Early Formula Use Helps Some Mothers Breastfeed Longer
Giving some newborns a little formula may help moms breastfeed longer. Researchers at University of California San Francisco found that giving small amounts of formula during the first few days to infants with significant early weight loss actually can increase the length of time their mothers breastfeed.
Instead of giving full bottles of formula that make it hard for a baby to return to breastfeeding, early limited formula, or ELF, uses small amounts of supplementation with a clear end point. Study lead author Valerie Flaherman, assistant professor of pediatrics and epidemiology and biostatistics at UCSF and a pediatrician at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, says ELF can reduce a new mother's stress and anxiety about not producing enough milk, encouraging her to continue breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding offers preventive health benefits for babies, including reducing babies' risk for infections and incidence of allergies.
The American Academy of Pediatrics currently recommends healthy mothers and infants breastfeed exclusively for the first six months for maximum health benefits. Learn more at pediatrics.aappublications.org (search for ELF).
Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill. She and her husband are the parents of three daughters.