How supplementing breast milk with formula could affect your baby

How supplementing breast milk with formula could affect your baby

A guide for moms who breastfeed

What can I expect when I supplement breast milk with formula?

You might notice several differences in how your baby eats after you begin supplementing breast milk with formula. If your baby refuses the breast, eats faster, goes longer than usual between feedings, or does not pass stool after a few days, don't be overly concerned — these changes are common and do not always signal a problem. If these conditions last longer than a few days, or if you have questions about your baby's health, contact your pediatrician about possible milk intolerance.



Similac® offers Similac® For Supplementation, a gentle introduction to formula for breastfeeding moms who choose to introduce formula, as well as a range of products — hypoallergenic, soy, organic, and sensitive formulas, and more — to support your baby's unique needs, including:


  • Lactose sensitivity
  • Frequent fussiness and gas
  • Allergies and colic due to protein sensitivity
  • Frequent spit-up

Similac has OptiGRO, our exclusive blend of DHA, Lutein and Vitamin E; these important ingredients are found in breast milk.  It's especially helpful now, during this critical time of your baby's brain and eye development. If you need help picking or switching to the right baby formula, compare baby formula brands and talk with your baby's pediatrician.

Try to prevent your baby from confusing your breast with the bottle

Your baby associates your smell with the act of breastfeeding, and might be confused if you are the one to give that first taste of formula. It might be better if you are out of the room when your baby tries formula for the first time. Knowing you are around will make it more likely that your baby will hold out for breastfeeding.


Your baby can eat from a bottle faster than from your breast

Some babies respond to bottle-feeding more quickly than others. Once your baby begins taking feedings from a bottle, you might be surprised at how quickly your baby eats. This happens because the bottle delivers milk and/or formula faster than your breast. However, this is not always a sign that your baby is hungry for more. Also, be sure to try to get a burp midway through the feeding if possible, and definitely after the feeding, to relieve the pressure in your baby’s stomach that can arise from quicker eating.

Learn how to identify if your baby is getting enough formula >


Your baby can go longer between feedings without showing signs of hunger

You also might notice that your baby feeds less frequently. That is because formula takes longer to digest than breast milk, and can cause your baby to feel full longer. Consistent feedings are still important, and waiting too long could affect your baby’s health (and temperament). A good way to stay on top of this is to track your baby’s feedings. Use our printable Feeding Tracker (PDF) to help keep a record of every feeding. Or if you have an Apple iOS or Android device* you can use the free Similac Baby Journal app to track your baby’s feedings, sleep patterns, diaper changes, and more.


Your baby's stool might become firmer and develop a stronger odor

If your baby gets constipated consistently (passes stools that are hard and dry), consult your health care professional. He or she might suggest that you add water to the baby formula,* or that you add prune, apple, or pear juice to your baby’s diet, depending on your baby’s age. Do not give your baby over-the-counter stool softener unless your health care professional advises you to do so.

*When preparing baby formula, follow the package directions precisely. Do not use breast milk in place of water.


What about my milk supply?

Once your baby gets used to the bottle, she might prefer it to the breast. If this happens, try breastfeeding when your baby is sleepy. If your milk supply is diminishing and results in more work and less milk for your baby, pumping sessions might increase your breast milk production.

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