How To Know When You Should Supplement With Formula

by Olivia Youngs

Motherhood, like most things in life, isn't a one size fits all type of gig. Every woman has different opinions, approaches, talents, and goals. And factoring all of that in when you bring a new baby home can be tricky. Although it's pretty well established that exclusive breastfeeding is the recommended option for babies and for mothers, the "formula/breast milk" debate rages on. Regardless, many women choose to do both, and the the question of the hour is how to know when you should supplement with formula if breastfeeding is still an option for you.

Baby Center noted that some breast milk is better than none at all, so if you're considering whether to nurse or use formula, maybe a mixture of the two (not literally, but you know what I mean), will be a recipe for feeding success.

For many moms, however, making the actual decision to supplement can be difficult to say the least. In some cases supplementing with formula is a doctor-recommended option that will help your baby be as healthy as possible. In other cases, it may just fit well with your lifestyle, job, or preferences. Regardless, if any of these scenarios fit the bill, supplementing may be a great option for you and your little one.


Your Baby Was Born Early Or Isn't Gaining Weight To Maintain Health

According to La Leche League International (LLLI), in some cases doctors may recommend supplementing with formula if your baby isn't gaining weight properly (which also could be due to a bad latch, which can be fixed). But in cases where your baby is sick, born early, or has another issue your doctor deems necessary, supplementing may be recommended.


Your Baby Has A Severe Case Of Jaundice

Although jaundice is a fairly normal occurrence in newborns, in some severe cases, a doctor may recommend supplementing breast milk with formula because, according to LLLI formula can "increase the baby's stooling, which will in turn decrease his level of serum bilirubin." Whether or not you continue supplementing after their levels have returned to normal is completely up to you.


Your Baby Was Born With A Cleft Lip, Or Any Other Oral Difficulty

Some babies have a very difficult time learning to latch at the breast due to oral or facial difficulties. And though many babies can still breastfeed, in some cases, bottle feeding is an easier option for them.


You Can't Produce Enough Milk

Although Fit Pregnancy noted that having a low supply is rare, it's definitely possible. Regardless of the cause, supplementing with formula is a great option that allows you to use the supply you do have.


You Have To Go Back To Work And Can't Consistently Pump

Many moms can't manage the hectic schedule of exclusively pumping while at work or simply don't want to. In these cases, Fit Pregnancy noted that having a caregiver or your partner supplementing with formula while you're away and nursing when you're around your baby is a good option.