Ask the Dietitian:
Are you looking to switch to a different brand of formula? Whether you're considering changing the type of formula you feed your child for affordability, nutrition, purity, or access, there are many different reasons you may want to change your child's formula. We're here to tell you how!
Switching from one dairy-based formula to another
For a baby who has been on a dairy-based formula and is doing well, you may want to change to a different brand of dairy-based formula for economic reasons. Or, perhaps you have discovered a formula that better suits your preferences, like an organic formula or a formula not using controversial ingredients such as glucose syrups (code for corn syrup solids), GMO ingredients, or other unnecessary synthetics often used in baby formulas.
If your child is tolerating their current formula well, you should look for a formula comparable to the ingredients of the brand you have been using. Although every formula company’s formulation and processing steps may result in slight differences between the formulas, acceptance by the infant will not usually be an issue.
You may wish to first match up the protein ingredients in the formula. For example, if your baby’s dairy-based formula is made with nonfat milk and you’d like an organic formula instead, look for a formula made with organic nonfat milk. Learn more about the types of proteins used in baby formulas in our article What Types of Proteins are Used in Baby Formulas and Why Are They Used?
Consider matching the carbohydrate ingredients next. Many baby formulas include carbohydrates from lactose (like from nonfat milk and/or a lactose ingredient), although some dairy-based formulas for children with lactose sensitivity would not have these ingredients. Of course, you may wish to change to an alternative carbohydrate altogether, especially if you wish to avoid corn syrup or glucose syrup.
After you’ve selected your formula, it’s time to begin the transition. To ease your baby into a new formula or to support your baby if they’ve refused to take an entire bottle of a new formula, consider the following example plan for transitioning formulas:
- Day 1 - mix ¾ of the “old” formula with ¼ of the new formula
- Day 2 - mix ½ of the “old” formula with ½ of the new formula
- Day 3 – mix ¼ of the “old” formula with ¾ of the new formula
- Day 4 – only new formula in the bottle
Switching from one type of formula to another
If your baby’s healthcare provider has recommended switching to a different type of formula because of suspected allergies or intolerances, or if you prefer a plant-based formula rather than dairy-based formula, know that these transitions may require a little more patience because a new type of baby formula will present different flavors to your baby and also because digestive changes may also ensue.
Regarding flavor changes, babies get exposed to different flavors in utero via the amniotic fluid and through breast milk if the baby has been breast fed. These flavors in the amniotic fluid and breast milk may also be present in the new formula. An example would be switching from a dairy-based formula to a plant-based formula. If you consumed legumes like peas, black beans, peanuts, or legume-containing foods like hummus, bean dips, or tofu during your pregnancy, the flavor of a plant-based formula like a pea protein formula may be recognized by your baby and accepted. This is especially true for young babies who have not yet developed strong flavor preferences. But older babies may be resistant to these new flavors. Research has shown that sweet and umami flavors are often preferred by infants versus bitter flavors. A pea protein formula like Baby’s Only Organic Pea Protein Toddler Formula tends to be slightly sweet and creamy with a bit of umami. Soy protein-based formulas tend to be slightly sweet and with a more earthy and bitter taste.
If there are no allergy or intolerance issues requiring you to switch from a dairy-based to plant-based formula, then try the day-to-day suggestion noted above where your baby is gradually getting exposed to the new flavor.
If your baby shows signs of resistance to the new formula, such as turning the head away, refusing to take the nipple, or pushing the bottle away, this may indicate a new flavor that just needs time to be accepted. New flavors can become palatable with repeat exposure. As an example, if a baby is at an age where complementary foods are offered and the baby is being switched to a pea protein formula, try feeding the baby mashed peas. The texture and flavor of the peas may make offering a pea protein formula more acceptable.
If the infant is not yet eating complementary foods, ask your doctor about adding a little organic, non-alcoholic preserved vanilla flavoring to your baby’s formula.
If your baby does have an intolerance or allergy to a formula and is being switched to a special protein hydrolysate formula or an amino acid-based specialty formula, it may take many times of exposure for your baby, especially older babies, to accept these formulas. Using the day-to-day mixing suggestion shown above should not be used as your baby needs to be transitioned to the new special formula right away. It may take up to a week or even a little longer before your baby willingly consumes this new formula. Patience is the key in this frustrating situation.
Whenever you’re transitioning from one infant formula to another type of formula, it’s always best not to be impatient with your child taking the bottle. Some tips to support a peaceful transition to a new formula include:
- Try the new formula when baby is happiest during the day
- Use positive, soothing words while feeding
- Hold your baby in the baby’s preferred position for taking the bottle
- Be in a comfortable environment
- Frequently and gently burp your baby
- Put soft and soothing music on to put both of you at ease during this transitioning period
Ready to Start the Transition?
Baby Only® Organic Premium Infant Formula is an organic, non-GMO infant formula that your little one will love. Unless otherwise medically indicated, incorporate Baby’s Only® baby formula in your daily routine over a few days until your baby is ready to make the transition completely. You can purchase Baby Only® Organic Premium Infant Formula in 1 can, 6 can and 12 can increments, or try our Subscribe and Save option that keeps the formula coming to your front door.
*Baby’s Only® Organic Toddler Formulas are intended for children 1 year of age and older OR when directed by a child’s healthcare provider
**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional