08 May

Book review: Mixed Up – Combination feeding by choice or necessity, by Lucy Ruddle

There is no doubt that a book on mixed feeding is very much needed, particularly here in the UK where we have the lowest breastfeeding rates in the world, and the most common way for babies under six months to be fed is to have a combination of breastmilk and formula.

If baby feeding is a subject area that often seems to parents to be mysterious and inaccessible, combination feeding is the most mysterious and inaccessible of all. It is often (mis)understood that breastfeeding is an all or nothing activity, an idea that certainly works out well for the formula manufacturers. We have plenty of books that include information on both breastfeeding and formula feeding, but few that address the question of doing both.

This is a good start, with some really excellent ideas such as the “quick glance alternatives” and “things to be aware of,” which are nicely phrased ways to help parents explore how things might work for them. It is written with kindness and an in-depth knowledge of feeding babies, and there are plenty of stories from real parents if you like that sort of thing.

I’m not a sleep-deprived new parent, and I did find it difficult to navigate the book. Headings are not very distinct from subheadings and the lack of an index made it difficult to find things that were referred to in early chapters such as paced bottle feeding, but not explained until much later in the book. It doesn’t feel logically organised to me; I really wanted to cut it up and put it back together in a different order. The information is solid and the tone is lovely, so it was frustrating that even with a good understanding of the subject, I couldn’t easily find my way around.

I would definitely use this book for my own reference, and given that there I don’t know of another book for parents that covers combination feeding to this extent I would also suggest it to parents, but my feeling is that this particular market niche is not yet saturated.