Partial Weaning & Combination Feeding • (2023)

HomeAges & StagesWeaningHow to wean ▸ Partial Weaning & Combination Feeding

By Kelly Bonyata, IBCLC

Breastfeeding is not an all-or-nothing process. You can always keep one or more feedings per day and eliminate the rest. Many moms will continue to nurse only at night and/or first thing in the morning for many months after baby has weaned from all other nursings. If you wish to begin feeding your baby formula in addition to breastmilk in the early months, your chances of success are greatly increased by exclusively breastfeeding for at least the first 3-4 weeks, then slowly weaning from some of the nursing sessions.

Is part-time nursing beneficial for baby?

Absolutely! As long as baby is getting mom’s milk, he will continue to receive many benefits from breastmilk and the act of breastfeeding.

(Video) I want to wean my baby from breastfeeding to formula, but she hates it. What can I do?


Benefits of partial breastfeeding include:

  • Comfort, bonding, skin-to-skin benefits
    Mom can provide 100% of these even if very little breastmilk is being obtained during nursing.
  • Oral development
    The type of sucking required for breastfeeding improves your baby’s oral development (even if he gets little milk).
  • Disease, allergy-prevention, immunological benefits
    Research has shown that the benefits of breastfeeding are generally dose-related: the more breastmilk, the greater the benefit. But even 50 ml of breastmilk per day (or less – there is little research on this) mayhelp to keep your baby healthier than if he received none at all. In fact, the immunities in mom’s milk have been shown to increase in concentration as the quantity of milk decreases.
  • Nutritional benefits
    There are components of mother’s milk which cannot be duplicated – even a small quantity of these can be invaluable to your baby.

Will my milk dry up if I only nurse once or twice per day?

Most moms find that they can wean down to a few feedings a day (or even just one) and maintain their supplies at this level for extended periods of time. In established lactation, milk production depends primarily upon milk removal – if milk is removed from the breast, then the breast will continue to make milk.

(Video) Breastfeeding Struggles | triple feeding, low weight gain, supply issues |

Breast refusal due to flow preference is probably a greater danger to the breastfeeding relationship than too-low milk supply. Frequent use of bottles increases the possibility that baby will become frustrated with the slower flow of milk at the breast, and this may lead to breast refusal and an earlier weaning than anticipated. See What can I do when baby wants a faster milk flow? for some tips on dealing with flow preference.

Partial weaning as an option for working mothers

Partial weaning canbe anoption for working moms:

  • who are unable to pump at work due to work schedule or lack of a place to pump
  • who do not wish to pump at work
  • who have been pumping but are ready to wean from pumping during work hours (many pumping moms wean from the pump at around a year, although some continue pumping long-term).

Partial weaning in a work situation generally involves offering the child formula, milk, or other foods when mom and baby are separated, and nursing only when mom and baby are together.

(Video) How to Bottle Feed your Baby: Paced Bottle Feeding

Some of these moms encourage their child to reverse cycle (nurse more when mom and baby are together) so that few (or no) supplements are needed during work hours.

Some moms feel that their supply decreases too much when they are nursing infrequently and not pumping at all. If you feel that your milk supply is decreasing after a period of no pumping during work hours, you might consider trying to pump at least once per day, even if it’s just for a brief period.

The key to maintaining your breastfeeding relationship without pumping during work hours is to only nurse when you are with baby. For example, if you have a regular five-day-per-week daytime job, then use no bottles during the evening or on weekends. Take advantage of every opportunity to put your baby to your breast when the two of you are together. Limit pacifier use when at home, too, so that baby seeks out the breast to satisfy his need to suck. If your baby associates mom with nursing only (rather than bottle feeding), then he may be less likely to refuse the breast due to bottle/flow preference.

(Video) Paced Bottle Feeding For The Breastfed Baby

Additional information

@ Partial Weaning & Combination Feeding • (1)

@ other websites

Making Combination Feeding Work by Paula Yount

Making it Work: Working without Pumping from New Beginnings, Vol. 17 No. 3, May-June 2000, pp. 98-99.



How do you partially wean a baby? ›

Partial weaning simply means that you breastfeed for some feedings and supplement with formula for others. For example, you might nurse your baby first thing in the morning, immediately after work, at bedtime, and during the night if needed.

How do you combo feed without losing supply? ›

While combination feeding can put your milk supply at risk, it doesn't have to. Here are a few tips that will help you keep breastfeeding and keep a healthy milk supply: Pump or hand express at regular intervals to maintain or build your milk supply. You can also breastfeed on one breast while pumping on the other.

Why is mixed feeding not recommended? ›

Regular mixed feeding might make it more difficult to keep breastfeeding because it can interfere with keeping up a good supply of breastmilk. So if you're thinking about supplementing with formula, it's important to talk about it first with your midwife, child and family health nurse, lactation consultant or GP.

Is partial breastfeeding still beneficial? ›

Is part-time nursing beneficial for baby? Absolutely! As long as baby is getting mom's milk, he will continue to receive many benefits from breastmilk and the act of breastfeeding. Mom can provide 100% of these even if very little breastmilk is being obtained during nursing.

What age do babies naturally wean? ›

Natural weaning (infant-led weaning)

Natural weaning occurs as the infant begins to accept increasing amounts and types of complementary feedings while still breastfeeding on demand. When natural weaning is practiced, complete weaning usually takes place between two and four years of age (12).

Can you partially night wean? ›

If your child's night feed is short (less than 5 minutes), you can phase out night feeds by stopping the feed altogether and re-settling your child using sleep and settling techniques that work best for you and your baby. Note that it might take several nights for you and your child to get used to the new routine.

Will my milk dry up if I combination feed? ›

This is also called 'mixed feeding'. The more you breastfeed or express your breastmilk, the more milk you'll produce. If you begin giving formula to your baby while you are breastfeeding, they'll take less of your breast milk. This means your body will produce less milk.

What are the disadvantages of combination feeding? ›

Are there any disadvantages of combination feeding? If exchanging some breastfeeds for formula milk then your baby will not receive as many antibodies and so their immune system may not be as well protected from certain infections.

How do you successfully combo feed? ›

What to do:
  1. Introduce a bottle early, but not too early.
  2. Start slowly, use the right nipple, relax and enlist help.
  3. Do not force your baby to bottle feed.
  4. When dealing with bottle refusal, be patient.
  5. Prevent uncomfortable engorgement, leaking and clogged ducts.
  6. Maintain your milk supply while giving formula.
May 5, 2019

Does combination feeding confuse babies? ›

The different sensations may confuse them and they don't know the bottle contains food. But there are lots of different things you can try to help your baby: Offer a bottle when your baby is relaxed and happy, rather than very hungry. Maybe ask someone else to offer a bottle so they can't smell their mother's milk.

Can you overfeed a combination fed baby? ›

Combination feeding and overfeeding – can I overfeed my baby? It is possible to overfeed your baby when using bottles to feed, overfeeding means your baby receives more milk than their stomach and intestinal tract can digest.

Why do mothers prefer mixed feeding? ›

Some parents choose to combine breastfeeding, expressing and formula feeding. This means that your baby benefits from having breastmilk, you are more likely to produce enough milk because you're expressing between feeds and your partner or other family member can help out with feeds when you use formula.

Is it OK to only breastfeed 2 times a day? ›

As long as your milk supply is well established, you can reduce the frequency of nursing without totally stopping. Your body will adjust. Even parents who decide to nurse just once or twice a day can typically maintain their milk supply. All experts agree that, however you decide to wean, it should happen gradually.

What is considered partial breastfeeding? ›

Partial breastfeeding describes a situation in which a baby is fed breast milk along with formula or solid foods. Some people partially breastfeed from the beginning, while others transition to partial breastfeeding as their baby begins to eat solid foods.

Why is SIDS so low in Japan? ›

Why does Japan have such a low SIDS rate? Contributing factors are the universal use of the Boshi Kenko Techo (maternal-child health handbook) and universal access to care. Most births occur to women aged 25–29 years and there are few unmarried mothers.

What is the easiest age to stop breastfeeding? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding exclusively until your baby is 6 months old, then continuing to breastfeed while serving a variety of solid foods until they turn 1. Updates to these guidelines recommend offering support for parents who want to provide human milk until the child is 2.

How long does it take to fully wean a baby? ›

Babies who are weaned naturally usually stop breastfeeding completely sometime between 2 and 4 years of age. Planned weaning or “mother-led weaning” happens when mothers decide to start the weaning process. A “partial wean” means substituting one or more feedings with a cup or bottle and breastfeeding at other times.

How do I teach my baby to self soothe? ›

You can help your baby learn to self-soothe by establishing a consistent bedtime routine. This can include activities such as a warm bath, gentle massage, and soothing music or white noise. Consistency is key, as it helps your baby know what to expect and can cue their body that it is time to sleep.

How do I wean my baby off 3am feed? ›

Start the night weaning process slowly and gradually.

Nurse your baby for a shorter period of time on each breast or give them a smaller amount of breast milk or formula in their bottle when they wake at night. Try to prolong the intervals between feedings by patting and comforting your baby back to sleep.

Is one bottle of breastmilk a day beneficial? ›

In fact, there is some research that indicates that even as little as 50 ml of breastmilk per day may help prevent disease in breastfed babies. Additionally, our body recognizes the importance of this protection and increases the concentration of SigA as our milk supply begins to decrease.

Can you go braless while breastfeeding? ›

It's totally up to you and your comfort. If you usually go braless, you do not need to wear one during breastfeeding. Moms often have concerns about leaking a lot at night, so this may be another reason why wearing a bra at night might be helpful.

Will my milk dry up if I miss a day? ›

The more you delay nursing or pumping, the less milk your body will make. That's because overfilled (engorged) breasts send a signal to your brain that you need to make less milk.

Which formula is closest to breast milk? ›

Similac 360 Total Care Non-GMO Infant Formula Powder

Key features: Similac claims that this formula is their closest in composition to human breast milk. It includes a blend of DHA, lutein, and vitamin E — all nutrients found in breast milk.

Which milk is best for combination feeding? ›

Combination feeding with breast milk only

Combination feeding using only breast milk gives your baby the best nutrition, but allows mum some breaks between feeds to get much-needed resting time and allows your baby's other family members to much-needed bonding time.

How often should a combination fed baby poop? ›

Expect at least 3 bowel movements per day, but may be up to 4-12 for some babies. After this, baby may only poop every few days.

How do you battle cluster feeding? ›

Coping with Cluster Feeding and Fussy Evenings
  1. Acknowledge and accept it. Know that your baby will be nursing a lot – probably more than you ever thought possible. ...
  2. Enlist help. ...
  3. Get comfortable. ...
  4. Address breast or nipple pain. ...
  5. Seek professional support. ...
  6. Remember yourself. ...
  7. Wear your baby. ...
  8. Vary nursing positions.

Why is exclusive breastfeeding better than mixed feeding? ›

Why isn't mix-feeding promoted more by breastfeeding supporters? There is no doubt that exclusively breastfeeding is the safest way to nourish an infant. As mentioned above, certain antibodies work to help prevent harmful pathogens or allergens being absorbed into baby's bloodstream (often called “virgin gut”).

Can I formula feed at night and breastfeed in the day? ›

Is it OK to breastfeed during the day and formula feed at night? Yes! Combo feeding is a great way to extend your breastfeeding journey. Feeding your baby can happen many different ways.

What are the signs of overfeeding? ›

When fed too much, a baby may also swallow air. This can produce gas, increase discomfort in the belly, and lead to crying. An overfed baby also may spit up more than usual and have loose stools. Although crying from discomfort is not colic, it can make crying more frequent and more intense in an already colicky baby.

How do I know if my baby is hungry or comforting? ›

Cues That Tell the Baby Is Hungry
  1. baby sucking on hand or fists.
  2. turn their head toward your breast.
  3. Calm and wide-eyed after a nap.
  4. Rooting with a strong, nutritive suck.
  5. Continuous crying after comforting them with cradling, rocking, or a diaper change (this is a late hunger cue)
  6. Opens and closes mouth.
Oct 3, 2022

How do you tell if you are overfeeding your baby? ›

Watch out for these common signs of overfeeding a baby:
  1. Gassiness or burping.
  2. Frequent spit up.
  3. Vomiting after eating.
  4. Fussiness, irritability or crying after meals.
  5. Gagging or choking.
Feb 15, 2019

Will supplementing decrease my milk supply? ›

Supplementing won't decrease your milk supply if your breasts are still being stimulated. For example, if your baby typically breastfeeds every three hours, you'll need to pump every three hours when you're at work to keep your body on its production schedule. Not doing so will reduce your supply over time.

What should mixed fed baby poop look like? ›

The first 6 weeks

During their first 6 weeks of life, both breast-fed and formula-fed babies will have generally have poo that is either yellow or green. Breast-fed babies tend to have softer, runnier poo while formula-fed baby poo is a little bit firmer.

Is mixed feeding better than breastfeeding? ›

#4: Mixed feeding might mean breastfeeding continues longer

Feeding a baby doesn't have to be only formula or only breastmilk. It is beneficial for a baby to be fed even a small amount of breastmilk. Instead of fully formula fed, babies who have mixed feeds will continue to breastfeed for longer.

How many times a day should I breastfeed to maintain supply? ›

You can increase your milk supply by: Nursing your baby often. Nurse every 2 hours during the day and every 3 to 4 hours at night (at least 8 to 16 times in 24 hours). If your baby will not nurse, use a good quality double electric breast pump to increase milk production.

Is it OK to breastfeed for a few days? ›

Feed your baby as often as they want and for as long as they want. They'll begin to have fewer, but longer feeds after a few days. As a very rough guide, your baby should feed at least 8 to 12 times, or more, every 24 hours during the first few weeks.

Is breastfeeding 4 times a day enough? ›

Newborn babies should breastfeed 8–12 times per day for about the first month. Breast milk is easily digested, so newborns are hungry often. Frequent feedings helps stimulate your milk production during the first few weeks. By the time your baby is 1–2 months old, he or she probably will nurse 7–9 times a day.

What ethnicity has the highest rate of SIDS? ›

SUID rates per 100,000 live births were highest among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native (213.5), non-Hispanic Black infants (191.4), and non-Hispanic Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander infants (164.5).

Why do pacifiers reduce SIDS? ›

As outlined in the review, pacifier use during sleep may improve autonomic control of breathing, airway patency, or both. Further, it has been hypothesized that the pacifier could prevent accidental rolling leading to less risk of SIDS.

What age is SIDS no longer a concern? ›

SIDS is less common after 8 months of age, but parents and caregivers should continue to follow safe sleep practices to reduce the risk of SIDS and other sleep-related causes of infant death until baby's first birthday. More than 90% of all SIDS deaths occur before 6 months of age.

What are the stages of weaning? ›

Stage 1 – Introduction of solid foods – from around 6 months. Stage 2 – More textures and tastes – from around 7 months. Stage 3 – Wider variety and family food – from around 9-12 months.

Is it possible to breastfeed just once a day? ›

As long as your milk supply is well established, you can reduce the frequency of nursing without totally stopping. Your body will adjust. Even parents who decide to nurse just once or twice a day can typically maintain their milk supply.

How do you wean a baby from abruptly? ›

Abrupt weaning
  1. Say "no," and offer distractions. Try reading a book while holding your baby on your lap. ...
  2. Make your breasts less available for nursing. Stop wearing nursing clothing such as nursing bras and tops with nursing slits. ...
  3. Let someone else take care of your baby for a few days.

What are the 3 different methods of weaning? ›

Nowadays, there are three main ways to wean:
  • Traditional weaning – spoon-feeding purees to start with, gradually progressing to mashed up food with chunks over the next couple of months. ...
  • Baby Led weaning – letting baby take the lead by giving them pieces of food of whatever the rest of the family are eating.

How long should the weaning process take? ›

Wean slowly

Rosenfeld says you can never go too slowly, but be sure to switch only one feeding every three or four days so that it takes about two weeks for the entire process.

What are the signs of readiness for weaning? ›

They will be able to:
  • stay in a sitting position, holding their head steady.
  • coordinate their eyes, hands and mouth so they can look at their food, pick it up and put it in their mouth.
  • swallow food (rather than spit it back out)

What are 3 dangers of abrupt weaning? ›

Stopping breastfeeding suddenly could put you at risk of engorgement, blocked ducts or mastitis, as well as being an abrupt change for your baby's digestive and immune systems to cope with. It may also be difficult for you both emotionally.

What are the consequences of breastfeeding for too long? ›

As the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) states, “There is no evidence that extended breastfeeding is harmful to parent or child.”

What happens if I don't breastfeed for 3 days? ›

You may have some milk leak from your breasts, and your breasts may feel sore and swollen. This is called engorgement. It usually gets better after several days. Over time, your body will stop making milk if you don't breastfeed or pump.

Can I stop breastfeeding for a week and start again? ›

Some parents impacted by the baby formula shortage may be wondering if they can start breastfeeding again. A process known as re-lactation can help patients produce breast milk, even if it has been weeks or months since they did so.


1. Night-time feeding hacks (Sponsored)
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4. Newborn Care and Lactation: Supporting Your Breastfeeding Journey
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6. Maximizing Breastmilk Supply and Re-lactation
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