How to Balance Breastfeeding and Bottle Feeding

Dr. Paul MacKoul, MD

March 29, 2023

If you’re planning to mix breast and bottle feeds, it’s essential to take a gentle approach. Consult your health visitor, breastfeeding counselor, or midwife for advice on proceeding.

Paced feeding can help mimic the flow of a nursing session and make it easier for the baby to switch back and forth. Feedings should last 10-20 minutes at a time.


While breastfeeding offers many benefits for babies and mums, it’s not always easy. Many factors – such as illness, medications, stress, and a lack of milk supply – can make it difficult.

Breastfeeding is also more time-consuming than bottle feeding. That can be an issue for mums who need to work or want flexible schedules.

The good news is that there’s a way to bottle feed that can mimic the bonding experience of breastfeeding — paced bottle feeding!

Paced bottle feeding is about observing your baby’s cues and responding accordingly. By letting them walk their feeds and offering frequent breaks, you can mimic the ebb and flow inherent in breastfeeding and avoid overfeeding.

It can take some practice and patience, but it can be a unique bonding experience for you and your baby. So, why give it a try?

Bottle Feeding

You may need to bottle feed your baby for many reasons instead of breastfeeding. Perhaps you need to work, or you have an infant with health problems that requires you to be away from your child for extended periods.

However, it’s possible to balance breast milk and bottle feeding so that you continue to provide the best nutrition for your baby while maintaining your bond with them. It is essential to consult with your midwife, health visitor, or breastfeeding supporter for advice on adjusting to combined feeding and managing the transition safely.

Paced Bottle Feeding

When feeding from a bottle, following the baby’s cues and recognizing their satiety is essential. This will help them eat more slowly, avoiding overfeeding.


Getting the balance between breastfeeding and pumping right is essential to keep your milk supply up. Whether you want to use formula or expressed milk, combining breastfeeding and pumping can be the perfect solution.

Lactation consultant Amy Peterson recommends pumping at least 8-10 times per 24 hours to establish a steady supply and stimulate the breasts to make more milk. Alternatively, you can double pump (pump both breasts at once) to save time and boost your output more quickly.

After nursing, pump a few minutes after the last drop of milk or until your breasts feel soft and no longer fill. This is one of the easiest ways to ensure your baby receives a full feeding and will help your breasts stimulate the nipple.

If you’re going back to work, gradually reduce your pumping sessions. You can drop a session every 2 or 3 days, but don’t do this too quickly because you may experience uncomfortableness and a blocked milk duct.

Combination Feeding

For some moms, combination feeding is an option they find to be best suited for them. It allows mum to breastfeed when she is with baby and a bottle of formula when she is away.

Combination feeding also works for working moms who need to go back to work. These moms are often away from their babies most of the day and need to combine breastfeeding with a bottle of formula to get the milk they need and ensure their baby is getting the nutrition she needs.

If you are interested in combining feeding with breastfeeding, the first thing you need to do is speak with your midwife or health visitor and make sure that it is safe for your baby to have both. It would help if you also waited until breastfeeding is well established before introducing formula, and it’s essential to express your breast milk regularly to boost your supply.