have to keep a close eye on the number of wet diapers and feeding patterns to be sure your baby is eating enough. When you are combo feeding, you know what quantity of formula your baby is eating every day, which makes knowing if they are hydrated that much easier.

CON: Combo feeding can make breastfeeding more difficult.

When babies are being fed formula, that means they are skipping breast milk feeding. For mothers who are nursing, this means that their milk supply is going to start adjusting to the missing feeding by making less milk.

Mothers who wish to keep up their milk supply while combo feeding may need to add in pumping sessions to make up for formula feedings.

Along with maintaining milk supply, it is important to make sure that you are consistently emptying your breasts to maintain your breast health. Failure to empty your breasts frequently can lead to clogged ducts and eventually mastitis.

PRO: Other people can help feed your baby

One of the benefits of combo feeding is having to bottle feed the formula. This allows your partner or other caretakers to feed the baby in your place, giving you the chance to sleep through a feeding or be somewhere else if needed.

Combo feeding can feel like a breath of fresh air when you go from having to nurse round the clock to having a few moments to yourself while your partner is feeding your baby a bottle. This may be especially true the first time your partner is able to tackle a middle of the night feeding for you!

CON: Other people can feed your baby

While this can be a positive thing, we do have to address the fact that sometimes it can feel harder to say “no” when family members want to take over a feeding for you.

Before combo feeding, if you were exclusively breastfeeding, there was no argument to be had - you have the breasts, you do the feedings. That changes once a bottle is introduced. Now anyone can feed the baby.

You and your partner should discuss feeding boundaries and help each other stick with them when friends and family come to visit.

Is Combo Feeding Right for Me?

Only you can answer that! Deciding to combination feed will depend on so many different factors from your baby’s needs to your own.

We recommend sitting down with your pediatrician, OBGYN or Lactation Consultant and discussing your options and reasonings for wanting to combo feed. Ultimately, it will be your choice, but your team of medical professionals can help guide you to the best decision for you!

Get pumping support with Simplifed

Get pumping support with Simplifed

Get access to free virtual feeding support from the lactation consultants at Simplifed. They can help you navigate supply issues, introduce a bottle, and more, and are trained on Willow pumps.

Let Willow Help Guide Your Feeding Journey

Here at Willow, our goal is to support and empower mothers through their journey. Should your journey include breastfeeding and pumping, we have a selection of pumps made with mothers in mind. Give us a chance - see what makes us so different from the rest!


The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
Which pump is right for you?
Which pump is right for you?

Which pump is right for you?

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