How Do I Transition to a New Brand of Formula?

How Do I Transition to a New Brand of Formula?

Posted by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services on Jun 5th 2020

Ask the Dietitian:

Switching from one dairy-based formula to another

Are you looking to switch to a different brand of formula? Maybe you're considering changing the type of formula you feel your child? There are many different reasons you may want to change your child's formula and we're here to tell you how!

For a baby who has been on a dairy-based formula and is doing well, but you want to change to a different brand of dairy-based formula for economic reasons, or the discovery of a better formula, like organic, or formula not using controversial ingredients such as glucose syrups (code for corn syrup solids), GMO ingredients, or other synthetics often used in baby formulas; 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 cause any issues.

But what happens if my baby simply refuses to take the new formula? Try the following:

  • 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

But what if your baby’s healthcare provider has recommended switching to a different type of formula because of suspected allergies or intolerances, or because you prefer a plant-based rather than dairy-based formula? This gets a little trickier. These formulas will present different flavors to your baby. You may remember from an earlier article where I noted 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 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 unacceptance 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 an infant 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, try a little organic, non-alcoholic preserved vanilla flavoring.

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 formula to another type of formula, it’s always best not to be impatient with your child taking the bottle or sippy cup. Some tips 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

Enjoy your little one and let me know what other topics are of interest to you. All the best…Diane

**For specific medical care and nutritional advice on product usage, please see your healthcare professional