Combi-feeding babies is on the rise, new figures suggest.

The proportion of new mothers in England who feed their babies with formula and breast milk has increased over the last five years, according to official data.

New figures from the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) show that in 2022/23 some 17.7% of babies aged six to eight weeks are “partially breastfed”.

The figure has steadily increased each year over the last five years.

In 2021/22 some 16.6% mothers partially breastfed their babies, up from 15.7% in 2020/21, 15.4% in 2019/20 and 14.6% in 2018/19.

The data was published as part of annual breastfeeding figures.

The 2022/23 figures also show that almost half of babies in England (49.2%) were breastfed in some way when they were six to eight weeks old.

This includes 31.5% of babies who were exclusively breastfed.

Two in five babies (40.7%) were not breastfed at all.

Combi-feeding includes a combination of breastfeeding and formula in a bottle.

Karen Hall, tutor for the parenting charity NCT, said: “Combination feeding does seem to be on the increase, with many parents in the UK breastfeeding alongside using formula.

“This happens for all sorts of different reasons, including social pressures, anxiety about or difficulty with breastfeeding, or to enable parents to share the care of their baby.

“It can be tricky to balance breastfeeding with formula use, and we would encourage anyone who feels they need some support with feeding their baby to call the NCT Infant Feeding Support Line for free on 0300 330 0700. The line is open every day from 8am to midnight.”

Meanwhile, separate figures released by OHID on health service delivery metrics show that the number of reviews by health visitors has fallen slightly.

Between one and two weeks after a baby is born a health visitor performs a baby review and offers advice on feeding babies, safe sleeping habits, vaccinations, baby development and adjusting to life as a new parent.

In 2022/23 some 79.9% of babies received a new birth visit within 14 days, down from 82.7% in 2021/22.