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How do I know if my Baby Needs a Top Up?

One of the things that mothers worry about the most, is if their babies are getting enough breast milk or if they need to top up with formula. It’s true that sometimes, babies need this top up for reasons that I’ll cover below, but the vast majority of them are unnecessary.

The first thing that I always say to mothers, is that any extra formula milk is going to interfere with their breastfeeding journey. Because, topping up will signal to your breasts to start producing less milk. But, unfortunately many health providers still recommend unnecessary top-ups.

But let’s cover today, what is a supplement (or top up) and which babies may need one.

What is a supplement or top up?

Top up feeds are variable amounts of milk (breast or formula) that are given to your baby after being fed on your breast. The main reason is to encourage your baby to gain or regain weight.

The problem here, is that mothers use them because they are concerned that their babies are not getting enough breast milk.

Which babies may need a supplement?

Despite so many babies receiving a supplement without needing it, there are others that require to be top up with little extra amount of milk (breastmilk or formula). Let’s see which babies may be in need:

  • Babies who are unable to suckle from the breast effectively (for example premature or babies with oral abnormalities).
  • Babies that drop more than 10% of the birth weight.
  • Babies that after 15 days of life, didn’t regain their birth weight.
  • Babies with hypoglycaemia (when the level of sugar in the blood is too low).

In these cases, I’d recommend to top up your baby to meet their nutritional needs and to sort out the situation as soon as possible. Once the issue is resolve, these top ups can be removed and you can carry on feeding your baby from your breast.

Summarising, a top up should ideally always be a temporary measure while you are working on sorting out a problem.

Contact me on if you would like help or advice while you’re on your breastfeeding journey.

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