Breast milk is the perfect food for children during their first months of life. Not only does it provide the nutrients that the little one needs to grow healthy and strong, but it is also easy to digest and it contains a large number of antibodies that strengthen your immune system and protect you against infections from the environment.
This is why pediatricians recommend exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first 6 months of a child’s life. However, from this moment on, it is important to reinforce the baby’s diet with other nutrients that stimulate his development and provide him with more energy, through other feeding options such as mixed breastfeeding.
What is mixed breastfeeding?
In mixed breastfeeding, breast milk continues to occupy an essential place in infant feeding, but it is supplemented with formula or bottle milk. It is a very healthy way of eating since children continue to benefit from the advantages of breast milk while receiving new proteins, vitamins and minerals that stimulate their growth.
In a general sense, mixed breastfeeding is usually the intermediate link between exclusive breastfeeding and the introduction of other foods in the infant’s diet, a way of preparing the baby so that it can later assimilate more complex nutrients. Most pediatricians recommend introducing mixed breastfeeding from 6 months of age, but in many cases it is necessary to start earlier.
In what cases should you bet on mixed breastfeeding? mixed breastfeeding before the baby is 6 months old?
The decision of when mixed breastfeeding is introduced is exclusive to each mother. However, there are different situations in which it is recommended to opt for this type of feeding before the baby is six months old:
- Rejoining the work. One of the most frequent reasons why mothers decide to introduce mixed breastfeeding is their return to work. Some women prefer to use a breast pump to express breast milk and feed the baby in their absence, but in many cases this is not possible and it is necessary to bet on bottles with formula milk to complement the infant’s diet.
- The baby remains hungry. Many babies remain hungry after breastfeeding, especially as they grow older and their nutritional needs increase. If we add to this the fact that many mothers do not produce enough milk to satisfy their children’s appetite, the best option is to introduce mixed breastfeeding to complement infant feeding.
- The growth of the baby it is below average. There are times when babies do not grow at the “normal” rate due to nutritional deficiencies, usually because breast milk is not enough to meet their nutritional needs. In these cases, supplementing breastfeeding with formula milk is a good alternative to offer the baby the nutrients he needs.
The benefits of mixed feeding
Introduce mixed feeding at the right time and apply it It may well bring numerous benefits to both mother and child. Mothers who opt for mixed breastfeeding tend to feel calmer and more secure when returning to work because they are aware that their children will be well fed at all times, while they can dedicate more time to themselves and resume some of their activities This will allow you to feel more relaxed, something that will reflect positively on your relationship with your baby.
Mixed-feeding also gives the father the chance to get involved in the care of the baby since while the mother is engaged in other tasks, the father can feed the child with the bottle. Therefore, it becomes an opportunity to balance parental responsibilities related to child care and strengthen the emotional bond between the father and her son. It is worth noting that mixed breastfeeding also facilitates feeding in public since with the bottle, both the father and the mother will be able to feed their child when they are hungry.
From the point From an infant point of view, mixed breastfeeding provides the baby with a greater amount of nutrients and energy that will allow it to grow faster and healthier. In addition, by supplementing breast milk with formula milk, the baby will always be satiated and will fall asleep more easily. Introducing formula milk will also help her develop new enzymes that allow her to later digest foods with a more complex structure.
How to introduce mixed breastfeeding safely?
Introducing mixed breastfeeding is not complicated, as long as you do it gradually, respecting the rhythm and needs of the baby. The ideal is to start by introducing a single feeding of formula milk a day and then increase the frequency until the number of breastmilk feeds equals the number of bottle feeds.
It is important Keep in mind that once the baby tries the bottle, he is likely to reject the breast. The problem is that breastfeeding requires much more effort than bottle feeding, which is why many little ones tend to opt for the latter option. To prevent this from happening, it is recommended that you bottle-feed your babyafter waking up or just before bedtime and take advantage of when he is awake and active to breastfeed.
In any case, you should assume that sooner rather than later the baby will end up opting for the bottle. However, this does not mean that you should eliminate breast milk from their diet, you can always use a breast pump to express breast milk and store it in a bottle. In this way, your partner can also feed the baby with breast milk even if you are not at home.
In any case, before introducing mixed breastfeeding it is advisable that you visit the pediatrician, who will be in charge of evaluating if your baby is really ready to feed with formula milk. The pediatrician will also be able to guide you on the different types of artificial milk that are available and will be able to tell you which ones are best for your baby. It can also explain some simple strategies to appropriately alternate feedings throughout the day and will evaluate the baby’s response to mixed breastfeeding.