Tips for a smooth transition: Switching from breastmilk to formula

Tips for a smooth transition: Switching from breastmilk to formula

April 07, 2018

Are you making the switch from breastfeeding to formula feeding, but finding it to be a challenge? When transitioning from breast to bottle, most babies feel overwhelmed. And it's no wonder...

The first thing a baby learns when they're born is to feed on his mother's breast. As time goes by, babies usually figure out how to do this pretty well: sucking on the nipple (and part of the areola) to create a vacuum, molding the breast on the palate, and using the tongue to milk the elixir that keeps her calm and satisfied.

When switching to a bottle and formula, suddenly everything changes. The nipple feels, smells, and tastes differently. The baby just has to open his mouth enough to fit the bottle nipple inside. Forget about the former procedure. Strong sucking is not needed anymore because there is a constant stream of milk. And where is mama's smell and skin, the source of life and protection?

Even as adults, it's not easy to change habits. So it's no surprise that babies can have difficulty switching from the breast to the bottle. But worry not! Read on for a list of recommendations on how to switch from breast milk to formula for your little one:

  1. Introduce baby formula slowly. First, breastfeed your baby - but not to the point of being completely full. Offer her a bottle of formula near the end. Slowly increase the amount of baby formula and decrease the amount of breast feeding you start with until you can substitute the entire feeding. Wait at least a week before you start substituting the next feed (ideally, not the feeding right before or after). 
  2. Mix the breast milk and baby formula to start, and increase the ratio of formula to breast milk over time.
  3. Offer your baby a bottle before he's hungry. The regular feeding time is not always ideal for new experiments. Try feeding your baby from a bottle when he's drowsy.
  4. Find a good technique. Do you usually cradle your baby while breastfeeding? Try something different. Place her on your lap, sit her up or tilt the bottle. 
  5. Move while feeding. Maybe your baby takes the bottle more easily if you walk with him or swing him. Experiment! For example, you can try to feed him while he's sitting in the car seat.
  6. Tickle her into it. Try to get your baby to grab the nipple of the bottle by tickling her lips with it.
  7. Find a good setting. Give it a go in a relaxing environment. Wrap your baby in a cloth that smells like you for an extra sense of security. 
  8. Find the right bottle and nipple. There are dozens of bottle and nipple options out there, so if one isn't working, give another one a shot. Nipple options include materials like silicon, natural rubber, etc. as well as different shapes, sizes, and hole sizes.
  9. Warm the nipple of the bottle with warm water up to about body temperature (unless your baby is teething; then the nipple should be cool and soothing).
  10. Find the right baby formula. The reason for trouble might be that your baby doesn't like the type of baby formula you're offering. Or he can't tolerate the baby formula. If you think this might be the case, talk to your doctor. Here at Organic Baby Food Shop, we've had countless parents tell us that their babies were fussy or experiencing discomfort before they switched to our organic baby formula: Holle, HiPP, and Lebenswert. Or perhaps your baby has a cow dairy sensitivity and would do better with organic Holle Goat formula.

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And last but not least:

  • Hand over the bottle feeding to someone else. That seems to be cruel on the first read, but it is reasonable. Why should your baby drink from a bottle, if the divine smelling food source is right there?

    Stopping breastfeeding can be challenging, but your baby will learn with time and by feeling and experiencing that he gets just as much protection, love, and nourishment by formula feeding as before by nursing.

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