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Giving a breastfed baby formula...

(14 Posts)
takefu Fri 27-Jul-07 00:38:34

Hi all
I'm assuming some of you must be far more well-read than me. I've started hunting around on the internet for information on giving a breastfed baby formula, but there seem to be so many different opinions out there... thought I'd ask other mumsnetters what they think, based on what you've read.

I've started giving my exclusively bf DD a bottle of formula at night and this has helped her sleep through the night. I know there is considerable debate about this practice and I'm wondering what you all think about it. I started doing it as a desperate measure for some sanity, as I was diagnosed with PPD some time ago and find that a full night's sleep is magic medicine. But, I'm so torn after reading how damaging formula is to a baby's insides.

DD is 4.5 months old, and also has a wee bit of baby rice in the morning- about 1 - 2 tsp. I thought that because she's eating baby rice, that a 'foreign substance' like formula isn't much different.

Any advice/opinions/knowledge appreciated. Thanks!

kiskidee Fri 27-Jul-07 00:51:59

One issue about formula to a previously exclusively bf baby is that it removes a protective lining which the gut of bf babies have. This lining acts as a barrier to virus, bacteria and other foreign substances from being absorbed. The spaces between the cells of the gut are comparatively large compared to that of a baby over 6 mo old. This is one reason why they suggest not giving gluten till later and why the weaning age has been set at 6 mo. by the WHO.

At weaning onto food like you say, the lining will go away as well.

FWIW, babyrice, oz per oz, is less calorific than bm or formula so while your baby may not be physiologically ready to digest it anyway, you are also replacing calorific milk with little or no calories.

Does your baby sleep in the same room as you do? Many mums find that bedsharing or roomsharing is more beneficial, sleepwise, to a bf mum.

harpsichordcarrier Fri 27-Jul-07 08:07:20

yes that's the explanation as kiskidee says.
you need to balance this information with the benefit to your sleep and your sanity of course! although 4.5 months is still quite young to be going through the night without waking/feeding.
do you get any help at night? does dp/dh help?
what about expressing? could you swap to a bottle of expressed milk?
is it still quite early to be eating baby rice too, although baby rice is pretty harmless in the scheme of things. If you can I would wait to introduce anything else until six motnhs - only six weeks away
best of luck.

takefu Fri 27-Jul-07 16:03:55

Kiskidee, yes, DD sleeps in our room. She's in a bedside cot, like an extension of our bed. I take her into our bed for feeds and she usually stays the rest of the night. It's been great, far better than her sleeping anywhere else... but what always happens is that after that first feed, she just can't stop eating. So, it was like every hour or two for many weeks (starting at about 2am onwards).

So, this may sound daft, and I don't plan on stopping bfing, but what is the benefit of feeding a baby breastmilk when they have formula too? Do the two cancel each other out? One of my friends was advised from early on to top her baby up with a few oz. of formula after every breastfeed. The poor woman has been doing this for months now and I always thought it was strange that her GP recommended it.

kiskidee Sat 28-Jul-07 02:49:10

Any amt of breastmilk a baby gets is beneficial. Besides the lining thing, another reason it is not advised to give formula is that it becomes a temptation to add another bottle etc., for some women anyway.

It is sad that your friend has been advised to top up at every feed. It sounds like it was completely unneccessary. Can you direct her to the helplines of the bf charities? She may be able to drop the formula feeds in stages or all at once, depending on how much ff she is giving.

I still find that dd wakes more often after certain times at night. Like you say, every 2 hrs. I co-sleep with her in the same bed and find that it is a life saver or do i mean a sleep saver. I work f/t and no way could i bf and do work without her right there next to me at night.

At your dd's age, 4.5 month is a growth spurt age so i wouldn't stop her from feeding at this time. I would however buy the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. It has kind advice of getting children to sleep longer during the night. It is especially good with techniques for cosleeping and bf babies. She also discusses how sleep works and changes in babies and it starts the advice at 4 months too!

harpsichordcarrier Sat 28-Jul-07 07:10:56

there are many benefits to bf, and most of those benefits are valid even when formula or solid food is introduced (e.g. nutritional benefits, immunity, bonding/contact for both of you).
so no, they don't cancel each other out.
the other thing is that the addition of formula can have an effect on supply i.e. when a baby sucks less, then less milk is prodcued in your breasts

Fionas1 Sat 28-Jul-07 14:01:00

I have a 3mth old bb (and I'm bf) and I find the best way to get him to have a really long stretch of sleep is to feed him loads from about 7pm, like every half hour. I usually put him to bed at about 10. What I'm doing seems to be similar to Tracy Hogg's technique she calls 'tanking up'. His sleep has gradually improved. I know what you mean though about not staying asleep for long after that first night feed. The good thing about puting him to bed so late is that he generally wakes btween 0330 and 0500 so even if he only goes back to sleep for 1 1/2 to 2 hours it's not so bad.

PrettyCandles Sat 28-Jul-07 14:24:06

I think this is one of the situations where it's unecessary to over-analyse. Givcing a bf baby a bit of formula is not going to harm her. It's not like giving her whisky! This baby is a member of a family, and everyone must help each other in a family. The qeustion in this case is "What's bes6t forthe family?" If you can't function and giving youtr dd some formula allows you to be a better mummy to her, then there are far more advantages to giving her formula than to avoiding it.

If you were saying you were giving her 2 doses of Calpol every night o get her to sleep, that would be a different matter.

lazyemma Sun 29-Jul-07 10:09:22

Does formula actively remove the mucosal lining? Or, is it more that breastmilk continually strengthens it, whereas formula does not? I'm a little unclear on this point.

wulfricsmummy Sun 29-Jul-07 16:38:35

Message withdrawn

takefu Sun 29-Jul-07 22:28:48

I'm wondering the same thing, lazyemma. Anyone know the answer?

Thanks for the words of support, by the way!!

sazzybee Sun 29-Jul-07 22:35:33

This might be a really stupid question but I've always wondered why it's said that formula will help bf babies sleep through the night. Don't they contain the same amount of fat and calories?

TheQueenOfQuotes Sun 29-Jul-07 22:40:54

sazzy - I think it's to do with the fact that FF usually takes longer for babies to digest so they need feeding less often (certainly did with my DS2 - although seems to make sod all difference to DS3 lol - he still snacks all through the day and sleeps no longer than when he's had breastmilk)

lazyemma Tue 31-Jul-07 08:48:11

"Does formula actively remove the mucosal lining? Or, is it more that breastmilk continually strengthens it, whereas formula does not? I'm a little unclear on this point."


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