Allaitement mixte : concilier sein et biberon - Élhée

Mixed breastfeeding: combining breast and bottle


Mixed or partial breastfeeding allows a child to be fed both by breast and bottle , with breast milk and infant milk, depending on the schedule. In this meal configuration, the mother is no longer the only actor! Indeed, it is possible to involve the spouse or life partner.

That said, mixed breastfeeding is not always easy to set up and get baby to accept; mixed breastfeeding sometimes requires patience and flexibility in the organization of parents and especially mothers. Detailed review to know how to do it and above all, hope to get around possible obstacles.

History of mixed breastfeeding in France and around the world

But first, a little history to better understand the state of breastfeeding in France and beyond our borders! 🌎

Mixed breastfeeding is a now old and well-established concept in our modern society. According to this source article , the term appears for the first time in France in 1806 in a work written by H. de Montgamy entitled: Methods of simple artificial breastfeeding and mixed breastfeeding .

But if we go back to the Middle Ages, we see that exclusive breastfeeding was in fact the only way to properly feed your baby for the first two years of life, with supplements administered fairly early with porridge, as soon as the first teeth appear.

Exclusive breastfeeding on a global scale, on the other hand, is very little practiced today despite the recommendations of the World Health Organization and many pediatricians who recommend, for the health of babies, exclusive breastfeeding during the 6 first months of life... Weaning therefore occurs early in the baby's life in many countries, particularly the poorest, on average at the end of the first 3 months.

Depending on the country, such as Brazil, many parents have the practice and tradition of introducing supplements (herbal teas, sweetened drinks, water) very early in the child's life (sometimes from the first day of life), thinking carefully do and thus enrich their diet.

Mixed breastfeeding, sometimes seen by pediatricians and medicine in general as a form of control in infant feeding introduced by industrial society and brands, nevertheless makes it possible to relieve many mothers and respond to certain problems such as return to work or the intense need for rest among breastfeeding mothers or those already managing a household with several children...

When to start mixed breastfeeding in practice?

The idea which is therefore more often hidden within the population in France behind mixed breastfeeding is that of a need for freedom on the part of the mother, voluntary or not.

  • End of maternity leave : 10 weeks have passed (18 if you have just given birth to your 3rd child) and you must return to work. You will soon no longer be fully available to feed your newborn.
  • Thirst for moments of your own : you practice a sporting, cultural or relaxation activity that you would like to repeat one or more times a week. You will therefore sometimes have to be absent during your baby's meal times.
  • Want to share : you want to offer your other half the opportunity to feed your baby from his very first months. To do this, you would like your child to accept bottles of milk.
  • You simply want to stop breastfeeding.

Whatever your reason, for everything to go well, just one watchword: an-ti-ci-per.

When to start mixed breastfeeding from a physiological point of view?

For mixed breastfeeding to be successful, baby must accept both the breast and the bottle of milk (artificial or not) without this disrupting his or her way of eating. For your part, lactation must be well established . Therefore, it is advisable to wait at least 6 weeks to put it in place and not to start mixed breastfeeding from the first days.

Which therefore leaves you time to focus as a mother on a single mission at a time, in this case: the production of breast milk and everything that promotes the flow of milk itself (foods rich in nutrients, herbal teas , sessions with a lactation consultant, etc.).

If you have just experienced a traumatic birth , such as a cesarean section or forceps delivery, single-sex breastfeeding allows you to refocus on you and your baby in the first month.

This precaution also helps to avoid breast/pacifier confusion – and your baby turning away from the breast for the pacifier because he realizes that it requires less sucking effort than at the breast.

💡 Did you know?

Its effects are beneficial for your health and that of your baby, both physically and psychologically. On the one hand, mixed breastfeeding allows you to pass on many benefits to your child: antibodies and nutrients essential to their development, but it also grants greater freedom to the mother who can thus take advantage of it to recharge her batteries alone. in time. And that's not all ! Breastfeeding your baby helps reduce the risk of developing breast cancer during your lifetime. The longer the duration of breastfeeding, the lower this risk!

Equip yourself well as parents for successful mixed breastfeeding

To get through this, you will need some very useful childcare accessories.

  • The breast pump . Not very sexy both from an aesthetic point of view and from its little name and yet, learning to use it is one of the almost essential steps for breastfeeding and alternately, giving the bottle. To choose the right breast pump, you must deal with single or double models, electric or manual and different technologies intended to stimulate the flow of milk. But thanks to it, your child can enjoy bottles of breast milk at any time. A lightweight, space-saving breast pump will make it easier to return to work.
  • A bottle . It is, among other things, to facilitate the transition to mixed breastfeeding that we designed our Elhée bibRond . Made from medical grade silicone, it is almost as soft and just as round as your breast, to accompany baby during his milk break. Its pacifier, also made of extra-soft medical silicone , protects your little one's health and helps them learn to suck. Also, its physiological shape adapts perfectly to babies' mouths. Finally, an anti-colic valve facilitates digestion after a meal.


  • An infant formula adapted to the age and nutritional needs of your child, which you will give him alternately before weaning him from your milk.

Of course, small pots for carrying doses of powdered milk and freezing your own could be useful, as well as a little cleaning equipment, such as a small sponge that is always clean and a bottle of organic dishwashing liquid, for example.

Where to practice mixed breastfeeding?

1. Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding can be given as usual since the birth of your baby: in a quiet place, slightly dimmed if necessary, without major distractions to prevent your child's attention from being diverted. In France, you can safely breastfeed your baby in public places. Take precautions against the sun and temperature variations. It is best to give feedings in a shaded area away from drafts.

2. Milk pumping

To express your milk in the best possible conditions, the ideal is to be comfortably seated in a chair or armchair, with your back straight and your legs flat. You could watch a news report while you do this, or if the breast pump's suction is strong enough to keep your hands free, why not read a chapter or two of your current book? 😉

Indeed, milk expression sessions can sometimes last... Allow on average 10 minutes per breast, or double the time if your breast pump is single pumping.

If you are modest, isolate yourself in the room of your choice and warn those around you that you do not want to be disturbed. Discomfort does not really have an impact on lactation and the quantities of milk produced, but you will be more comfortable expressing your milk while being away from prying eyes.

3. Bottle feedings

Bottle feedings, whether with formula or breast milk , can be done in a different room than where you choose to breastfeed. This way, baby will be able to differentiate between each food format that you offer him and will be less surprised when eating a meal. Here again, a calm atmosphere conducive to its future digestion is essential!

How to alternate breast milk and powdered milk?

The key here is to find the right pace to satisfy both your infant's hunger and your respective need for contact.

To wean baby off your milk, start by replacing a single feeding for at least 5 days . If everything is going well, the baby is eating well, his weight gain remains stable, he is not demanding more than is reasonable, and you are not suffering from breast engorgement, you can proceed in the same way to replace gradually each of the other doses of the day.

Please note: to continue mixed breastfeeding over time, maintain at least 2 feedings per day . They will stimulate your milk production and allow your little one to maintain the habit of taking the breast. Morning or evening feedings, but also when you get home, are undoubtedly the most important.

Which infant formula is closest to breast milk?

Difficult and almost impossible to answer this question as breast milk regularly changes taste and consistency depending on the period and what you eat and drink. For example, at birth, the colostrum provided by the mother tastes like amniotic fluid, which reassures the baby.

However, choose an infant formula adapted to the age of your baby (first-age milk, second-age milk or follow-on milk) and avoid classic cow's milk, goat's milk and plant-based milk before at least 12 months .

How much milk to give your baby?

Exclusive breastfeeding is done on demand while bottle-fed babies are fed at fixed times and amounts. So, is mixed breastfeeding a real headache or a total feeling? In reality, once again, it all depends on your baby. Some mothers also prefer to talk about partial breastfeeding, which breaks this 50/50 notion and avoids asking too many questions about a possible schedule to keep! ⌚

If, since the implementation of mixed breastfeeding, you have prioritized morning and evening feedings to gradually replace those of the day with bottles, follow the guide : that is to say, baby! Is your child a regular eater of small quantities? Plan several light doses during the day. If, on the contrary, he or she likes to nurse for a long time, a large 330 ml bottle (equipped with a slow flow teat) is more interesting.

What if baby refuses the bottle?

Breastfeeding by alternating bottle and breast may be the ideal solution for you, but may completely displease your child. Disturbed in his habits, he may refuse the pacifier and push the bottle away each time you offer it to him. How to do ?

Above all, and especially if you want to extend mixed breastfeeding, reserve feedings for yourself and delegate other meals . Pass the baton to the dad or the person who shares your life, to the nanny, to the nursery staff or to the older siblings. This dissociation helps children get used to and initially accept both the breast with you and the bottle with another person.

Is it still stuck?

Perhaps you can try the warm bottle at the temperature close to breast milk (37°C) or conversely, the bottle at room temperature for a completely different sensation that he may like.

What if you don't have enough milk?

Reducing the number of daily feedings can lower your milk supply. To avoid this situation, continue to stimulate your breasts as much as possible . The remaining feedings contribute to this, but outside of these gentle moments, do not hesitate to express your milk, if possible at regular times. You can freeze it in doses already ready for baby, or, if he refuses to take it from the bottle, pump it anyway and then throw it away, simply to maintain lactation.

Galactogenic and tasty, don't forget breastfeeding herbal teas ! In addition to being beneficial for your baby's tummy – they generally contain fennel which helps relieve colic – they stimulate the flow of milk.

3 additional tips & tricks in case of obstacles

Because everything does not always go as planned, and breastfeeding can be more complicated than expected for baby, here are some additional tips for successfully reconciling breast and bottle.

  • Offer him a bottle often without waiting until he is too hungry . So the meal is not rushed, baby can take the time to discover this new way of eating and the risk of failure is lower.
  • Dip the pacifier in breast milk one or two minutes before taking the bottle so that it retains the scent.
  • Maintain or resume skin-to-skin contact . Being against you reassures your child and calms him down. Take the opportunity to offer him a bottle instead of the breast, then you have a better chance of him accepting.

Finally, to best respect the child's rhythm, LecheLeague recommends giving the bottle horizontally . Baby is installed in a seated position in your arms and his drink, presented horizontally in relation to the line of the ground. He takes a few sips and you lower the bottle to give him time to breathe and find his own rhythm. The milk does not flow too quickly, baby does not get scared, he breathes calmly, without the risk of swallowing air and more easily enjoys this new form of meal with you.

Conclusion of this article

  • Already very widespread, mixed breastfeeding, also called partial breastfeeding, and breastfeeding pumps are infant feeding concepts increasingly appreciated by French mothers. And for good reason, they allow you to gain freedom and get back to work . However, it is not recommended to put them in place from birth or during the first 2-3 weeks; It is better to wait until lactation is well established (around 1 month).
  • Pediatricians and the WHO advise extending breastfeeding until the child is 6 months old. But if you feel like it, you can of course continue beyond that!
  • Many mothers therefore equip themselves with breast pumps and delegate the task of meals to their partner. The effects of breastfeeding on a child's health are known to be positive; those offered by mixed breastfeeding are just as good and also allow the mother to breathe and take time for herself! Mixed breastfeeding often represents a first step towards definitive weaning of the child.
  • On Elhée's blog, you will always find advice to better support you and your babies as mothers.


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