Breastfeeding is one of the most important things that you can do for your baby. Through breastfeeding, you are not only providing your child with the nutrients he needs for his physical growth and development; you are providing him with a ton of psychological benefits as well.
There are times, however, when breastfeeding is no longer an option, and you have to start giving your little one formula. If you’ve breastfed your little for a long time, you may have trouble switching from breast milk.
Switching from breast milk to formula may also mean switching from breast to bottle, and that in itself is another different issue that you, as a mom, should be ready for.
Some breastfed toddlers just won’t take a bottle, no matter how hard you try. Others might, but not without putting up a fight first. It can be an exhausting ordeal to go through, but as a mom, there’s nothing much you can do except be patient and hope that your baby outgrows this phase soon. And quick.
There are lots of other issues that you might encounter as you choose to switch from breastmilk to formula. Thankfully, there are a few couple of things that you can do to make the process easier.
How to Make Switching from Breastmilk to Formula Easier
Tips and Tricks
When it comes to introducing your breastfed baby to formula, it’s important to remember that every baby is different and that what you may have read on the internet or heard from friends and family may not always work for you and your little one. Patience is key, and so is perseverance.
Tip # 1: Do It Gradually
If your baby is used to getting breast milk with each feeding, an abrupt change in the source, the taste, the smell, and other elements can put him off. To make it easy for you and your baby, try starting small.
Instead of cutting off breastfeeding sessions all at once, try replacing breast milk with formula during one feeding session, then gradually work your way to two, three, until you reach the point where all you give your baby is the formula.
This method is sometimes called “mixed feeding” and is usually used by moms who plan on weaning their little ones from the boob. It is a gentle approach that gives both mom and baby enough time to adjust to a new feeding set-up.
If you feel like your baby isn’t ready to take a bottle of formula and down it like he would breast milk just yet, but you don’t want him to go hungry, you can also try cup feeding. This method is ideal for introducing a new formula to your baby.
It is also a great method to use if your (older) baby refuses to take a bottle and would rather go to the next stage and use a sippy cup instead. Don’t worry; it’s totally normal for breastfed babies switching to formula to skip the bottle and go straight with the cup instead.
Another reason to do it gradually is so you don’t get engorged. Switching from breast milk to formula slowly allows your body to figure out the change in feeding schedule that is happening and therefore allows it to adjust milk production accordingly as well.
Tip # 2: Look for a formula that has similarities with breast milk
One of the biggest struggles you’ll face when switching from breast milk to formula is looking for a formula that tastes similar to breast milk. Since babies’ taste buds are very sensitive, they can easily tell if they’re gulping down their usual dose of breast milk or not.
Once they detect a flavor that’s not familiar to them, they might refuse to feed and start to cry. This is why you’ll want to do your best to look for a formula that comes close to the taste of breast milk.
Aside from taste, you’ll also want to look for a baby formula with a similar composition to breast milk. Breast milk is very easy to digest for babies, so you’ll want something similar to keep your baby from experiencing tummy troubles when processing his new “food.”
Some of the most highly recommended formulas for moms switching their babies from breast milk to formula include Baby’s Only Organic Dairy Formula, Earth’s Best Organic Infant Formula, and Gerber Good Start.
To avoid wasting so much money trying out new formulas and figuring out which one your baby likes best, try to ask your pediatrician for recommendations and sample packs. You can also buy the smallest size first, so in case your baby doesn’t like it, you don’t have a lot to go to waste.
Tip # 3: Find the right bottle
One of the biggest struggles of switching from breast milk to formula is finding the perfect bottle in which to serve up your baby’s formula. A breastfed baby will know the difference between an artificial nipple and the real deal, so you have to be extra careful when shopping for baby bottles.
Thankfully, there are a lot of bottles out there with nipples that feel similar to the real thing. Some of the most highly recommended bottles for moms who plan to switch from breast milk to formula include the Mimijumi, Comotomo, and Tommee Tippee Closer to Nature.
If you’re on a budget, you can try mixing and matching different bottles and nipples. Certain brands make their bottles and nipples compatible only to each other, so you can’t mix and match them with bottles or accessories from a different maker.
However, most mainstream brands are made to fit into other mainstream brands. Born Free bottled, for example, can be fitted with nipples from other brands like Dr. Brown’s, Pura, and ThinkBaby.
Tip # 4: Make it a loving, intimate experience
Just because you’re no longer breastfeeding your child doesn’t mean you have to stop giving him the emotional benefits that come with the experience. Make your bottle-feeding sessions with your little one as loving and as intimate as you’ve done it when you were breastfeeding him.
If you can, do it in a room where you can have exclusive mommy and baby time together. Whenever possible, hold him close, cuddle up, and allow for skin-to-skin contact. It will be easier for your baby to transition into this new world of bottle-feeding if he feels loved and secure.
For moms who are switching their babies from breast milk to formula because they need to go back to work, this is extra important. You don’t want to have your baby feeling abandoned and just passed on to another caregiver, so it’s crucial that you make him feel loved, even while bottle-feeding.
At the same time, doing this will make it easier for you, too, to cope and adapt to the weaning process. Some moms will feel guilty about getting their babies off of breast milk and switching to formula, but doing the latter in an equally loving manner can quickly take that feeling of guilt away.
Switching from breast milk to formula can be expensive and exhausting but if you have to do it, then just go for it. Do not worry about what other people will say. They may say breast is best, but I think that “fed is best.” As long as you are giving your baby the nutrients he needs to grow healthy, then you are doing a fantastic job as a mom.
Always remember that switching from breast milk to formula takes time. There will be times when you will get frustrated and feel ready to give up; don’t. Instead, give the tips and tricks mentioned above a try.
If you liked this article, or if you have tips and tricks of your own on how to make switching from breast milk to formula easier (for mommy and baby), please don’t hesitate to share them in the comments! I’m sure there are a lot of struggling mamas out there who would appreciate it.