Ages & Stages

Newborn combi feeding: the products & support we’re into right now

Jessie Day, Senior Editor  |   2 May 2024


Bang on half of the team here at TRB HQ are mums to small children. And – whatever shape it takes – we’ve all been on our own feeding journeys. Those newborn days are fresh for some, and hazy for others, but the products and support that got us through take a special spot in our experience. 

All of our kids are thriving, and every journey is valid, and perfect. 

For TRB CEO and founder Eloise, right now it’s about combi feeding her tiny twins. For partnerships manager Harriet, both babies were breast-fed, with minimal products involved. And for me and my two babies, one was a combi-fed preemie, the other never took a bottle. 

Breast, formula, mixed or combi – newborn feeding is a uniquely personal journey. Whatever you’re doing, these are the products and support we’re excited to swap notes on, in 2024. 

But first, let’s answer a really key question from our community. Focusing on mixed feeding, how do we get this right? Is there a perfect way to combine breastfeeding and pumping? Let’s find out.

How to combine breastfeeding and pumping

For this juggle of juggles, finding your own rhythm is key.  

Starting with breastfeeding is often the way to go, from our experience and speaking to a few different practitioners and lactation experts. By breastfeeding first, you’re ensuring your little one gets their fill and that your breasts are fully emptied after, with pumping, giving them lots of time to refill before the next feed. 

For Eloise, it’s all about opting for bottles at night, using expressed breast milk to feed her twins. “I don’t have enough milk or time to exclusively breastfeed”, she says when I text her to swap notes, “so it’s combi feeding all the way, this time.

Both babies are breastfeeding well but by the evening they often start crying on the breast and getting more fussy, because my milk supply has depleted. I have help in the night from their dad (and sometimes my mum), so I can pump before bed and then maybe once again, or put them on the breast first thing to drain my boobs.”

Depending on your situation, this kind of combination feeding may help you get that much-needed rest, and give a partner or anyone helping out the chance to build bonding time with the baby, during nighttime feeds. 

One way to go about it could be to: 

  • breast feed in the morning on one side, while pumping the other (often referred to as simultaneous nursing and pumping) 
  • alternate breastfeeding and pumping during the day, depending on your baby’s schedule 
  • pump before bed and maybe once in the night, to stimulate supply for evening and night feeds 

Eloise adds, “I’ve also been breastfeeding both twins at the same time sometimes – in the rugby ball position, with heads touching. So sweet, and very efficient!” 

This schedule just about summarises where Eloise is at – but I know as I write this, things could all look very different again by next week (especially with twins in the mix).

It’s about flexibility, and finding your rhythm

Combi feeding is all about learning to adapt – to you and your baby’s needs – and finding a rhythm that feels good. Some mums prefer direct breastfeeding whenever possible, with pumping sessions fitted in between to maintain milk supply, or fit a busy schedule. 

Others integrate pumping after breastfeeding, to ensure each breast is thoroughly emptied and milk production stays robust. You could even try simultaneous nursing and pumping – nursing on side while pumping on the other – to maximise efficiency. 

The bottom line? As with so many newborn conundrums, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach. Mixed feeding is about experimenting, adapting and finding a rhythm that suits your set-up, schedule and preferences. 

And, with a bit of patience, trial and error – and maybe one or two of the tools and supports in this round up (keep reading!) – you’ll find just the right approach, for you and your baby. 

Handy to know – lots of the products and brands mentioned in our round-up are available on registry sites like Babylist and MyRegistry so if you’re pregnant right now and planning your feeding essentials, or shopping for a friend’s baby shower, do check these first and get a list going.

THE ELECTRIC PUMP

We’re very into the Pippeta Compact LED Handsfree right now, which took home Platinum at this year’s Loved By Parents Awards. Pippeta turn out brilliant pumps and accessories, and we really love this one for being truly compact, small and lightweight – great for on-the-go. 

For care and support with your pump, our go-to are Wren. They also took home multiple wins at the 2024 Loved By Parents Awards, with their pumps hitting the mark for best handsfree breast pump (along with an overall win for best independent retailer of the year). 

wren-breast-pump

Getting it spot on with that extra-special customer care factor, Wren include all sorts of extras with every breast pump ordered – you’ll get a tonne of spare parts, two bottles, cleaning brushes and nipple sizer tool, making it easy to hit go, from day one.

THE MANUAL PUMP

Loved by me, a shout here for the Medela Harmony Breast Pump. I didn’t have a tonne of success with pumping, but this manual pump was the golden ticket for me, and still rides high on Amazon’s best-seller list, almost six years on. 

At £18.99 ($23.99 in the US), I found it great for travel, and to have on-hand as a back-up if I was going to be away from my baby across our usual feed times. 

manual-pump-medela-harmony

We also love the Manual Breast Pump (Silicone) from haakaa. Just one piece of kit, but naturally powerful, this pump has achieved cult status and tens of thousands of 5* reviews. Squeeze the bottle, attach to your boob, and let it do the rest, drawing milk from the breast with continuous suction.

THE BREAST MASSAGER

If you know, you know. Clogged ducts are no fun, especially if the problem escalates, and a small, effective massager can work absolute wonders here, when you really need to – well- knead in. They can also really help with under-supply too, depending on the design.

We love the Warming Lactation Massager from Wren, for its sweet design, fitting in the palm of your hand and getting straight to work on any clogs and blockages.

These tools can get expensive – the Wren option doesn’t, FYI, at £23 versus the bordering-on-£100 dominating the best-seller lists. 

wren-breast-massager

Another fab and more budget-friendly breast massager is the Momcozy Warming Lactation Massager, whose gua sha tool-inspired design comes in at £29.99 ($26.99 in the US) and earns it top-spot reviews on Amazon.

THE BOTTLES

Hands-down for Eloise, the best newborn bottles right now are anything by Nanobébé.

Texting me her thoughts, she says ‘They are just amazing bottles. Love that they’re squishy and easy-to-clean, and the babies love them. Milo is even holding his bottle!’

And it’s not just Eloise – the Nanobébé Flexy Silicone Baby Bottle picked up multiple wins at the 2024 Loved By Parents Awards, so do check them out.

nanobebe-bottles

For a really-good budget bottle option (think short-term use, spares and picking up on holiday), the Vital Baby Nurture Breast-Like Feeding Bottle is award-winning and flexible, at just £4.50 a pop. 

THE PILLOW

Eloise is working with a twins situation, so we have to give a special mention here for Things for Twins. Their Twin Feeding Pillow has supported so many early feeding struggles, and is great for bottle feeding too, along with providing both babies with a cosy nook for daytime naps. She also has her eye on their twin carrier options, for when the babies are a little sturdier.  

For the best of the rest, I love the bbhugme Nursing Pillow, and had it on my list for the second time around with my son, having been so attached to their pregnancy pillow in the build-up. It was also a brilliant, super-soft and squishy but supportive option for propping my baby up during the day, and is – of course – now a cult product.

things-for-twins-breastfeeding-pillow

A final mention here for the more inde option from Thrupenny Bits. I saw their Breastfeeding Pillow recommended on the amazing Ruth Crilly’s Top 5 Breastfeeding Essentials and bagged it for my first baby. These gorgeous pillows are lovingly designed by mum of two Melissa Wyatt, and the range lets you pick and choose from all sorts of prints and options. They’re also in a very different price range, at just £45 for a classic pillow. 

That’s a wrap! Our top tips for newborn combi feeding right now. Let us know if you try any of these, and MIAs which deserve a mention.

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