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Is it OK to breastfeed and bottlefeed?
Q: I was determined to only breastfeed my 3-week-old daughter, but when she was born I was unable to do so. Now I am still doing both, but mostly breastfeeding with an occasional bottle. She has no problem switching back and forth. Is this bad for her? Should I only do one or the other?
Martine New York
A: Congratulations on your new baby! It’s great that you’re breastfeeding your baby and giving her all the advantages for her nutrition and protection against illnesses. It’s also a special opportunity for you to experience the closeness of skin-to-skin contact and bonding with your baby.

Although breastfeeding is “natural,” it often takes mothers and babies some practice to get it right. Lactation specialists (who may be available through your hospital or doctor’s office) and breastfeeding volunteers through La Leche League can provide invaluable assistance in learning how to position your baby and ensure she’s latching on and drinking well, and can also help you overcome any difficulties that might arise. Now that your baby is breastfeeding well, it’s important for you to do everything you can to keep up your milk supply and make sure she continues to prefer the breast over the bottle: breastfeed your baby when she’s hungry (typically every hour and a half to three hours at this age), and be sure to get rest and drink plenty of fluids.

While it is healthy to give your baby only breast milk until 4 to 6 months of age, it’s also fine to give her an occasional bottle either with pumped breast milk or formula. Many breastfeeding mothers find it’s convenient to have their baby learn to take a bottle so other people (e.g., dad, grandparents or a child care provider) can occasionally feed the baby and give you a break to sleep, go to the gym or a movie or work. So continue to do what works for you and your baby. And try to continue to breastfeed for a year or longer. That’s healthiest for your baby.

Karen Sokal-Gutierrez M.D., M.P.H. Pediatrician