How to Switch Your Baby From Breast Milk to Formula

By Barbie Carpenter
Prepare your baby to drink out of the bottle.
Prepare your baby to drink out of the bottle.

After days, weeks or even months of breastfeeding your newborn, you decide to transition your baby to formula. Perhaps you're going to back to work and do not want to pump every day, or you've simply decided that formula is a better fit for your lifestyle. A seamless transition from breast milk to formula is possible when you consider your growing little one's needs.

Introduce bottles of expressed milk to your baby to get her used to feeding from a bottle. If she resists the bottle, have her father, caregiver or another family member feed her instead of mom. Your baby might expect to nurse with you but welcome a bottle from another family member. Introducing the bottle with breast milk, instead of formula, eases the transition for your little one, as she will enjoy a familiar taste while adapting to the bottle.

Replace one nursing session at a time with a bottle of formula. This gradual transition helps to eliminate any engorgement as you wean her from breastfeeding and reduce your milk supply. In addition, gradually adding formula to your baby's diet helps to reduce the risk of any digestive upset associated with the formula. Drop one feeding every 5 to 7 days, as suggested by WebMD.

Replace non-essential feedings first. Your baby might use breastfeeding for comfort and soothing in addition to nutrition, especially during those feedings before and after sleep. Drop those feedings last, instead focusing first on the snacks that your baby relies on less for comfort, perhaps those in the afternoon.

Provide the proper amount of formula once you have weaned your baby off of the breast milk. The American Academy of Pediatrics' HealthyChildren.org recommends that your baby consume 2 1/2 ounces of formula a day for every pound. For example, a 14-pound baby should consume about 35 ounces of formula per day.

Give your baby a bottle at regular intervals when formula feeding. The frequency of feedings will depend on your baby's age, so follow the schedule your breastfed baby was used to. For example, a six-month-old baby might have four to five feedings in a 24-hour period, while younger babies will take a bottle more frequently.

Things You Will Need

  • Bottles
  • Nipples
  • Formula

Tip

If you experience engorgement as you wean baby off of the breast, you can express a little bit of milk to relieve the discomfort.

Warning

Your baby might experience some digestive upset during the transition from breast milk to formula. Most of these side effects are minor and may include a change in the frequency, color or consistency of your baby's stools, according to KidsHealth.

If your baby appears constipated, talk to your pediatrician to help ease the discomfort.

About the Author

Barbie Carpenter worked as a technical writer and editor in the defense industry for six years. She also served as a newspaper feature page editor and nationally syndicated columnist for the Hearst Corp. Carpenter holds a Bachelor of Science in journalism from the University of Florida and a graduate certificate in professional writing from the University of Central Florida.