How to Change a Baby From Breast Milk to Formula Milk

Breastfeeding is encouraged for at least the first six months of a baby's life, says the American Academy of Pediatrics. But when you feel that it is time to wean from breast milk to formula, remember to take it slowly and allow time for adjustment. You can still retain the close bonding time that is associated with breastfeeding, even when you're bottle-feeding with formula. Talk to your pediatrician to find out if weaning to formula is the right choice for you and your baby.

A mother feeding her baby with a bottle. (Image: Rauluminate/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Introduce the bottle for one feeding once per day. If you're breastfeeding, you'll need time to allow your supply to adjust to the formula feedings, and if you try to quit breastfeeding suddenly, your baby may resist and you could become engorged or infected. Try one feeding per day, says the Pediatric Advisor at the University of Michigan Health System, and slowly introduce another after a week if all goes well.

Step 2

Fill the first few bottles with expressed breast milk, so that your baby has the same flavor, even though the nipple texture is different. This can help her get used to the bottle while still keeping some of the old aspects of the breast milk. As she becomes comfortable with the bottle, try mixing bottles that are half breast milk and half formula to slowly ease into the flavor change.

Step 3

Introduce more feedings as your body allows and as your baby allows. If he reverts back to the need to breastfeed, which can occur in times of stress, sickness or fatigue, allow him the comfort of nursing a few moments until he calms. Then continue the feeding with a bottle of formula.

Step 4

Feed your baby in a quiet, intimate setting, holding her as close as you would if you were nursing. Avoid propping up the bottle or allowing someone else to feed her in the first few weeks, as it may confuse her and she may withdraw. Make the experience as much like breastfeeding as possible; she'll be more comfortable, and you'll enjoy the bonding time.

Step 5

Watch carefully for any type of reaction to the formula, such as rashes, gas or fussiness, which may point to an intolerance to the brand of formula that you've chosen. Switch formulas, and if the problem persists, see your pediatrician to rule out a possible food allergy.

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