Tips on Formula Top Up for Your Breastfed Baby

Do you formula top up your breastfed baby? If so, you may have a lot of questions running through your head! If you are topping up your breastfed baby, here are some suggestions that might help.

Do you formula top up your breastfed baby?  Chances have it if you do, there is a reason, and the doc suggested this before you left the hospital.  As a new mom (or even a mom in general!) it is sometimes hard to tell if our babies are getting the nourishment they need.  Does he produce enough wet diapers?  Did he poop today?  Is he satisfied?  Did he eat enough?  There are probably more questions running through your head than answers!  If you are topping up your breastfed baby, here are some suggestions that might help.

Suggestions when you formula top up for breastfed baby

What does it mean to top up? Some babies are prescribed extra expressed milk or formula due to many different reasons.  Some might have low birth weight, others are born early and just don’t get it yet.  It doesn’t mean you will have to top up forever.  You might feel like your entire day revolves around feeding your baby, or washing bottles, or pumping.  That is ok.  When you look at the long term, none of this is going to last forever, it just seems like it in the moment (kind of like when you were pregnant and you felt like you would never give birth!)

To stop or not to stop: If you are wondering you need to continue top ups, you want to discuss with your baby’s pediatrician and a lactation specialist.  There is a reason your baby was prescribed this extra feeding, so addressing the reason is a good place to start.  For example, if your baby had a bad attachment, work on it.  Also, have your baby assessed for a tongue-tie that might need to be corrected.  Babies love to sleep, and feeding often puts them to sleep.  When he is feeding and stops to sleep, he might not be gaining enough weight.  The good news is this is one that is simple to fix!  

Switch feeding: Lactation specialists have suggested something called switch feeding.  This is where you switch breasts 4 times during one feeding, in hopes of keeping baby awake to eat.  A diaper change in between wouldn’t hurt either.  When your baby falls asleep, use compression, it will send a squirt of breast milk into his tiny mouth, hopefully rousing him so he is starts eating again.

Start with your breast: One way to help make breastfeeding the first option, is to make it the first option.  Don’t get discouraged and just remain calm.  I know it is easier said than done.  Your body is going to nourish your baby, but your baby is going to pick up on your stress.  One thing you can try is to pay attention to when he is stirring from sleep, and use that opportunity to get him skin to skin, so he can wake up close to you and start feeding quickly.

The unintentional switch to formula: Sometimes breastfeeding stops unintentionally.  Some moms find they are having to put more and more formula into the bottles for feedings and as a result, they are breastfeeding less and alas, their milk begins to dry up.  It wasn’t really a conscious decision.  


It takes time for your milk to come in. Be patient.  Early on, you may be nursing more often (it might seem like it is all you do). Nurse, baby naps, you nap, diaper change, nurse, baby naps, you don’t nap, but wish you were napping, diaper change, you get the idea.  What have you done in terms of topping up your breastfed baby and hopefully stopping?  Share your stories below!


14 thoughts on “Tips on Formula Top Up for Your Breastfed Baby”

  1. I have done a little of both. My first was pretty much formula fed, the second was mixed, and the last was breastfed exclusively. I was not educated enough the first time I feel and I try to help others who ask me with what I have learned..

  2. I think doctors have very little education when it comes to breastfeeding. And, unfortunately, so do women. It’s a lost art, and women don’t know what they are doing is sabotaging their breastfeeding by adding formula. Babies naturally lose weight as your milk comes in, and doctors tend to have a heart attack over it. My three children were exclusively nursed and gained weight just fine after the first couple weeks..

  3. I exclusively breastfeeding my baby since day 01 and now was our 10th months journey of breastfeeding. When he is 5 months he can stand with support he have a strong bones and smart.

  4. Awesome tips. I had to switch to formula when I was breastfeeding the twins because I didn’t have enough milk.

  5. Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    I formula fed exclusively and always used Similac. I was very happy with it back when my boys were babies.

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