How to Introduce Formula After Breast Feeding
As a new mom you hear so much about the benefits of breastfeeding, that often times you might think you have to choose between breastfeeding or formula. When in fact, it's perfectly fine to do both!
There are many reasons why you may need to introduce formula to your baby before or after you've been breastfeeding. It could be your milk supply has dropped, you need to return to work, your baby needs additional milk to stay full, or that it is just more convenient and easier for you (and that is OK!).
We've gathered a few of our favorite tips to help make this transition easier on you and your baby.
Consult Your Doctor and Don't Wait Too Long
Consult with a professional about when the right time is to transition or supplement your baby with formula. Whether it is because your baby isn’t latching or you aren’t producing enough milk, talking to a healthcare provider about your baby's diet is important.
If you plan to supplement or switch over to a bottle permanently, the "sweet spot" for introducing a baby to the bottle is between 2-6 weeks. There are theories out there about babies having nipple confusion or preferring the bottle over the nipple, but alternatively it's best not to wait too long to introduce the bottle because the baby might reject it. Once the baby is nursing effectively, gaining weight and you feel comfortable doing it, add in the bottle. Babies' sucking reflexes start to fade between 6-8 weeks, so if you can introduce the bottle before then, the baby will probably naturally reflexively suck the bottle nipple.
Start Slowly Alternating Breastmilk and Formula
It’s important to remember to start slow. Transitioning your baby from breastfeeding to a formula bottle isn’t going to happen overnight. When introducing formula it's important to note that the transition period for a baby's digestive system can be up to two weeks. This is true even when moving from one stage of formula to the next, or switching formulas if needed.
Gas, constipation and fussiness can happen when you add in formula, so to make it easier on their tummies consider adding a little formula gradually in with breast milk in the same bottle. To do this you'll need to completely prepare the certain amount of formula according to the instructions and then add it to the breast milk (don't just add the powder to the breast milk).
A great transition schedule to follow might look something like this:
- Day 1 & Day 2: 25% formula and 75% expressed breast milk
- Day 3 & Day 4: 50% formula and 50% breast milk
- Day 5 & Day 6: 75% formula and 25% breast milk
- Day 7: 100% formula
If you're planning on supplementing with formula some moms prefer to just alternate between formula feeds and breastfeeding. However, you might still need to mix the two until your baby gets used to the taste of the formula.
On the Side
When the baby gets a little older and starts eating solids, adding formula to baby food is really easy! This is a great way to add more nutrition to your baby's diet and keep them full for longer. Having a few easy baby lunch ideas on hand will help make the transition from breast feeding to formula easier!
Adding baby formula to their baby cereal is a perfect way to add extra nutrition in their diet. It's important to have healthy hands-on snacks for your baby during this transition!
Adding baby formula into smoothies for older babies is easy and an effective way to get formula into their diet. Adding extra formula to their smoothies is giving your baby the nutrition it needs to grow properly. It's also easy for baby to get messy during feedings so have baby bibs on hand for easy clean up!
Mixed in food
You can also mix baby formula into their baby food! This is a great way to hide formula for those picky eaters, they will never know it was there in the first place!
Whether you introduce formula in a bottle or wait until later to add it to food, don't let it stress you out. If you are adding in a formula bottle, remember it can take a little time for you and the baby to adjust. This is normal, so be patient. He/she will most likely take to it best when they are hungry and expecting to eat, so try to introduce it at a normal feeding time.
Your doctor and/or lactation consultant can be very beneficial during this transition. So don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help!