Tips for moving from breast to bottle
- Congratulations on breastfeeding! Breastmilk is best, but when moms cannot or choose not to breastfeed we can provide helpful recommendations for formula feeding.
- Tips for helping to make the switch smoother include giving a bottle when your baby isn’t so hungry and mixing baby formula and breastmilk together.
- Every baby is different, but weaning should take about two weeks.
Some breastfeeding moms decide to switch to formula completely. Others find supplementing works best to meet hectic back-to-work schedules or their desire to share the feeding experience with other family members—especially Dad. If you’ve decided to wean, do so slowly, for both your comfort and your baby’s. Some babies adapt smoothly to a bottle; others take more time. This is an emotional step for you and your baby, so whenever a bottle is substituted, do so with a smile, loving words and a soothing touch.
Tips for transitioning to first formula
- Not all formulas are the same, and the first formula you introduce to him may make a difference. Investigate all the infant formula differences. Your baby’s doctor is a great resource.
- Introduce a bottle when your baby is calm and not so hungry.
- Briefly nurse on each breast. Then, offer the bottle to your still-hungry baby. If he fusses and refuses, calm him by returning to the breast. Try a bottle again at another feeding.
- Some parents find that mixing infant formula and breastmilk together in a bottle provides a familiar smell and taste for your baby.
- Try to keep the skin-to-skin contact that your baby is used to while you feed a formula bottle.
- Prepare infant formula according to label directions, but make the formula about the same temperature as your breastmilk by placing the bottle in a warm bowl of water.
- Some babies are more receptive to their first bottle of formula if Dad or another loved one offers that first taste of formula.
Complete weaning from breastfeedings to all formula feedings should take about two weeks. Some babies make the transition to formula smoothly; others take a bit longer.
A weaning schedule
The transition from breastmilk to infant formula should be gradual. Our recommended schedule gives some guidelines, but of course, be flexible, and you can stop at any point in the process you feel comfortable.
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- Substitute infant formula for breastmilk at one midday feeding for 1 to 2 days.
- Offer formula instead of breastmilk at the midday feeding and the one after that, and try that for two days.
- Replace a third breastfeeding with a bottle of formula and keep that routine for a couple of days. Add a fourth formula feeding.
- Continue adding feedings until you reach the number you’d like to maintain. This should take about 10 to 11 days to maintain at least three breastfeedings.
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