Babies eat a lot of food. Lots and lots. They’re up at all hours of the night demanding milk, and it can be hard to keep up with that schedule. To make things easier, lots of mums like to include formula feeding to ensure their bub is getting the nutrients they need.
Transitioning from breastfeeding to formula isn’t always easy. Babies have lots of opinions about their food and bottles and feeding times. But, with a bit of persistence, our tips on how to transition from breastfeeding to formula can help you adjust to the change!
When Should I Transition to Formula?
It’s okay to transition to formula at any time in your baby’s life. Modern formulas are suitable from birth through to about 12 months. If you plan to breastfeed and supplement with formula, you should wait until your baby is 3-4 weeks old. This will give your body time to get used to the feeding pattern and start producing a consistent milk supply.
There are lots of reasons to transition to formula feeding, like:
- Supplementing your baby’s diet
- Supplementing your milk supply
- Making feeding times more consistent
- Helping other people feed your baby when you’re separated
- Eases the discomfort that comes with stopping breastfeeding too quickly
- Helps with transitions like going back to work
There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to formula feeding. You can use formula to supplement breastfeeding, or you can go for formula feeding exclusively. What you decide depends on you, your baby and your body!
How to Transition from Breastfeeding to Formula
- Slowly Replace Feeding Sessions
The best way to transition from breastfeeding to formula is to take your time. Over the course of 2-4 weeks, you can slowly reduce the number of breastfeeding sessions.
Start by replacing one breastfeeding session per day with a bottle of formula. Choose a meal that your baby won’t miss if they refuse the bottle (which they might while they get used to the change). Replacing a mid-afternoon feeding is a great place to start, and the feeding right before bedtime is usually the last one to go.
- Offer the Bottle First
It takes time for babies to get used to the transition over to formula. One of the things your bub may not like is the switch to bottles.
There will probably be a few times when your baby outright refuses the bottle. But don’t let that discourage you. You can breastfeed your baby if you really need to, but you should always offer the bottle of formula as the first option. This helps your baby get used to their new feeding routine.
You can make the transition easier by putting breast milk in bottles first. If you’re pumping or expressing milk, feeding it to your baby from a bottle will help them get used to the idea.
- Experiment with Different Bottles
Babies can be fussy! They’re used to breastfeeding, so having the unfamiliar feel of a bottle can be a big change. If your baby won’t take a bottle (even when it’s filled with breast milk) it might be time to try a different shape, size or nipple.
There are all sorts of wide and narrow mouth bottles on the market. Plus, bottle nipples come in a huge range of shapes, sizes and flow rates. Try out a few different bottles until you find one that your baby likes.
The same goes for the nipple. Nipples are sized according to your baby’s age and feeding needs. Choose one that matches your baby’s age, but don’t be afraid to experiment with different types if they’re being a bit fussy.
- Hand Express Milk When You Need To
Transitioning your baby from breastfeeding to formula comes with changes to your body too.
The less your baby feeds, the less breast milk your body will produce. That transition isn’t always straightforward. As your body adjusts, it’s common to produce more milk than you need. You can deal with this by hand expressing excess milk.
Try to limit the amount of pumping you do when switching to bottles. Instead, hand express milk until your breasts feel comfortable again (don’t empty them completely). This will prevent mastitis without encouraging your body to produce more breast milk than it needs to.
- Try Combination Feeding
Lastly, breastfeeding doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing! Even if your bub is happy with formula, that doesn’t mean you need to cut out breastfeeding entirely. It’s totally okay to blend breastfeeding with formula feeding and solid foods.
This is actually a great strategy for times when you need to leave your baby in someone else’s care. By encouraging your little one to eat more types of food, you’re making it easier for other people to keep them happy and fed when you’re separated.
If you’re going to use combination feeding, try to keep meal times consistent. For example, formula in the morning, solid foods for lunch, and then a breastfeeding session at night. Consistency is good for your baby, and it will prevent your body from overproducing breast milk.
Get Ready for Your Nursing Journey with Mad House Mums!
Formula feeding is a big part of most nursing journeys. Introducing formula into your baby’s diet is a great way to supplement their diet, improve feeding schedules and ease the transition when you need to spend time apart.
There are lots of ways you can ease the transition for your baby, but the best thing you can do is to make sure you’re comfortable! Staying comfortable is a big part of breastfeeding. When you’re comfortable, your baby is comfortable, and that’s good news when you’re trying to introduce new foods.
At Mad House Mums we specialise in making sure breastfeeding mums are comfy! We’ve got a huge range of mum-designed breastfeeding clothing that makes breastfeeding an enjoyable experience. Our clothes, such as our breastfeeding sweater range and breastfeeding pyjamas Australia wide, are designed to suit your changing body and demanding schedule. The Mad House Mums range is perfect for late night nursing, bottle feeds, solid foods and everything in between.
You can check out our products online at any time, or chat with our breastfeeding clothing Australia team if you have any questions!