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How to Switch Your Baby from Breastfeeding to Formula

Taking care of a baby involves stages and different transitions. One of those transitions is transitioning from breastfeeding to bottle feeding and then solids. When babies start to bottle feed and eat solids they always look really adorable. At this stage, you have to dress them in baby bibs like Bandana Bibs to control the spill of food or formula.

When Should You Switch To Formula?

Switching from exclusive breastfeeding to formula is a major change both for the mom and the baby. Sometimes the switch comes at a desperate need because the constant breastfeeding affects the moms' sleep and is leaving them stressed. If this is the case, a sharp switch is a bad idea, instead, it is better to continue nursing and begin to work on establishing good, healthy sleep habits with your baby.

Another reason why moms may consider making the switch to formula for a different reason. Some moms start to feel the pressure to switch because their babies aren’t gaining weight “properly”. This can be scary for moms; on the one hand, they want to breastfeed, but on the other hand, they fear their baby isn’t getting enough nourishment. If you’re in this position, you may be wondering, “Should I just give up nursing and switch to formula?” before you make any changes make sure you do proper research and speak to a trusted pediatrician. Breastfeeding is almost always the better option till the baby is at least months old. Some capitalist companies can use ads and persuasion tactics to get moms to switch to formulas sooner so they can sell more products. Make sure you breastfeed your baby so long as there are no medical reasons not to.

Reasons for Stopping Breastfeeding and Switching to Formula

The switch to formula should happen naturally after the baby comes to that age, however, some moms introduce formula to their breastfed babies for a number of reasons. Some of those reasons are medical. Others involve convenience and working with your new schedule. Common reasons moms switch to formula include:

  • Low milk supply
  • Baby with difficulty nursing efficiently
  • Returning to work
  • Inability or lack of desire to pump enough when you're away from your baby
  • Lack of sleep due to nighttime feedings
  • Self-weaning before the age of 1
  • A desire to stop breastfeeding before age 1

Whatever your reason, you may decide to switch to formula completely or to continue offering breast milk with formula to supplement. It's perfectly fine to feed your baby both. Keeping a few of your breastfeeding sessions gives your baby the immunological and nutritional benefits of breast milk while giving you more freedom to have formula as a backup option.

Other Reasons for Stopping Breastfeeding

  • The baby weans themselves: This can be demonstrated by a sudden refusal to feed at the breast or a more gradual disinterest in feeding. There is often no obvious reason for this.
  • Low milk supply: Many women wean prematurely because they perceive their breastmilk supply to be insufficient for their baby’s needs. This is not always accurate.
  • Mothers who don’t enjoy breastfeeding or find they simply don’t want to anymore. This can be based on very personal reasons.
  • Recurrent mastitis, nipple thrush, mastalgia (breast pain): Mothers who experience ongoing physical pain during breastfeeds due to nipple trauma e.g. cracks and blisters, may choose to stop breastfeeding.
  • A return to work: where continuing to feed or express breastmilk is not a viable option. There is legislation which supports mothers to continue breastfeeding when they return to paid employment. Check with your Human Resource Management to inquire about your rights and their responsibilities.
  • Medication: For mothers who need to commence taking medication which is incompatible or not recommended when breastfeeding.
  • When a baby is failing to thrive: When the baby is not receiving sufficient amounts of milk. Brain growth is significant in the first 12 months of life and an adequate intake of milk is essential to fuel this.
  • If the baby is sick: If a baby becomes very unwell and is no longer able to breastfeed or drink expressed milk from a bottle.

Common  Reactions for Mothers who Stop Breastfeeding

  • Relief: Usually when a mother stops breastfeeding, some mothers feel under pressure to breastfeed when they would prefer not to and for others it is a relief as they can now sleep better and don’t have to breastfeed in public.
  • Disappointment, sadness, and grief: This is more common when a baby has needed to wean for reasons which are out of the mother’s control such as illness.
  • Ambivalence: Some mothers don’t really mind either way and don’t find bottle feeding a chore. Weaning can be viewed as a solution to a problem, rather than a problem in itself.
  • Anger and/or resentment: This usually happens when a mother feels that this was a choice she had little control over.

How to Use Both Breast Milk and Formula

Supplementing your breast milk with formula gives you the best of both worlds. Some babies go back and forth between the breast and bottle with no problems. Others need time to adjust. Your baby may start preferring the bottle since she gets her food faster and easier that way. A common option for using both breast milk and formula is to nurse your baby when you're together and use formula when you're apart. When your child is at daycare, she gets formula in a bottle. When you're home, you can still nurse her. If your baby wakes up frequently at night, try having your partner feed her formula so you can get more sleep.

What to do if your Baby Won’t Accept a Bottle

Babies can go through a transition phase as they adjust from one form of feeding to another. Formula and breast milk taste different and babies, whose taste buds are highly sensitive and this can initially make them refuse to drink formula. Time, practice and hunger usually combine to persuade babies to accept a bottle. Many parents try various types of formula, teats, and bottles in the belief that there will be one which makes a difference. Usually, it is the baby’s hunger, combined with parents persevering and remaining calm which leads to the baby sucking.

You may find your baby is more willing to drink for someone else, other than yourself. Babies can associate their mothers so strongly with breastfeeding that to be presented with an alternative to the breast may be very foreign to them and this will cause them to reject the bottle.