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When to Begin Supplementation

The degree of urgency for supplementation depends upon the level of your baby’s milk intake. The lower your baby’s diaper output, weight gain, and/or test feeding weights, the more critical it is to begin supplementation immediately.  Conversely, when your baby’s diaper output is borderline or just below minimum, weight gain is just below normal, or test weights are only slightly low, you may have more leeway in determining if, when, and how to give supplements.

In most cases, supplementation should begin as soon as you know for sure that your baby is not getting enough milk, even as soon as the next feeding.  When your baby is getting enough food, he will be able to breastfeed better.  He needs energy to be able to remove milk well from the breast.  If there is a problem that makes breastfeeding hard for him, getting enough energy will make it easier for him to learn what he needs to do to breastfeed more effectively.  You will learn specific ways to do this to ensure that your baby continues to get all of the milk you are making.  Although supplementation can seem like a step away from breastfeeding, try to think of it as a step that supports breastfeeding, because it will ultimately help your baby breastfeed better.

Since every case is unique, it is important to discuss supplementation strategies with your baby’s health care provider and your lactation specialist, to ensure that your plan will work well for you and your baby.


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