There are a multitude of reasons why a mother might decide to make the transition from breast milk to formula. Whatever her reasons may be, learning how to transition a baby to formula might turn out to be trickier than she imagined before giving it a try. It's all milk, right? Can your baby even tell the difference? It depends.
Even though formula is designed with all of the nutrients your baby needs to be healthy, it will taste differently to them, making the switch more difficult than you'd planned. Every baby is different and some make the transition easily, while others take a little bit of coaxing. Either way, it can be done with the right "strategies."
Some parents decide to stop breastfeeding at the six month mark, when they begin introducing solids, while others wait until the FDA recommended one year mark. Others, however, introduce formula early on because of issues with milk supply, scheduling conflicts, or other reasons altogether. Whatever the case may be, having a few tricks up your sleeve can help facilitate a smooth transition from nursing to bottle and from breast milk to formula, regardless of how old your baby is or why you're making the switch.
1Substitute A Few Feedings First
Like all transitions, taking it slowly is usually easier than making a "cold turkey" switch. Gerber recommended substituting a few breastfeeding sessions with bottles of formula if your baby already uses a bottle. Additionally, the company suggested doing so in the middle of the day when your baby is happiest and calm.
2Add Formula To Your Breast Milk
If your baby doesn't seem to like the taste of pure formula, consider mixing a bit in with your expressed breast milk. According to Baby Center, there is nothing wrong with mixing the two, as long as you know how much your baby is going to drink, since you'll have to throw the entire bottle out within an hour of preparation if it isn't consumed.
3Utilize Skin-To-Skin Contact During Feedings
One of the sweetest things about breastfeeding that you're both bound to miss is the skin-to-skin contact. However, if your baby is reluctant to try a bottle, the aforementioned article from Gerber suggested using the same skin-to-skin contact that you would if you were breastfeeding so that they can still feel your warmth and get some snuggles while they eat.
4Start Introducing The Bottle With Breast Milk First
For babies who have never taken a bottle successfully, the transition might be most difficult of all. Baby Center recommended giving your baby expressed breast milk in a bottle before trying formula, as it will give them one new thing to try at a time. After your baby has mastered the art of bottle feeding, you can add formula for a few feedings to ease the transition.
5Let Dad Step In
If your baby knows that something fishy is up and won't take a bottle or formula from you, have your partner give it a try. An article from Everyday Family suggesting letting Dad or another family member take over the transition feedings can make it easier on both baby and you.