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Ask the Dietitian - How Do I Supplement or Transition from Breast Milk to Formula?

Ask the Dietitian - How Do I Supplement or Transition from Breast Milk to Formula?

Posted by Diane, MPH, RD, LD - Director of Nutrition Services on May 11th 2020

I want to start using formula...help!

Whatever the circumstances, the decision to move from breastmilk to formula is a decision that many moms have to make at some point along the way. If you're reading this, you're probably considering formula as an option for your baby. Maybe you're headed back to work and don't want to pump, maybe your supply is starting to diminish, or perhaps your little isn't getting enough breastmilk. Many times the reason for these decisions are personal and sometimes medically needed for either mama or baby; however, whatever the reason for your decision to supplement or transition from breast milk to formula, Nature's One is here to help. At Nature's One, we want to give your baby (and you!) a better start for life!

Pediatricians usually recommend that babies start off on dairy-based formulas as they are more like breastmilk. Babies begin to be exposed to flavors in utero (based on what mom consumes) and this continues during breastfeeding. Don't worry; this can play to your advantage! When feeding your baby a dairy-based formula, milk flavors may be familiar to a breastfed baby if the mom consumed dairy products during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. As a result, the flavor of formula is not usually an issue; however, if your baby is reluctant to a bottle of formula and struggling to transition, here are a few things to try:

  • Start the feed with breastfeeding and then give a bottle. For mamas who are only looking to supplement with formula, this will help you maintain your milk supply and make sure that baby is getting all of the benefits (i.e. immune support) of breast milk before getting formula.
  • Offer one bottle per day and then gradually increase to more bottles if you are transitioning to formula-only feeding.
  • Feed your baby formula at a time during the day when your baby is happiest. Night-time feedings can sometimes be a problem as your baby may get cranky.
  • Check the nipple on the bottle to make sure that it drips formula when turned upside down. If the nipple flow is more than your baby is used to while breastfeeding, your baby may be getting too much milk and could be gulping to keep up with the flow... the result? An unhappy baby! You may need to try different nipples to see which one your baby likes best.
  • Bottle feeding can sometimes result in your baby taking in excess air. Burping more frequently can help.
  • Your baby may prefer a different position while being bottle fed. Try a different position if your baby shows some fussiness.
  • Put some soothing music on for both you and your baby.
  • If your baby still resists the formula, try mixing a small amount of formula with breastmilk and gradually increasing the formula to breastmilk ratio until you're only using formula:
    • Day 1 - mix ¾ breast milk with ¼ formula
    • Day 2 - mix ½ breast milk with ½ formula
    • Day 3 - mix ¼ breast milk with ¾ formula
    • Day 4 - only formula in the bottle

The best tip of all: relax and enjoy your time feeding your baby. Breastfeeding isn't the only way to bond with your child. If you're switching to formula, feedings can still be a special time. The method of feeding doesn't determine the sweetness of the time together. Make eye contact with your baby, talk or sing to them and let dad be involved! Bottle feeding is a great way for dad to get some bonding time with baby and give mama a rest!

It is important to remember that if your baby shows any of the following symptoms, it could be a sign of a cow's milk protein allergy. Please contact your baby's health care provider if your baby has one or more the following:

  • Rash
  • Excessive gas
  • Constipation - small hard pellet like stools or cries of pain when pooping
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive spit up
  • Blood in the stool or vomit

If you're interested in how to help your little one cope with a cow's milk protein intolerance or are looking for a good alternative formula, be sure to check out my article titled Could My Baby Be Allergic to Dairy? and see if our Baby's Only Organic® Pea Protein Formula might be a good fit for your child.

As always, I am here to help and answer any questions you may have! Feel free to send me an email at: info@naturesone.com.

-Diane

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