Complementary feeding

Complementary feeding. A swear word for some. Complementary (otherwise known as comp feeding or supplementary feeding) refers to supplementing a breastfed baby with formula. So why is it so controversial?

Complementary Feeding Quick facts

Breastfeeding advocates argue that complementary feeding can hinder the success of breastfeeding. And that all it takes is one comp feed to ruin the success of continued breastfeeding. After all, we have all heard the saying ‘breast is best‘.

And please understand me when I say that there is no simple answer. Comp feeding is a complex issue. And a decision to comp feed deserves careful consideration and research of what is right for you and your family.

So, I’m going to be a bit controversial in discussing what all the fuss is about. Don’t get me wrong. I’m an advocate for breastfeeding. But, only when it works for a healthy mum and bub.  And no one should be mummy guilted into trying to continuing to breastfeed when it isn’t working for mum and bub.

So what’s all the fuss about

It’s argued that:

  • Artificial nipples are associated with breastfeeding problems like breast refusal and poor sucking skills.  However, there are some pretty decent prosthetic teets on the market these days and a lot of exclusively breastfeeding women support breastfeeding with pumping and feeding by bottle. And those women are never mummy bashed.
  • Comp feeding causes supply problems. The basis of this argument is that milk supply is governed by how often and long the baby feeds for and how effective milk transfer is. If a baby is full of formula, he or she is less included to effectively breastfeed.
  • If your baby formula feeds then, it will not want to feed on the breast, and this will result in engorgement. Nothing a good breast pump can’t relieve.
  • Comp feeding will cause you to give up on breastfeeding sooner because of a psychological effect that you believe that your milk is not sufficient.

At the end of the day, the choice is yours. And while I believe my breastfeeding choices are best for me, I would never presume that my choices are the “right” choices. Motherhood is difficult enough. Let’s just get on with it, however it works for us and start supporting each other!


Hi! Natural Birth and Motherhood is about empowering women who are going through the stages of pregnancy, birth, or motherhood. Find out more useful information on related topics click on the Blog button below.

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