What Is Triple Feeding, And How Do You Navigate It?

What Is Triple Feeding, And How Do You Navigate It?

Written by Wendy.

If you’ve been faced with breastfeeding challenges like low milk supply or a baby who’s having trouble latching or gaining weight, it may have been recommended to you to try something called “triple feeding.” Essentially, triple feeding is a method where you combine breastfeeding, pumping, and supplementing. Triple feeding can be helpful for many breastfeeding parents, but it can also be overwhelming and exhausting. It’s important to understand that triple feeding is not meant to be used as a long-term solution to breastfeeding challenges.

Here, we’ll take a closer look at triple feeding, and how to navigate it as you feed your little one.


Triple feeding is a breastfeeding technique where the breastfeeding parent spends each feeding session doing three things:

  • Breastfeeding

  • Pumping breast milk

  • Supplementing

The goal of triple feeding is to increase or maintain your milk supply, have your baby practice breastfeeding, and ensure that your baby is getting enough nutrition. Triple feeding is meant to be temporary. It’s meant to be used for several days or up to a few weeks, until you and your baby get over the hump of the challenges you are facing.


There are several different instances where a lactation professional may recommend triple feeding to a breastfeeding parent. This may include:

  • If you are breastfeeding a premature baby

  • If your baby is having latching or sucking issues

  • If you are struggling with a low milk supply

  • If your baby is jaundiced or very sleepy at the breast

  • If your baby is having any kind of medical issue that makes it hard to suckle effectively


Triple feeding is meant to be done on roughly the same schedule as any breastfeeding schedule. If you are triple feeding a newborn, that might look like using this feeding technique every 2-3 hours, or 8-12 times in 24 hours. However, keeping in mind that triple feeding is very time consuming, it may not be necessary or possible to do it for every feeding. The lactation professional you are working with will be able to help you come up with a schedule for triple feeding that works for you.


People will do triple feeding in various ways, but in general triple feeding goes like this:

Step One: Breastfeed

Breastfeed your baby, letting them suckle as long as they are able and interested. You can use breast compression (gentle squeeze of the breast) to get the milk flowing. Once they are done with one side, you can offer the other. When your baby has stopped actively suckling, you can move to the next step.

Step Two: Pump

Next, you will be pumping your breasts, in order to boost or maintain your supply, and so that you can collect milk to supplement your baby. Generally, you’ll want to pump both breasts at once for around 15-20 minutes. Massage and compressing your breasts can help. Collect the milk to feed your baby now, or store the milk for the next feeding.

Step Three: Supplement

Finally, you will supplement your baby. Most likely, you’ll bottle feed your baby milk you’ve just pumped or recently pumped. In some cases, you will need to add some formula so that your baby has enough calories. If you are using a bottle, you might consider paced bottle feeding, where you feed your baby upright, holding the bottle horizontally so it’s only half full. Watch your baby for signs of fullness and don’t overfeed. Some parents will choose to supplement by using a supplemental nursing system (SNS), which is a small tube that goes into a bottle and that you adhere to your breast so that your baby can get their supplement at the breast. Other parents might employ cup feeding or spoon feeding. Your lactation provider will guide you on how much supplement to give your baby.


If your baby is struggling to get enough milk or if you are struggling to make enough milk, triple feeding isn’t your only option. There are other ways to maximize your supply, keep your baby interested in breastfeeding, and make sure they are well fed.

Some other options include:

  • Parallel pumping, which is where you pump your other breast while your baby is actively breastfeeding; using a wearable breast pump that fits inside your bra can make this easier

  • Using a supplemental nursing system while breastfeeding is a way that you combine steps 1 (breastfeeding) and 3 (supplementing) of triple feeding because your baby will receive their supplement at the breast

  • Having someone else take over step 3 of triple feeding, and feeding your baby for you, can help you get a much-needed break


Triple feeding can be draining and difficult. It requires a lot of time and energy during a period where you are liable to be depleted and fatigued from the sheer demands of caring for a newborn. If you are going to triple feed, you must have help and support from others. This may involve having them feed the supplement to your baby, wash your pump parts, bring you your baby when it’s time to feed, and give you plenty of time in between to rest.

It can’t be emphasized enough that triple feeding is meant to be temporary. It can take a few days to a week to boost your milk supply with extra pumping. If your baby continues to have latching issues or your milk supply doesn’t seem to be increasing, then there may be other areas that you need to tackle. You should continue to be in touch with your lactation helper so that any potential issues can be properly addressed.

When it comes to triple feeding—and breastfeeding in general—you don’t have to be a martyr. If you are finding that triple feeding is simply too much for you, it’s okay to stop and consider other options. You also don’t have to do triple feeding every time you feed your baby. Be honest with yourself about what you can manage. It’s important not to deplete your energy, because you can’t take care of your baby if you don’t take care of yourself.

International Breastfeeding Institute. Triple Feeding – The Trend Exhausting New Parents.
Kaiser Permanente. The Breastfeeding “Triple Plan.”
University of Rochester Medical Center. Your Breastfeeding Journey: Triple Feeding.
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Wendy (she/her) is a writer, editor, and IBCLC. She writes frequently about breastfeeding, parenting, and health. She believes in the power of providing families with smart, evidence-based information so they can make decisions that work best for their family. Find her

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